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 coping 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!
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 . . . . 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.
In the field, during those early years of seeking butterflies, I always became silent when I sought to make my approach. Silence ruled until I finished shooting, and only then would I talk. Some 10 years or so later, I abandoned that, and now I will speak to you, in normal voice, while I am at my usual 18″ away from a butterfly. One in 20 butterflies appear to flee when I begin talking to you. Nineteen of 20 do not react to my speaking.
This fresh, gorgeous American Lady butterfly riveted my attention, and on my approach, on that gravely road in Raccoon Creek State Park ( southwestern Pennsylvania ). I placed my feet down as gently as I could as I got closer to her ( presuming this is a female ), knowing that she could easily sense the vibrations I produced on the trail. She fled several times, alway flying in a lazy loop, to return within about 3-4 minutes. I was patient, and got this.
Some months ago, I recall reading something about butterflies, it sharing that they can hear. ?.
We are a large enough group to expect that you can weigh in here, and share on whether or not butterflies can hear?
We were there the last week of December 2017. I stood there ecstatic, allowing this sign to help me do the ‘pinch me if I’m dreaming’ thing. Nancy and John had Kindly suggested that I join them for that week, and I jumped at the offer! Flew out of Atlanta to San Antonio, rented a car there and John drove the 4 hours to Alamo, Texas. Stayed in the Alamo Inn and the next day we drove up to this sign!!
Think on this. In the perennial gardens at the National Butterfly Center (NBC) (McAllen, Texas) I was in a state of OMG! Butterflies I’d never ever seen before. I just watched ‘Pickers’ on the History Channel, and working the gardens at the NBC was one tintillating find after another. Hairstreaks, Metalmarks, Sulphurs, Brushfoots, Blues, Skippers everywhere you turned. I felt like a kid again, “John,” what’s this one? That one? The one on the 3rd bush?”
It was like I was meeting Sophia Loren, Brigette Bardot, Marilyn Monroe, Mia Farrow, Gina Lollabridgida and George Peppard, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Joe Pesci, Jimmy Stewart and Roy Rogers, it was.
I’m booked to return there in November, 2019. That and some time at “The Wall” and Bensten State Park and Santa Anna National Wildlife Refuge and Falcon State Park and, and, and.
Two visits to the NBC in one lifetime. Neat, that.
It never goes away. I expect that I speak for all of us who love and search for butterflies. Whether you arrive at your refuge, meadow, fen, garden or roadside berm, that euphoria that electrifies you when you spot a tiny, tiny Hairstreak butterfly, never lessens.
We stop, verify that it is a Hairstreak, a fresh Hairstreak (the price of film now matters) and as quickly as those years in the field allow, which of the hairstreaks you have found. Me, I best know the hairstreaks of the eastern half of the United States . . . but. I’ve seen hundreds and thousands of these abundant hairstreaks, but others, that count drops to one or two. Or, zero.
This winged beauty is a Red-banded Hairstreak. Fresh, zero bird-struck with gorgeous, rich color including that handsome blue patch and generous red bands.
So many Red-bandeds bear wing damage or extensive wing scale loss. This one, seen at the Butterflies and Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton Georgia is a crowd pleaser for sure. When I’ve shot away, those 20 or more exposures, am I able to slowly back away from this shmeksy! gift from G-d, and share my war-up “YES! May well be you heard it, be you in Brooklyn, Dallas, Mission, Seattle, Atlanta, Mishmarot, or Valdosta.
How I love what I do!