Hiding At Clay Pond

Eyed Satyr Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Jamestown Audubon Center, NY

Barbara Ann (A”H) and I were at Clay Pond Preserve in Frewsburg, New York, near Jamestown. It was a damp, humid morning, with the sun promising to return within the hour. It was early, as we waded through the 2-foot tall pond-edge grasses and sedges. As we moved, butterflies rose up from here and there, fleeing. There were more butterflies being rustled up than I would have expected. That reassured me that on that my second trip to Clay Pond, it remained a rich, healthy wetland destination.

I noticed this form in the grass ahead, and carefully making my approach, I kneeled down to get a better look, and this is what I saw, an Eyed Brown Butterfly (Satyroydes eurydice). The available light was limited, the air was moisture saturate, and the sky remain cloudy.

Almost like those TV shows where the cops are staking out a house, before sunrise or after sunset.

Jeff

‘My What Large Eyes You Have!’

Common Wood Nymph Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Clay Pond, NY

Decades of being on the lookout for Fab Common Wood Nymph butterflies with memorable forewing ‘Eyes’ and a few fit the bill. This one was discovered in the tall grass and sedges surrounding Clay Pond Preserve in Frewsburg, New York. This far western New York State wetland refuge is near Jamestown,New York.

This one lacked that bright yellow field around the ‘Eyes’ yet the eyes shone bright with their sweet orange rings around the black eye and its blue/white ‘pupil center.

There sure is variation in Common Wood Nymph butterflies, but nevertheless, this one . . . I love the look! Barbara Ann Case OBM” led me to Clay Pond Preserve, and I will miss her scouting, much.

Jeff

Wood Nymph Butterflies’ Yellow

Common Wood Nymph Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Clay Pond, NY
Wood Nymph Butterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park Enlarged

The Wood Nymph butterfly on the left was seen in Clay Pond Refuge, near Frewsburg, New York.

The Wood Nymph butterfly on the right was seen in Raccoon Creek State Park in Hookstown, Pennsylvania.

Frewsburg is a 3-hour drive north of Hookstown.

The stark difference in absence of yellow patch on the forewings and presence of large yellow patch on forewings fascinates me. Populations living some 200 miles apart, and Big differences in coloration/’eyes.’

I’ll long remember seeing the Wood Nymph butterflies of Raystown Lake in Central Pennsylvania. They had Huge patches of very bright yellow! When Barbara Ann (“OBM) introduced me to Clay Pond, and I met the yellow-less butterfly seen above, Wow! was I puzzled.

Dang! I wish I was a student again, so much to explore/study.

Jeff

Love & Skipper Butterflies (Clay Pond, NY)

Skipper Butterfly II photographed by Jeff Zablow at Clay Pond Preserve, Frewsburg, NY

We were in high grass, working our way along the perimeter Clay Pond in very western New York State. This wetland preserve was rich in grasses and the wetland pollinating flowers you’d find in a pond habitat.

Barbara Ann is expert identifying native orchids, and I’ve been seeking butterflies since what? 1995?

It’s the little Skipper butterflies that I have much difficulty identifying. Lehman, Pyle, Zirlin and some others of you are more adept at determining the Skippers.

I love these little pookie butterflies, especially when they are fresh, vividly colored, and I admire their energy, purposefulness and courage, what with so many predators about.

Curt, Bob, or Harry, can you help with ID’ing this robust fella, with his long proboscis and splashed of bright yellowish orange?

Thanks.

Jeff

That Urban Disadvantage

Common Wood Nymph Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Clay Pond, NY

It came to mind today, as it occasionally does. That growing up in Brooklyn, New York, in the city of New York. Our street, East 58th Street, was at the very edge of development in the 1940’s. North and west of my street, was fully, 100% built, nearly all with small brick row houses, one after another, like forever, until miles away, you gaped across the East River, at the Manhattan skyline.

At the edge of development meant that just around the corner from me, just past Lenny Oliker’s house, was an unbuilt lot, maybe 20% sylvan, the rest of the botany in that lot was alien botany. Across the street from there, Clarendon Road, was more undeveloped land, where (Believe it Not!) we once chased cottontail rabbits and found Black Widow Spiders.

Accelerate to now, 2019, and I reckoned today at the Great disadvantage all that meant for me, that Urban Disadvantage.

I now live in the town of Eatonton, 2 blocks from the county courthouse. Yesterday, Eatonton celebrated their 60th annual Dairy Festival yesterday. There are working dairy farms less than 2.5 miles from our house. Most here grew up on the parents’ farm or their grandparents’ farm. Many worked on farms while they were in high school. On their own lots, they grew up amongst butterflies, deer, raccoons, water moccasins and copperhead snakes, opossums, black vultures, wild hogs and boars, armadillos and . . . butterflies. Grandma often had a garden that was unforgettable to my friends today, and it was regularly visited by . . . butterflies.

My childhood? I have much difficulty remembering butterflies in those ’empty lots’ back in my childhood. Very few came, for 80% of the botany was aliens, and Doug Tallaway famously teaches that our butterflies and moths and bees just don’t know alien species, no matter how many decades those plants coexist with our butterflies, flies, moths, bees and wasps.

Those of you who grew up rural learned of and saw butterflies their entire life. They’ve developed foundational experience with their names, habits, preferences and life cycles.

Me? True I taught high school Biology in New York City’s Queens borough and in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,but . . . all that I know off butterflies had to be learned more recently, and still lacks the rich experiential familiarity of the so many of you who grew up in such as the Briar Patch. That Urban Disadvantage, unknown and a negative, here.

A very attractive Wood Nymph butterfly in the high wet meadow at Clay Pond in Frewsburg, New York, home of the famous naturalist, Barbara Ann Case.

Jeff