Moving from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Georgia was a Big change for me. Few back there thought I’d done the right thing. My family thought I’d kind of made a mistake. Me? There were things I miss, after those 27 years in the region that Steel built.
Folks here in Georgia ask often, Why did I move to Georgia. I was asked that 2 times today. My answer, Snow & Ice. I’d lost my tolerance of them. Walking Petra on a ‘Black Ice ‘ morning? Beyond dangerous to this guy who Loves going into meadow, fen, marsh, forest or medium mountain to shoot butterflies. I also, blessed still with bonafide street smarts, found myself more times than I liked, being sized up by unfriendly youth, as in “Think he’s going to be easy?” With the telepathic answer, “Yeah, this _______ ‘ll be easy.” Not yet carrying, I didn’t want to find myself on the front cover of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, busted-up by teenage youth.
Now in Georgia, I miss this, views of Great Spangled Fritillary butterflies on Butterflyweed, that June-early July sight that always pleased me. I also miss the usually futile search for tortoiseshells, mourning cloaks and rare commas.
We’re back from St. Simons Island, and Georgia, it is . . . beautiful, and its got its own inventory of spectacular butterflies.
Gone are those days, here are these days. Good, that.
Went to Lizella, Georgia today, for our first visit to Nikki Taylor’s Dig and Design Nursery. After our 30 minute drive from North Macon, we pulled into her acres, and what did we find? Nikki has thousands, yes thousands of healthy, robust perennials for sale, all fairly priced. The selection was what you’re looking for: coneflowers, turtlehead, salivas (many), cardinal flower, agastaches, bronze fennel (to host Black Swallowtails), milkweeds, lantana (she has a variety that was swamped with butterflies, she agreed to make some of that beautiful lantana for us next year!) and more, much more. It’s the Best when a nursery owner is knowledgeable, schooled in her work, and generous with her time and pleased to answer your questions and more.
In flew a Variegated Fritillary ( Euptoieta claudia), it landing on a robust coneflower. I’ve not seen a Variegated this 2020 year, and it brought a big smile, for when they are fresh, as this one was, they are very, very easy on the eyes!
This Variegated fritillary butterfly was met at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland. You’ll see 100 Gulf Fritillaries for every one Variegated you’ll be lucky to see, so seeing one? Vundebar!
Each species of butterfly behaves differently moments/minutes before they join to copulate. Watching a male Monarch physically force a flying female down to the ground is a bit much, others come together gently, and with apparent total focus.
This pair of Gulf Fritillary butterflies were in the tall grass when I found them at the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia. Studying the photo convinces that this male and female are gently preparing for action to produce a new generation of Gulf fritillaries. Not suite which is the female or which is the male. I am sure that those flashes of white, nicely reflecting the morning light, are bedazzling.
Butterflies have so enriched my life, so bolstered me when I needed reassurance that I was who I wanted to be. Frieda’s Passing A”H, betrayal in business, enduring many life threatening situations, serving as an artillery officer when ‘Nam got boiling hot, raising children of much accomplishment . . . so much happened, and these last decades found a way to continue to be me, the street kid from Brooklyn whom few have understood, truth be told. It’s difficult to bring folks to understand who you are, isn’t it?
Searching for butterflies is a joy for me, and, when I find very rare butterflies, on difficult to work mountain tops, that joy is sweet, so very sweet. That’s how it was when I met this fritillary butterfly. I was on the peak of Mt. Hermon, a biblical mountaintop at the very northern border of Israel.
I went there knowing that more than 12 butterflies were found only on Mt. Hermon. I knew that fritillaries were among those preciously rare butterfly species. When Eran and I found this fresh Melitaea Persia montium, I was so so so excited. I just knew that we’d found a butterfly that few had ever seen, it flying only on the peak of this 7,000 foot mountain.
The late morning heat was burning (at least 93 in full Middle Eastern sun, the Hermon peak with desert like humidity), other butterflies had been very difficult to approach, that land mine that Eran found, in an area I was heading toward and the realization, gnawing in my mind, that this could be my one and only trip here for a long time (lifetime?) . . . all caused me to SOOOO plead with G-d that this OMG! butterfly enable/allow me to score images of it.
Today? I checked again and Google continues to include this image, when you or any of the world’s 6.9 Billion folks Google M. Persia Montium. That lites my fire. Yes it does.
I thought and thought and thought about what it is that I’m seeking to do with butterflies? I fashioned a goal, among a handful of other goals.
I decided. I wanted, want to score images as good as or better than those found in the most heavily used butterfly field guides. No, I never intended to have a Big Year, and rush around the United States, finding nearly all of the butterflies native. I do continue to work to get images, images better and better than those that I now have in our Media Library, and those stored in my slide cabinets.
A male Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly, shot in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. I am very pleased with this image. It is not Photoshopped, I never do such. It was shot with Fuji Velvia ASA 50 film.
As always, I urge you to provide us your Feedback. You are interested in butterflies, for you’re here. What does this one do for you?