My Juniper Hairstreak . . . Well . . . .

Juniper Hairstreak butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Panola Mountain State Park, GA

On the trail ascending to the granite cap of this hill in Panola Mountain State Park, east of Atlanta, Georgia. Phil and his family leading the way, a Sunday hike, all for my benefit (well much to my benefit). The spoken goal to find and shoot Juniper Hairstreak butterflies. Phil knows this park like we know the palms of our hands, and I was psyched, truth be told.

I had never seen a Juniper before. Shortly, amongst a mixed granite surface, Phil spotted this one. Not up in a Juniper tree or bush, but amongst tiny little groundcover, bearing also tiny white flowers. Down to the ground I went, to make my first courtesy call to a Juniper Hairstreak! On the Restricted trail, in that Restricted portion of the Park, I met and was wooed by my first Juniper hairstreak.

This butterfly is not a nervous-type, rather they tolerate some approach and they move relatively slowly. After a bit of time they fly, but usually to a not too far away new perch.

Accept that I knew that this spot was to be a challenge, very low to the ground, somewhat shaded, and the angle to the butterfly was not the ideal parallel preferred (lens and subject parallel to each other).

I shot, shot, shot, and shot some more. Y’all see the result Bingo! fast. Me? Had to wait until I got home to Pittsburgh, then FedExed my film to Kansas, then waited until my slides were returned.

This is my best share. Pleased with the clear green in it, I am some reserved as to how the rest compares to other images I’ve seen. Remember, my goal has long been to match or better the images of butterflies seen in field guides. This one, well . . . But, but I’m in Georgia, on a Restricted site, with Phil and his terrific family, and here I am being entertained in the court of the Juniper Hairstreak. One pleased puppy I am, all things considered.


Reaping Rewards in Georgia

Phil Delestrez and his sons, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Panola Mountain State Park, GA

In 2015, Phil guided me through remotes corners of Hard Labor Creek State Park in Georgia. This is a very skilled, experienced wildlife expert, Phil. He pointed out Gemmed satyr butterflies, and they posed, I thought then that they were doing that with his wink and nod, so to speak.

This year, ’16, I contacted Phil and asked again, would he meet and guide me somewhere in Georgia. I was based in Eatonton, Putnam County, near Lake Oconee. His reply was well, OK, but it’d have to be on a Sunday, and he’d come with his family. Dada!

We met at Panola Mountain State Park, east of Atlanta. I held my breath when I saw where he was taking us. A Restricted Area!! I could not and would not have known it existed, or have entered there. What total Fun we had, hiking to the top of this rocky hilltop. This extensive microhabitat has not changed for 10,000’s of years, and with Phil’s keen eagle eyes, we found Juniper Hairstreak butterflies, a very rare grasshopper that eats lichens only, and a spider so rare, that it remains, unnamed.

His children, two shown here with Phil, were a delight, and adept at trail work.

Phil is with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. He is a fine testament to the excellent job they are doing, at each and every one of the state parks I’ve visited.


A Pipevine Reflecting Brilliantly

Pipeline Swallowtail Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

I’ve seen fighter jets zoooom! overhead, here and gone, just that quickly. I’m not equating the two, but, when a Pipevine Swallowtail  butterfly makes a beeline to a flowerhead, it too wastes not time. Furious motion, wings constantly aflutter, no time to waste, nectar, nectar, nectar. Then, gone. Unlike other butterflies, Pipevines don’t go from the one, to another 1 foot away. No, they fly up, and seem to fly 10 or 20 feet or more, to a distant bloom.

This furtive behavior bedevils the photographer. Meaning, when you’re at the bloom, and you register that this one is fresh, complete and shmeksy! you know that a fine capture will please so many, genuinely uplift them, if only for a moment, but . . . it will impact. You are surely among those of whom I write, aren’t you?

So here, my checklist signaled, get it! A winner. And the position is just wonderful, what with the sun reflecting on those exquisite flashes, spots, washes, expanses of color.

Ft. Indiantown Gap Military Reservation in central Pennsylvania. A huge military installation. F-16’s flew overhead, not 10 minutes before.

What think you? How’d it work out?


Georgia’s Rte. 77 in Hancock County

Route 77 View, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Hancock County, GA

Georgia’s county roads. How can they possibly tantalize you? You have probably never driven the thousands of roads in rural Georgia. This stretch of road then would, I expect,  just resemble other American country roads, shared on platforms like Facebook.

Not me. Georgia’s roads, like this one in central Georgia, some 1 hour and 35 minutes east of Atlanta, was too much fun for me. I stopped here, explored the wooded edge along the road, and discovered wildflowers new to me, and butterflies teased me to followed them into the trees, and to frustration. Pulling over the Tundra truck was no problem. Finding a parking space in Pittsburgh can be difficult at times, in my native New York City, changed that to impossible alot,  just keep moving, Sir! Here just get as far off the asphalt as you can, and all, all respect that.

Reopening this view sets my curiosity into mid-gear, ’cause once again I want to see what just over the rise of the road ahead. Beds of wildflowers, working farms, tiny hamlets, youth wants to know!

Georgia, where vehicle trouble is less a concern, because whoever comes along will . . . you can take this to the bank, will stop and help. Nirvana.


Me? I’m Dreaming . . . of 2017

Allancastria Cerisyi butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hanita, Israel

Here we are in late October of ’16. We here in southwestern Pennsylvania now see an Orange sulphur butterfly here and there. Maybe a worn Mourning cloak butterfly in Frick Park or in Raccoon Creek State Park. Virginia and friends daily share on Facebook, Monarchs, Swallowtails, Gulf Fritillaries and American Ladies. We are checking where we left our snow shovels, Virginia, Stanley, Nancy, Cathy and Marcie are stalking butterflies.

Somehow that got me to thinking of my next trip to my grandsons in Israel. Two hours waiting for my Pittsburgh flight to New York, then some 3-5 hours wait for my El Al flight to Ben Gurion International airport in Tel Aviv. Meet my daughter Rachel at the beautiful airport, then we rent a Hertz car and drive the 1-hour plus to her home, north of Hadera, not too far from mysterious Caeseria.

Three, perhaps 4 weeks as Rachel’s guest, in their bomb shelter equipped 3rd bedroom . . . and at least 2 long drives north, to the Upper Galilee and north Golan regions. Objectives? #1 Butterflies. #2 Wildflowers and especially rare Orchids and Irises.

In the Galilee and Golan, I pass, see, photograph next to Christian sites that would so excite so many of you. Yet, to date, not a single taker, to my suggestion, book when I do, and let’s roam . . . .

Oh, and what the Media scares you with, that Israel is dangerous, is a whole lot of Hooey (whatever Hooey is).

On a recent trip, I set out to find an endangered swallowtail-relative, Allancastria cerisyi. Well here he is. I found them near a small Galilee village. They fly wildly, and then, unexpectedly, stop, and well, pose. 10-15 exposures, and Zoom!! gone. Then I went on to find the next male, and repeated this minuet. The females, well they were mostly hiding, but when I found one, she usually stuck around a bit, as I softly whispered to her. Totally Fun, and very Rewarding that! Funny, quite rare, but if you find them . . . there they are. Amazing I think.