Giant on Thistle at Oakey Woods

Giant swallowtail butterfly sipping nectar from thistle, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Wildlife Management Area, Kathleen, GA

A frozen moment in time, caught at Oakey Woods Wildlife Management Area. Mike and I were working the trails, hot, dry trails through Oakey Woods, he focused on flora, I scoping for butterflies.

This patch of thistle showed up, and we paused there, anticipating the traffic you see in this region, at Krogers or Publix. Sure enough butterflies came in and left. This Giant Swallowtail flew in, and, as they do, nectared furiously on the thistle flowerhead. I split my time well, spellbound and again determined to get this compelling scene on film. Appraisal? Like the thistle here, and like the Giant, wings nicely played with translucent sunlight and that left eye.

In Kathleen, Georgia, 738 miles from my Pittsburgh home, with a butterfly that I have seen twice in 27 years. Pleased to be in tow with Mike, a very committed, very serious botanist, who enabled, with great patience, my dilly dallying, each and every time I stopped to see unusual butterflies.

I am enjoying these experiences more and more often this last few years. Making trails with top naturalists, some birders, some orchid enthusiasts, and others botanists. Way too much fun!


2 thoughts on “Giant on Thistle at Oakey Woods

  1. once again you have pulled me away from becoming jaded … the habitat is full of these beauties most of the summer…i have forgotten what a spectacular treat they are to see. This shot does exactly that, reminds us again of how very fragile and beautiful a moment can be, if we will just open our eyes to see and our spirits to celebrate. Thank you, Jeff for the reminder and the wonderful shot that leaves no doubt of the benefits of leaving a little (unappreciated) thistle to bloom…and the reward we can from doing just that!


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