Here’s what you get when the lighting is right, your camera light meter provides accurate readings, your timing is good: early morning and all, the wind is at its minimum, no fliers fly by to upset your butterfly, there are no hikers passing by and you are in the wet, rocky, forests that Northern Pearly-eye butterflies prefer.
The best look I’ve had at a Northern Pearly-Eye over those 12 years of shooting that trail. Do I still remember that time? Yes, Ma’am.
Raccoon Creek State Park, Hookstown, Pennsylvania, some 35 minutes west of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Nichol Road trail, alongside a tiny creeklet. One of my favorite of all spots. Missed much, from my new home in Georgia.
So many likes of mine are seen here: I Love and Fantasize at acidic Shagnum bogs; Shots with unusual backlighting intrigue me; and I get excited each and every time I find a Pearly-Eye butterfly. When these and I think other ‘likes’ of mine converge, Wow! I feel of Rush of joy! that is slow to leave me.
This Northern Pearly-Eye butterfly was spotted at mystical Allenberg Blog, near Frewsburg in very western New York State. When I look carefully, I’m able to see those sweet white ‘pupils’ of the hindwing eyes. Nice! Very nice!
Barbara Ann Case OBM” led me to Allenberg. I recently wrote of how difficult the hike must have been for her, and how the BAS should/could have made it somewhat more doable for her. Quit? Nope, after rest after rest, she insisted on seeking the bog. We did, as you see here. On our last attempt, the next year, once again the BAS rebuffed her, we tried without clear mapping, and we did not find the bog, she, exhausted, concerning me that we might need EMS to come . . . and try to find us (no cell coverage). I shall not soon forget the BAS’s lack.
The Tamarack Pine – Sphagnum Moss Allenberg Bog was beautiful and eerie. Yes, I saw it as eerie! In a sparsely populated part of western New York State, there were Amish farms found here and there in the surrounding land, but little more. The bog is owned by the Buffalo [New York] Audubon Society, and they keep the bog unbothered by making it very difficult to hike to, to locate.
I made that 3/4 miles give or take hike with Barbara Ann Case, the haphazard blazes on trail trees causing us to lose our way often. She passed weeks ago, and I now understand how callous the Buffalo Audubon Society was, for I now realize how she struggled on that not easy hike to the bog, despite her earlier attempts to get their help in insuring that our hike would be reasonable. A seasoned Orchid expert and I surely should have been helped by the BASociety, our intention noble, our skills real and our love for the Bog, deep.
Finally at the bog, look what we met! A Northern Pearly-Eye butterfly, warming its wings in the early morning sun of June, those scrumptious eyes resplendent, each ringed in tasty light orange. My oh my oh my.
A fresh Pearly-Eye butterfly seen with full dorsal wing extension, at a Tamarack Pine bog! Yes, I’ve used quite a few !’s here, but they tell the awe! we felt in this magical, age-less place.
NB, I continue to miss Barbara Ann, her kindness, her knowledge of Orchids and Monarchs, and the incredible destinations that she shared.
Rose and Jerry assured me that we’d find one of the most difficult of Southern butterflies, the Southern Pearly-eye butterfly. They inhabit moist, treed lowlands where cane grows. Glassberg in his Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America has Southerns as the most difficult of the Pearly-eye butterflies to locate.
Most difficult is an understatement. We met in the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in central Georgia, U.S.A. and we headed out to what a Park Ranger forewarned me was a risky habitat that harbored mosquitoes that have transmitted diseases to earlier visitors! I’d grown up amidst a host of risks, and learned to live in a world of other risky situations . . . but entering that steamy, super-saturated lowland did make me wonder if the risk was worth it? Every step was a slough through mud that slowed you down to a crawl, the mosquitoes and flies were fierce, trees and limbs were down everywhere, breathing was difficult, the air hot and seemingly low in oxygen . . .
Rose and Jerry seemed undeterred by all of those negatives, they almost bounding through it all. Amazing, I thought.
Here’s one of the Southern Pearly-eye Butterflies that Rose spotted, and talked me over to. They were almost unapproachable, fleeing on my stumbling, noisy approach. No matter that, for here’s a fine, fresh Southern, and after examining it, study the terrain. See what I mean?
Thank G-d I did not contract any of those horrible diseases. Imagine, a habitat that makes you cringe, just thinking of it, yet a habitat that had all 3 of the Pearly-eye species that morning! All 3!!
Had to be more than a decade, me working that productive Nichol Road trail at Raccoon Creek State Park. That southwestern Pennsylvania trail partly skirted a tiny, always moving creeklet. That’s where I ocassinaly saw Northern Pearly-eye Butterflies.
The trouble was, they almost never allowed me and my trusty Macro- lens to get close enough . . . We who do this have wishes, wishes of butterflies we’d like to photograph, REALLY want to photograph in all their, fresh, healthy glory.
My wish list? Northern Pearly-Eye used to be way at the top of my List. Others? Satyrs, Goatweed Leafwing, Metalmarks, King’s Hairstreaks and Giant Skippers. Oh, and Elfins, lots of Elfins?
When I was working Nichol Road trail, I spotted this spectacular Northern. My approach was especially cautious. I went down in my patented way, down to rest on my left knee pad. Good. I could have begun to serenade, with “When you wish upon a star, Makes no difference who you are, When you wish upon a star, Your dreams come true.”
Our star Northern stay in place, as if posing for me. Magnificent. Beautiful. Incredibly elegant, all these applied. The images? I prize 3 of them, they among my most beloved.