A New Chapter for the Mystery Kayak

Kayak rescue photographed by Jeff Zablow at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Rock Hall, MD
The Mystery Red Kayak remained where I left it. I returned to Rock Hall, Maryland. Late that afternoon, I drove back to Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, to see what butterflies were about. While I worked the trails, I saw a lone kayak approaching the shore. The man in the kayak headed straight to the Mystery Red one. I was not finding much butterfly presence, and returned my attention to the drama of the Red Kayak.

The man down there called up to me, asking if I knew anything of Red Kayak. I told him what I knew, that it had been there all day. He said that he occasionally finds kayaks, and returns them to their owners. Living 43 years on Chesapeake Bay, he’d seen lots of mysteries about.

This was a new world for me. Folks whose lives heavily involve the Bay, who go out to patrol, so to speak, the Bay, to monitor that all’s as it should be. Out there with the osprey, bald eagles, turkey vultures, egrets . . . What a life.

Next post will feature the last photo of the rescue of the Mystery Red Kayak.


The Mystery Kayak

Kayak rescue photographed by Jeff Zablow at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Rock Hall, MD
The spices and herbs of life. There I was, working the trails of Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, on the popular Delmarva Peninsula, in full view of Chesepeake Bay. A sweet little national wildlife refuge, great for birds and butterflies. This was my 2nd day at the refuge. What’s that? There it was, a redder than red, kayak. Look as I would, there was no kayaker.

The mystery of this solitary kayak popped several juicy scenarios in my mind. I’ve kayaked before, in Toronto and in New Jersey. I like kayaking and I like the freedom it provides, enabling you to slip into spots that defy easy access.

So the mystery kayak, my favorite rich red. A rental, someone’s favorite? A maverick kayak that floated away as she went off to examine some rare plant growing at the shoreline . . . Who knows.

What should I do?

I did what I knew I had come to do, seek butterflies, their host plants, their caterpillars, and revel in the osprey, bald eagles, turkey vultures, and different hawks that filled the blue skies above.

More soon about the next part of the mystery kayak saga.


Home or Away?

Red-Spotted Purple butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Leroy Percy Park, Hollandale, MS, 9/08/09
This morning I photographed at Raccoon  Creek State Park. I set the odometer on the Tundra. 37 miles, exactly. It’s Memorial Day, sunny, no wind, and the morning was seasonably comfortable, with temperatures hovering in the 60’s at 10:30 AM. The trail was all mine alone, save for one hiker and 5 on horseback. 3 and ½ hours of enjoyment. Enjoyment fueled by swallowtails, duskywings, azures, skippers and of course, one butterfly that was totally a mystery, and, did not stick around long enough for me to ID it.

The Tiger swallowtails made the morning. The came down from the trees between 9 and 10 AM. They were males. Fresh, smallish males, richly colored. Each of them flew down. Down, not around, and set out wings to bask and warm in the morning sun. They allowed my approach and I took maybe too many exposures…thinking, book cover opportunity = go for it. Fuji film, you remember, so they must go to Kansas and return for me to see.

Days ago I was in Rock Hall, Maryland, on the beautiful, lush Delmarva Peninsula. Dave and Bill, volunteers at the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, helped out, offering suggested nooks and crannies to explore. 3 pleasant nights at the Mariners Motel in Rock Hall, then the 6 hour drive to Pittsburgh.

This stunning Red-spotted purple butterfly closely resembles the one I watched up in that American holly tree. Both were seen very far from home. Comes the question? Home or away?

We have a comfortable and growing number of people who view and follow wingedbeauty.com. I cannot say if they care whether my images are obtained in my home county, or 927 miles away in Hollandale, Mississippi. I greatly appreciate you all, and Love each and every visit you make.

There aren’t many who photograph butterflies and blog their work. One or two others do so all over the map. They post their finds from Texas, Colorado, California, the Florida Keys, the Jersey Pine Barrens, Alaska, and ….

This would be great fun, though it comes with great expen$e, airports, rental cars, motels and long, long rides. All this alone. Robert Michale Pyle and others do so, but the rub (for me) is that they have earned the friendship of so many authoratitive friends it seems almost everywhere, and when they set a destination, they have at least some assurance that time, place and conditions add up to probable success. And there is the human factor, friends to see, experiences to recall over home cooked meals, camaraderie on trails.

So I am presently weighing Home or Away? Do I perservere within a radius of 100 miles of my Pittsburgh home, or fly the now less than friendly skies, to share rare, little known butterflies flying in America’s holdout wildernesses? Add a final ingredient. I eat gluten free, necessitating that I take along a stash of food from our East End Co-op and Whole Foods (Bless them both).


Guess Who Showed Up?

May 20th was a good day at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge (Rock Hall, Maryland…On the Delmarva peninsula). The morning sky was mostly clear, with passing clouds here and there. I tried to disregard the fantastic airshow above and around me…Osprey, Bald eagles, Turkey Vultures, Indigo buntings, Ruby throated hummingbirds, Great blue herons, Mockingbirds, Cardinals…. Butterflies were why I came to this Refuge, surrounded by Chesapeake Bay.

The Butterfly Garden, planted next to the house that the Ranger lives in, was planted with nectaring plants, but they were not in flower as of yet. The trails were fun, but didn’t yield too much butterfly action. There were a pair of 50 foot trees near the Rangers’ house, in full, and I mean full bloom! Perhaps hundred of thousands of white blossoms, each producing a faint aroma, not unlike vanilla. The leaves were Holly leaves. Bees of many species were flying around and around the larger tree, oddly not landing, but flying. Protecting their claimed sector of treescape?

I photographed the tree and its blooms. And I wondered. If most of the native plants are not yet in bloom, and most of the nearby garden is still developing its blooms, will butterflies be drawn to these katrillion flowers on what I think is an American Holly tree (Ilex opaca Ait.).

I waited. Waited. Then there one was. It was a good sized butterfly. A brushfoot. Which one? Then it came closer. A red-spotted purple butterfly. Characterized as a generalist, a species that seeks sustenance from a large variety of flowering species. It never came close enough for a solid macro- photograph.

The table was set, the settings were overflowing…and Red-spotted purple butterfly dropped by to enjoy some of the hundred of gallons of sweet that our tree was pumping.


Note: This is not an image of this butterfly on American holly.

Sachem Skipper Butterfly at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge’s Butterfly Garden

Skipper Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in  Eastern Neck National Wildlife refuge, MD

On the lookout for Swallowtails, Fritillaries, Vanessa (Red Admirals & Painted Ladies), etc., I was doing what I usually do, avoiding the smaller, quicker and especially difficult to identify Skippers (Hespertinae).

Skippers are of many species, many species that closely resemble one another. Distinct species that have no difficulty identifying their genetic material or mates, but present real challenge to those of us who, field guide in hand, attempt to identify them. Fiery, Black Dash, Sachem, Long Dash, Peck’s or Hobomok? Perry Mason would have too much fun cross examining someone who testified that a Sachem did it!

So unless we are joined by authoritative NABA or Xerces folks, our female here is a Atalopedes CampestrisShe joined me as I worked the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge‘s Butterfly Garden, but didn’t stay long though. My approach interrupted her brief stop to rest. All on a mid-August morning.

Skippers are all about what the yelling is about. Their diversity is real, with hundreds of species of butterflies in the U.S. All, including this one, count. All, including those like this one, must remain here and about.