Gray Hairstreak Swoon

Gray Hairstreak photographed by Jeff Zablow at Fort Federica, Saint Simons Island, GA

This one’s surely near the top of the List. What List? The List of butterflies that still stop you in your tracks, slow you down, and somehow force you to retrace your steps and come gawk at them. Approaching impossible is passing up a handsome Gray Hairstreak Butterfly without doing that, stopping to get closer, have a good look.

Equally difficult to do is take a good look at this, and Not capture a few exposures of it, de$pite the high cost of film and that.

What’s also on my List? Monarchs, Mourning Cloaks, Palamedes Swallowtails, Pipevine Swallowtails, those legions of tiny Carolina Satrys, Viceroys, American Ladies and Silver-Spotted Skipper butterflies.

Glad I am that I stopped to oogle this one, at Ft. Federica on St. Simons Island, that destination suggested by Virginia.

Jeff

Hickory? Yes? Yes!

Hickory Hairstreak photographed by Jeff Zablow at Akeley Swamp, NY

It should have been drums and trumpets! but I was buzzed anyway. Barbara Ann and I returned to Akeley Swamp, in very western New York State. That sunny morning, with barely a breeze, the last days of June 2018 lined the Akeley Swamp trail with hundreds, really, hundreds of healthy Common Milkweed plants. 90% of them sported big, globular flowerheads.

Irony was the word. Hundreds of thousands of Milkweed flowers, and so few butterflies? The oddest thing happened. My cell phone, zippered away in a pouch in my backpack, suddenly rang. Wow! Reception is such an isolated place. I opened the call, and found myself talking to my credit card company, about a fraudulent transaction. Iron because I flew into Pittsburgh to see family and photograph, and the action was so limited, that I was calmly talking a cell phone call.

Call ended (not so pleasantly), I went back to surveying those hundreds of thousand of tiny milkweed flowers, slowly and carefully. That’s when I saw this. Hairstreaks always stop one in their tracks. That because if it were a Gray, it would be good. A Striped would be better again. A Banded? Wow! White M? Unbelievable. A Coral? Am I dreaming? An Edwards? In Akeley Swamp? Astounding. Should it be an Acadian? That’d be my 3rd.

I stared and stared. It moved ever so slowly over the Asclepias syriaca blossoms. That’s when I came to realize that it was . . . a Hickory Hairstreak!!! Drums!!!! & Trumpets!!!! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Hickory before, and own no images of one. Glassberg in Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America? A “R-U” butterfly = Rare to Uncommon. Happy Days Are Here Again . . .

See, that’s the thing. When you photograph butterflies, you just, never, never know. Morning made, Yes, it must have never gone to modeling school, ’cause it just about never gave me a good look at it. That said, here’s my Hickory. Yes, ‘my’ Hickory. Thanks BAC.

Jeff

A Rich Gray

Gray Hairstreak Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Habitat, Eatonton, Georgia

Working the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia, I’m mostly keeping my eyes peeled for ‘fresh.’ It’s much like my careful, not rushed time spent in Giant Eagle or Publix produce sections. I look long and hard for fresh bananas, fresh cantaloupes (well marked netting, that dark green scar and no bruise ), corn in season, with the stem-tip light color (picked that morning) and oranges a deep color and free of bruises and dents. Maybe I should share my desired watermelon, that secret info the result of many conversations with farm owners at their farm-side produce stands. Good-looking shape, rich green netting and most important of all, a fine patch of sweet yellow color on the underside.

‘Fresh’ at the BBHabitat usually means seeking tiger swallowtail butterflies, pipevine swallowtails, monarchs, giant swallowtails, cloudless sulphur, gulf fritillaries, the rarely seen variegated fritillaries, hackberry emperors, longtail skippers, spicebush swallowtails, red-banded hairstreaks, zebra heliconians and the less often seen zebra swallowtails . . . I always want to capture each of these when they are spectacular, ‘fresh’ yes, and particularly good looking.

Seeing this especially handsome Gray hairstreak butterfly was a surprise, for they just don’t show themselves here much. A rich, very rich gray, whose orange spot rates a long satisfying look, for a guy who eats a fresh (and now you know carefully selected) orange every morning for breakfast.

Jeff

Trail of Galilee Memories

Apharitis Cilissa butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

It was a trail of surprises, this one on Mt. Meron in the Upper Galilee. So many butterflies, and so many surprises. This was the trail I worked, to find my goal for that week’s butterfly search. With no guidance, I reasoned that if I was in the right place, at the right time = June, just maybe I might find a flight of this rare (Protected) hairstreak butterfly.

I was booked for 5 days in the SPNI Meron reservation, in one of their field houses for visitors. I set out very early that first morning, on the main trail in the SPNI reserve. Some 1/2 miles or so down the trail, at a modest clearing with tiny flowers, there they were. Apharitis cilissa. Tiny, perky little hairstreaks, their upper wing surface speckled beautifully marked underwing surface. Most of them kept their wings closed as they nectared or perched. Some did undulate their closed wings, showing hints of lovely burns orange upper wing.

I worked hard and long to score a shot of those wings fully open. This male glowed in the early morning light, and here he is, resplendent in that flowerbed, along a trail in the very Upper Galilee.

Irony. Just some 2-3 miles north of here, the border with Lebanon, and the murderous Hezbollah, armed and financed by Iran, the same butchers who murdered our brave U.S.Marines.

Jeff