Few of us have even seen a Bronze Copper (Lycaena hyllus) butterfly. Me? Here’s the only one I’ve been able to photograph. I was working the edge of the Wetland Trail pond in Raccoon Creek State Park (Hookstowns Town, Pennsylvania (45 minutes west of Pittsburgh) and examining the Alder bushes that lined the pond.
Whoa! What’s that? I saw it, knew it was a Copper butterfly, but, it was larger than a tiny American Copper. That wide orange border on the underside of its hindwing is what made my ‘Battlestations’ internal alarm go off. I’d never (Yes, never) seen one before, but I was nurturing years of anticipation of seeing one. I made my Patent Pending Robotic approach, began to shoot away, and away it went. Here is my satisfying image.
Glassberg’s A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America notes that Bronze Coppers are LR-LU (Locally Rare-Locally Uncommon). I can verify the validity of that, for in the ensuing years, I’ve only seen 2 of them, and scored zero images to share.
Those of you who have enjoyed meeting a Bronze Copper, meeting this solitary loner of a butterfly, are verifiably Charter Members of the Bronze Copper Club. You’ve worked wetlands much, and seeing a Bronze, the payoff! Upsetting is the real possibility that this pretty butterfly may be steadily decreasing in numbers and in range.
Which of you are Club members?
Isn’t that how life often unfolds? I was working the Wetland Trail at Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. I reached the pond edge, and slowly moved along the shrubs that grew inches from the water. My eyes are trained now to spot things different, butterfly-sized.
There it was! Mama Mia!! The first Bronze Copper butterfly I’d ever seen. Stay calm, Jeff. Slowly prepare to shoot it. I was so excited, for the early morning sun was at my back, there was no breeze and the sky that morning was blue. Glassberg in his A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America has this species as “LR-LU” (Locally Rare – Locally Uncommon).
I’ve only seen one a single time after that, and that was years ago. Was this a chance meeting? After a lifetime of sometimes fighting, living amidst sometimes danger (very), watching helplessly as Frieda A”H slipped away, and those years of carrying long steel on my person, I’ve come to see such a bit differently. Here I am, and I’ve endured much, yet lookee, lookee, I am now sharing A Bronze with you, my Bronze, and a beaut!
For me, a Thank You G-d moment.
Every time I gaze at this image, I remember how pleased I was to find these 2 in that meadow at the foot of ancient Mt. Hermon, at the northern end of the Golan. They were there 98% motionless, for a long time. I shot away, singing in my mind the lyrics to Elvis’ Love Me Tender: Love me tender, love me sweet . . . Never let me go . . . You have made my life complete . . . And I love you so.
This song makes Brooklyn tear up, and sights like this, just move me, truth be told. In a flowery meadow, in the HolyLand, on the slope of a Biblical mountain.
Lycaena Thersamon omphale. Male on the left, she on your right. Middle Eastern Coppers.
We’re sure out there looking for things. Most, I’d think are looking for a) Rare Butterflies. b) Butterflies We’d Seen Once or Twice Before c) Butterflies Blessed With Exceptional (Special) Beauty. When you’re out in the field, and you spot such, your blood pressure goes wuuupP up! Me, then, I talk to myself, in my head, tell myself what I need to do to maybe, maybe capture a good image of the extraordinary butterfly before me.
This was such a butterfly, Lycaena Thersamon, in a meadow at the edge of a small moshav (town) on the slope of mighty Mt. Hermon. The Upper Golan region of the HolyLand has many many rare and many many fresh butterflies. The snow covered mountain feeds streams that descent Mt. Hermon and water the entire region for many months after. No wonder the habitat, drenched in sunshine daily, is just plain . . . gorgeous.
I Love the color of his wings. My goodness.