Getting Those Metalmarks

Little Metalmark butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Shellman Bluff, GA

I’m on the lookout for images that fully capture the magic of the silvery lines of Metalmark butterflies. That because these last 2 years I’ve struggled to snag such an image.

Last year with Nancy and John in  Shellman Bluff, Georgia there they were, nectaring and perching on the side of that road. Me, I thought this is it!, my first-ever look at Little Metalmarks, and I will score pictures with knockout silvery lines. Uh, they were tinier than I expected, they were perches some 3″ above the ground, they shifted almost constantly on flower heads, my back soon began to talk to me, and that humid coastal Georgia air had the sweat coursing down my face, fogging me up!

This is one of those 2016 Shellman Bluff images. Detaching as I can from my own product, well . . . I can see what you see, and because of that, I want another shot at these sweeties.

My June 2017 OMG! work in Kamama Prairie Preserve in very south-central Ohio, amongst dozens of Norther Metalmarks, copped lots of images, but . . . getting those Metalmark silvery wavy lines continues to irk a bit.

Jeff wants . . . better.That means time, travel, accomodation$, $lide film/processing and the cooperation of the unflappable Angela of Ohio.

Think that Jeff will revisit Shellman Bluff and Adams County in 2018, right time, right place?

Jeff

Tete a Tete With Baltimores

Baltimore Checkerspot Caterpillar photographed by Jeff Zablow at Jamestown Audubon Center, NY

Last year I  captured one of my most favorite images, the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly I met in Jamestown, New York at the fabulous Audubon Center there. That shot was shared here as a post, and enjoyed very heavy traffic. It’s the kind of look that gives me immense satisfaction, knowing that many dozens of you saw it, and some will, maybe, internalize it as their reference Baltimore adult look.

This 2017 we returned back, and this time Jeff, their very valuable Nature specialist, gave us directions to where we were likely to find Baltimore Checkerspot caterpillars, that last week in June.

We traced our way to that wetland trail, and amongst a goodly number of Turtlehead plants ( the hostplant of Baltimores ), there they were! Baltimore Checkerspot caterpillars.

Determined to cop a good image, I shot away, yep!, with my Fuji ASA 50 slide film.

Here is one of those Baltimore caterpillars. Near bizarre in appearance, and richly colored. Bold and standing out in a deeply green backstage.

I Love such beauty! You?

Jeff

It Took Years, Years

Angela Carter and Joe Bens photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lynx Prairie, OH

The years went by. I was beginning. Beginning to know the butterflies of the U.S. northeast. I was never satisfied with what I could recognize, there were too many that I’d not yet found, seen.

It kept getting better. I went to Raccoon Creek State Park (southwestern Pennsylvania) as many as 50 mornings a summer. Fifty! Maybe more. I saw OMG! butterflies, often without an image to give sightings gravitas. I once saw a Goatweed leafwing butterfly there (startled me, no image) and I saw Harvester butterflies (Images scored) and . . . I once saw an Orange-barred Sulphur butterfly (again, I startled it, it startled me, and it flew up at a 82 degree angle, near as fast as an US Airforce F-15). Coral hairstreaks were seen, often going unseen for the next several years.

It took years and years to build my rep (seriously) and connect with folks who had serious trail experience. Years and years (as in lots of years). The national organization expressed zilch interest, and do not ask me how many times I traveled a good distance to find butterflies, alone, only to get ‘skunked [not find any hard to find butterflies].’ I’d post those I did shoot, sometimes reaping ‘Oh, too bad, you were just a few hundred feet from their prime habitat.’

It took years and years, ’til now, with 2017 I have new friends, who Love doing what I Love doing, and I’m sharing new stuff, from new places. Happy Boy, I am.

Angela and Joe here were with me in very southern Ohio, Adams County. She is encyclopedic with a working knowledge of Ohio trails, botany, butterflies and especially orchids. Joe too knows, knows so much, butterflies particularly. There we were. It took years and years. Good. Very good.

Jeff

Briar Patch Statuary

Flower sculptures photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat, GA

Folks love the Butterflies and Blooms Briar Patch Habitat, Eatonton, Georgia. This middle Georgia (east of Atlanta) butterfly oasis is now in its 5th year. Dreamed up by Virginia, brought to fruition by a handful of friends and neighbors, Bartow, Sylbie, Doug, Susan, Stacy, Roger . . . the town of Eatonton was gently tweaked all along the way. Five years of planting just about 12,568 annuals, perennials, bushes and trees, almost all of them hostplants for this butterfly or that, and those 5 years of watering, weeding, moving, trimming and thinning came to what result?

The very best butterfly habitat from Maine to at least Perry, Florida, and from Delaware to the Mississippi River. A showcase for the butterflies of the South. Any given morning, on my drives down from Pittsburgh, I have seen no less than 20 different species of butterflies! On that list I include Zebra heliconian, Monarch, Zebra swallowtail, both Ladies, squadrons of giants (giant swallowtails), shockingly iridescent Pipevines (Pipevine swallowtails), well the list goes on and on. Virginia has seen goatweed leafwing butterflies there, and I’m anxious to see one too.

These inviting steel sculptures stands at a spot just after you enter the Habitat. The work of a local artist, Truth Be Told, I stop each time I arrive there, to marvel at how well they epitomize the excitement, zeal and beauty of the Briar Patch Habitat. My mother A”H read me Briar Rabbit stories when I was maybe 4 years old. She read them over and over again, as I would appeal to her to do. Happy irony, no?

The town of Eatonton decided some months ago to sell this site, smack dab in town, to a buyer. An Agreement was reached to move the Habitat to a new site in town, a larger site, and water will be piped there by the town. Virginia and her team are daily planning and working to replant, add new plants and somehow coax, cajole and tease those 3,645 butterflies to make the move too, in 2018.

Let me know when you’re going, Won’t you?

Jeff