Daddah Da Da Dah Da!

Earring Series - Blackswallowtail butterflies coupled, photographed by Jeff Zablow at

A better image of the pair, with the female’s dorsal side in view

Can’t sound the trumpets. for I have no trumpets. But these last days have produced Big News, news neglected by Reuters, the AP, Washington Post and the Atlanta Journal-Consitution.

The news is potentially very good news. In Eatonton, Georgia, there is that gem of a Habitat that I’ve posted about. Visited it 9 times in these last three years, each visit a 688 miles drive from Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania. For our international followers, this Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat is in the Deep South, east of the city of Atlanta, and 2 hours west from the Atlantic coast and beautiful Savannah.

Why did I go there so many times? A hard-working visionary, Virgina C Linch, with sweat, tears and a little bit of blood, prodded several volunteers to work with her to create a butterfly oasis in the center of a small city, Eatonton. They plowed, dug and hauled in topsoil and compost, and converted a brownfield ( at one time an aluminum factory and employee housing ) into butterfly . . . well, heaven. 90% of the 29,715 plants and trees set in there were native, most chosen because they were butterfly magnets, hostplants for butterfly caterpillars.

It worked. It flourished. On any given morning, I would ID 20 or more different species of butterflies on the wing there. These Eastern Black Swallowtail  butterflies were there in 2016. Do they not challenge your beauty gauge indicator?

So . . . just a few weeks ago, the city of Eatonton, county seat of Putnam County, announced that the land, leased to the Habitat ( for a nominal fee ) . . . was to be sold to a developer!! Virginia Linch was stunned. She, without any complaint, had logged 256,881 hours of work in it, spent small  bundles of her own money, smiled heartily when folks made contributions for plants and material, and went there every day after work, something that is hard for us to get our head around. Finish work, and then go spend hours in the heat, weeding, watering, planting. Who today commands such fortitude?

A good number of folks let there voices be heard! What? Scuttle this beautiful site, deprive our kids of this experience? Destroy perhaps the 2nd best location in the US to see a wide variety of butterflies? Created a mini-quake in Eatonton, and got certain anonymous folks really riled up.

A meeting was called. People spoke to the Eatonton City Council. The Council made an offer. The City will move it to a permanent location, provide personnel and equipment to do so, enable the move to be after the hot summer weather, provide city water to the site, provide bathrooms on site and more.

Virginia took several days to think, prayed much, and then called a meeting of her stalwarts. Her decision ( I told her that she could easily pack her pruning shears and never look back ) . . . . . . . . . .She would accept the Eatonton offer!!!!!! Yay!!!!!!!

Imagine in a few years, the 1st Annual Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch Convention? Will you be there? Will Robert Michael Pyle be the Keynote speaker at the seminars that surely will be part of this gala 3-4 day event???

Don’t you love a good end to a worthy story?

Jeff

The Smile Of A Lifetime

Earring Series - Jeff Zablow with Black Swallowtail 'Earrings' - on Arm, at

Sylbie shoots away, and the pair move to my upper arm.

I scan the images in wingedbeauty’s ‘Media Library‘ when I prepare to post anew, and truth be told, I always pause when I see this series of images, shot last year, 2016 in the Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia.

Pause, to reflect on how happy I was. How thankful I was. How emotional those 10 or 15 minutes were, when Sylbie Yon arrived unexpectedly, and that pair of Eastern Black Swallowtails, coupled tightly together, flew onto me.

Since Frieda Z”L passed, butterflies have brought me to tears, several times. They so evoke Her Memory, and so flummox me when that rush is triggered. The initial moment of loss/despair . . . vanishes quickly, and it’s replaced by how much Love there was, and support there was for this well, different (to most) passion of mine. And, how such floods of beauty are extraordinary, yet so very real.

in the beginning of this odyssey, family and friends struggled to understand. Photographing butterflies? Won’t make you rich? Sends you into swamps (mosquitoes), meadows (ticks), fens (travel to see a meadow ?). Came the time when those family and friends became resigned to what I do, and on the rare occasions that I showed up in an image, noted, more often than not, The Smile of a Lifetime. A fine Rx, No?

Jeff

NB, Have you seen the “Jeff’s Earring“series, with the click-on button at the top of your screen?

Big Bend Bust-Out

Palamedes Swallowtail on Thistle Flowerhead photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida's Panhandle

Some hour or so after you leave Georgia, you reach Perry, Florida. This Florida Panhandle city is just 1/2 hour from this Butterfly Bust-Out destination: Big Bend Wildlife Management Area. One visit there is just not enough.

Four days there earned more Wows! and OMG’s! then almost any other destination I’ve touched ( Exceptions: The Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia and just weeks ago, Adams County in very southern Ohio).

At Big Bend, shown here, I didn’t just see one or two of these Palamedes Swallowtail butterflies, I saw dozens of them. These thistles shown too here were tall, robust and singing their rich color. The skippers were new to me, the Georgia Satyrs shyly came out to greet, Monarchs flew, Zebra Swallowtails showed up, all this and more. The zinger was that I had come, and had to go, before the Liatris opened to peak bloom. That article in the NABA magazine, under the new feature: Destinations, teased, sharing that you really, really wanted to be there when those thousands of Gayfeather blooms (Liatris) bugled to butterflies far and wide in that first week of September.

Won’t you agree here, that these BiG Palamedes, flying in squadrons, almost, make quite an airshow?

Early September in Big Bend, not too far into Florida,  yet far enough to savor Florida’s butterfly riches.

Jeff

Booking A Showstopper

Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida's Panhandle

Rolling into Big Bend Wildlife Management Area that day, I was psyched even before I rolled to a stop in the small parking pad. The last 100′ I’d been passing . . . big, gorgeous Palamedes Swallowtail butterflies. I hadn’t seen them since many years ago in Mississippi. These Florida Panhandle Palamedes were much bigger than most other swallowtails, were mostly vividly hued, fresh and few were bird-struck (had bits of hindwing plucked by birds during unsuccessful attack).

Virginia discovered Big!! in May in the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat (Yes, Eatonton, Georgia). A pair of Queen (!!!!) caterpillars. Never sen there before, Queens? Field guides show them no closer than a 2.5 hour drive south and east. They’re now eclosed and magnificent. No sweat as to what to nourish any future progeny with. The BBBPatch Habitat has about 100 Asclepias (milkweed) plants, poised and available.

Connect the dots? Virginia mentioned in April that she’s planning to set in Redbay trees/shrubs (?) to attract Palamedes swallowtails, like this instant one. Now many know that when this whirling dervish of a woman sets out to do something, Las Vegas’ line is very, very favorable. Palamedes in the Georgia Piedmont? Rare, but they have been historically seen there. Dare you bet against Miss Virginia?

Jeff