“Let Me Count The Ways”

Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Jamestown Audubon Center, NY

We’ve grown. An increasing number of folks now follow wingedbeauty.com. Well, China, South America and Africa still lag behind in those who follow us here, but they are more than offset by our increased reach here in the United States, in Europe, Canada, the Middle East, Australia, Japan, and much of the Far East (Vietnam, Japan, Korea, Sri Lanka). I am so very pleased with knowing that friends from so far afield come to visit, and return again and again.

Growth here at home and abroad comes with interesting challenges. Many come along, and then share their own image captures. It doesn’t take more than a nanosecond for me to recall the images that I was scoring as many as 20 years ago. They were done with such determination, zeal and, absent in the field mentors, enough well, confusion, to make me shudder at how much I wanted to get OMG! looks, and how far I was from doing that, regularly.

A new friend arrived from Sri Lanka, very interested and very appreciative of whatever advice I might share. Share too much, and you risk overwhelming, share nothing at all, and me, I know how that vacuum feels.

So I return to one of my most valued images, this Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly, met at the Jamestown (NY) Audubon Center, before it’s name changed. This look tickles me a lot, for it gives you a whole host of this beauty’s beauty, from wingtip to wingtip, from palps to posterior end of its abdomen, and then those antennae, the head, eyes, the color sings too, as do the distinct markings that I’ve noted challenge Tiffany’s and Cartier and the living and long gone artisans of those jewelry workshops.

A favorite image, I ask, how many ‘standing ovations’ must it give you? How I’d Love to know your responses to this last query??? Peggy, Kelly, Virginia, Holly, Cathy, Jim, Sherrie, Katarzyna, Ian, Phyllis, Laurence, Angela, Lois ,Jim, Kathryn, Marcie, Kathy, Jill, Leslie, Paula, Barbara Ann . . . .

Jeff

Tete a Tete With Baltimores

Baltimore Checkerspot Caterpillar photographed by Jeff Zablow at Jamestown Audubon Center, NY

Last year I  captured one of my most favorite images, the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly I met in Jamestown, New York at the fabulous Audubon Center there. That shot was shared here as a post, and enjoyed very heavy traffic. It’s the kind of look that gives me immense satisfaction, knowing that many dozens of you saw it, and some will, maybe, internalize it as their reference Baltimore adult look.

This 2017 we returned back, and this time Jeff, their very valuable Nature specialist, gave us directions to where we were likely to find Baltimore Checkerspot caterpillars, that last week in June.

We traced our way to that wetland trail, and amongst a goodly number of Turtlehead plants ( the hostplant of Baltimores ), there they were! Baltimore Checkerspot caterpillars.

Determined to cop a good image, I shot away, yep!, with my Fuji ASA 50 slide film.

Here is one of those Baltimore caterpillars. Near bizarre in appearance, and richly colored. Bold and standing out in a deeply green backstage.

I Love such beauty! You?

Jeff

Chasing the Checkered Skipper Butterfly

Checkered Skipper butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat, GA

There are large butterflies (Monarchs, Swallowtails) and there are small butterflies (Pearl Crescents, Orange Sulphurs) . . . and there are those tiny butterflies (Hairstreaks and the Blues). It’s those tiny butterflies that are so often offended, by our apparent disinterest in them, again and again. Hikes in the field usually ‘kick-up’ the tiny butterflies, from their resting perches just inches off the ground: American coppers, azures, Eastern tailed blues, and skippers, many different skippers.

There aren’t a whole lot of butterfly blogs extant, although there are now a good number of Facebook butterfly lovers who share their image captures. What they don’t share much are images of the tiny butterflies. Why? Tiny butterflies remain mostly close to the ground, or in the case of the skippers fly away at blurring speed.

Getting down to shoot a tiny requires that you bring your entire body down, down to them. That especially vexes me, for I shoot Macro- and must get within some 18″ or so of them. If you live with chronic knee, back, hip or leg conditions, well then, getting down to cop tiny butterfly images is not near half-worth the pain it will cause. That plus while you’re getting down, the butterfly more than likely will be . . . fleeing your approach, leaving you near nose to the ground, and nothing to show for it.

Me? I run a butterfly blog, and I love butterflies. They mean so much to me. They evoke such strong emotional feelings. That and I WANT to bring good butterfly images to you. I want to. I enjoy doing that. I’ve had difficulty explaining that to folks who grapple with some explanation for why I do this. I do my best to make my responses brief, and me and Fuji slide film continue our work, undeterred.

This Common  Checkered Skipper butterfly might be the 75th shutter click that I’ve made of them. They are very, very common in the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in  Eatonton, Georgia. They flee as you walk the paths there. On a given morning there, I may see 30 or more of them.

Most of my looks at them end with so-so images. This capture of a fresh male pleases me. There are several things I like about this share. I may have clicked my 75th checkered skipper, but another benchmark should be known. This may well have been my 150th go down to the ground move. They don’t like approach, won’t tolerate it. Most of us just no  longer try, and set them on our Don’t Care About Them List.

Me, I don’t give up . . . I can do it, even if it takes . . . Jeff, chasing the checkereds.

Jeff

 

Rose’s Silvery

Silvery Checkerspot Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, GA

Rose and Jerry agreed to meet me at the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge. Pearly-eyes were the objective. I am fond of pearly-eye butterflies, brushfoots that I know from my Pennsylvania trails. Elusive, mysterious and one of very, very few butterflies that you’d see on an overcast morning. Always seen near wetlands, they tease you to come closer, than . . . are gone, into the tree labyrinth nearby.

But this was Georgia, and I was anxious to make my first meet-up with the other pearly eyes: Southern Pearly-eye and the very hard to find Creole Pearly-eye. The park ranger cautioned, did I understand that the swamp that the 3 of us were headed to had been a known vector for several insect-borne diseases. Uh . . . Um, No. Hmmm. Quick conference with me, myself and I. I had grown up on the streets of Brooklyn, I had been in too many fights to count, carried a 5″ folding during those subway rides for 4-years, volunteered for NYARNG artillery ( 155mm towed ), Dean for 5.5 years at a Big NYC high school, ran hundreds of apartments in NYNY, . . . . . survived, Thank G-d. Next thing I knew, Rose, Jerry and I were in that swamp. A wonderland of Pearly-eyes it was. We saw Northern, Southern, Creole and Gemmed Satrys in that cane filled lowland. It was overpoweringly dark for my ASA 50/100 Fuji Velvia film, the sweat was just streaming down over my glasses, and Rose and Jerry ( Phd, Entomology! ) are human dynamos, calling me here, then there, to see fliers. Imagine me spinning around, jumping logs and mucking in mud. I Loved it!

After they mercifully agreed that we had done what we can do, Rose asked if there were any other butterflies that I might like to see and that are local to the Georgia Piedmont. Sure, Silvery Checkerspots. I may have seen one once, a long time ago. Off we shot in their car, and soon arrived at a small retaining pond. Jerry parked, and Rose led the way. Bingo! She pointed out the Mamma mia! of a Silvery. With glee! I got down on my belly and shot away. Here it is, near perfect, with those white spots in the margins of the hindwings.

Friends like Rose and Jerry enable me. They seem pleased to meet me and show me new trails, to rich butterfly lodes. It is only in the last years that I have been so fortunate to meet and benefit from Nancy, John, Mike, Virginia, Phil, Barbara Ann, Erica, Angela (next week), Dave.

Rose’s Silvery. Watcha’ think?

Jeff

Meredith Made Me Do It

Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Jamestown Audubon Center, NY

Yesterday’s mail was delivered by Autumn, and with it came the new issue of NABA’s Butterfly Gardener. In it was an excellent piece by Meredith Mays, President of the Piedmont (Georgia) chapter of the North American Butterfly Association. Her article is titled, ‘In Search of Baltimore Checkerspot.’

That triggered memories of my own encounters with the scrumptious! looking eastern butterfly. First at Powdermill Reserve, conserved by the Pittsburgh Museum of Natural History, and much later in 2015 and 2016 at the Jamestown Audubon Center in very western New York State. Sharp memories they are, for there are some butterflies you want to see, for they are rare, or curious looking, or on your personal list of what I do want to meet and greet.

Then there are those like you see here, the Baltimore, that ascribe to all of the above, but are also visual treats, knockouts! I fully place Baltimore Checkerspots in the “it’s gorgeous” category. More can be said. They are found in and around wetlands, and wetlands fascinate me. Their hostplant is turtlehead wildflower plants. Now who would chose turtleheads for their #1 diet selection? And sadly, when you find them, you know that that’s about 97.3% because you are standing in a protected reserve, otherwise it seems that on private wetland you find 2 unfortunate phenomena: Baltimores and . . . developers.

I almost posted instead an image of Stanley Lines on that famous ‘faux porch” in the Briar Patch Habitat, but then Meredith’s article arrived, and my thoughts turned to Baltimores.

Jeff