Pipevine Aglow

Pipeline Swallowtail Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

It seems that when certain butterflies fly into my vicinity, I have them on a mental list, of photo objectives I have. For the tiny Metalmark butterflies, I want better views of those scintillating shiny metal lines that shimmer from their upper wing surface. Mourning cloaks are high on my list. I have a special connection with Mourning Cloaks, a very personal one. I can’t wait for the Spring day when an excitingly fresh one decides to strike a pose for me, and I capture that maroon upper, with the delicious blue spots and those yellow borders. Monarchs? I have 2 or so dozen images in my slide storage cabinet, yet I want a killer image of a Monarch with those strange eyes, deep orange-rust color and body/head aburst with those white explosive dots.

Another chance to shoot that Common Mestra that teased me on the National Butterfly Center trail, would be nice, it not affording my a single exposure. Now that I’m getting a tad Gimme! here, I sure would like to remeet a fresh Compton Tortoiseshell butterfly, this time close enough for my Macro- lens to do what it does, with this heavy favorite of me, the Compton. That Georgia Satyr back in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area  in the Florida Panhandle jumps out to me here, for with the sweat pouring down over my eyes those last days of August, my vision was blurred, and image scores turned out to be Eh!

Not true here with this Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly. I wanted to get that shimmering blue that you see on the inner side of those coral spots. I pretty much did, and that is good.

Jeff

Why Regals?

Regal Fritillary Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, Pennsylvania

Regal Fritillary Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, Pennsylvania

Cech and Tudor’s Butterflies of the East Coast (Princeton University Press, 2005) shares them on page 160. I ordered this hefty field guide soon after it was published, and I’d been to page 160 dozens of times. Butterfly people remain difficult for me to understand, and my numerous attempts to contact folks who could enable a visit to Ft. Indiantown Gap Military Reserve in central Pennsylvania got zero response. A bit warm under the collar after that, I still had not seen a Regal fritillary butterfly.

I remember reading that the Redcoats scored a big victory in the Revolutionary War because they outflanked the Patriots by . . . marching through my old neighborhood of East Flatbush in Brooklyn. I daydreamed of that day, and thought, Wow! those British guys must have been seeing Regals as they cut through where Clarendon Road and East 58th Street now intersect.

I’m not the easy traveller. I don’t like traveling much. The long, long drives, and especially the airports and the cramped economy seats, are hard although I did meet Patti and Aileen and some now distanced friends that way.

So, I thought long and hard about How much I wanted to meet a Regal butterfly. It’d mean a more than 3-hour drive, a stay in a hotel the night before, getting up bonkers early (I am slooooow in the morning), and joining some more than 149 people that next morning . . . with a forecast of a rainy early June day ahead.

I pushed myself to sign-up on line for that prescribed tour, led by naturalists employed by the military post. I made the drive, got to the hotel with time to spare, slept like a b-a-b-y and found Ft. Indiantown Ok. That large crowd began down the trail, led by the naturalists, and soon we all began to spread out on the trails. The more than 100 acre meadow enabled the crowd to thin, to where I was alone with another visitor and a very eager naturalist.

Rain? as forecast? No! Sun, no wind. Asclepias was in bloom, as were many other nectar magnets. Regals were nicely abundant, and just like you see here, they were very happy with the perfect butterflyweed.

Me? I was guardedly ecstatic. The Regals were beautiful, good size, flew with grace and poise and when they nectared, they pretty much tolerated careful approach.

Then why Regals? The effort, the money, the time, the indifference when I got home, the enthusiasm of some dozens of wingedbeauty.com followers and friends (when me thinks that thousands should have whooped it up!! knowing that Brooklyn got to see and shoot Regals)?

Truth be told, I loved it, I was super pumped, I was focused and I still remember that day, for a Fine Day It Was,

Jeff

,

Orange Delight

Coral Hairstreak Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

What a way to make a day! Come upon a Coral Hairstreak butterfly nectaring at Butterflyweed. Las Vegas won’t take the bet on this one, for even they know that this scene is a long shot. How often do you find both the Coral and the Milkweed that is Butterflyweed, in full mettle, and at the same time. There are years when you can’t find Corals, they just don’t support a flight that year.

We were at Ft. Indiantown Gap to see one of the rarest butterflies east of the Mississippi River, the Regal Fritillary butterfly. Not only did I see squads of Regals, but those rich meadows in central Pennsylvania boasted much much more: Corals, Monarchs, Pipevines, Eastern Black Swallowtails, and Great Spangle Fritillaries.

Some days ago, I posted here to provide a heads-up to anyone who wanted to visit the Ft. Indiantown Gap Military Reserve this June 2018. They usually open the base to those who want to enjoy seeing the Regals.

Seeing Regals and such Corals? Excellent therapy!

Jeff

The Regals Hold Court in June

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa - Visitors of all ages participated in a rare regal fritillary butterfly guided tour on Fort Indiantown Gap. (Department of Military and Veterans Affairs photo by Tom Cherry/Released)

Visitors of all ages participated in a rare regal fritillary butterfly guided tour on Fort Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania (Department of Military and Veterans Affairs photo by Tom Cherry/Released)

You say you’ve seen a Goatweed Leafwing Butterfly, Great Purple Hairstreaks, Marine Blues, Diana Fritillaries and Eastern Pygmy Blues. Good for you.

Your chance to see a butterfly that once flew in my Brooklyn, and just about every state east of the Mississippi River, and today can only be seen in one limited meadow in mid-central Pennsylvania is just weeks away.

Each year the U.S. military conducts guided tours of that 100-acre meadow, it’s not too far from the state capitol of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. There you will see your first Regal Fritillary Butterfly. I saw perhaps 20 to 25. They are magnificent, and they fly amidst Monarchs, Coral Hairstreaks and Great Spangled Fritillaries.

The guided tours take place in early June, and you must contact the Ft. Indiantown Gap Military Reserve to register. Staff naturalists accompany the guests. 130 folks showed up for my tour, but we soon broke up into small groups, and that Friday was unforgettable. It was.

Jeff

Setting the Table for the Kids

Mating Regal Fritillary Butterflies photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

Our great grandkids? The awful news that washes over our radios, televisions, iPhones and well, some time ago, our newspapers, does every once in a while trigger thoughts of How’re We Doing? Here in the USA, there in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Far East, that tiny miscreant, North Korea? Some of us bite the bait, so to speak, and get caught up in a media malaise.

Wonderfully, those who come visit here, come to see, are the folks who largely deny that unpleasant ‘blanket’ of melancholy to settle over our heads. We look for beauty, wonder, awe, excitement, the thrill of the discovery, and the bounty of the Cr-ator.

We regrettably do have concerns. One that heads the list for me, and  perhaps for you, is what will we be providing for our grandchildren and great grandchildren? I’m now reading Travels of William Bartram, edited by Mark Van Doren . . . ‘an unabridged edition of this classic with all 13 original illustrations’ (Dover Publications, NY 1955, first published in 1928). It is the full account of British botanist Bartram, as he scoured Florida and Georgia, shortly after America’s Independence, seeking useful botany. It is Amazing! 99.899% of America was undeveloped then, and the natural landscape was Rich in life, all kinds of life.

Now, when I walk through Frick Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and search its 900 +/- acres, I cannot escape the reality, that more than 70% of the botany that I see is . . . alien. And the fauna? Where is that carrier pigeon, the cougar, rattlesnakes, and that brings us here, to this view of a pair of mating Regal Fritillary butterflies. They used to fly in Frick. They used to fly from southern Maine to the Florida Panhandle ( corrections would be more than welcome ). Gone from the states that stack themselves Maine to the north and Florida to the south. Fact is, this huge meadow in central Pennsylvania is the only place that they still can be found. Omg! Only a few hundred Regals, in those what, 15 states?

So, we share this graceful, important image, of sheer fragility. What table are we Americans setting for our grandkids and great grandkids, as we continue the rush to build, develop, and bulldoze?

Jeff