My first morning in the Spring Unit at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, near Perry, Florida. I will not forget driving up to the entrance of the Spring Unit, and ogling a stand of these large thistles, each sporting oversize flowerheads. It wasn’t so much the size and rich color of the thistle. What super-charged me was the platoon of huge Palamedes Swallowtail butterflies that were feeding on them!
I etched that sight into my life-memory bank. A moment when I was touched by the absolute beauty before me, negating all the blah/blah of those who lack firm conviction of the origin of it all.
The Palamedes tolerated my relatively close approach, and this look pleases me.
TBTold, it was a ‘Librarian Moment.’ Self enforced silence, for I was in a very special place, enjoying a very special sight, and I knew that silence was appropriate and earned there.
I plan to return there, perhaps to the Hickory Creek Unit, soon, in April 2019. Yippee!
We were at ‘What’s this, What’s that?’ mode, now examining this heretofore never seen thistle. Its stems looked way too frail, and its flowers had delicate petals, they a difficult to describe pinkish white.
What also caught our eye was the steady arrival of butterflies and bees. I reasoned that with the obvious magnetic pull of these blossoms, I might just stop at this particularly robust looking thistle, and await what might fly in.
That worked out well, for soon this especially gorgeous Palamedes Swallowtail butterfly arrived. He had to be very fresh, for his wings were almost black, and their shocks of color were as dramatic as you’d see in the butterflies of Costa Rica, Peru, Bolivia or Indonesia.
A super-duper Palamedes swallowtail at the edge of Laura’s Woody Pond in Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, on the Georgia coast.
Eye candy in this showcase of a Refuge.
I wanted images of the 2 Tarucus butterflies found in the HolyLand. I was in an SPNI field house in the Golan, and my plan was to drive south to a place I’d never been to, with no guidance other than the maps in an Israel field guide. The more than one hour drive skirted the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, past Capernum, to scout out probable habitat for these black and white nifties.
Found them! Here is Tarucus rosaceus, sweetly nectaring in a spot some 3/4 of a miles or so from the Syrian border. His markings are striking, and I was very happy that I made the effort to add Tarucus to my ‘I Really Want To Locate These Butterflies’ itinerary.
I did stand there and marvel at how close I was to villainous, murderous demons, the Syrian butchers, the mercenary Russians and their high tech ‘toys,’ Iranian Thugs who call themselves the Iranian Guard, for hire North Korean Satans, ISIL monsters who kill and behead Christians and whomever else, Hezbollah Haters who train 7 days a week to kill Jews, Chinese technicians who are there to do what?, Hamas murderers and . . . All of them madmen less than a mile away, and there I am breaking my own rule, getting down on my belly to cop a shot of a tiny Tarucus butterfly (thus offering myself up to ticks, scorpions and Middle Eastern pit vipers-of the no known serum type).
A grown man acting like a boy, all to catch a good look at G-d’s work.
Year 24 beckons. It’s become full of realities, primary among them, and I’m reminded of Pyle’s superb book, Mariposa Way, is the need to scale back $ome. Pyle did it by often sleeping in his little auto, enjoying hospitality when it was available, and on occasion by benefiting from the generosity of sponsors of his Big Year.
I’m now safely rooted in wonderful Georgia, soon to be relieved from the financial garrote that Pittsburgh turned out to be. Trips to the National Butterfly Center and Washington State . . . had to be reconsidered. True that, but my plans to travel to the Big Bend Wildlife Management Area (Florida Panhandle), Okefenokee Swamp, Alabama for a rare Satryr, and perhaps Bruce Peninsula in Ontario or Adams County, Ohio all are in the planning stages. No Bob Pyle like sleeping in my car. Each place will included affordable home stay rentals.
Why continue seeking butterflies Jeff? My B.S. in Biology nourished a childhood of curiosity. Those years of teaching high school Biology in Queens, New York and Pittsburgh Pennsylvania always confirmed how much we are interested in the life forms that surround us. The discovery of a very beautiful butterfly, as this Viceroy butterfly in the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat (Eatonton, Georgia) screams out to me: strive to capture the full beauty of this marvel of G-d’s colorful palette. The Joy of copping a sweet image, and sharing it with you here, validates all that it took for me to make it here, over a rich, often dangerous road!
It’s the excitement when y’all share a pithy ‘Comment’ here. I’ve seen the Niagra Falls in that boat that almost takes you into the madness of the Falls and brings up that smile that I so enjoy experiencing.
Forgive me, but I am very pleased with my capture here of a fresh Striped Hairstreak butterfly. Tiny, like all hairstreaks, it startled me when I first eyed it. I was looking for the usual larger butterflies, in the Powdermill Reserve of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, in Rector, Pennsylvania. Rector is in the sylvan Laurel Highlands of south-central Pennsylvania, and finding such a tiny, “Rare-Uncommon” butterfly there, should not have been a surprise to me.
When my Macro- lens came closer and closer to this beauty, it remained in place, and I marveled at how magnificent it was. A shmeksy! butterfly that is never found in abundance, and is alway seen as a solitary specimen, alone, naturally.
This is one of my early finds, and Yep, it stoked my passion to work to find and shoot common and uncommon butterflies, fresh, colorful and reminders of the Gift that we continue to receive.