Gulf On Liatris

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on Liatris photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife, GA

That August trip to Townsend, Georgia was fantastic. I photographed butterflies and more in Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge (a national birder destination) and at Ft. Federica on St. Simons Island.

Go back in 2019? Oh, I hope. Little Metalmark butterflies and Eastern Pygmy butterflies eluded me, and I so miss these tiny winged beauties.

The coast of Georgia features a ‘necklace’ of very special refuges, and I never did get to Sapelo Island, Jekyll Island and . . .

My life will be forever richer for the sights and critters that I saw those 6 days, alligators, wood storks, egrets, great blue herons, green herons, rails and maybe 1,680 butterflies.

This was a big year for Gulf Fritillary butterflies, like this one, nectaring on resplendent Liatris blooms.

Good for you Georgia, successfully preserving so much of your Rich coastal habitat!

Jeff

Gulfs . . . No. 1 Or # 2 In The Southeast

Gulf fritillary butterfly sipping nectar on thistle, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Wildlife Management Area, Kathleen, GA

These 4 years shooting butterflies in Georgia have been a joy. So many butterflies, they flying in rich, verdant habitat, from Cloudland Canyon to Jekyll Island. Best of all there are so many of them.

Used to be that I’d struggle to find butterflies in southwestern Pennsylvania. That made finding a fresh butterfly a very exciting experience. In Georgia, the fraction of fresh, beautiful butterflies is so much higher.

Which southern butterflies are most numerous Jeff? Gulf Fritillary Butterflies and Cloudless Sulphur butterflies, so says my hundreds of hours in the field.

Do you get glazed over when you have seen dozens of Gulf fritillaries in a single morning? Nope. Huh? I am forever searching for fresh Gulf Frits, and that accomplished, I want to capture an image of the sunlight reflecting from the dazzling ventral white spots. Not easy to get. Not easy.

Here our Gulf Frit’s lower wing spots are 100% brightened by the morning sun, and the thistle flowers dazzle too. Oakey Woods Wildlife Management Area, guided by Mike.

Jeff

Caron 3

Melitaea Phoebe butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

Late to the party? Caron, on being asked to share her 5 favorite images, did, quickly. She just as quickly asked me to share my 5 favorite images. Beware what you ask for!

Now that I’ve shared Jeff’s Earrings and that Northern Pearly-Eye butterfly, I’m ready Caron, with this, my 3rd inclusion in the Caron series of favorites. I’ve begun to see that my favs are heavily influenced by beauty, and by the fortuitous circumstance at the time.

This shot was not taken in Wisconsin, or Pennsylvania or Georgia or Nevada. It was taken about 1 hour north of Tel Aviv, in the meadow that separates Mishmarot from its orange, mango, grapefruit and lemon groves. Israel.

My daughter and her 2 little boys live there. She ended up preferring village life over her Ernest & Young job (Tel Aviv) or her Washington, DC job (SEC CPA). I was visiting, and that morning got up very early, to make sure that I got out to those meadows early, very early.

I love getting to habitat early, to maybe, possibly find butterflies that have just left their night perches, and are on low hanging leaves, warming up in the morning sun. There, many skittish butterflies will tolerate a close approach, as they enjoy the warmth of the Wisconsin or Middle East sun’s ray.

I saw this Melitaea Phoebe telona enjoying his sun bath, and well, he was handsome, very. I made a very low, slow robotic approach. He did not move. You know the rest, I shot, shot, shot, shot . . . I don’t manipulate my images, and I have liked this from the first.

Jeff

Meadow Fritillary? Huh?

Meadow Fritillary Butterfly at Rector, PA

Just today, a FB friend posted an image of a Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly, ID’ing it as a Meadow Fritillary. That reminded me of how fortunate I have been to have seen several Meadow Frits in these many years in the field.

Here’s a male Meadow Fritillary that I met in the reserve of the Powdermill Wildlife Refuge in Rector, Pennsylvania (the Laurel Highlands in central Penna). There was a summer once when I was there almost every morning, ’til a hostile Director told me to not ever come back. Powdermill habitat is rich in wildlife, e.g. that’s where I met my first Eastern Timber Rattlesnake . . .

Meadow Frits are small, fly with dainty grace, just inches above the ground. They appear fragile, with that tiny head, and have those oddly arched wings.

You can understand why folks who encounter them go, ‘Huh?’ Despite Glassberg’s shared “East LC-C” my extensive experience is they are not common and never locally common. Moist meadows and grassy field disappear by the day ( a developer’s dream, no trees to remove ), so you see a Meadow Fritillary, and you have every reason to be pleased . . . “Jackpot.”

Jeff

Why Regals?

Regal Fritillary Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, Pennsylvania

Regal Fritillary Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, Pennsylvania

Cech and Tudor’s Butterflies of the East Coast (Princeton University Press, 2005) shares them on page 160. I ordered this hefty field guide soon after it was published, and I’d been to page 160 dozens of times. Butterfly people remain difficult for me to understand, and my numerous attempts to contact folks who could enable a visit to Ft. Indiantown Gap Military Reserve in central Pennsylvania got zero response. A bit warm under the collar after that, I still had not seen a Regal fritillary butterfly.

I remember reading that the Redcoats scored a big victory in the Revolutionary War because they outflanked the Patriots by . . . marching through my old neighborhood of East Flatbush in Brooklyn. I daydreamed of that day, and thought, Wow! those British guys must have been seeing Regals as they cut through where Clarendon Road and East 58th Street now intersect.

I’m not the easy traveller. I don’t like traveling much. The long, long drives, and especially the airports and the cramped economy seats, are hard although I did meet Patti and Aileen and some now distanced friends that way.

So, I thought long and hard about How much I wanted to meet a Regal butterfly. It’d mean a more than 3-hour drive, a stay in a hotel the night before, getting up bonkers early (I am slooooow in the morning), and joining some more than 149 people that next morning . . . with a forecast of a rainy early June day ahead.

I pushed myself to sign-up on line for that prescribed tour, led by naturalists employed by the military post. I made the drive, got to the hotel with time to spare, slept like a b-a-b-y and found Ft. Indiantown Ok. That large crowd began down the trail, led by the naturalists, and soon we all began to spread out on the trails. The more than 100 acre meadow enabled the crowd to thin, to where I was alone with another visitor and a very eager naturalist.

Rain? as forecast? No! Sun, no wind. Asclepias was in bloom, as were many other nectar magnets. Regals were nicely abundant, and just like you see here, they were very happy with the perfect butterflyweed.

Me? I was guardedly ecstatic. The Regals were beautiful, good size, flew with grace and poise and when they nectared, they pretty much tolerated careful approach.

Then why Regals? The effort, the money, the time, the indifference when I got home, the enthusiasm of some dozens of wingedbeauty.com followers and friends (when me thinks that thousands should have whooped it up!! knowing that Brooklyn got to see and shoot Regals)?

Truth be told, I loved it, I was super pumped, I was focused and I still remember that day, for a Fine Day It Was,

Jeff

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