My Northern Pearly-eye Butterfly

 

Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

Here’s one that folks rarely share. When I do see a posted image of a Northern Pearly-eye, that little smile appears. I was fortunate to have met this individual on Nichol Road Trail in Raccoon Creek State Park, some 40 minutes west of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

When I spotted it, I was immediately juiced, for it was a magnificent Northern Pearly-eye, and it was perched so majestically on that leaf. They prefer to be at the edges of trails, and almost always very near to water, usually a small stream/creek. All that applied here.

I approached, sooo slowly, all the time asking, of G-d I guess, that this remarkable butterfly stay, not bolt.

I shot away, maybe some 40 exposures (Fuji film, Velvia 100), and these 3, well I found it too difficult to choose one from among them.

Whyi? The colors, though not bright ones, are rich and attractive. The pose of this one is excellent, on those leaves with their deep, becoming green. The background, reduced light, so evokes the favored habitat of this bruishfoot Satry. The outer rims of those forewing eyes are as gold as gold. The hindwing eyes shoot out flashlight white at their centers. The bands on the wings are stark. The eyes are good, the legs seen, the clubs have black, and much more.

I am forever appreciative that I was there, then, and met a gorgeous, understanding butterfly.

Jeff

What Am I Shooting For?

Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

I smile when I look back on those first what?, 10 years of photographing butterflies. Film was cheaper then, Fuji Velvia slide film. Processing the exposed film was less expensive, and scanning too didn’t break your budget. I went out on a typical morning, and returned home with 10 or more rolls shot. I just about chased and photographed any butterfly that I found.

Nowadays, things have changed. My film is very expensive, processing and scanning the slides has also become more expensive. I have also changed. I no longer follow or stalk butterflies that are worn or bird-struck. When I see a spectacular Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (female) or an OMGoodness! Question Mark, I pause, gather my thoughts, and move on. My sizable collection of slides happily includes excellent images of same. Once in a while, I wonder what will happen to that collection, that includes many rare and declining species?

I’ve also given up on waiting for the Butterfly cognoscenti (how do I explain that to y’all?) to come along and visit. As on the streets of Brooklyn, back with ‘them,’ no names. That puzzle awaits I don’t know what.

What, then am I shooting for?

I’m now near ready to share that. I continue with the same energy and anticipation this 2019 . . . for us. For me and for you. I want to find and capture on film the finest, freshest butterflies. They must be of excellent color and form, male and female, if we can determine such.The color of my work must be exactly as it looks in the field, real-time. Film continues to be used worldwide because the color it delivers accurately reveals true field color. More than 25 years in the field confirms that. I shoot rolls of 36-exposures, and cull those slides out, usually keeping 2 or 3 per roll, at the most.

Once Katie Funaki has scanned them, I want you there, and me here, to pause for a sec, and whisper, “Wow!” Then, me? I hope you think G-d has really created boundless beauty.

This Northern Pearly-eye Butterfly met me at Raccoon Creek State Park, in southwestern Pennsylvania, USA. That about 380 miles west of where Benjamin Franklin printed his newspapers.

Jeff

The Elusive Southern

Southern Pearly-eye Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

The only Pearly-eye butterfly I’d seen was in southwestern Pennsylvania, and that was the Northern Pearly-eye. Nearly impossible to approach is the Northern. Over many years I’d found some Northerns that held fast to their leafy perches, and allowed me to make my Macro- lens approach. Many of you have seen my Northern images here on earlier wingedbeauty.com posts.

My appetite for Pearly-eyes satiated? No, because I wanted to find and shoot the other 2 American Pearly-eyes, the Southern Pearly-eye and the even more elusive, the Creole Pearly-eye. How to find them, go south young man!

Georgia! I made several trips to the Georgia Piedmont, middle Georgia that is, many miles East of Atlanta. There I made new friends, and it was suggested that I contact Rose and Jerry. The next thing I knew, I was to meet them at the Park Office at Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge. I did and I enjoyed a day I will never forget. Never!

Before we left that Park Office, a Ranger warned me, me!, that I must understand that the wooded bottomlands (wet) we were headed to sickened earlier visitors with several serious, chronic diseases, vectored by mosquitoes. I stood there, as those around me waited for my reaction and response. Me? I thought ‘Cr-p!” I’d grown up on the streets of Brooklyn, often with cold steel in my pocket, navigated a life of frequent risk and danger, been an artillery officer during the early years of Viet Nam, been a Dean in a New York City high school for nearly 6 years (guns, knives, gangs, riots, Connected guys, murder), and well, more. Am I really going to confront a stated risk, disease-transmitting mosquitoes (I think the Ranger told of at least 4 horrible diseases.) Kid Zablow made a snap decision, and we went to the swampy bottomland.

It was as a Hollywood set for a horror movie. Dark, muddy wet, mosquitoes constantly checking to see if my heavy covering of Off! (Deet-25%) was still potent) and all three (3!!!) Pearly-eyes bedeviling us by flying away each and every time we made an approach, forcing us to jump over logs, pull our boots out of the mud, only to find that our Pearly-eye had flown again. Rose and Jerry were selfless, with eagle eyes, always calling me quickly, “Jeff, come quick, a Southern” or “Jeff, over here a Creole, a Creole!”

I was soon exhausted, for I didn’t mention that the humidity there was some 115% and it was hard to breathe, what with the 90F plus heat in that darkened, dank lowland.

You’ve gotta know that none of us quit. They looked like they could have done another 2 hours down there. I must have looked like pudding . . . But, we saw all 3 Pearly-eyes. All 3!

This Pearly -eye is the Southern Pearly-eye butterfly. Forgive the image, for it was very dark under that tree cover, and as you can see, very wet there. I did stop some distance from this beaut, after having so many flee on closer approach. It is a fine looking one though.

I left that site at Piedmont beyond exhausted. Hours of mucking in dank, muddy dark, mosquito infested swampy habitat. Happy as a duck, for I saw and shot all 3 Pearly-eye butterflies. Rose and Jerry? My heroes.

The elusive Southern Pearly-eye captured . . . on Fuji Velvia 100 slide film, that film straining to reward Jeff despite real, dark, super moist light.

Jeff

Northern Pearly Eye Thrills

Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Allenberg Bog in New York

They are often hard to find. They stay in shade, or within several feet of shaded spots. On your approach, they flee, flying low, but with the skill of an accomplished F-16 pilot. Few of us ever get to savor the spots that adorn their closed wings. What we are lucky to see is just that, their ventral (the underside) wings’ surfaces.

So they are demure, very. They do not come out and display their comely features or bling. Mostly they stay to those margins of the forest, very prim ands proper, and shy, so shy.

That is why this image of such a Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly stands out for me. This one allowed my approach, and I was thrilled, because it was there taking in whatever early morning sun it felt safe to absorb. Thrilled for how many get to see this? See the milk chocolate hue of those wings, and the handsome array of those spots,  each bordered in yellow gold? He is a hunk, no doubt of that.

Jeff

Caron 2

Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

‘Jeff’s Earrings’ served as my first pick, responding to Caron, she asking what may be my 5 favorite butterfly images. My first photo was shared here yesterday.

Caron 2? For many years Raccoon Creek State Park was my favorite destination. Doak fields there is a more than 100 acre meadow, where after 3 to 4 hours, I usually saw not a single soul there. Perfect! After those hours in the summer sun, I would hike back to my truck. That 3/4 of a mile hike, went along a moist area, with trees on each side. For many years, I would see Northern Pearly-Eye butterflies fleeing ahead of me. They preferred that short stretch of Nichol Road trail, enjoying the dappled shade, moist forest borders and nearby little stream. I scored few shots of them, ever.

This time, about 4 years ago, my eyes searched the low growth of the trail edges. There it was, a very, very fine Northern Pearly-Eye. It was a good size and . . . it held to its leaf.

I so, so slowly made my approach, decided not to cop ‘insurance’ images. I was going in, robotically. I’m pretty sure I had Fuji Velvia ASA 100 (faster) film in camera. I began talking to this gem telepathically, ‘Don’t go, don’t go, Please.’

Pearly-Eye remained in place. I was no down on my left knee. Good. I slowwwwly raised my Macro-lens. Good. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Perhaps 35 or more exposures.

I waited the 2 weeks or so to get my slides back from Dwayne’s Photo. You must remember that day, Caron, for that day you heard a muffled scream of Joy!! when I louped them on my lightbox. Several were worthy of Caron’s List, Yippee!!!

Jeff