Friday for Coral Hairstreaks?

Coral Hairstreak Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

This morning at Raccoon Creek State Park set the table for me, so to speak. The huge Doak Meadow (100 acres +/-) was green and lush, with frenetic male Great Spangled Fritillaries flying non-stop in their desperate search for females. I did see two females, but they stayed low to the ground, flying under the upper stratum of meadow grasses, perennials and shrubs.

There was a near total absence of Bergamot (had a big display in 2014), common milkweed plants were in the minority, even dogbane was not as numerous as years gone by. Joe Pye Weed was present here and there along the forest that edged the meadow, but here another puzzling minimal showing. Goldenrod was coming along, but it too appeared to be reduced in concentration.

The big find of the morning were a handful of Northern Pearly Eyes, looking fine, and probably pleased with the rains that we had a few days ago. One Northern, with what seemed like a smile, offered a swell pose, if, if I set my foot into a small puddle. I did, and my boot sank 4″ into mud! Absent were Wood Nymphs, and the Little Wood Satyrs were all (?) worn and very pale in color. One Little Wood Satyr gave me a full, unhurried photo opp of its dorsal surface, but it was quite worn, with heavy scale loss.

Before I called it a morning, I found this clump of Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa). It’s the same group of plants that this image shows. They were a day or two away from opening. The Coral Hairstreak butterfly you see here is usually difficult to find, and these blooms are their very favorite. You know I’m thinking, wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could cop an image of Coral and Butterfly Weed that surpasses this one?

That means returning those 37.2 miles in 2 days, on Friday, June 24th. No guarantees, and if I can return to this spot, it might also mean bringing my tiny folding seat, and waiting patiently for the Corals to show up, if 2016 is a year when they do. There are no guarantees, only perseverance, tenacity,  enthusiasm and . . . a dab of Luck.

Jeff

Red-Banded Hairstreak in the Briar Patch

Red-banded Hairstreak Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, GA

There is so much air traffic in the Birds & Blooms in the Briar Patch, leaving you wishing that your head could swivel 360 degrees, and new, not yet introduced butterflies enter, sample and exit the tens of thousands of nectar-dripping flowers. Lots of them are large. Swallowtails, Fritillaries, Hackberrys, Monarchs, Painted Ladies are all noticeable, and Jeff’s eyes acknowledge their comings and goings. All purposeful, nectar seekers, mate hunters, and territory claimers.

At the southern section there, a line of giant Mexican sunflowers (Tithonia) does just about what the nearby Publix Markets does. It was there that my eyes registered something a-flight, a tiny butterfly, and, and, there was that red band, that gorgeous red band. Red-banded Hairstreak!! Approach, approach, good, still there. Technique positioning, good. Is it fresh? Yes! I Love this butterfly. Calycopis cecrops. The red band is edged outwardly in white, it has 2 pairs of tiny tails and the blue patch at the hindwing edge is baby blue. This is one tiny, neat butterfly. Striped legs, orange tipped antennae, and those pookie eyes, bordered in white.

Eatonton, Georgia, and a dandy of a hairstreak. A tiny looker, for sure.

Jeff

An All American Butterfly

White M Hairstreak butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Today is 9/11. I remember who told me it happened, I remember where I was when he told me, I remember the look on John’s face, all the blood had drained from him, forehead to chin. I remember how I could not believe it, even though I saw it on the tiny little TV on his desk.

I remember always how my father, gone this past May 16, 2015, told me that he and his WWII buddies made sure that we never have such a war again. When I served in the 2nd How 287th Arty, I would sometimes remember what he told me. Those 155 mm howitzers (towed) were beasts, and they made me think alot.

Well this all-American hairstreak butterfly, the White-M hairstreak happens to fly at this time. You may not notice it because it is kind of rare now, but this tiny beauty sports – Red, White and Blue.

Jeff

Guess What Else I Shot?

Coral HairstreakButterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park
July 9, 2015 I loaded the Tundra, suitcase, photograph backpack (LL Bean), gluten-free food, snack, Red Wing boots, plus, and drove the 202 miles to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Stayed in a Hampton Inn there, and early July 10th drove to where I wanted to go for the last decade! This was the 3rd of 4 days that the Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation opened the military base for visitors to try to see . . . Regal Fritillaries (Speyeria idalia). I expected 20 people total to be there with me. Uh, uh. 130 came to join me.

The drive to the hotel was in rain, with tornado warnings. The forecasters called this one perfectly, because on Friday, it was magnificent. Sun, low 80’s, low humidity and no wind. Wow!

Big crowd? Yes. But very soon the expansive open fields caused the folks to space themselves well, and with the guidance and patience of Jake Fronko, a staff biologist posted there, it was Wonderful, with that capital ‘W.’ I saw upwards of 50 Regal frits during my 2.5 hours of searching. I was ecstatic. They are exquisite, and they often allowed themselves to be photographed, at close range. I even photographed a mating pair.

Funny, I’ve been on the lookout for Coral Hairstreaks, like this one seen some time ago at Raccoon Creek State Park, and there they were, sharing Butterflyweed flowerheads with the regals and Monarchs, too.

It will take some time before my film (Fuji slide/ASA 50) is processed and scanned. I do look forward to sharing them shortly, and I hope that I’ve captured some beauts. I’ve waited actually some 14 years to have my own Regal images, and this short wait for me will be just fine, Thank you.

When you have all the elements of a super duper photography opportunity, are there at the right time (I was), and have seriously good, serious guides like Jake and Dave McNaughton (also staff on base), you produce a day that you can easily remember 20 years later, G-d willing.

Jeff