Pinks at Blackwater!

Pink Lady's Slipper wildflower, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, MD

Butterflies are my game, ‘though last year my eyes wandered a bit, to native orchids. Just 2 days ago we shared ‘3 Demure Pinks.’ Those Pink Lady’s Slipper orchids lit up the forest at Chapman State Park. Three of them growing side by side, deep red, and very earnest.

This earlier trip to Maryland’s Eastern Shore, included this run down to the “lower shore.” There, at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, I met this threesome. Very Audrey Hepburn-ish, and somewhat lighter pink. They seemed to be almost begging me to photograph them, with those weightless drops of water perilously hanging on each of them.

Lady’s Slipper orchids prefer small open spaces in thick forest. Often they are found where a tree has fallen a year or more ago. That sudden break in the forest canopy, invites their seeds to grow, thrive, in the limited, dappled sunlight that this new opening in the forest enjoys.

I Love orchids, and as if my eyes weren’t busy enough, I am on the lookout, looking for telltale indicators, like freshly created mini-openings in the forest.

Tomorrow, we drive to Eatonton, Georgia, for 2 weeks of southern butterflies. The Briar Patch Habitat, an amazing destination, beckons. We’ll be quiet, until the return back home.

Jeff

Variegated Fritillary Butterfly

Variegated Fritillary Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland

It’s October at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge near Cambridge, Maryland, and we’re looking at eye candy on the wing.  This Euptoieta Claudia would certainly raise the eyebrows of the artisans in the Cartier studios.

He is sipping nectar at the Butterfly Garden at the National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center, and is treating us with just the right background blooms.

Fritillaries are exquisite when they are young. This male offers the full menu of color and patter for this species: rich orange-brown, yellow central banding on all 4 wings, orange spots surrounded by a black border in forewing cells of each wing, black veins and submarginal black spots.

Their nectar diet is not limited to a single flower. So, these generalists drink nectar from passionflowers, pansies, violets, and a menu of other flowering species.

We’ve posted other Variegated Frits. They are generally intolerant of my approach with a camera. Each of our posted images is the result of many, many attempts to score premium images.

Euptoieta Claudia is best known as a southeastern U.S. species. We have many fritillary species here and in the western United States.  It will be awhile before I have western ones safe and secure in my Neumade cabinet of slides.

Jeff

 

Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly

Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, MD

One of the most focused nectarers, this Clouldless Sulphur is at work at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge, Maryland.

She is large for a Sulphur butterfly and it is a bit startling to see this fly in with her not exactly straight path.

Phoebis sennae is said to range well into Pennsylvania. ? I have seen maybe 2, and fleetingly, in these last 12 years of field work in western Pennsylvania.

At Blackwater they are regularly seen. What a treat!

Jeffrey

Variegated Fritillary Butterfly

Variegated fritillary butterfly photographed at Black Water National Wildlife Refuge, MD

It’s early afternoon at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge, Maryland. As a rule I only photograph in the morning. I try to quit by 11 A.M., before the sun overhead denies my images of all of the creases and shadows that make an image memorable.

But there I was at Blackwater, and it was teeming with fresh butterflies of many different species. So there I was on October 6th. I had lots of water and so I violated my own working rules = don’t photograph after 11:30 A.M and stop when it gets hot. So I shot away!

Euptoieta claudia so reminds me of why I enjoy doing what I do. It is as beautiful as any fine jewelry produced by the finest jewelry designers. When I’m 12″ away and see what you’re seeing, it’s uplifting. Yes it is.

And like magnificent jewelryyou see ityou admire it . . . and then it’s gone.

Jeffrey

American Painted Lady Butterfly

 American painted lady butterfly photographed at Black Water National Wildlife Refuge, MD

Asters are blooms that open late in the growing season. That’s good for American Painted Ladys and many other butterfly species. Why? Because almost all of the other flowers are gone by then. Asters and goldenrod flowers become the food suppliers.

They are closely related to a similar species, Painted Ladys.

Ladys fly at top speed when approached. They can be approached when they are nectaring, but you’ve got to do so carefully, for they are very wary.

Vanessa virginiensis here in the eastern U.S. overwinter. That means that adults are now snugly hidden away under tree bark, in holes in trees and probably under your wooden back deck! Other will migrate north in April and May.

Jeffrey