Back to Big Bend WMA

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

Our trip to Georgia this July to August 2016 was, super duper! ‘Our’ because Petra came along, too. The fieldwork was too much fun! Destinations were Yummy. The Habitat in Eatonton (27 species of butterfly in one morning), Shellman Bluff on the coast, Brunswick, Ga, Skidaway Island (very tony and gated, Thanks Fitz), Jekyll Island, Ga, St. Simon Island (birthplace of Virginia C Linch, founder of the world famous Butterflies & Blooms Habitat, Eatonton), Walton County, Georgia, and the Georgia Botanical Gardens, in Athens, Ga (home of the Bulldogs).

Catching a glimpse of this beaut, was not assured, and if I saw one, it was from some distance, on Skidaway Island. The Palamedes Swallowtail (Papilio palamedes) is a very big,  strikingly beautiful swallowtail butterfly. Last year I was bedazzled at big Bend Wildlife Management Area on the Florida Panhandle. Four, 4! days spent at Big Bend, surrounded by squadrons of these Palamedes. Not a human in sight all morning, each morning, but not alone, as these winged beauties flew in and out. They hunt for and sip nectar, hard and furiously.

Our plan is to return to Georgia in mid-September, and again make a run down to Big Bend. The tip I got then was that butterflies of all types abound when the Liatris (Gayfeather) is in bloom. Back last year, they just, just began opening, as I was extending my goodbyes to Big Bend. Argh!

The plan is to be back again, with Liatris in Full show! Alone again naturally?  (Petra does not join me in the field. meet her and you will know why).

Stay tuned.

Jeff

 

Favorites For 2016: Tiger Swallowtails

Tiger Swallowtail butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Phipps Conservatory,  Pittsburgh

We’re in a butterfly year that for sure challenges. Butterflies are flying, but aren’t you seeing them less often, and in reduced numbers? Don’t you work your trails thinking, ‘I miss the Eastern tailed blues, duskywings and American coppers that usually monitor me as I move along this or that trail?’ and ‘It was so much fun watching the Wood nymphs play Peek-a-Boo with me just 2 or 3 years ago!’ Totally “Missed seeing Monarchs surprise us all and come on stage” to resounding cheers, in June!

That’s the year I’m living here in ’16. Then who does this year seem to belong to, at least for now? I say, the Tiger swallowtails, Papilio glaucus. Males are almost everywhere, doing the wild and crazy swooping, diving, swerving and otherwise wild flying in search of females. Their females have certainly played hard to find, too.

Enjoy your Independence Day, and report back, won’t you?

Jeff

Israeli Swallowtail, Check!

Papilla Machaon butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Ramat Hanadiv, Israel

Eight? Nine? The number of visits I’ve made to Israel since 2008. Wonderful visits, meeting one grandson! The a second grandson! Seeing Rachel set roots and flourish. Relishing the vigor, beauty and success of this gutsy little nation. Tasting the sights, sounds, aromas and foods that are so unique to this part of the world.

My visits there are split between being guested at Rachel’s, where I am given the bomb-shelter room, and excursions into the field. Americans don’t know about this, Uh, uh! When they build a home, like Rachel and Uri did, they fortify a room and that will be the bomb-shelter room. Two years ago I was there, and sirens went off, and that meant . . . incoming from Gaza. So we dashed into that room with 1-week old Boaz. I was livid, having to go into a rocket-proof room with my one week old grandson. If all your sympathy is with them, you try living like that, and let me know how much you love it? My youth on the streets back then hardened me in a way, and that episode still triggers anger.

An objective of my each trip was to capture a good image of Israel’s swallowtail, Papilio machaon. They fly at high speed, are there and then gone! All my effort has produced few photo opps of these beauties. This one was a turning point. I was a Ramat Hanadiv, March 2016, on their exciting trails, when she flew in, and began nectaring. Daddah! She continued nectaring on the flowerhead. I shot, shot, shot, shot, and then . . . she was gone.

Fair to good image of Papilio machaon? Check!

Jeff

False Apollo Butterfly at Mt. Meron

False Apollo butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Nahal Dishon National Park, Upper Galilee, Israel

I set goals, I did. This February – March 2016 trip to Israel had me once again placing tabs on several pages of Dubi Benyamini’s field guide, A Field Guide To The Butterflies of Israel. My daughter Rachel and her family were fine and welcoming, now it was time to see butterflies that I’ve never seen before, or butterflies that I want better images of.

I’ve already posted here images of 3 butterflies closely related to swallowtails, The Clouded Apollo (the rarest of rare), Eastern Steppe Festoon and the Eastern Festoon. The missing 4th swallowtail relative? The False Apollo or Archon apollinus bellargus.

Last week of March I drove my Hertz rental from Mishmarot to the Upper Galilee. I checked into my field house accommodations at SPNI Meron, at the foot of Mt. Meron. Went to the nearest moshav (a type of village) to purchase my gluten-free/low salt food, and spent the next 3 days searching the SPNI Meron reserve, and area, venturing as far north as a tiny moshav, right, and I mean right up next to the Lebanon border (across which we may presume are Hezbollah terrorists or other such madmen).

Timing counts, no? Here I share with you a fresh Archon male. They flew low, and leisurely, and at that early hour, this one definitely wanted to warm his wings in the warmth of the early sun.

He just bedazzled me, with so much color in play, much of it rich to the reds, or blues or soft yellow, contrasted by broad sweeps of black, black in transition or what we shall call white. Long-time Followers know that my goal has long been to match or tweak the quality of field guide images. Jeff is a Happy boy here. A protected butterfly, usually difficult to impossible to find.

Jeff