When you pause, to devise your list of things you miss you rediscover how much you enjoyed such, and maybe you allow yourself to imagine . . . how Happy! you’d be to be reunited with those sustainable memories. Sitting here now, my mind is awash with them, the things I deeply miss. Share them? No, they are personal to me, and surely don’t resemble any you have on your own list.
I will mention a butterfly that I would Love to see again. It’s been about a decade since I last saw a Milbert’s Tortoiseshell butterfly. This is a butterfly that flies in to blooms at high speed, then nectars lazily for quite a long time. If you’re positioned nicely, it will tolerate careful approach, and will often allow you to continue following it from bloom to bloom.
This one flew to Teasel, shown here. It was a good stand of Teasel and Common Milkweed at Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. The modestly colored lower wing surface does not prepare you for the spectacular color display of the upper wing surface. OMG!! I had the Honor of seeing what few have seen. This butterfly opened its wings fully, and I was standing just a few feet away. I saw the fabled dance of ‘fire’ as the sun’s powerful summer rays lit the wings ‘ablaze.’ At that angle to the wings, it looked like the wings were on fire!
I saw Milbert’s again in the gardens flanking the walkway to the entrance to the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh. It was nectaring in the planted beds. I was shooting Macro- and the Phipps folks do not tolerate anyone stepping into those flower beds. For that, my Milbert’s images there do not have the intimacy of this image here.
Truth be told, it’s been years since, and I’ve off and on thought that it’s time to get reacquainted. Where? Canada.
Sure this is one of my favorite butterflies. I’ve seen Milbert’s Tortoiseshell butterflies several times. Always an OMG! butterfly, for when the morning is doing just fine, and you’re having good success with butterflies here and there . . . . One flies into your field of view, and it’s not a this or a that, its . . . OMG! a Milberts!!!! Battlestations!
That how I’ve felt when I’ve seen Milbert’s, a northern butterfly for those of us east of the Mississippi River. I remember each and every time I got that healthy buzz. Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania (2x) and here, Bonkers! unexpectedly in the middle of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the Outdoor Gardens of the Phipps Conservatory.
When the upper side is at a 90 degree angle to the strong morning sun, and your eyes are level with the wing surface, the sunlight dances on those reddish-orange wing bands. It looks just like fire! dancing. I saw this with my own eyes at Raccoon Creek. I subsequently read such an account in one of the butterfly field guides.
I’ve learned to temper my tales of Milbert’s, for when I ask folks here, there and everywhere, have you ever enjoyed a Milbert’s, my statisticians count a 99.874% No. Keep vigilant, for if you’re there enough, you just may.
Who’s seen a Milbert’s?
I’m asked many interesting questions with my work photographing butterflies. This one was bulls-eye to the reason for what I do. The Question? Which of your butterfly photos do you remember as being the most exciting?
Good question. it goes right to the heart of why do I do what I do? Almost no one, and no one I know, does what I do nowadays. This July 25th image kept catching my eye, as I searched among more than 400 images for the answer to this query.
Burma? No. Mexico? No. Salvador? No. Provence? No? Mongolia? No. Raccoon Creek State Park, here in southwestern Pennsylvania. A bright sunny morning, and I was there well before 9 A.M.. The usual customers came to the nectar bar, that day offering the following treats: Milkweed nectar, Teasel nectar (featured here), Black-eyed susan nectar and many, many others.
What an extraordinary place to be, for this lucky boy from Brooklyn! Then . . . Holy Cow! What’s that? It just swooped in, and descended on this teasel flowerhead. My first-ever Milbert’s Tortoiseshell!! (Exclamation marks required, because i was beyond ecstatic). Could I approach? I did, and it didn’t panic. Closer (dare I try?)? Yes. Raised my camera lens. Still there, Whew!
It opened its wings, wide. I was stunned. Why? The wings were parallel to the bright sun and, . . . Flames danced across the orangish-reddish bands. Flames! I had never seen anything like it. Ever. I tried to keep my mind clear, and I just kept shooting, as it offered good looks to me. I was yes, praying that 1 or more of my exposures would satisfy.
That’s why this post is entitled ‘Butterfly Battle Stations!’ A rush of adrenaline, ecstasy, and appreciation, as G-d shared a bejeweled treat with . . . me.
Painters keep painting. Writers keep writing. Athletes keep playing tennis, softball and coach their beloved baseball, basketball or football, if they can. Gardeners keep gardening. Folks hunt and fish for a lifetime, if they can.
When I caught this image of Nymphalis milberti, at the Outdoor Gardens of the Phipps Conservatory, I was ecstatic. Her coloration was fresh and rich in color. Rarely seen, and at the southerly edge of its range, it was also well into the perennial beds, preventing me from stepping in to get closer. So, this image was taken at some distance, and each time I view it, I return to the same thought, I want to get a closer image of an equally magnificent Milbert’s.
So 2014 looms ahead as, I hope and pray, a bust-out year. Given limitations of time and $, I aim for some combination of destinations, to broaden our selection of butterfly images and knowledge. Challenge with a capital ‘C.’ I’m not Pyle. I am a member of NABA and Xerces. Nevertheless I have a paucity (an especially useful word here) of contacts and useful advice about the potential destinations that I want to get to: The Keys, Mts. Greylock and Everett, Mt. Meron, Ontario, Portal, a special locale near Albany, Telluride and Regal frit habitat. Fuji film, macro-lens, gluten-free wafers, Redwing boots, Brown hat and raring to go.
You see an image of Nymphalis m. I see challenge. Long drives, airports, motels (?), scouting for gluten free stuff- and then joy! Sheer joy ahead. G-d willing.