2017’s Closing Weeks for Leps

Little wood satyr butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

The 2nd week of October 2017, here in the USA (our audience has grown across several continents). Butterflies continue to be met, but we all are counting the days, until 1) they fly south (Monarchs, Painted Ladies) 2) Their chrysalises and caterpillars move into the leaf litter and endure the winter there (fritillaries and skippers) 3) Search for and find crevices in tree trunks and suitable spaces under your wooden back deck (Mourning cloaks).

2017 has been a fine year for butterflies. Monarchs showed up, Zebra heliconians delighted us as they pushed their northern boundary northward and Goatweed leafwings made more appearances than usual.

Me? I’m very, very much looking forward to 2018. The Briar Patch Butterflies and Blooms Habitat comes alive in its new, larger site in Eatonton, Georgia. Israel? The peak of Mt. Hermon in Israel, would be a return for me to those super rare Middle Eastern Holyland butterflies. Texas? Vancouver Island? My return to Angela’s Adams County, Ohio summer wonderland of butterflies, wildflowers and orchids? Ontario?

I’m blessed to be able to continue heading up mountains, into mucky swamp, through rich prairies and into that amazing Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat. Then too will I finally meet Kathryn, Lois, Peggy, Marcie, Joanne, Roger, Holly and Katarzyna? Dare I dream of rendezvous with new friends in Australia, the Netherlands, Poland and India?

2018? Oh, please reward us, me and all those who go out to score images of sheer beauty!

Jeff

Stop, Stare & Admire . . . .

Spring Larkspur Wildflower photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Spring Larkspur Wildflower photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

What stops you in your tracks? Increasingly, less and less sets our emergency brakes, in this ever more sophisticated world. That’s unless you are a ‘naturalist.’

A naturalist consciously sets out from home to destinations near and far, for the purpose of  feasting on  natural beauty. Genuine naturalists stop often, to stare, ponder and admire. They refuse the urge to pick, touch, upset, or nudge the botany and animals that good luck sets before their eyes. What do they want to happen? They want to come upon unique ferns, wildflowers,  mushrooms, herbaceous plants, woody plants, carnvirouous plants, wetland plants, plants of fens, bogs and swamps. Plants of arid  habitat, boreal habitat, subtropical habitat, mountainous habitat, and plants of valleys, crevices, and microhabitats.

We’re sharing this wildflower that always stops Jeff in his tracks. Spring larkspur. Uncommon, of fascinating flower form and blessed with color that nears indescribable. Who? How? Where? Why? Jeff stops, stares and admires.

Jeff

Red’s Unscheduled Stops

Red Admiral butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA. Jeff blogs about the art and science of butterflies at http://www.wingedbeauty.comForget making an appointment to meet a Red Admiral butterfly. They just never show up! It’s futile to think that if you at a certain garden or trail, at a certain time, that you’ll meet up. Does not happen.

This is the butterfly of Unscheduled Stops. Seemingly no itinerary, they make fly in and nectar briefly, ‘though most of the time they disregard your blooms, and if do they show, they land on your garden walk, inspect that all  is as it should be, and are soon gone.

When they do make an appearance, experienced butterfly lovers recognize that immediately, what with those bright reddish-orange stripes crossing each forewing. There’s nothing like  them.

Me? Their name, Vanessa has always transfixed me. Vanessa, such a mystical name. Then my mind goes to that actress whom I have no patience for, Vanessa Redgrave, whose politics leave a bad taste in my mouth. Why did she have to get such an otherwise wild name?

I’ve not seen many Red Admirals this 2017. The last one I saw was in Lynx Prairie Preserve, in Adams County, Ohio. Of course I saw it for moments, as it  promptly left, as is their habit, leaving you abruptly, wondering, “What’s the rush?”

Jeff

The Butterfly of the Shadows

Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

Along favorites trails we keep our eyes alert for butterflies that fly the forest edge. When the weather forecast fails, and clouds that shouldn’t, do appear, its drats! Butterflies almost universally prefer sunny to dappled sunny locales. Bring dark clouds, and butterflies disappear, as quick as that.

When it’s cloudy, or dark or slightly drizzly, there’s a strong temptation to no longer remain alert for random butterfly flight. Years of working trails has taught that when you are moving through moist wooded habitat, or habitat with active streams or moderate wetland, it’s important to not succumb to dropping your attentive radar, for  with wet conditions flanking your trail, chances are good that you will note these beauties, Northern Pearly-Eye butterflies.

Northern Pearly-Eyes are difficult to make approach to. They flee approach, not with jet-like speed, but just as effectively, as they fly their low, looping flight, and just about vanish from sight.

This magnificent Pearly-Eye was seen on Nichol Road trail in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. It was to my right on the trail, and the forest that began at trail edge was poorly lit, and humid.

I kept asking the Ab-ve to allow me to get my Macro- lens close to this one. It looked handsomely fresh. I approached, robotically. It held the leaf. Closer again, it remained. Slowly lowered my left knee onto my Tommy knee pad, it was still there.

I love this image, now one of my favorites. A butterfly that when seen looks bland, now revealed to be very shmeksy! when you close the distance from Pearly-eye to Macro- lens.

When I occasionally revisit this image, Oh, how I  appreciate the many features that it shares, so easily.

Jeff