Red-Banded Delight

Red-Banded Hairstreak butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

You’ve got to keep your eyes peeled for them. I now know where to find them in the Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat. I know when to look for them there, where, and I know that you have to look for them, because at 1″ across, wing to wing, they are ‘t’ as in tiny. A Red-banded hairstreak.

They fly roughly from Pennsylvania down to Florida, and have several broods (generations), raising the likelihood that you’ll see one . . . again, if you look. I am always looking, especially here in central Georgia. Why? Well, the southern Red-bandeds have broader, more prominent red-orange bands across their hindwings. I’m a sucker for those red-bands, truth be told.

This gent was camera ready. That band, bordered in white, those 2 pairs of tiny tails, that light blue patch, adequate eyespots, neat spotted legs and antennae and . . . those perky eyes and palps. The whole package.

You can’t help but perk up! when your eyes set on a fresh Red-banded hairstreak like this guy. A Red-banded delight!

Jeff

 

Oh, Not A Gray Hairstreak

Gray hairstreak Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Jamestown Audubon Center in New York

There it was. Quick thinking, was, it’s a Gray Hairstreak, and although its here at the Jamestown Audubon Center’s lush reserve, I have many good images of Grays. Nevertheless, always aware that unique looking individuals can be fun, I shot, shot, shot.

Here now, Oh Wow! a Gray Hairstreak, Not! It’s a . . . Banded Hairstreak. Deep gray color shows here, the blue marginal patch is bright blue, and the banding on the hind wing resonates, Banded.

Hairstreaks sometimes startle, because we spend most of our time chasing butterflies or staking-up to them while they are nectaring, or while they are on trails or mud puddling. This look typifies many of our Hairstreak finds, males, perched on leaves, 3 feet to 5 feet off of the ground.

Cech & Tudor’s Butterflies of the East Coast surprised me, for they tell, “This is the most common and widespread of our Satyrium hairstreaks.” I have ID’d no more than 3 of them in these 20 years, so, “common” for them is rare for me. This is a forest butterfly, found near oaks, hickories, and walnut trees. I rarely find myself in hickory or walnut forests, so that may play some factor in my infrequent encounters with Satyrium calanus.

Passive when I met him, I am now enthusiastic with this unexpected identification. Good. Very good.

Jeff

My Juniper Hairstreak . . . Well . . . .

Juniper Hairstreak butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Panola Mountain State Park, GA

On the trail ascending to the granite cap of this hill in Panola Mountain State Park, east of Atlanta, Georgia. Phil and his family leading the way, a Sunday hike, all for my benefit (well much to my benefit). The spoken goal to find and shoot Juniper Hairstreak butterflies. Phil knows this park like we know the palms of our hands, and I was psyched, truth be told.

I had never seen a Juniper before. Shortly, amongst a mixed granite surface, Phil spotted this one. Not up in a Juniper tree or bush, but amongst tiny little groundcover, bearing also tiny white flowers. Down to the ground I went, to make my first courtesy call to a Juniper Hairstreak! On the Restricted trail, in that Restricted portion of the Park, I met and was wooed by my first Juniper hairstreak.

This butterfly is not a nervous-type, rather they tolerate some approach and they move relatively slowly. After a bit of time they fly, but usually to a not too far away new perch.

Accept that I knew that this spot was to be a challenge, very low to the ground, somewhat shaded, and the angle to the butterfly was not the ideal parallel preferred (lens and subject parallel to each other).

I shot, shot, shot, and shot some more. Y’all see the result Bingo! fast. Me? Had to wait until I got home to Pittsburgh, then FedExed my film to Kansas, then waited until my slides were returned.

This is my best share. Pleased with the clear green in it, I am some reserved as to how the rest compares to other images I’ve seen. Remember, my goal has long been to match or better the images of butterflies seen in field guides. This one, well . . . But, but I’m in Georgia, on a Restricted site, with Phil and his terrific family, and here I am being entertained in the court of the Juniper Hairstreak. One pleased puppy I am, all things considered.

Jeff

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