Caron 5

Mourning Cloak Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Toronto

I’m counting, Caron, counting the many reasons that I select this image as one of my 5 favorites. This gorgeous Mourning Cloak butterfly. Where’d I meet this elusive beauty? Smack-dab! in a large park in the city of Toronto, Ontario. How I met it, I will not forget.

Mourning Cloaks are few and far between in southwestern Pennsylvania. They are solitary, and mostly fly in the Spring and in the Fall. Their preference is on or about trails that pass through dappled shade, near running stream and rivulets. I’ve posted earlier how that Mourning Cloak, months after I lost Frieda A”H, flew above my head, some 70 or so feet up, then disappeared out of sight. ???? It flew to my hat, and rested there. Next it flew up again, to about 70 feet, and flew down the trail some 100 feet, turned and flew over my head once again, at the same hight of 70 feet. Then . . . it was gone. I lost it all, and cried like a baby, I did. I had lost my love and best friend, and my whole being made a connect with that Mourning Cloak, in a way that defies explanation.

When I began to date, after that void in my life, I began seeing a new friend in Toronto. Six hour plus drive from Pittsburgh. On that certain trip, I brought my camera. We went for a walk in a pretty Toronto park, West Don Park, I think. I notice a modest break in the bushes that lined a walk, and told her I’d be back in a second . . . I pushed through that likely deer passageway through the heavy shrubbery and I entered a small meadow, one I will never forget. It was almost filled with Common Milkweed (Asclepias Syriaca). The bore round huge flower heads, and on those extraordinary blooms were squadrons of Mourning Cloaks, and skippers and other butterflies. Loaded. I was in a kind of butterfly shock. All, or nearly all were fresh and comely.

This is my favorite from that magical meadow in the center of Toronto. I had for Oh! so long wanted a Mourning Cloak image that boasted their rich color, the maroon of the wings, the eye-popping blue spots of the wing margins and the lemon-yellow of the wing edges.

And there is the very real Sigh! I feel, recalling a Mourning Cloak so beautiful that its escape, just as I was now down on the floor of Nichol Road Trail continues to sort of haunt me. It had flown to the perpendicular bit of rock at the side of the trail, and posed there, a sight for Happy eyes. I’m down on my tummy, raising my Canon, and . . . it flew!!!

A OMG! Mourning Cloak moves me, for sure it does.

Jeff

Caron 4

Palmed Swallowtail Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida

Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida

Caron’s 5 were all superb images, no hyperbole necessary. They were extraordinary, made you wonder how she captured such? and left you feeling better, elevated from the you of minutes before!

This is my 4th choice for my favorites. When I drove down to Georgia from 2015, Virginia’s Butterflies and Blooms Briar Patch Habitat actually did have almost every southern butterfly in its 2 open acres. That one morning, when I saw 29 different butterfly species, was just exciting! Those evenings, in Eatonton, I’d study my field guides, looking for southern butterflies that I had not seen yet.

NABA’s magazine ran a new feature, ‘Destinations,’ and its first was Big Bend Wildlife Management Area in the Florida Panhandle. This comprehensive article electrified me, for given a good week and good weather, you could enjoy many new butterflies.  One of the tantalizing possibilities was this large swallowtail, the Palamedes Swallowtail.

I planned a 5 day trip to Big Bend. The 5-hour or so drive was fine, and the Hampton Inn in Perry was adequate. Perry was just 25 minutes from Big Bend. That first morning there, I loved that place. As I drove into the Spring Creek sector of the WMA, large and beautiful thistle appeared, and on them, mobbing them almost, were OMG! large, fresh Palamedes.

Those Palamedes were furiously nectaring on the thistle. They are photographer friendly, and tolerate measured approach. Jackpot!

I often return to enjoy this photo, for I think it presents Palamedes Swallowtails well, their size, grace and beauty. The almost hidden thistle flowerhead frames much of the butterfly, to full advantage.

Caron 4.

Jeff

 

Caron 3

Melitaea Phoebe butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

Late to the party? Caron, on being asked to share her 5 favorite images, did, quickly. She just as quickly asked me to share my 5 favorite images. Beware what you ask for!

Now that I’ve shared Jeff’s Earrings and that Northern Pearly-Eye butterfly, I’m ready Caron, with this, my 3rd inclusion in the Caron series of favorites. I’ve begun to see that my favs are heavily influenced by beauty, and by the fortuitous circumstance at the time.

This shot was not taken in Wisconsin, or Pennsylvania or Georgia or Nevada. It was taken about 1 hour north of Tel Aviv, in the meadow that separates Mishmarot from its orange, mango, grapefruit and lemon groves. Israel.

My daughter and her 2 little boys live there. She ended up preferring village life over her Ernest & Young job (Tel Aviv) or her Washington, DC job (SEC CPA). I was visiting, and that morning got up very early, to make sure that I got out to those meadows early, very early.

I love getting to habitat early, to maybe, possibly find butterflies that have just left their night perches, and are on low hanging leaves, warming up in the morning sun. There, many skittish butterflies will tolerate a close approach, as they enjoy the warmth of the Wisconsin or Middle East sun’s ray.

I saw this Melitaea Phoebe telona enjoying his sun bath, and well, he was handsome, very. I made a very low, slow robotic approach. He did not move. You know the rest, I shot, shot, shot, shot . . . . I don’t manipulate my images, and I have liked this from the first.

Jeff

Caron 2

Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

‘Jeff’s Earrings’ served as my first pick, responding to Caron, she asking what may be my 5 favorite butterfly images. My first photo was shared here yesterday.

Caron 2? For many years Raccoon Creek State Park was my favorite destination. Doak fields there is a more than 100 acre meadow, where after 3 to 4 hours, I usually saw not a single soul there. Perfect! After those hours in the summer sun, I would hike back to my truck. That 3/4 of a mile hike, went along a moist area, with trees on each side. For many years, I would see Northern Pearly-Eye butterflies fleeing ahead of me. They preferred that short stretch of Nichol Road trail, enjoying the dappled shade, moist forest borders and nearby little stream. I scored few shots of them, ever.

This time, about 4 years ago, my eyes searched the low growth of the trail edges. There it was, a very, very fine Northern Pearly-Eye. It was a good size and . . . it held to its leaf.

I so, so slowly made my approach, decided not to cop ‘insurance’ images. I was going in, robotically. I’m pretty sure I had Fuji Velvia ASA 100 (faster) film in camera. I began talking to this gem telepathically, ‘Don’t go, don’t go, Please.’

Pearly-Eye remained in place. I was no down on my left knee. Good. I slowwwwly raised my Macro-lens. Good. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Perhaps 35 or more exposures.

I waited the 2 weeks or so to get my slides back from Dwayne’s Photo. You must remember that day, Caron, for that day you heard a muffled scream of Joy!! when I louped them on my lightbox. Several were worthy of Caron’s List, Yippee!!!

Jeff