Caron 2

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

‘Jeff’s Earrings’ served as my first pick, responding to Caron, she asking what may be my 5 favorite butterfly images. My first photo was shared here yesterday.

Caron 2? For many years Raccoon Creek State Park was my favorite destination. Doak fields there is a more than 100 acre meadow, where after 3 to 4 hours, I usually saw not a single soul there. Perfect! After those hours in the summer sun, I would hike back to my truck. That 3/4 of a mile hike, went along a moist area, with trees on each side. For many years, I would see Northern Pearly-Eye butterflies fleeing ahead of me. They preferred that short stretch of Nichol Road trail, enjoying the dappled shade, moist forest borders and nearby little stream. I scored few shots of them, ever.

This time, about 4 years ago, my eyes searched the low growth of the trail edges. There it was, a very, very fine Northern Pearly-Eye. It was a good size and . . . it held to its leaf.

I so, so slowly made my approach, decided not to cop ‘insurance’ images. I was going in, robotically. I’m pretty sure I had Fuji Velvia ASA 100 (faster) film in camera. I began talking to this gem telepathically, ‘Don’t go, don’t go, Please.’

Pearly-Eye remained in place. I was no down on my left knee. Good. I slowwwwly raised my Macro-lens. Good. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Perhaps 35 or more exposures.

I waited the 2 weeks or so to get my slides back from Dwayne’s Photo. You must remember that day, Caron, for that day you heard a muffled scream of Joy!! when I louped them on my lightbox. Several were worthy of Caron’s List, Yippee!!!

Jeff

That Moment when You Realize

Banded Hairstreak Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Raccoon Creek State Park

We know it. That moment when you’ve covered the huge meadow’s margins for several hours, searching for butterflies, out of the ordinary butterflies. 100 acres plus or minus in Doak Field last Raccoon Creek State Park, just miles from Pennsylvania’s state line with West Virginia.

Great Spangled Fritillaries bounce in the air from one side of the cut-trail to the other, wood nymphs also cross the mowed trail, they hugging the ground, but no less difficult to follow and shoot. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail males fly that crazy, frenetic way they do, searching for receptive females.Silver Spotted Skippers flee their place at the nectar bar on your approach. A Monarch butterfly or two dreamily floats from one Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) to the next. Red-Spotted Purples deny you a click of the camera, vacating their perch when you close the gap with them (and shucks! didn’t that one sport really fine red spots).

So I’m working the forest side of the mowed trail, along the southern perimeter of Doak field . . . and my eyes, sporting thousands of hours of field work experience, register a curious geometry. I see a tiny triangular shape, resting on a leaf blade. Eureka!! My brain makes the ID in nanoseconds, a Hairstreak.

Now hairstreaks are usually few and far between, be they Grays, Red-bandeds, the hard to find Stripeds, the calendar-shy Corals ( with their 2-week or so flights ) or the rarest of rare White-M’s.

Huh? What! Are you sure?? It none of the above. Battlestations! (That’s how I think ). Can it be??? A Banded Hairstreak. A Banded Hairstreak?? That blue on the hindwing extends way out from the orange spots, as Bandeds’ blue patch does. There is one other possibility, that it’s the very similar Hickory Hairstreak.

We conclude that this sweetie is a Banded Hairstreak, and that is Good, Very Good.

Fun for Jeff, in the field. Who among you can claim such excitement in the field?

Jeff

Bergamots Now!

Bergamot Bloom photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania 7/31/14

Bergamot Bloom photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania 7/31/14

Bergamot is in bloom now. Raccoon Creek State Park in Hookstown, Pennsylvania has a more than 100 acre meadow that features a large stand of them. Be there at the right time in the morning, and you’ll enjoy the show: Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Great Spangle Fritillaries, Silver Spotted Skippers, Monarchs, Pipevine Swallowtails and Spicebush Swallowtails will visit Bergamot for its nectar.

Those stands of Bergamot are so sweet to the eye. The sea of pinkish purple (?) is a crowd pleaser, though I’ve never been there to hear what others think of that view.

If you’re there between about 9:45 A.M. and 10:40 A.M. the butterflies arrive from all directions. I’ve long wondered what’s in the nectar that is obviously being pumped in those 55 minutes? I’d think it included several sugars, some proteins and trace hormones, pheromones and fragrant hydrocarbons. Got a degree in Biochem? What’s in the nectar of a Bergamot bloom? Jerry?

Jeff

Butterfly Most Likely

Hackberry Emperor Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

You’re working your way along the trail, forest to your right and left. Raccoon Creek State Park, in far western Pennsylvania. The heat of the day is beginning to be felt this morning. Sun is up, and it’s vaporizing the dew still resting on the billions of leaves around you. It’s the summer, and the heat is becoming a factor. Beads of sweat have got to be forming on your forehead, though they are still bearable, and don’t slow you down.

You see her out of the corner of your eye, a slur of comely browns, white, black and, is that cream? Moments pass, as you continue up trail. Then . . . there she is, didn’t wait for introductions, dismissive of personal space, and without concern about your personal situation, and your sense of propriety.

Who is the brazen female, who is now upon you, you a total stranger? The USA butterfly most likely to land on you, a Hackberry Emperor, found in wooded habitat, especially where hackberry bushes and trees are to be found. Maine to California, Miami to North Dakota and to Texas, too.

Did she choose you for your shmeksy! good looks, your come-and-get-me musky takeaway? Your kindness of heart, good deeds or connection with the Almighty? OK, for your really good choice of field get-up?

No, no, no. She’s on you for something else, most likely to score some perspiration salts from the now sweaty neck, or to broadcast her territorial claim to that stretch of trail, or just for the ride. Most don’t understand how fortunate they would be, to travel down the road a bit with you . . . she does. She’s a Hackberry Emperor.

Jeff