Schooled By Little Metalmarks

Little Metalmark butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Shellman Bluff, GA

There they were, finally. Little Metalmark Butterflies. Shellman Bluff, Georgia, along the eastern coast of the USA. Months of anticipation, and there I was with Nancy and John. I should have expected them to be tiny, but truth be told, I was taken aback, for they were smaller than tiny. They were tinier than tiny.

They were methodically nectaring on tiny yellow blooms, and they all but posed, as they slowly worked the flowers, one after another.

I’ll admit to a bit of personal bravado, me thinking that I will leave there with several excellent exposures of these flying gems. I especially wanted to capture images with those silvery hindwing bands, smartly reflecting the strong Georgia sun.

And? Well I’ve studied and restudied the 6 or so exposures that I didn’t pitch into the trash. This one, for instance does Pop! those silvery bands, features other decent Little Metalmark shares (one good antenna, an OK abdomen and a decent eye capture).

17% overconfident Jeff, got schooled by those Metalmarks. Why?

They were so tiny that they required that I crouch over in a very uncomfortable position, that awkward twist of body became increasingly difficult to sustain. They did move across the flower, forcing frequent movement and camera adjustment, then they would fly some 2-3 feet to another flower, sending me following them, into yet another and another pronounced crouch. Soon the sweat begin beading up on my forehead and then, sweat would trickle down over eyes, the Georgia morning humidity soon semi-blinding me, salt in the eyes.

This was before I upgraded to my Canon 100mm/2.8 IS (Image Stabilization) lens. IS lenses compensate for the almost imperceptible sway that moves the camera lens when you shoot such tinies in such challenging shoots.

So, yes, those Little Metalmarks schooled me, learned me good, to not come into the field fully expecting to land the big one, so to speak. Beware specks of butterflies on minuscule flowers, on steamy hot mornings , for the odds of copping a dropdead gorgeous image of the bejeweled Little Metalmark favor Las Vegas, and not the boy from Brooklyn!

Jeff

Fatal Metalmark Butterfly

Fatal Metalmark butterfly (2) photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Another dividend collected from my late December 2017 trip to the Lower Rio Grande Valley. When I was shown this tiny metalmark, I was really Happy, so Happy. I met a Little Metalmark butterfly in Shellman Bluff, Georgia in 2016. In June of 2017 I met dozens and dozens of Northern Metalmarks in Adams County, Ohio, just miles from the Kentucky border.

This Fatal Metalmark butterfly is now my 3rd metalmark from Texas, and the southern reaches of New Mexico, Arizona and California.

All the metalmarks I’ve seen are especially small. They all move, fly and rest with much conviction and self-assurance. Have I completed my metalmark campaign? Uh, no. There remain 22 metalmarks found in the 48 U.S. states that I’ve not yet been introduced to.

Any leads?

Jeff

 

 

WingedBeauty Marks Three of Twenty-five Species of Metalmarks!

Little Metalmark butterfly on bloom, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Shellman Bluff, GA

New Year’s Eve, December 31st, 2015 came and went, and I still hadn’t seen a Metalmark. Come 2016, and see here; I fixed that. Here we are with a rather fine looking right forewing and hindwing, of a Little Metalmark, in Shellman Bluff, Georgia. Meeting up with this Oh So Tiny flying winged beauty? Good, very good.

Angela and Barbara Ann invited me to join them in very south-central Ohio, and there I found as many as 50 Northern Metalmarks. How Happy I was that morning! Seems that I just love Metalmarks. I strive to capture the reflection of sunlight off of those scintillating ribbons of silvery strips. Here, I just about did, sort of almost.

Just weeks ago, I was in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, and at the National Butterfly Center, I saw Fatal Metalmarks. I will soon share these images.

Now I’m an owner of A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America (Glassberg, 2017), and my education continues. There are 25 species of Metalmarks that fly in the United States. Some are residents here, others are uncommon migrants.

25 Species! What does one do, when one has seen 3 of 25, and just loves meeting new Metalmarks? What?

Jeff

Getting Those Metalmarks

Little Metalmark butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Shellman Bluff, GA

I’m on the lookout for images that fully capture the magic of the silvery lines of Metalmark butterflies. That because these last 2 years I’ve struggled to snag such an image.

Last year with Nancy and John in  Shellman Bluff, Georgia there they were, nectaring and perching on the side of that road. Me, I thought this is it!, my first-ever look at Little Metalmarks, and I will score pictures with knockout silvery lines. Uh, they were tinier than I expected, they were perches some 3″ above the ground, they shifted almost constantly on flower heads, my back soon began to talk to me, and that humid coastal Georgia air had the sweat coursing down my face, fogging me up!

This is one of those 2016 Shellman Bluff images. Detaching as I can from my own product, well . . . I can see what you see, and because of that, I want another shot at these sweeties.

My June 2017 OMG! work in Kamama Prairie Preserve in very south-central Ohio, amongst dozens of Norther Metalmarks, copped lots of images, but . . . getting those Metalmark silvery wavy lines continues to irk a bit.

Jeff wants . . . better.That means time, travel, accomodation$, $lide film/processing and the cooperation of the unflappable Angela of Ohio.

Think that Jeff will revisit Shellman Bluff and Adams County in 2018, right time, right place?

Jeff

Northern Metalmark at Kamama

Northern Metalmark Butterfly on Oxe-eye Daisy photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lynx Prairie, OH

That day again in June 2017, when after lingering a bit too long at something that caught my eye, I found myself Totally Separated from the small group I was part of. Descending into a mood I am not now  proud of, I called for a quorum of  experts, and me, myself and I fulfilled that call. We (all the I’s) concluded that I was ditched by the group, and an unfortunately ‘bad’ word or two was uttered. That silly business over with, I decided, What the Heck! I’m always alone on trails, naturally, so go ahead into Kamama Prairie Preserve (privately held land) and make the best of it.

Make the best of it?? It turned from silly drama (mine alone) to Holy Cow! I took the trail around the perimeter of this goodly sized prairie, and spotted a Northern metalmark butterfly. The day before, nearby, in Lynx Prairie, I had seen my first ever Northern. This new day, a second, now a third . . . until I had seen way more than 40, and stopped counting. A sizable flight of these tiny artworks, some nectaring, others resting upon broad leaves, some in the verge near the forest edge, others in the open prairie.

This Northern is at rest upon a prairie daisy. They are so tiny, and prefer being close to the ground, that my Macro- lens work demands that I stoop way down to the ground. Avoiding camera sway was constant, but this time, my New ISM lens was there to enable some fair images to be captured.

I sure did get some share of those nifty ‘metallic’ lines that parallel one another, along the outer margins of forewings and hindwing.

Later I found the group, kept telling myself (internally) to not mention the regrettable thoughts I had earlier, and so restrained, learned that they did . . . not see more than a couple of this winged beauties. Jeff, still growing up.

Adams County, southernmost Ohio.

Jeff