Is It Polite To Stare?

Viceroy Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Kelso Swamp, Fayette Township, PA

Me? Not really. I’ve never much been too impressed with celebrities or famous people. I don’t know whether I’ve seen more or less than most other people. New York City, with its published 8,000,000 or so residents ( I’ve no doubt it’s always been more like 14,000,000 counting those who are not documented) has lots of famous, but I’ve not much seen them. Who’ve I seen, Diana Ross in that elevator, Kirk Douglas in a Broadway theater, Mike Tyson with a blonde looker on each arm strolling in midtown New York and a couple of others. I don’t look for them, so I suppose that’s why I don’t see them.

I do admit to remembering especially beautiful women I’ve seen, and I think that has some credible connection to my attraction to fresh, beautiful butterflies.

Now I don’t know the gender of this Viceroy butterfly, seen during its time out resting in Traci’s Kelso swamp in southwestern Pennsylvania. Fresh and magnificent, it riveted me. I so hoped that it was a female, for that would be just right. She remained there long enough for me to make a decent approach, and males usually don’t tolerate approach. I shot away, staring all along at that very pronounced black line across each of her hindwings, as well as her fine wing margins, black with those broadcasting white dots.

I was once in midtown Manhattan ( NYNY ), a young man, and a young woman of stunning looks, red hair/green eyes, reached the corner when I did. We waited for the traffic light to turn green for us to cross, and I was so taken with her G-d given looks, that I must have gaped, or certainly stared, and the words would not come out (“Hi, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .).

This one is of such beauty, and the words did come, with my whisper, “Thank You G-d.”

Jeff

 

Predictable, But Viceroy When?

Viceroy Butterfy concealed in Foliage photographed by Jeff Zablow in Kelso Swamp, Fayette Township, PA

Traci’s Pocket Swamp was all that she said it was. Best of all, this Fayette Township, southwestern Pennsylvania swamp, that she calls Kelso Swamp, featured the wetland flora and fauna expected. Great blue heron, duck, sedges, Typha, all there.

My first visit, and the Salix (Willows) bordering the open water was the clincher. Viceroy butterflies surely must be here too. Willows are their hostplants, so you’d think that Viceroys should be right there, right where you want to see them, throughout the morning.

Except . . . field experience teaches that Viceroys are unpredictable, except, you can predict that once you see them, they will be difficult to approach, and will remain in place briefly, very briefly.

With Viceroy on my mind, I searched this navigable east side of the swamp, finding lots to examine, and shoot.

Boom! In swooped a Viceroy, and it headed to the low grass, just steps from the open swamp, and about 15′ from me. Daddah! Hmmm. Would my approach startle this beaut? Would it stay there long enough for me to get close to it? Could I get close to it? Would . . .?

You know I was Happy!, very Happy! I shot, shot, shot. A fresh, vital, vibrant wetland butterfly, yes, as beautiful as those baubles in the jewelry  store windows on fabled East 57th Street in NYNY! Well not as beautiful, more beautiful than . . . .

Jeff

August Argiope

Argiope Spider photographed by Jeff Zablow in Kelso Swamp, Fayette Township, PA

These things catch my attention each and every time. This female was in Traci’s Kelso Swamp in FayetteTownship, southwestern Pennsylvania. In September 2015 her OMG! web was stretched between non-woody plants. She was just about 10 feet from the swamp, patiently waiting for some insect to fly to or away from the swamp, and into her sticky, amazingly resilient web.

I stopped, stooped down, and respectfully kept a discrete distance from her. I’ve walked into spider webs, right into the bulls-eye center, too many times. I know they aren’t aggressive and don’t retaliate, but . . . they do look bigger and scarier than they should. Black and Yellow Argiopes remind me of those guys in my Brooklyn neighborhood who you just didn’t mess with.

We had a good laugh that day, when I DID walk into one of their webs. Back recently from Georgia, I shared our readers that southern US webs and northern spider webs taste the same.

Like I’ve said before, all the Carnegie Mellon U, Cal Tech, MIT, Berkeley, Georgia Tech engineering and robotics departments combined shouldn’t even try to outdo this beast, engineered by the B-st.

Jeff

Petite Wildflower at Traci’s Swamp (At Risk)

Wildflower photographed by Jeff Zablow in Kelso Swamp, Fayette Township, PA

Sure, Traci’s Swamp at Kelso Road and Pattridge Lane is a neat, pocket swamp. Fayette Township is just 7 miles from downtown Pittsburgh. Beavers likely created the swamp, and hundred of animals and plants are now forever in their debt. The swamp is privately owned, and Traci can’t get the Western Pennsylvania Nature Conservancy to come and consider conserving the swamp and Traci’s Meadow. The Conservancy is too busy to visit, and with much more important fish to fry. Traci? She lives a stone’s throw away, and she’s a consummate naturalist.

At Traci’s invite, I visited the Swamp, and was delighted. Butterflies were all about, and the Viceroys were fresh and deeply hued.

During one of those breaks in the butterfly action, I notice this tiny wildflower. My wildflower guides haven’t helped me yet. It’s pert, self-confident and very optimistic. It grows in very wet soil, in between rivulets of water seeping from the swamp.

Soon after sharing this post, two of our friends got to work identifying it. Here we have Small Flowered Willow (Epilobium parviflorum). Native, no. Rare here, yes. It is a naturalized european transplant. Thanks Pete and Barbara Ann.

Jeff

Skippers & That Laugh

Skipper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Kelso Swamp, Fayette Township, PA

Skippers are butterflies, and there are folks who authoritatively tell one skipper species from the other. This skipper landed on this grass, just yards from Traci’s Kelso Swamp. They’re pert, meaningful and they’re brown. I value pert, meaningful and brown. Comes the question then. Which of the many small, pert, meaningful, brown skippers is this?

That’s why I laughed when I made the decision to post this image. Here I go again, sort of struggling to ID this perfectly wonderful skipper.

At this time, I think that he or she is a Long Dash skipper (Polites mystic). I base this upon markings, wet habitat and that this slightly worn butterfly could have appeared in August, and continue flying to the day I photographed it; in very early September.

Can you imagine if I had majored in the study of butterflies in a fine university, and met all of those budding butterfly experts early on, and then . . .

Jeff