A Rich Gray

Gray Hairstreak Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Habitat, Eatonton, Georgia

Working the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia, I’m mostly keeping my eyes peeled for ‘fresh.’ It’s much like my careful, not rushed time spent in Giant Eagle or Publix produce sections. I look long and hard for fresh bananas, fresh cantaloupes (well marked netting, that dark green scar and no bruise ), corn in season, with the stem-tip light color (picked that morning) and oranges a deep color and free of bruises and dents. Maybe I should share my desired watermelon, that secret info the result of many conversations with farm owners at their farm-side produce stands. Good-looking shape, rich green netting and most important of all, a fine patch of sweet yellow color on the underside.

‘Fresh’ at the BBHabitat usually means seeking tiger swallowtail butterflies, pipevine swallowtails, monarchs, giant swallowtails, cloudless sulphur, gulf fritillaries, the rarely seen variegated fritillaries, hackberry emperors, longtail skippers, spicebush swallowtails, red-banded hairstreaks, zebra heliconians and the less often seen zebra swallowtails . . . I always want to capture each of these when they are spectacular, ‘fresh’ yes, and particularly good looking.

Seeing this especially handsome Gray hairstreak butterfly was a surprise, for they just don’t show themselves here much. A rich, very rich gray, whose orange spot rates a long satisfying look, for a guy who eats a fresh (and now you know carefully selected) orange every morning for breakfast.

Jeff

One More Beauty? Say . . . A Viceroy?

Viceroy butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Butterflies and Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, GA

Marcie, Laura, Ken, Virginia, Cathy, Deepthi, Lisa, Kenne, Sertac, Bill and so many more have been sharing beautiful butterflies these last weeks. Whatever weather and other stresses surfaces earlier this year, the bounty of fresh, handsome butterflies abounds these last weeks of August and into early September.

Prepping for a very special presentation here in Middle Georgia on October 14th (and joined by Ellen Honeycutt of the Georgia Native Plants Society = anticipate a Wow! program), I reviewed and reviewed my own Media Library, selecting which images I will share (I do hope you join us!)

Permission to add one more beauty? This Viceroy butterfly enabled me, as it took some time to rest on a large Tithonia Mexican Sunflower leaf. We were at Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia. All those years of reading those butterfly field guides, reading that the Viceroys of the Southeastern USA sport deeper, luxuriant color, were confirmed again here. My Fuji Velvia film did its job well here. No?

Jeff

Is it Easy? No.

Tarucus Balkanizes butterfly  Near Syrian border, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Golan Heights, Israel

It’s the first week of September. That means that the search for butterflies now slows, and soon stops. 2018 has been a very interesting year. Travelled to New York State, Pennsylvania, the mountains, Piedmont and coast of Georgia.

How’d I do with scoring new images? Good, though the ones that I tried for and didn’t capture, sure do irk.

That day in Israel was such an experience. I booked a field house at the SPNI Golan, and that morning drive south, intent on seeing the tiny Tarucus butterflies. With no one to guide me, I chose a destination right near the Jordanian border. Breath-taking scenery greeted me, on that 1.5 hour drive, especially the eastern coast of the Sea of Galilee, familiar to most, back in those Sunday school classes.

Dark clouds and intermittent sun followed me, nearly the entire time. I reached the intersection I targeted, on my map book of Israel. I parked my rental, and explored  an abandoned park.. Jackpot! I found and photo’d Tarucus rosaceus. Tiny gems they, found in many places along Israel’s eastern, southern and western edges.

Nearly one hour after arriving in this spooky, deserted place, I spotted Tarucus balkanicus, shown here. I threw caution to the wind, and carefully got down on my stomach.He was handsome, tiny, but handsome. Fresh too! So . . . why the blurry image?? He did not flee when I got down to his level (2 inches above the trail). He stayed in place when I crawled closer. I prepared to take my first exposure . . . then . . . it came down in buckets,. This was my one and only lifetime picture of this HolyLand butterfly. He fled like a missile.

Me? By the time I got myself up from the ground, I was SOAKED.

Easy? No!

Jeff

American Zebras

Zebra heliconian butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Kathleen GA

These 4 years visiting Georgia? So many beautiful and new to me butterflies. Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island and Pittsburgh sure had beautiful butterflies. Georgia had them and some, opening my eyes to a whole slew of new Leps.

These Zebra Heliconians that Mike led me to, in Kathleen, Georgia, ignited a ‘fireworks’ of thoughts that day, when I first met them. First among those recollections were the dancers of the American Ballet, that year shortly after the Ballet opened in Lincoln Center, NYNY. We watched them dance, effortless, lighter than air grace, elegance plus. Zebra heliconians fly with that same beauty. You’ve never seen one? Oh, you must, for I do not exaggerate here. Seen one in a ‘cage’ in a local museum or arboretum? I regret to offer that that is just not the same.

When I was a kid in bricks and mortar/asphalt Brooklyn, New York, relief from the urban stale life was to watch movies (before video) of zebras on the African veldt. Those Zebra Swallowtails in Mason Neck State Park, Virginia and Zebra heliconians like this one have forever replaced the African zebras in my mind. You say ‘zebras’ now, and this is what I bring up!

Jeff

Uncommon View Of An Uncommon Butterfly

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

To find this one, you must travel to the coastal salt marshes and tidal marshes of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana or Texas. This Eastern Pygmy Blue butterfly was met in Shellman Bluff, Georgia. They are beyond tiny, and the blooms they nectar on stand about 3″ above the ground. To shoot them, you must bend all the way down to them, and hold your tongue when, just as you get down to their level, they slowly fly to another bloom, maybe 4 feet away.

Your back begins talking to you, pleading, ‘Why, why?’ Me, I (foolishly) gave up on trying to capture images with my left knee down to the ground, on my Tommy knee pad. Big mistake when I threw caution to the wind and began shooting them with my stomach to the ground!

This image stands out, for as Glassberg notes in his Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America, these smaller than tiny butterflies “rarely open their wings while landed.”

We were on Jekyll Island, and when I got to my hosts’ gracious home, there was a sizable tick clinging to the center of my chest!! After those tweezers carefully removed it, I sported a large red circle just where it was embedded, and days later, reluctantly went to an Urgent Care office, to be reassured that it was not a vector for serious diseases.

Uncommon view of an uncommon butterfly at some expense, yes Ma’am.

Jeff