Ordering A La Carte

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

Counting the days, until I return to the Florida Panhandle (northernmost Florida). This will be my second trip to Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, near Perry, Florida. The first visit there, in 2016 was better that I could have expected. The thistle was in good bloom and the liatris had just begun to open flower. Milkweed was abundant. The butterflies? I almost want to say everywhere!

That first visit was in the last week of August. This April trip?  The Spring/Summer 2015 issue of American Butterflies (NABA) reported that 84 species of butterflies were recorded there in September, and 70 species seen in Big Bend in April. That “70” jumps out at me, and is the siren’s call to revisit.

When I gaped at this Palamedes Swallowtail butterfly in the last week of August 2016, the high of the day was in the mid-90’s Fahrenheit. Working to shoot as Georgia Satyr, the sweat was pouring down over my eyes, having coursed over my headband, and the salty sweat nearly blinded. April 2019? I can only dream . . .

Taking orders at this time, let me know what you’d like me to find?

Jeff

Palamedes Pretty

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

I must have dozens of vivid memories of butterflies and where I first met them. Maybe it’s more than a handful of dozens of strong memories of first meet-ups. That Gulf Fritillary in the Outdoor Gardens of the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh. A Gulf in Pittsburgh!! Those 2 Harvester Butterflies in Raccoon Creek State Park, Pennsylvania. The Goatweed Leafwing in that same Raccoon Creek State Park. I was so startled to see it on that tree trunk, that I forget to put my camera to work!! The Southern and Creole Pearly-eyes in Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge. The Zebra Swallowtail butterfly in Mason Neck State Park in Virginia. The Malachite and the Erato Heliconian butterflies in the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. A standout first saw was that morning when I came upon the most gorgeous Tawny Emperor ever, again in Raccoon Creek State Park.

This Palamedes was one of the first I’d ever seen, this time in 2016 in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area in the Florida Panhandle (northern Florida). They were huge and they adored the thistle seen here. There were many of them. When they’re fresh the black of their wings in brilliant jet black and bedazzles.

I’m booked to return to Big Bend and St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in just a few months. I can hardly wait to reunite with Palamedes Swallowtails, Georgia Satyrs, Goatweeds, Great Purple Hairstreaks and all of those Skippers that are so difficult to ID.

Yet another destination this year might be Okefenokee Swamp. Oh, who might I see there? Pretty Palamedes?

Jeff

Thoughts On Going Back

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

I learned long ago don’t go back. When your life paths go different ways, don’t go back. Move on to other objectives, for this world provides what. hundreds of millions of them, be they people, pursuits or objectives.

It’s gotten very cool here in central Georgia, and butterflies flew here in the backyard just 2 days ago, Checkered skippers, Cloudywings, Carolina satyrs and others. Looking out this window, I admit that I miss the Monarchs that were here 3 days ago, the Palamedes swallowtail seen in October, the squads of Gulfs all over my natives garden and the exciting singletons including: Pipevinve swallowtails, Spicebush swallowtails, Giant swallowtails, Great purple hairstreak, Variegated fritillary, Long-tailed skippers and dozens of others. This garden that I dreamed of, for what? 25 years or more, has been realized. Dozens of host plants enable to to hope that next year, their 2nd year in, will be Gangbusters!

Why ‘gangbusters?’ When (and if?) my treasured Hackberries, Cedars, Hercules Clubs, Hop trees, Native Black Cherries, Asters, Hibiscuses, Coneflowers, Black willows, Spicebush, Pipevines, Hollies, Milkweeds, Clethra, Pussytoes, Mountain Mints, Sassafras, Tulip Poplars, Crotons, Magnolias . . . Yep, there all in, and if they go through this winter OK, OMG!

Where’s this headed Jeff? Well I scoured our Media Library here on wingedbeauty.com, and I saw images I am proud of, images that I knew are fine, for I knew how difficult it was to capture them, and yes, images like this one of a Georgia Satyr butterfly at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area in the Florida Panhandle. It was late August, and when I got there, sunny, hot and no wind, it was everything that the article in the Spring/Summer 2015 issue of American Butterflies had suggested, loaded with southeastern butterflies.

I was there to expand my bank of good images, and to see new butterflies. Georgia satyrs, “LC” (Locally common) as per Jeff Glassberg in A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America, were at the top of my list. They were there, and that side tram, 2 or 3 to be found. They were very docile, and allowed approach (Macro-).

I had on a fine coat of Off! so mosquitoes did not bother me. But, the humidity was brutal, and the sweat was overrunning my headband, onto my eyes and my glasses. I remember thinking that this was Nuts! I had travelled those 4 and 1/2 hours down from Eatonton, for just these moments, and now . . .  I could barely see clearly. If only Gunga Din was there with me, handing me fresh, dry glasses every 3 minutes.

That, and the built-in light meter in my Canon film camera was not working properly. I think I remember laughing there, what can happen next, a Burma python or 11′ ‘gator appearing from the swamp, just 10 feet away? I was on my belly, and disregarding my father’s teaching: Keep your guard up, protect your face, hold your ground.

So I share this image of the Georgia with you, knowing that only the really in-to-it haver stayed, this far into this blog post. Are there schools of thought for ‘Going back?’

I am stoked for 2019, my own garden lighting me up, and the strong inner push to get back there in April 2019, when that NABA article written by David Harder, Virginia Craig, Dean Jue and Sally Jue noted that Georgia’s fly once again. Florida Fish and Game took my call and they looked forward to Big Bend being workable soon, after that terrible Hurricane several weeks ago.

If you’ve read this far, I owe you a large lollipop, for sure!

Jeff

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.

Jeff

 

William Bartram & Palamedes

 

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

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

I think it was Sylbie who put me on to this book. I’m pretty sure it was her. I had always, going back to that’d empty Brooklyn lot at the corner of East 57th Street and Clarendon Road, wondered what America was like back then. Way back then. What did my East 58th Street look like before they built those brick row houses in 1940?

When my interest in butterflies grew, I wondered what butterflies flew there in say 1750? Facts like, Regal Fritillaries flew in my Brooklyn in 1750 mesmerized me. A strong word, “mesmerized,” but I can’t think of a better word for how I try to squeeze my brain to force out a vision of Regals seeking Butterflyweed in East Flatbush.

The book Sylbie had? Travels of William Bartram. His manuscript went unpublished here, and when found again, it was published in 1928. I’m telling you, he wrote that book for . . . me!

He was a Brit, university trained in Botany, and like his father, he travelled to the Southeast, and scoured Florida, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina for rare plants that he would send back to Britain, to be studied and to be researched for medicinal use.

He writes with great ease, utilized his expertise in botany and wildlife throughout, and finds many, many heretofore unknown plants, flowers and animals. He deliciously tells of the Native Americans he meets. His descriptions of those first residents is the best I have ever read. He admires them, wanted to learn from them, and at times hints of an attraction to them.

Palamedes? He loved Palamedes butterflies back then in the 1770’s. Count him together with Roger Tory Peterson, William Audubon, Robert Michael Pyle and one or two others, who I would love/would’ve loved to work the trails of the amazing Southeastern United States of America . . .  especially in the 1770’s.

Jeff