Miracle at Jamestown NY

Monarch Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

Hadn’t seen a Monarch any of those several days spent in the Jamestown, New York area. Some east of Erie, New York, these July ’16 days were sunny and comfortably hot. Petra and I were happily housed in a neat cabin in Frewsburg, surrounded by hundreds of blueberry bushes in full, glorious fruit. Horses across the road, farm field abutting us, and birds about, galore.

That week we visited that hidden, basically secret acid bog, and were greeted by a flying squad of rare Bog Copper butterflies, amidst pitcher plants, sundew and native wild cranberry. We went to other wildlife hotspots, but the crown jewel of them all was the reserve at Jamestown Audubon Center. The wildlife greet you there and if that’s not enough, the friendliest , most helpful nature center staff existent, make it a . . . destination.

Working the trails at the Jamestown AC. I saw Baltimore Checkerspot butterflies, Eyed Brown Butterflies, Eastern Tailed-Blue butterflies, Great Spangled Fritillaries and much more, but . . . not a Monarch to be seen.

When I followed a Jamestown AC trail through a wetland, I looked down to the swampy habitat, and set my sights on a Swamp Milkweed plant, looking lush and in full, luxuriant bloom. Then, Battlestations! A Monarch flew in, and went straight, straight to the milkweed. A FEMALE!

I practically dived over the low rail bordering the trail, and fought gravity, which . . . sought to make me tumble over!! Brooklyn boy kept his balance (grad of OCS! too), and that whole ¾ of a second, I was praying internally, don’t fly, don’t fly!!

It was dark there, and I had no time to adjust my manual settings. OMG!!! She was not nectaring . . . . She was fresh, Shmeksy! and she was laying an egg, Ovipositing. Totally excited for a guy who has seen so much in his life, totally. Would she allow me to shoot her out, would she stay, would I have enough light, Oh, so many “would she’s!”

So please, give me a little license here to share, a not exactly perfect shot. Understand how much drama and suspense this image retains for me. Who said doing this is not FuN???

Jeff

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