Another 274 Days?

Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly and Edwards Hairstreak on Butterflyweed photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lynx Prairie Reserve, Ohio

I’m still stuck. Still thinking Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Long Island, New York. Still programmed to think of the first week in September as the week to literally wave bye bye to butterflies, until approximately 8 months until that first Cabbage Whited is spotted once agin, in . . . late April?

Open your eyes Jeff, as you sit now in Eatonton, Georgia, home of there Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat, that now world famous home to dozens of species of butterflies. To that add my own 303 Garden, with 25-50 butterflies aloft at any given time. They first appear here in early February and fly through the last week in November. Imagine that, this year Boy Blue’s birthday falls on Thanksgiving Day and something called Rosh Hodesh . . . for Jeff, a Trifecta!

So I relax, ratchet down, knowing that true we won’t be seeing the Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly and the Edward’s Hairstreak Butterfly (Lynx Prairie in Adams County, Ohio) until at least very late June, but we in the South will be winging Welcome! to our butterflies . . . in early February! A minor Miracle for this young man from . . . the concrete, asphalt and brick of Brooklyn, New York!!

Jeff

Things Changed . . . Ohio!

Edwards Hairstreak Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lynx Prairie, OH

New or familiar, you may have read of how I have near zero folks to guide/lead me to new butterflies. As one decade lead to another, this absence of willing guides did sort of displease me.

In 2017, I think it was, Barbara Ann made friends with Angela, just over the border in Ohio. Angela invited some to explore Ohio, and I requested to go too. Request approved, and soon I was with them in the very southernmost county of Ohio, Adams County. Wow!

Here’s one of my many new finds there, in Lynx Refuge Preserve. They must have nearly all eclosed (left chrysalis) the day before, or . . . that morning.

Edward’s Hairstreak, in one of Lynx’s several pristine meadows. I loved them from first sight, those red epaulets and that patch of blue/blue. Those white stripes. Edward’s Hairstreak were more than just a new Lifer butterfly for me. They were placid in the early morning, posing gracefully, and enabling lots of camera shots, lots.

I’d lived next door to Ohio for what, 23 years, with no one inviting me to see zip. Barbara Ann and Angela introduced me to Ohio, and what with Showy Orchids and dozens of new butterflies and wildflowers to me, Ohio is a treasure, much of which I have yet to open.

Jeff

Singing Auld Lang Syne

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Here’s one I’ve not seen for more than 20 years. A Striped Hairstreak Butterfly. We met in the butterfly garden at the Powdermill refuge in Rector, Pennsylvania. This field station of the Pittsburgh Museum of Natural History, established for the study and conservation of birds, was just 1 hour and 25 minutes from my home in Pittsburgh.

These sylvan 2,000+ acres were home to a host of threatened species, including that Eastern Timber Rattlesnake that I met up with there. It was under a tree, in the shade, that 90F+ morning. I see it there, and now when I look back these years later, Frieda A”H was right (again). How did I get those closeup images of the rattler, when I should have know the risk that a father of 4, and husband, works to get closer and closer and closer to . . . ?

This “R-U” rare to uncommon (Glassberg, A Swift Guide to Butterflies) hairstreak was doing what most hairstreaks do, resting on a leaf, being very territorial, when I spotted it. It didn’t take more than a nanosecond for me to realize that this was a new one for me, and I shot away. As Stripeds do, it met my slow, robotic movement with no alarm, and I shot away. What a stunning butterfly!

Its been decades since, and I’ve not met another . . . I think. Their range is said to be Maine to northern Florida, the Atlantic coast to west of the Dakotas, but rare, Oh so rare.

Jeff

Pyle, Berthet, Lawson, Childs . . . and Zablow?

Edwards Hairstreak photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lynx Prairie Reserve, Ohio

Over these decades, every so often, the Media announces the discovery (!^!!#**!) of a heretofore unknown animal. Like you I drop what I’m about to do online, and quickly open the news dispatch, to read of the new OMG! mammal, reptile, fish. I’ve given up on Sasquatch, that Loch Ness thing, the Dodo bird and especially sadly, the Ivory Billed Woodpecker. We’ve way too much populated Earth, and there’s not much territory that has not be trekked over. The African Veldt of my youth is now full of people, full of guides to show you whatever you want, and it seems has been compartmentalized into people place and game reserves.

The loss of the Ivory Billed bit! I took it personally. How could we/they not protect their huge, dense forest stands?

Butterflies? There are some who seek little explored, dense pristine habitat to find rare and they dream, undiscovered butterflies. Pyle’s Big Year, wonderfully described in his book Mariposa Road, Berhtet’s recent explorations, Ian Lawson’s wide travels as well as Child’s, often cause me to question my own reluctance to hit the road, by the hundreds and thousands of miles?

Just recently, I came to a resolution. I will resist the siren’s song of the road, and the airport terminals that I so dislike. One more airport men’s room and I will lose it. One more full body frisk, with me struggling to keep my served my country, OCS completion, ready to go riot control platoon leader in Brooklyn in the late ’60’s, with mouth SHUT.

I will make few long journeys, with the exception of searching the Negev, Galilee & Golan regions of the HolyLand (Israel). I will get my VAVAVAVOOM with the butterflies of our beautiful USA and Canada. No way I’m going to be kidnapped by Shining Path or whatever. That too, that the $$’s lecture.

This Edward’s Hairstreak was one of a fresh flight of 50 or more that marked my first Edward’s ever!!!  Lynx Prairie Reserve, Adams County, Ohio. That was bonkers! exciting, and was just a 6-hours drive from Pittsburgh. Newly discovered butterflies may well exist, but I’m not to travel deep into Cuba or enjoy the unexpected company of latter-day headhunters in Borneo.

Anyone who wants to chat about trips in 2020, I’m all ears. No Uzbekistan. No Honduras. No Mongolia. No Myanmar. Please.

Jeff

I Photograph Butterflies

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

It’s frustrating to watch sylvan habitat lost to development. I’ve been bemoaning the loss since as far as I can recall. That must have begun when I was some 12 years old, and fine ‘bay-side’ land was invaded by bulldozers in the Arverne Section of Rockaway Beach, in New York City’s Queens. I roamed those acres before the ‘dozers came, and their loss, even for a wide awake 12-year old, was forever irreversible.

We didn’t travel at all, and I had no idea how vast the United States were. Pre-teen me thought that soon there’d  be nothing left between Brooklyn and Los Angeles (where many of my friends ended up moving to).

It sure may well be that I still retain that apprehension that butterflies and orchids (didn’t know about natives back then) and bumblebees and darners and such will disappear, on my ‘watch.’ It’s true that back in about the 4th grade, in Public School 244 in Brooklyn, my teacher told us that bald eagles, beavers, and mountain lions would all be gone, during our lifetimes. I’ll never forget that, for it was clear that I’d never even get a chance to see them, except for those sad, forlorn captives in the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn.

So there I was celebrating the losses sure to come, of so much, including plants and animals that were then unknown to me: wildflowers, trees, snakes, lizards, birds (I still hate knowing that the Ivory Billed Woodpecker is lost), bison, the Eastern Timber Wolf, the Regal Fritillary Butterfly that flew where my East 58th Street, Brooklyn house stood, when the British and Hessians marched through there, as they prepared to make their pincer attack on New York, New York.

I am thrilled to go into the bush to find and photograph butterflies. They are still flying, and often in good enough numbers to dissuade me from believing my 4th grade teacher.

There are way too few of us, who seek and shoot butterflies, but that’s what we are doing, and will seek to continue to do. My move, 2 years ago to central Georgia’s Piedmont region pleased me, for there I’ve seen so many new butterflies, some of them in my own yard, it, now busy with hostplants whose siren aromatic signals draw butterflies that we greet with Oohs! and Aahs!

I photograph butterflies, as for example this spiffy Gray Hairstreak.

Jeff