A Title For This Post?

Toad photographed by Jeff Zablow at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Rock Hall, MD
Day 2 of 3 days in Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge. The diversity seen there was incredible . . . and that included this toad, hiding from me, no more than a foot from the edge of the trail i was working. Looked healthy, with a very beautiful interplay of browns arranged in various patterns. “Waste” film on this pookie? That debate lasted but seconds. Out came the little boy in me = Wow! this toad is amazing!

It posed (he, she ?). Good. I am, of course dedicated to photographing butterflies, and displaying the best of what I get. But this guy was special, and amidst all of the buzz about habitat encroachment, there it was, extraordinary (for me) and looking like a good indicator that the next generation was almost assured.

Now  . . . what title for this post? Suggestions?


Chrysalis Unknown

Chrysalis photographed by Jeff Zablow at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Rock Hall, MD
There it was, suspended from the woody branch of a shrubby plant, very close to the shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, some 2+ hours drive east, from Washington, DC..

It was inches from the trail. I stopped. Examined it. This is good. A clear reminder and message: The natural world has soooo much that I know little about.

I believe that it is the chrysalis of a moth, yet I had no idea what adult moth will wriggle out of it sometime soon. Friends have identified this as a Bagworm moth. What a name? ‘A bagworm walks into . . . .’

I didn’t anticipate this moment. I love searching for and finding butterflies, and I value all of the exciting finds that I make along the way, this one included.

Primitive, yet super complicated.


Red-Banded Hairstreak Butterfly

Red-banded hairstreak butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Rock Hall, MD
A really nice discovery at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge. Calycopis cecrops ranks high on my List of happy finds. That red band that spans its left wings is unmistakable. This tiny hairstreak is a rare find for me. Field Guides give it a range from southern Massachusets south to the Florida Keys.

Our boy here is resting on a low branch, scopeing for females. He must be patient, for despite his handsome coloration, eyespots and nifty orange antennae tips, there were few females in the Refuge that morning.

His rest ended instantly, when my macro lens made its slow, calculated approach. This species is frustrating, for once they flee, they do not return to the same perch. Sop when they are gone, they are gone.

Get this. Little is known of the life of this species. It’s 2014 and we still know little about it. One of my favorites, that we do know.


Common Sootywing Butterfly

Common Sootywing butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Rock Hall, MD
My first encounter with a Common Sootywing (Pholisora catullus). A new butterfly, one I’d never seen before. Exciting. We were in Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge in May 2014. She was basking on a leaf, taking in the Delmarva’s warm morning sun. My calculated approach was good, she tolerated 5 film exposures, then she was gone.

Me, I was bubbling with excitement. What was this rare little skipper, how rare, that I hadn’t seen one in the last 14 years?

Back to the Sailor’s Motel in Rock Hall. Flip open my field guide . . . Huh? The Common sootywing. Not rare at all, and found west of the Mississippi, east from Maine to Florida.

She was this glossy black. Her white spots were bright white. Several field guide authors argue that her given name is too colorless for such a starkly beautiful little wonder of a native butterfly.

Their hostplant is that ‘weed’ that all eastern gardeners have pulled hundreds of times, Lamb’s quarters.


Red Kayak Rescue (The Final Episode)

Kayak rescue photographed by Jeff Zablow at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Rock Hall, MD
We’ve posted the discovery of the Mystery Red Kayak, and later that same day the appearance of the self-appointed Red Kayak rescuer. Chesapeake Bay is the stage for this colorful rescue.

The rescuer did not tell of any injury or death in the Bay, so the Mystery Red Kayak’s bust-out escape came without bad news. What it did included filling my thoughts with lots of scenarios, each possibly explaining the whole Red Kayak thing, and it added another notch on the paddle of the Red Kayak rescuer. Watching him paddle into the Bay was, well . . . poetic.

All this from Jeff, who was there to photograph butterflies, especially those at the northernmost reaches of their southern (US) range.