I Am Still Puzzled: Tale Of A Monarch

Monarch butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park

These 25 years of seeking butterflies has taught me alot. My work has not been focused on the academics of butterflies. I have sought to share eye pleasing images of butterflies, to evoke recognition of their beauty and a certain mystique, and to provoke, so much so that you are more aware of them, and spend more time looking for them, whether in Eatonton or on the peak of Mt. Hermon (Israel).

I may well have approached and seen 10,000,000 by now. Much about these butterflies is predictable. I find that in the field my ‘senses’ are finely attuned to their behavior, and that’s a great aid in my pursuit of them.

I now know much of them, but of course that’s a bit too smug, for there’s lots I don’t know.

The Monarch male here, stunned me some years ago. Over those 25 years, I never seen a butterfly do what he did. Never.

What did he do? I saw him at Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania, USA. He was perched on these dried flowers. Motionless. We were in Doak field, an open, 100 acre meadow in the Park.

I made my patented robotic approach, in a crouch. My Macro- lens needed to be within some 18 inches of him. He did not flee, staying still, in place.

When I was there, close to him, with lens facing him, he did it. He turned his head to his right, now facing the Canon 100mm/2.8 lens. He looked at me for some 4 seconds or so, as I repeatedly shot exposures of him. After those 4 seconds, he fled, at some speed.

I have never seen a butterfly turn its head, ever. Never.

What say you of this?

Jeff

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