Northern Metalmark Butterfly . . . Yowza, yowza!

Northern Metalmark Butterfly at rest photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lynx Prairie, OH

First we spotted one on a trail that wound its way through moderately wooded habitat, that not very far from Lynx Prairie’s amazing prairie openings. Northern metalmark, my first ever, was quite a Rush! 2016 introduced me to Little Metalmark butterflies along the Georgia coast (Shellman Bluff and more).

Years and years had passed, and after hundreds of trips through field guides of the butterflies of eastern United States, I was thrilled to finally meet the Little and now Northern Metalmarks.

Very tiny they, shooting Macro- lens meant that I had to view all in a pronounced crouch. This time though, June 2017, my lens was a new Canon 100mm/2.8 with . . . ISM! Image stabilizer built in, a sort of gyroscope in the lens that helped correct for camera sway and photographer sway.

My specific goal? To capture the wavy ‘metallic’ lines that course through the wind margins. I wanted them to shine, to Pop! out at you. They reflect sunlight nicely. This one will do for now. In other ways, it’s a good primer of this sweet, sweet butterfly!

The next day, I somehow got separated from our small group, and found myself alone, with a much larger prairie all to myself. After a bit of silly phummfering about well, why . . . I spotted a Northern, then another until one hour later, that prairie and the surrounding wooded edge, introduced me to more than 40 Northern Metalmarks. Yes, I did my Scream! for joy that morning, in Lynx Prairie in Adams County. After years and years of looking west to Ohio, with no one to enable me to see its rich cache of butterflies, Angela and her gang of very Merry! men and women corrected that, in 4 OMG! days in western Ohio.

Jeff

In Brooklyn, We Boys Called It a ‘Do-Over’

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

Like it was yesterday. Playing on East 58th Street, with nary a car going by to bother us, our street had an amazing number of boys. I once  counted those boys on my street, who were in a 3-year age range, including me? . . . 30 boys!

We played all of our sports on that asphalt street, punchball, stickball, football, roller hockey ( never liked that last, as my nutso! friends now had hard sticks in their mits . . . ).

When a kid didn’t like how something went, and felt he had basis, he’d yell . . . “Do-Over.” We were a tough, yet fair bunch of boys, and we honored that when it was fair and square.

This 2016 image of a Little Metalmark, captured in Shellman Bluff, Georgia, ranks for me as a reasonable call for a Do-Over. They are among the tiniest of American butterflies, they nectar on these mini-blooms, themselves inches above the ground. Shooting this look on your belly, risks what happened to me on Jekyll Island, culminating in that tick holding fast to my chest, and a subsequent visit to Urgent Care in Eatonton.

The only way to capture this Sweetheart of an eye-pleaser is to crouch down, all the way down, and talk to my Macro-lens, urging it to do it, do it well, and make Papa happy. Now, know that it was unendingly ultra-humid, and each time I sought to score images, the sweat reached my headband, and soon overran it, salty sweat now pouring into my eyes. Got the picture?

Then I share this, and I share how much I wanted those silvery stripes to sing to you. My new lens ( the last quit on me ) has the built-in Image-$tabilizer feature, so . . . .

Jeff wants . . . a  . . . Do-Over!

Thanks to Nancy and John, sincerely.

Jeff

Chasing Those Silvery Metallic Lines

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

Facebook has taught me a new word, “Arrgh!.” Just the perfect word for someone who is in Shellman Bluff, Georgia, chasing Little Metalmark butterflies, from tiny bloom to tiny bloom.

We’ve chronicled earlier that this butterfly is one of the tiniest in North America, and it prefers these tiny yellow blooms, which rise just 3″ from the ground. These little Tinkerbells of butterflies do not linger long on a bloom, nectar -up quickly, and they they are off to the next flower top, 4 feet away. Me, I’ve just scrunched down, Canon camera equipped with Macro-lens, and just when I am ready to capture that image . . . my ‘subject’ has flown, and me, I’m alone down there, ‘naturally. You must sober up then, remember how seriously you want a good image, how long you’ve travelled to get it, and how much you want to share . . . with . . . You.

My major objective? Those silvery metallic lines on forewings and hindwings. How do I want them? There lies the challenge. I want them as they reflect the bright coastal Georgia sunlight. I want to catch the “solder lines” effect.

Well, I seem to have achieved that here, in part. What does that mean for me? It means that I’m aching to get back to that little wildflower bed, and ‘cross the red zone’ and ‘score!’ an ever better look (Tonight is the Super Bowl).

Place your bets!

Jeff

Little Metalmark Butterfly . . . photo by Phineas T. Bluster

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

Ecstatic! That’s what I was when I arrived in Shellman Bluff, Georgia. Nancy and John could not have been more gracious. Four days on the Georgia coast, with the river just behind, looking out at the panoramic wetland.

Nancy and John are birders, who have more recently begun photographing butterflies. They said that they would do all that they could to find us Little Metalmarks, Eastern Pygmy blues, Great Southern whites, Salt Marsh Skippers and more. Both have eagle-eyes, and both could not have been more gracious, spotting for me, and giving me first dibs.

My first introduction to Little Metalmarks, I had to pause and just amaze at how tiny they were. Tiny and nectaring on tiny yellow blooms. How tiny? Very tiny. Wingspan of less than ¾ of an inch. That buzzed me, for it explained why most of the images of this butterfly that I had ever seen weren’t prize winners.

Why, because they are sooo tiny, and they remain on a bloom for a short time, and to capture what I most wanted, my Macro- lens and I had to get down, down, down to them, and then . . . once down with them, they would leave the flowerhead, and move to another, 8 feet away. So there I am, now down almost to the ground, looking at, a butterfly-less flower.

What was it that I most wanted? I wanted to capture those silvery metallic lines that span their wings, as those metallic lines reflected the sunlight. It was a sunny day, so I shot away, asking my back to be patient and stick with me.

So, I wish I could say that this image was taken by Phineas T. Bluster (of fleeting fame), but alas, this is my image, of a Super day in Shellman Bluff (I love that name), courtesy of Nancy and John, and those precious winged beauties, Little Metalmarks.

Please, no pitching of brickbats! LOL

Jeff . . . humbled in the presence of flying jewels