What’s In That Name?

Giant Spider photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, GA

I’m working the cut-grass trail that abuts Woody Pond. That’s one of about 5 or 6 ponds in Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, just a short distance from the Georgia coast. Magic. Why magic? Magical because every step I took along that trail produced. Laura was correct, this is a serious destination.

Butterflies abounded that late August 2018 week: Palamedes, Cloudless Sulphurs, Gulf Fritillaries, that gorgeous Viceroy, Monarchs, Saltmarsh Skippers, Pipevines, Zebra Heliconians, and such. Bees, flies, wasps, moths and more. The botany was lush and much in bloom: Liatris, native sunflowers, thistles, frogfruit, sumac in bloom and more. Alligators in large numbers, they scaring the bejeebers out of my ( me, a grad of Brooklyn’s streets back when ) that morning when I was on this very same trail, early, and without warning, what sounded like a 20 foot gator bellowed, nearly at feet . . . and just as suddenly some 7 or 8 male behemoths joined in. I’m thinking how I’ll save myself if they come after me, the cold steel I carry no match for such. G-d was along with me, for I never had to . . . .

The birds are the #1 reasons that Refuge is a National Refuge, for birders were there those 4 mornings, this being one of the best Word Stork Refuges in the USA. Hundreds of wood storks in those rookeries!

On Woody Pond’s trail, I leaned in to get a better look at a Lep, and Holy Spaghetti! I found myself staring right at this. What you see here is almost life-size. Her web strands we’re yellowish, her abdomen a soothing brownish/oprange, with those comely yellowish spots. Six of her 8 legs had tufts on them. I waited to see if she would resent my Macro- Len’s close approach? I felt like when I was at those Boys’ Club boxing sessions, seeking to learn my opponent’s moves and fakes.

She had a tiny male resting on her abdomen. Tell me about this stark difference in size? I did some reading when I Googled this spider, and I learned. I never knew that there are others species of tiny spiders that earn their sustenance by living close to Big webs like this one, and dash out to grab scraps that the resident spiders overlooks.

This native spider’s name? The Golden Silk Orb-Weaver. Common in the southeastern USA. She and her tiny buddy never reacted to my several approaches. A good, though formidable looking model, she.


Giants Evoke

Giant butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Pigeon Mountain, GA

I booked a cabin in Trenton, Georgia, up there in the northwestern corner of the state. Early July 2018. Diana Fritillary butterflies are often seen in the Georgia mountains, and I really wanted to see my first Diana (“Oh stay be me, Diana”). The cabin owners were very helpful, and when they heard that I was there to find and photograph butterflies, they shared that they had a friend who is a local backwoods expert.

David grew up in that corner of Georgia, and knows it well. He led me to Pigeon Mountain, assuring me that the trail up opened to 2 promising meadows. Dianas look to spend their time in meadows on mid-sized mountains.

The upper meadow was just perfect, with an abundance of wildlfowers in bloom. The possibility of seeing a Diana was so real.

Well, the possibility was real, but I never saw a Diana. I did see lots of butterflies, and especially alot of very large, very fresh Giant Swallowtail butterflies.

Giant swallowtails fly gracefully, their almost lazy wing beats just mesmerize. Seeing 4 or 5 beauties together, at the edge of the treeline, was just nearly unforgettable.

This big stunner took a break on a large leaf, and I shot away. It’s rich black, yellow and tease of red and blue sing to your eyes. Giants evoke a menu of thoughts, mostly of how Good is really there for us to see, and to confirm the Meaning of our existence. It also helps to recall our strong connection to the A-mighty.


Palamedes Nectaring

Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly on Thistle photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, GA

This gorgeous Palamedes Swallowtail butterfly was nectaring on thistle. Now I don’t know the name of the thistle, at the edge of Woody Pond in Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge on the coast of Georgia. I’ve learned that Harris Neck Refuge has a number of very earnest supporters, so I hope Laura and some of the wonderful people I met there in late August 2018 will help name this spindly thistle with its almost white flowers.

Those thistle flowerheads were busy with many different butterflies. This visit by a Palamedes was special though. You’d think that I would bring my Macro- lens closer to the  butterfly, for a Macro- lens can approach 1:1 imagery, as long as they are very close to your subject.

I was at that 3′ strip of green growth at the pond’s edge, and Brooklyn boy did not want to get a single inch closer then I was, with all due respect to the alligators that may or may not be in the pond, an arm’s length away.

I was recently gently chided for this reluctance. You must know that those ‘gators, heretofore mostly unknown to me, soooo reminded me of the Connected guys I grew up with. There they are, right where you are, and you know them, they know you, but mostly leave them alone, and all will be good and dandy.


Zebras From Here To Eternity?

Zebra swallowtail butterflies photographed at Mason's Neck State Park, VA

Paw Paw bushes grew nearby. This tiny sandy beach encircle a tiny pond, all within view of majestic Chesapeake. The drive to Mason’s Neck State Park was lined with serious mansions owned by the DuPont family and friends, so I was told.

Zebra Swallowtail butterflies were new to me. That did not prepare me for this From Here To Eternity encounter. I was all agog, and I thought that they’d break that amorous embrace when I approached. Nope. They stayed as you see, intent on the ‘romance,’ for at least 40 minutes. My close approach, with apologies, did not startle them, not one bit.

This qualifies as a Caron 6. I’m trying to remember the actors in that movie? Can you help me, for this so evoked that long remembered scene.