Phaon Crescent? Yes? Excellent!

Phaon Crescent Butterfly 3 photographed by Jeff Zablow at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida

Major Fun comes when you travel to distant places, and begin your search for butterflies, familiar and new. That’s what happened on our most recent trip to Big Bend Wildlife Management Area in the Florida Panhandle.

After living most of my life in the northeastern USA, it’s happily often now that I am pleased to meet new butterflies. That’s what happened here, when we were working the Spring Unit of Big Bend, along a swampy area trail. Along came this butterfly, and it stopped on this leaf. No time to stop and study, so I shot away. What I did know was that he WAS a Phaon Crescent and not a Pearl Crescent butterfly.

He had those cream colored bands on his forewings and those wide orange spots too. They prefer moist habitat, and that’s exactly where we were.

A fresh, beautiful Phaon pleasing me with good photo opps on a fine northern Florida morning. Excellent!

Jeff

Success! Georgia Satyr Success!!

Georgia Satyr Butterfly 2 photographed by Jeff Zablow at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida

We went back to the Big Bend Wildlife Management Area in Florida’s Panhandle in late June. Back to re-meet the Georgia Satyr butterfly. I’d waited years and years to shoot it, and my first trip there found Georgia Satyrs, but . . . I wasn’t satisfied with the images I scored.

This was a tiny, tiny, slow flying butterfly, that always flew close to the Spring Creek Unit’s swamp edge, flew low, and preferred to land close to the ground, with plants stalks hiding it from view. Once you got down to shoot one, 90% of the time it flew, mostly 10 feet away. So, you have to get up, and slowly approach it again, and lower yourself again, and re-adjust to get closer, only . . . . . . to have your Georgia fly again!

All the time you’re down on your ‘belly’ you’re remembering back to your Brooklyn childhood, reminded of times that you had to walk through ‘alien’ streets, keeping your eyes open for trouble. Lying on your belly in the Refuge, you sure were in alien territory again, for ticks were there, and your arrival was cause for celebration for them.

While wondering if you were attracting ticks, the humidity there was serious, and despite the head band across my forehead, the sweat soon began streaming down over my glasses and my eyes! The salt began to reach my eyes, and at times blind me for moments.

This Georgia held still, remained in place, and it was gorgeous, tiny but gorgeous. Why endure the up ‘n down struggle, the ticks and the streams of sweat? I am motivated in part by Ralph Waldo Emersons’s famous Success. I so wanted to share with you a butterfly that you will count as different, unusual, and beautiful. The inimitable Georgia Satyr. This one’s reddish/orange lines? I love them!

Jeff

Welcome Palamedes!

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

We had one Palamedes Swallowtail visit our Eatonton, Georgia natives garden. That was exciting. Though Glassberg cites the Palamedes as a “Stray” some miles from the northernmost range it occupies, Eatonton was well placed for a Palamedes ‘stray.’ We had no Redbay or Laurels, its hostplants, and our one visitor only passed through.

We’re now two months here in Macon, miles farther south in Georgia. We continue to not feature Laurels or Redbay here, but Sunday’s trip to Jim & Debi’s Nearly Native Nursery may, who knows, change that!

This Palamedes was at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area in the Florida Panhandle. We never Photoshop our images, and the stark Beauty of this Palamedes so electrifies me!!

Jeff

Palamedes Plus

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

Much of the world has the Corona virus on its mind. Blame them? No, for they fear for their safety, the health of their kids, parents, brothers, sister, friends and neighbors. They fear too for their jobs, incomes and for what their lives will be like in the coming weeks. Months?

Me? My own thinking is personal, though I will remind that I’ve waves bye bye to my 40’s, 50’s and more. I’ve seen much, and survived much.

Butterflies? What a fantastic antidote to your virus fears! Butterflies come to my garden in Eatonton, Georgia. On a sunny day, hundreds visit. Yesterday it was visits from Red-banded Hairstreaks, Cloudless Sulphur and several species of Skipper butterflies.

Most of you can get in your cars and drive less than an hour to a State Park, National Wildlife Refuge, National Monument, private refuge or reserve or National Park . . . or along roadsides full of wildflowers.

This image of a show-stopping Palamedes Swallowtail butterfly, in the Florida Panhandle, rocked my boat, for it struck my as Palamedes Plus, that is, a sight for sore eyes!! Beauty beyond beautiful. All that and in the kind of place listed above: Extreme Social Distancing for tens of millions of Americans . . . and for you in France, Estonia, Hungary, China, Canada, Sri Lanka, Ireland, Japan, India, Pakistan, Gold Coast, Kenya . . .

Jeff

Big Bend WMA Results Are In

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

This my first meet-up with a Georgia Satyr butterfly. NABA’s Spring/Summer 2015 issue of American Butterflies featured an article, Definitive Destination: Big Bend WMA, Florida. It riveted me, and the very next year, in late August 2016 I drove down to Big Bend Wildlife Management Area. It was a super 5 days.

My images taken there were mostly good, but my Georgia Satyr shots disappointed me. They prefer to be inches off of the ground, requiring that you get down, down to their level. Sure you get down, robotically, and when you nearly reach their life space . . . they’ve flown. Several remained still in the early morning. That was good too, but the humidity was oppressive, the sweat cascaded down over my headband, washing my eyes in salt, every shot required that you first made sure that ‘bad’ snakes were not within your circle of activity, and the ‘No-See-Ums’ came divebombing in squadrons.

This shot here was the best I got. Slightly embarrassed, I shared it back then.

We got back last week from an April 2019 revisit to Big Bend’s Spring Creek Unit, and the lightly visited Old Grade tram (trail) delivered again. This time the very sameNo-See-Ums (sandflies) were worse than 2016, but we did spot 15 Georgia’s. My goal was to score a better image than this one.

The Fuji Velvia slides are back from Dwayne’s Photo, and Yes Ma’am, one of them made me smile. As soon as I can get them back from Rewind Memories in Pittsburgh, we’ll be sharing that one. If the scan does the slide justice, it’s color will be rich, it’ll have a pretty decent eye capture, and y’all (Did I spell that correctly, Virginia?) will see what a Georgia Satyr really looks likes, on a sunny late April morning in the Florida Panhandle.

Jeff