Love? No. Why?

Peacock butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

I count 1995 or so as the year that I decided to photograph butterflies. Life had always found me marching to my own drummer, and childhood had seriously taught me to learn the hard lesson of loneliness. Fortunately, I had the tools to make it on the streets of that Brooklyn, and I alway knew I could love, deeply.

Butterflies have occupied my mind and imagination since, and happily, that enthusiasm has not lessened. With Spring around the corner here in middle-Georgia, I spend much time thinking of where, what and which butterflies I would like to meet and re-meet. I’ve learned to reckon with limitation$ and to embrace the realization that I am one beat less than Ansel Adams and his ilk.

These decades have me thinking of Big questions, when I am in the field and when I am like here, at my 27″ iMac screen examining my craft work.

Large among the questions that visit me is this one. Why do I embrace, Love, images of certain butterflies? I easily include here: Coppers, Hairstreaks, Mourning cloak, Tortoiseshells, the Monarch, Common Mestra, Satyrs and the Alpines (though I’ve never seen one)?

I know, intellectually that this White Peacock butterfly, shot in the National Butterfly Center, is magnificent. Yet I am not excited when I’ve seen them, there’s no enthusiasm there. Add to that the Yellow butterflies, the White butterflies, the Checkerspots, Crescents, Ladies and the Skippers.

For a guy who has been thinking, deeply, since he was back there a 5-year old. I have not yet teased apart the reason for this ambivalence about this magnificent butterfly, the Peacock. A puzzle that. Yes?

Jeff

That Del Webb Window on East 57th Street

Malachite Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Back when I was involved in the management of apartment buildings in New York, New York (AKA Manhattan), we’d occasionally meet for lunch near my office. Sometimes, I have to go stop into my real estate lawyer’s office in the very Art Deco Fuller Building at East 57th Street and Madison Avenue. Other times, we’d enjoy lunch and walk over to Christie’s, the world famous auction gallery, also nearby (fine art, porcelains, jewelry).

She would always stop to enjoy the East 57th Street windows of Dell Webb. Their jewelry was not her style, but we always agreed that it was, very beautiful.

Mesmerized by this Malachite butterfly last late-December 2017, it spent much time resting in this ravine trail at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. Frieda A”H (OBM) passed in 2008, how she would have so enjoyed this magnificent butterfly, deemed “U” for Uncommon all Year in southern Texas (Glassberg, A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America).

This 2019 I have plans for a re-visit to the National Butterfly Center, a return trip to the Florida Panhandle, a drive to northwestern Alabama and several other trips to find and shoot butterflies.

Each and every time I locate a butterfly that is new to me, I enjoy a mind flow of exciting thoughts. Butterflies flee or linger, either way, when they are no longer seen, I hike on, totally spiked by what I’d just seen. My thinking inevitably is that I am Blessed to be among the so very few who have seen what I had just seen. I remember those moments/minutes . . . forever.

What are you thinking when you see a super fresh butterfly or a ‘Lifer’ for you?

Jeff

That Rare Visit by an Erato

Red-Rim Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

The 4 or 5 folks who were really excited about  the discovery of an Erato Heliconian butterfly were all very familiar with the National Butterfly Center. It was December 2017, Christmas week, and I was there for the first time. I knew the appearance of a Very fresh Erato was very special, it had to be with the excitement that was riveting the air there. An overcast day, with few visitors besides the handful of us there.

A fresh Erato! My Canon film camera’s built-in light meter had been giving me fits, that entire time in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. I shot away at this Erato, nevertheless. Here is an underlit view of the left ventral wing surfaces. Despite the obvious absence of light, the orange forewing band shows color true, as does the whitish-yellow hindwing strip. That they appear vivid against the black background is right for this butterfly.

Booked again to return in late November 2019. That is good, Very Good.

Jeff

She’s The Sweetest Little Rosebud, That Texas Ever Knew . . .

Texan crescent butterfly (male) photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

We saw quite a few of them in the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. They fly low, and perch often. They were my first Texan Crescents. I took a liking to them.

I wanted to capture and share their rich coloration. This Texan female pretty much fits the bill.

Some say that are occasional migrants to my middle Georgia, though in these 4 years of visiting the Georgia Piedmont, I’ve never seen one.

It’s in my thinking to return to the Lower Rio Grande Valley late in 2019. I know where to stay, I’d rent a car, but I know of no one who will aid me in finding the hotspots there: Falcon Heights, Santa Anna National Wildlife Refuge, Edinburg Wetlands or Boca China/Rd 4?

Oh I cried so when I left her that it nearly broke my heart, and if I ever find her we never . . .

Jeff

The Eyes of Texas

Erato heliconian butterfly (Dorsal view) photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

It’ s 42 degrees F here in the Georgia Piedmont region (central Georgia). Linda and Debra and others have been posting exciting images of butterflies they saw in the Lower Rio Grande Valley these last few days. Oh, how that brought back memories of my trip to the National Butterfly Center and the “Butterfly Wall” in late December 2017!

I’ve posted some dozens of those images here, and this one remains a favorite. The very rare, and very exciting! Erato Heliconian butterfly, seen at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas.

We saw it in a heavily wooded area, and I followed it as it lazily moved from one place to another. Jet black with with screaming! red flashes and the equally loud! yellow stripes. 

I returned some minutes later, and it was still in the same shaded area. I shot away, and then, it flew, along a narrow poorly lit trail.

I was treated to a revelation! As it flew straight ahead on that trail, a straight run of some 200 feet or so, unrushed, those red flashes were constantly in view, not seen and hidden, but the blasting red color never disappeared from view.

The Biology major in me concluded that this Erato heliconian must be toxic to the taste buds of any predator, and that uninterrupted double red surely warns, ‘Stay Away, Or You Will Regret It.’

Texans have much to be Thankful for, butterflies for one, Joanne.

Jeff