Caron 4

Palmed Swallowtail Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida

Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida

Caron’s 5 were all superb images, no hyperbole necessary. They were extraordinary, made you wonder how she captured such? and left you feeling better, elevated from the you of minutes before!

This is my 4th choice for my favorites. When I drove down to Georgia from 2015, Virginia’s Butterflies and Blooms Briar Patch Habitat actually did have almost every southern butterfly in its 2 open acres. That one morning, when I saw 29 different butterfly species, was just exciting! Those evenings, in Eatonton, I’d study my field guides, looking for southern butterflies that I had not seen yet.

NABA’s magazine ran a new feature, ‘Destinations,’ and its first was Big Bend Wildlife Management Area in the Florida Panhandle. This comprehensive article electrified me, for given a good week and good weather, you could enjoy many new butterflies.  One of the tantalizing possibilities was this large swallowtail, the Palamedes Swallowtail.

I planned a 5 day trip to Big Bend. The 5-hour or so drive was fine, and the Hampton Inn in Perry was adequate. Perry was just 25 minutes from Big Bend. That first morning there, I loved that place. As I drove into the Spring Creek sector of the WMA, large and beautiful thistle appeared, and on them, mobbing them almost, were OMG! large, fresh Palamedes.

Those Palamedes were furiously nectaring on the thistle. They are photographer friendly, and tolerate measured approach. Jackpot!

I often return to enjoy this photo, for I think it presents Palamedes Swallowtails well, their size, grace and beauty. The almost hidden thistle flowerhead frames much of the butterfly, to full advantage.

Caron 4.



The Irony and the Tear(s)

Earring Series - Jeff with Black Swallowtail Earrings (Best shot), at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

This is the shot with the Eastern Black Swallowtails fully on my right ear.

Caron answered my request with her own. I asked her, a new FB ‘friend,’ to share her 5 favorite images of butterflies. She offered up her favorites within minutes. If those are her best, after 5 years of shooting, she is a new, very talented butterfly photographer!! Her talent is best expressed with her Ruby-throated hummingbird images. I saw her name shared along with another good FB shooter, I went to her FB page, and minutes later requested that she accept my FB ‘Friends’ request, I’m glad that she did.

She turned my request back on me, and wanted to see my 5 favorites. Well, I was reminded that it’s easier to ask than to provide.

I didn’t forget her request. Here is one of my responses. I was at the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat I, in Eatonton, Georgia. I was alone, very early in the morning. I spotted a gorgeous Eastern Black Swallowtail hidden amongst perennials. I shot away. Minutes later, nearby, I spotted a mated pair of Eastern blacks. I began shooting them, when Yikes! I heard a loud, familiar voice, calling out to me, and approaching. It was Sylbie. I went Shhh! Shhhhh!

What followed was that word, Serendipity! The coupled swallowtails flew. Sylbie whispered . . . they are on your hat, Jeff. I handed my camera to Sylbie, changed setting to automatic. As she was watching, the coupled beauts moved from my hat, to my upper arm and soon, to my right ear. That’s the female you see, with the coupled mate somewhat hildden behind her. Sylbie shot true, with a steady hand and trained eye.

Caron, I love this pic, the irony of it is stark. I look to most like an academic type, true to some degree, but I grew up on the streets, Brooklyn, New York, and fought my way through life, wearing an earring back then, a good way to get frequent and brutal punishment, maybe daily. Here, though, I couldn’t give a whatever, for this was one of the handful of butterfly moments that teared me up, the connection to Frieda’s A”H loss so poignant.

The guy who carried cold steel in his pocket, through all those years of college, who stood and delivered, when only G-d knows how I came out alive many times . . . Here I am in Georgia, beautiful Georgia, with those of Creation adorning my ear.

You might see the “Jeff’s Earrings” feature, at the top of this post page, to see more of the amazing moments we had.

Thanks Caron.


What Should You Do When A Giant . . .

Giant Swallowtail butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Butterflies and Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, GA

Not enough of us have yet enjoyed that moment. That moment when its mid-morning or a bit later, and you’ve reflected on your success. You’ve seen and shot swallowtails: Black, Spicebush, Tigers yellow and back form as well as a Pipevine; Ladies: painted and American; Satyrs: little wood and Carolina; brushfoots: snouts, buckeyes, admirals, pearl crescents and maybe silvery checkerspots; yellows and whites: cabbage white, orange sulphur, cloudless sulphur, checkered white and skippers, so many different skippers.

That’s when we begin to slowly close the book on a productive morning. That’s about the time that I reach into my LLBean backpack for my reward! a Coco Loco bar.

What! Huh? Into the pocket goes the 1/2 each coco loco bar, for something big, very big has just flown in. Very big. Those oversize wings provide immediate ID. A Giant Swallowtail has come to nectar!! In it flies, every go elegantly moving its wings in flight.

This one? It came out of the treed perimeter of the Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat, Eatonton, Georgia., flew briefly and assumed this leafy perch.

What should you do when a Giant flies in? 1) Look in wonderment. 2) Thank G-d for continuing to enable such beauty and grace. 3) Make a slow ‘Technique’ approach (see our Technique section) and shoot, shoot, shoot.

This instant one? I scored good general form, clearly show the yellow bands criss-crossing on each forewing, tease with those deep red spots on the hindwings and nicely show the yellow spots on the 2 tails.



Pipevine Aglow

Pipeline Swallowtail Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

It seems that when certain butterflies fly into my vicinity, I have them on a mental list, of photo objectives I have. For the tiny Metalmark butterflies, I want better views of those scintillating shiny metal lines that shimmer from their upper wing surface. Mourning cloaks are high on my list. I have a special connection with Mourning Cloaks, a very personal one. I can’t wait for the Spring day when an excitingly fresh one decides to strike a pose for me, and I capture that maroon upper, with the delicious blue spots and those yellow borders. Monarchs? I have 2 or so dozen images in my slide storage cabinet, yet I want a killer image of a Monarch with those strange eyes, deep orange-rust color and body/head aburst with those white explosive dots.

Another chance to shoot that Common Mestra that teased me on the National Butterfly Center trail, would be nice, it not affording my a single exposure. Now that I’m getting a tad Gimme! here, I sure would like to remeet a fresh Compton Tortoiseshell butterfly, this time close enough for my Macro- lens to do what it does, with this heavy favorite of me, the Compton. That Georgia Satyr back in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area  in the Florida Panhandle jumps out to me here, for with the sweat pouring down over my eyes those last days of August, my vision was blurred, and image scores turned out to be Eh!

Not true here with this Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly. I wanted to get that shimmering blue that you see on the inner side of those coral spots. I pretty much did, and that is good.