Gulfing? or Golfing?

Gulf fritillary butterfly on Tithonia, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Kathleen, GA

When you share your image of a Gulf fritillary butterfly, I come closer to the screen of my iMac, all 27″ of it. I want to see how well you did. That because I know how difficult that challenge was. Gulf fritillaries fly fast, fool you when you try to predict where they are headed to, don’t linger long on a flower, are very wary of approach when they rest on a leaf, all the time leaving upon your approach.

That said, it becomes very difficult to score a fine image of a Gulf frit. When I see your post, I know it was not easy to capture, and I study your image, wanting to see if it boasts several important features of this very pretty butterfly.

This one was enjoying the nectar produced by this Tithonia (Mexican sunflower). We were at the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia. If you are reading this in Beijing or Sao Paolo, Eatonton is in the American Southeast, just east of the great American city of Atlanta.

The Gulf frit features I look for are: good look at an eye, proboscis nicely defined, head with its antennae, wing detail (this look pleases me with its rich left-wing detail and teasing look at the right ventral wing surface) and whether or not the wing color is broadcast out to you, with the same color as we see in the field.

I’ve just began reading Washington’s Crossing by David Hackett Fischer (Oxford University Press). I’m hesitant to share, but though I’m not yet well into it, I realize that all my life, obstacles aplenty, I’ve sought to be the kind of man that Washington understood. I have no doubt he would understand why I emulate Popeye that sailor man, why I can readily enjoy this book, and why I’m out Gulfing and not Golfing.


Love Me Tender in the Briar Patch

Gulf Fritillary butterflies flirting, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

Dozens. I’d seen dozens of Gulf Fritillary butterflies in the Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat, in 2016. Maybe more than dozens. Maybe hundreds. If the sun shone, as it is almost always, there Gulf frits are flying and nectaring and males scouring, scouring all corners for likely females.

I’ve seen males approach females, too many times to count. I don’t recall ever seeing one of those males ever receiving the time of day from a female. I would wonder about that. Gulf frits are very numerous in the Eatonton, Georgia oasis for butterflies, so there was no concern for the future, Gulf frits would fly, but how, when, why and where did they consummate their mission: to produce progeny?

This answered many of my theories. I noticed these 2, in an area of mixed perennials and native grasses and plants. They were almost motionless, facing one another, all movement passive and gentle.  They remained there for at lease 5 minutes. It was I who left, left them where they were. You’ve got to know that this fascinated, and continues to fascinate me. We are sort of blowhards, for we boast of All that we know, yet . . . at the same time there is much going on, at our feet, that we know little about.

Wasn’t it Elvis (Presley) who embedded Love Me Tender deep into my brain, to remain there, sweetly? This little vignette of a photo evokes those aromatic lines in my mind. Capisci?


Gulfs Make Lousy Models

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

We’d left the Zebra Heliconican ballet performance near Mikes home in Kathleen. Kathleen, Georgia. I was totally juiced, exhilarated. Meeting Zebras in habitat, for the first time, is well, exciting. Knowing that I had planted my left foot on an ant hill, and felt stinging bites on that leg, was also a type of negative exhilarating.

We went and shot butterflies at Mike’s own garden, Zebras, Gulf fritillaries, Monarchs and more. Concerned that this northern boy might be cooked, in that summer 92F weather, Mike asked if I still wanted to head over to Oaky Woods Wildlife Management Area? Still within the limits of Kathleen, how could I say no to a name as inviting to the visitor as . . . Oaky Woods?

I drove, Mike directed, we passed that Enormous Lays potato chip plant, incredibly plunked down in that rural corner of Kathleen, and there we were at Oaky Woods. I politely declined Mike’s urging, and did not drive into the Management Area on that unimproved trail. 4 x 4 or no, I left her at the trail head.

Oaky Woods delivered. Butterflies and wildflowers. We met nectaring Gulf fritillaries, and they send subliminal messages out to me . . . ‘Shoot us if you can, Jeff!’  Sucker I am to Gulfs, I did a quick calculation of how much film I brought to Georgia, how much I’d exposed so far, how much I brought today/exposed, and in the end, irregardless of how difficult it is to get Gulfs to just stop for a nanosecond . . . there I was, shooting away, going for that goal, capturing those  silver-white hindwing markings and pinkish hue on the inner forewing.

They make lousy models. Just don’t stop. Move, move, move. This one was on a luscious set of blooms, blazing star?

I like what I see here, and wonder if you will too?


Gulf Frit in Kathleen

Gulf fritillary butterfly on Tithonia, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Kathleen, GA

Gulf Fritillary butterflies are, well, ubiquitous in Georgian gardens, reserves and flower beds. Once you’ve shot out some, you soon turn your attention to other species flying about. That’s fine, and the way it is.

Serious photographers of butterflies live with a persistent, muffled, and nagging desire. Get an image, get images that REALLY show Gulf frits at their best. Score a super fine dorsal image, with rich reddish-orange, bright White spots, super-fine head, spots glaring, and more. Get a ventral image with those white spots and oblongs declaring, “White, white, white” in the reflecting sun.

I labor with these siren songs in my head when I’m in Georgia, and hopefully this year in other southeastern states.

This one was taken in Kathleen. Kathleen, Georgia that is. Mike invited me to come and see if we can’t find . . . Zebra Heliconians! (We did!!!)

There’s some to like in this capture of a Gulf fritillary. What think you?