Setting the Table for the Kids

Mating Regal Fritillary Butterflies photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

Our great grandkids? The awful news that washes over our radios, televisions, iPhones and well, some time ago, our newspapers, does every once in a while trigger thoughts of How’re We Doing? Here in the USA, there in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Far East, that tiny miscreant, North Korea? Some of us bite the bait, so to speak, and get caught up in a media malaise.

Wonderfully, those who come visit here, come to see, are the folks who largely deny that unpleasant ‘blanket’ of melancholy to settle over our heads. We look for beauty, wonder, awe, excitement, the thrill of the discovery, and the bounty of the Cr-ator.

We regrettably do have concerns. One that heads the list for me, and  perhaps for you, is what will we be providing for our grandchildren and great grandchildren? I’m now reading Travels of William Bartram, edited by Mark Van Doren . . . ‘an unabridged edition of this classic with all 13 original illustrations’ (Dover Publications, NY 1955, first published in 1928). It is the full account of British botanist Bartram, as he scoured Florida and Georgia, shortly after America’s Independence, seeking useful botany. It is Amazing! 99.899% of America was undeveloped then, and the natural landscape was Rich in life, all kinds of life.

Now, when I walk through Frick Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and search its 900 +/- acres, I cannot escape the reality, that more than 70% of the botany that I see is . . . alien. And the fauna? Where is that carrier pigeon, the cougar, rattlesnakes, and that brings us here, to this view of a pair of mating Regal Fritillary butterflies. They used to fly in Frick. They used to fly from southern Maine to the Florida Panhandle ( corrections would be more than welcome ). Gone from the states that stack themselves Maine to the north and Florida to the south. Fact is, this huge meadow in central Pennsylvania is the only place that they still can be found. Omg! Only a few hundred Regals, in those what, 15 states?

So, we share this graceful, important image, of sheer fragility. What table are we Americans setting for our grandkids and great grandkids, as we continue the rush to build, develop, and bulldoze?

Jeff

 

 

The Middle Class Butterfly

Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania, 9/5/14

We saw dozens and dozens of Great Spangled Fritillaries last week in Adams County, Ohio. Just miles north of the Ohio/Kentucky border, they were just super! to watch. Butterflyweed was in full bloom, as were Black eyed susan, common milkweed, clover and just a menu of other native wildflowers. The vast majority of Great spangleds were totally fresh, few bird struck. Why, I asked of my new friends, were so few of these large frits bird struck? Largely because those open prairies were way too risky for birds to enter, what with so much open space, and the ever present danger of raptors, waiting along the treeline for hapless birds.

See, I noticed that my fellow hikers, determined to see orchids, wildflowers, butterflies and mushrooms took little note of this flight of Great spangleds. They went almost unnoticed. Several times over those 3 days I  mulled over this. Especially gorgeous Great spangled fritillaries were mostly invisible to my trail companions. They, like this instant one, treated the eyes, and really encouraged, for they were many, they were Fine! and that’s a good omen for this county, this part of Ohio.

It struck me then, that like red-spotted purple butterflies, and pearl crescents, and eastern-tailed blue butterflies, great spangled fritillaries were the ‘middle class’ of the eastern U.S. butterflies. That is, they largely get little attention and usually go unnoticed. We move right by them, not even breaking stride. We heed them not, and we don’t register that our hike past them will upset them and send them aloft.

Like us, they are beautiful, and at the same time, no light, no action, no cameras, no media, well just about like us, awake, get going, eat, work, and return to roost at the end of the day, with nary a compliment, and surely no  one to tell  us how good we look, how much we are appreciated, or how much our presence makes a whole lot of difference. ID one nearby as an Aphrodite Fritillary, and all come running, running past Great Spangled, as if the didn’t exist.

Great Spangled Fritillaries, the middle class butterfly.

Jeff

If I’m Correct . . . This Is The Only . . . .

Melitaea Persea Montium butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow on Mt. Hermon, Israel, 6/16/08

Just finished searching the internet for another photo of a live Fabriciana niobe philistra butterfly, on the internet. I could not find another. None. Ummm. We were on the peak of Mt. Hermon on June 16th, 2008. I was with Eran Banker, my guide. The objective: Scour this peak for any and all of the very rare butterflies found on it. Found nowhere else, in the world.

It was Very Very sunny, very hot . . . and very exciting. We saw some of the rarest of the butterflies that inhabit the peak. Most flew without enabling my approach, so no images of many. This one came in to nectar on these tiny little blooms. Ouch! A fritillary. There are endangered fritillaries on this mountain. Was this one of them?

At this time, utilizing the field guides available, and the internet, I come to conclude that this is a male Fabriciana niobe philistra. Not found down the mountain in Syria, or further west in Lebanon, or further south in Jordan. Only found on Mt. Hermon, in the summer!!

Is this the only image of a live Fabriciana niobe philistra? That would please me, much.

Jeff

Goal Achieved? Yes, June, 2015! New Goals?

Full dorsal view of Regal Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

I wanted to photograph these Regal fritillary butterflies for some 17 years or so. Never found anyone who would steer me to them. Than in the Spring of ’15, someone on Facebook noted that they were headed to the 4-day Monitored Tour of the Ft. Indiantown Gap Military Reserve near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I spoke up, found out the details, and here you see my fun day there, guided by military post naturalists, to the huge meadows on the post. I remember the first moment that I saw them, busily moving from flowerhead to flowerhead. 17-year goal, achieved right there, and well, they are regal and beautiful, and they pose. They pose, as they patiently nectar at butterflyweed and common milkweed.

Now we are in the very beginning of my 3rd decade of seeking and photographing butterflies in the wild. I have improved my skills, but my goals are not much different. Finding and shooting new butterflies remains the challenge. This year, if necessary, I know that I can query Virginia, Mike, Rose, Jerry, Phil, Barbara Ann, Nancy and John and Angela for destinations sought. Others have become new Facebook friends, but either do not know rare butterfly habitat, or are not yet ready to share same. Sure I read about 7 of Robert Michael Pyle’s books, and how I relish having the networks of friends that he had/has.

I fly on March 28th to Israel, and plan to spends days away in the Golan mountains and the very upper Galilee region. I’ve had much less ‘luck’ there, never having been able to coax anyone to meet meet anywhere, at anytime. For those who have been visiting wingedbeauty.com for some time, know that when I have posted images of Israel ( read that HolyLand or Middle Eastern ) butterflies, it has been the fruit of sheer determination, field guide/map strategizing, and the mother of them all . . . Luck.

This year in the USA, my new goals include Diana fritillaries in the northern Georgia mountain ( with nary a single offer of where, when ), the Cofaqui giant skipper butterfly ( for me AKA the needle in the haystack butterfly ) and satyrs and alpines in northern Maine and Ontario ( w/o having found anyone to . . . . ). Place your $$$ on me meeting Diana, for I am determined to make their acquaintance.

Jeff