“Let Me Count The Ways”

Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Jamestown Audubon Center, NY

We’ve grown. An increasing number of folks now follow wingedbeauty.com. Well, China, South America and Africa still lag behind in those who follow us here, but they are more than offset by our increased reach here in the United States, in Europe, Canada, the Middle East, Australia, Japan, and much of the Far East (Vietnam, Japan, Korea, Sri Lanka). I am so very pleased with knowing that friends from so far afield come to visit, and return again and again.

Growth here at home and abroad comes with interesting challenges. Many come along, and then share their own image captures. It doesn’t take more than a nanosecond for me to recall the images that I was scoring as many as 20 years ago. They were done with such determination, zeal and, absent in the field mentors, enough well, confusion, to make me shudder at how much I wanted to get OMG! looks, and how far I was from doing that, regularly.

A new friend arrived from Sri Lanka, very interested and very appreciative of whatever advice I might share. Share too much, and you risk overwhelming, share nothing at all, and me, I know how that vacuum feels.

So I return to one of my most valued images, this Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly, met at the Jamestown (NY) Audubon Center, before it’s name changed. This look tickles me a lot, for it gives you a whole host of this beauty’s beauty, from wingtip to wingtip, from palps to posterior end of its abdomen, and then those antennae, the head, eyes, the color sings too, as do the distinct markings that I’ve noted challenge Tiffany’s and Cartier and the living and long gone artisans of those jewelry workshops.

A favorite image, I ask, how many ‘standing ovations’ must it give you? How I’d Love to know your responses to this last query??? Peggy, Kelly, Virginia, Holly, Cathy, Jim, Sherrie, Katarzyna, Ian, Phyllis, Laurence, Angela, Lois ,Jim, Kathryn, Marcie, Kathy, Jill, Leslie, Paula, Barbara Ann . . . .


Tete a Tete With Baltimores

Baltimore Checkerspot Caterpillar photographed by Jeff Zablow at Jamestown Audubon Center, NY

Last year I  captured one of my most favorite images, the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly I met in Jamestown, New York at the fabulous Audubon Center there. That shot was shared here as a post, and enjoyed very heavy traffic. It’s the kind of look that gives me immense satisfaction, knowing that many dozens of you saw it, and some will, maybe, internalize it as their reference Baltimore adult look.

This 2017 we returned back, and this time Jeff, their very valuable Nature specialist, gave us directions to where we were likely to find Baltimore Checkerspot caterpillars, that last week in June.

We traced our way to that wetland trail, and amongst a goodly number of Turtlehead plants ( the hostplant of Baltimores ), there they were! Baltimore Checkerspot caterpillars.

Determined to cop a good image, I shot away, yep!, with my Fuji ASA 50 slide film.

Here is one of those Baltimore caterpillars. Near bizarre in appearance, and richly colored. Bold and standing out in a deeply green backstage.

I Love such beauty! You?


Distracting Darner Dragonflies

Darner photographed by Jeff Zablow at Jamestown Audubon Center, NY

I just, just finished reading Travels of William Bartram ( Dover Publications, 1955, first published in 1928 ), Bartram’s travels through Georgia, Florida and other southern states in . . . the 1780’s. You know, I often wonder what this place and that place was like in the late 18th century. Bartram was a trained botanist, whose father hiked that land before him, and they both chronicled the flora, fauna, geology and topography of early Florida, Georgia, Alabama the Carolinas and Virginia. Our William Bartram describes the grasses, annuals, perennials, bushes and trees, especially the trees that he saw. They were, by today’s comparison, beyond belief! Yet he never exceeds, or exaggerates. He shares the wildlife, roebuck, bear, cats, snakes and birds, and Very Aggressive bands of ‘crocodiles.’

Especially readable are his accounts of the Creeks, Muscogulges, Cherokees, Seminoles and Choctaws. He lived with them, they befriended him. He shares their physical appearances ( way different than I expected, i.e., most of the Creek men were 6 feet tall or more, the woman also tall ). Bartram shares their games, their solemn ceremonies, too frequent skirmishes, and their near absolute respect of one another, absent the need for police. They had formal organization to govern themselves, they had ‘kings’ and they had slaves. His accounts of the woman also surprise, but you must read to learn more of that.

I, well, could not put this book down. If you’re like Barbara Ann, Angela, Mike A. or Dave, the rich, colorful introduction to the botany will mesmerize. I guarantee that.

Come to this comely Darner. My guides are inaccessible for a while, so short of searching for a name online, I leave it to you. Know that often butterflies are not seen for pieces of time, when we’re on trails, and again, I admit that making a calculated approach of a dandy Darner is a distraction that I sometimes . . . cannot pass up.


Do You Know Buttonbush?

Butterflyonbush wildflowers, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Jamestown Audubon Center in New York

See that’s the thing. Twenty years in, and I’m still learning. Anxious to add new native butterfly targets to my home garden, I noted that friends and knowledgeable folks included Buttonbush, when asked “What are the best shrubs to add to a garden designed to attract butterflies?”

Some of my new adds in my Pittsburgh garden have been excellent: Common milkweed, Mexican sunflower (not a native, but a winner!),  Asters,Greenhead coneflower. Others have disappointed: Clethra, sadly, never took.

I planted 3 Buttonbushes ( Cephalanthus occidentalis ) in our ‘peanut’ garden in June. All three flourished, but have a lot of growing to do, to reach that 3′ – 10.’ They prefer ‘wet feet’ in moist soil, and that part of my garden usually retains good moisture.

2017 may, should bring our first nourish of blooms, hopefully like these, met at the rich reserve of the Jamestown Audubon Center, in western New York State. Just down that same trail, I met a nice population of Baltimore Checkerspot butterflies. Nice trail that. Wetlands give.