Caron 5

Mourning Cloak Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Toronto Canada

I’m counting, Caron, counting the many reasons that I select this image as one of my 5 favorites. This gorgeous Mourning Cloak butterfly. Where’d I meet this elusive beauty? Smack-dab! in a large park in the city of Toronto, Ontario. How I met it, I will not forget.

Mourning Cloaks are few and far between in southwestern Pennsylvania. They are solitary, and mostly fly in the Spring and in the Fall. Their preference is on or about trails that pass through dappled shade, near running stream and rivulets. I’ve posted earlier how that Mourning Cloak, months after I lost Frieda A”H, flew above my head, some 70 or so feet up, then disappeared out of sight. ???? It flew to my hat, and rested there. Next it flew up again, to about 70 feet, and flew down the trail some 100 feet, turned and flew over my head once again, at the same hight of 70 feet. Then . . . it was gone. I lost it all, and cried like a baby, I did. I had lost my love and best friend, and my whole being made a connect with that Mourning Cloak, in a way that defies explanation.

When I began to date, after that void in my life, I began seeing a new friend in Toronto. Six hour plus drive from Pittsburgh. On that certain trip, I brought my camera. We went for a walk in a pretty Toronto park, West Don Park, I think. I notice a modest break in the bushes that lined a walk, and told her I’d be back in a second . . . I pushed through that likely deer passageway through the heavy shrubbery and I entered a small meadow, one I will never forget. It was almost filled with Common Milkweed (Asclepias Syriaca). They bore round huge flower heads, and on those extraordinary blooms were squadrons of Mourning Cloaks, and skippers and other butterflies. Loaded. I was in a kind of butterfly shock. All, or nearly all were fresh and comely.

This is my favorite from that magical meadow in the center of Toronto. I had for Oh! so long wanted a Mourning Cloak image that boasted their rich color, the maroon of the wings, the eye-popping blue spots of the wing margins and the lemon-yellow of the wing edges.

And there is the very real Sigh! I feel, recalling a Mourning Cloak so beautiful that its escape, just as I was now down on the floor of Nichol Road Trail continues to sort of haunt me. It had flown to the perpendicular bit of rock at the side of the trail, and posed there, a sight for Happy eyes. I’m down on my tummy, raising my Canon, and . . . it flew!!!

A OMG! Mourning Cloak moves me, for sure it does.

Jeff

Guess Where We Met?

Mourning Cloak Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Toronto Canada

Mourning Cloak Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Toronto Canada

Oh Super! the caption affixed to this image gives it away immediately. I was going to offer Borneo, Cuba, Kenya and Mongolia . . . but you now know we met in Toronto.

Favorite ice cream? Breyer’s Mint Chip. Favorite meat? Grilled Lamb chops. Favorite trail? Nichol Road trail in Raccoon Creek State Park. Favorite state? Pennsylv/eorgia.

Favorite butterfly? This Mourning cloak butterfly. They fly in March, April, May, June . . . then you can’t find them until . .  September, October and maybe, maybe a bit into November. When you see one like this one, Busting with rich color, it’s like that time when you were 16 or 17 and you entered the . . .  and there she/he was and you almost couldn’t . . .  And it’s about the same, you’re thinking don’t, don’t leave stay there and let me get my act together, ’cause . . . .

It was one like this one that busted me up  that morning on Nichol Road trail, so soon after she passed . . .

From Maine down to northern Florida, and across North America.

Citing favorites is a fool’s errand, but you do expect me to not hold back here, so . . . it’s this one, the Mourning Cloak.

Jeff

Winter Antidotes I

Mourning Cloak Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Toronto

Bitter cold, bone-chilling wind, always the threat of snow flurries, or even more disarming, snow. This New York, cum Pittsburgh boy has known northeast winters throughout his life.

15 years of seeking butterflies, seriously, has added another negative to my winter list. No butterflies (wild).

Let’s share this as the first of a number of winter antidotes. After all, these Mourning Cloak butterflies (Nymphalis Antiopa) are generally the very first to be seen, and that’s often during the last week in February, sometimes with much snow on the ground.

So friends, for those go-getters who are willing, it may be just a modest 54 days plus or minus, until our first northeastern butterflies take wing.

How? Don’t most require a minimum of 60 F to fly? Yes, most do, but this butterfly flies when it is much colder than that. Then how can the manage without nectar about? Mourning cloaks enjoy sugary sap dripping from maples and other trees, and they food on scat.

54? OK.

Jeff

 

Going Back to Try Again

Mourning Cloak Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Toronto Canada
So beautiful, and so difficult to photograph. This image of a Toronto, Canada Mourning Cloak is the most satisfying one that I have in my slide storage cabinet. . . and yet when I examine it, I long for the next opportunity to improve on it. This species of butterfly is among my favorites for many reasons. Totally unexpected when you meet one, at times approachable and often very skittish, colors that dazzle, and that session I had with one some years ago, after my wife passed.

Last year, in June 2013 I was on Mt. Meron, in northern Israel. I was there to meet for the first time with another bedazzler of a beauty, the Two-Tailed Pasha (Charaxes Jasius) butterfly. OMG! I only saw 3 during my 4 days on the mountain. They must have been trained by the IAF (Israeli Air Force). Each was resting on the trail, each would not allow me any closer than 30 feet, and each disappeared to Eastern Strawberry Trees at incredible speed.

I am going back to Israel again, on June 18th. Back to Mt. Meron, back to capture images of Two-Tailed Pashas. I will not be posting on wingedbeauty.com until my return to the States on July 17. Hopefully we will have celebrated the birth of a grandchild, and I will return with photographs of many butterflies, including Two-Tailed Pashas. Also . . . hopefully Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Iran will not ‘boil over’ while I am there, or forever, for that matter.

Au revoir!