That Satisfying Moment

Little Metalmark butterfly at rest, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Shellman Bluff, GA

‘Swish’ was the word we used, on the basketball courts back in Brooklyn, when your jump shot went through the backboard rim, smoothly, without touching the cold iron. Some National Basketball Association (NBA) players excel from way back from the rim, sailing the ball on a high arc, ‘swish’ into the rim for a healthy 3-points. Swish.

That’s exactly how I felt when we were on Jekyll Island, Georgia having located a colony of Eastern Pygmy Blue Butterflies. We shot away, at those fresh tinies, just inches from the ground. Backs soon protested the grotesque strain of leaning all the way over, time after time, to perfect our images of these “Locally Uncommon” blue butterflies.

I just surveyed our Media Library of images, and my eyes fixed on this one. Why?

Jeffrey Glassberg, in his superior Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America shares that “Eastern Pygmy-Blues rarely open their wings while landed.” Look here and please smile, for this is a view that is difficult to enjoy, of a rare butterfly, found only on the coastline from South Carolina to Texas. Few see what you see here.

Swish!

Jeff

Uncommon View Of An Uncommon Butterfly

Little Metalmark butterfly at rest, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Shellman Bluff, GA

To find this one, you must travel to the coastal salt marshes and tidal marshes of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana or Texas. This Eastern Pygmy Blue butterfly was met in Shellman Bluff, Georgia. They are beyond tiny, and the blooms they nectar on stand about 3″ above the ground. To shoot them, you must bend all the way down to them, and hold your tongue when, just as you get down to their level, they slowly fly to another bloom, maybe 4 feet away.

Your back begins talking to you, pleading, ‘Why, why?’ Me, I (foolishly) gave up on trying to capture images with my left knee down to the ground, on my Tommy knee pad. Big mistake when I threw caution to the wind and began shooting them with my stomach to the ground!

This image stands out, for as Glassberg notes in his Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America, these smaller than tiny butterflies “rarely open their wings while landed.”

We were on Jekyll Island, and when I got to my hosts’ gracious home, there was a sizable tick clinging to the center of my chest!! After those tweezers carefully removed it, I sported a large red circle just where it was embedded, and days later, reluctantly went to an Urgent Care office, to be reassured that it was not a vector for serious diseases.

Uncommon view of an uncommon butterfly at some expense, yes Ma’am.

Jeff

Metalmarks in 2018?

Little Metalmark butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Shellman Bluff, GA

Would you? I think I want to, I do. I want to revisit those destinations along the Georgia coastline, that delivered Little Metalmark butterflies, Eastern Pygmy blue butterflies, Great Northern Whites, Cassius Blues and more. I know where they mostly are, and I want to let loose my newish Canon 100mm/2.8 Macro-lens with IS. I $prung for that extra IS (image stabilizer (= with built in gyroscope to correct for lens sway) to score sharper captures of eyes, antennae, feet, wing beauty, etc,, This image of a Little Metalmark was taken with my now defunct Macro- lens.

I think about going back. What I want are finer images of these butterflies, especially ones that boast excellent, scintillating silvery wing bands! For the Eastern Pygmy blues, I want images that I can admire, and know that yes, this is my image.

Pyle, RT Peterson, William Bartram, Virginia C Linch and the fabulous Paynes go back. Why shouldn’t I go back and finish the work?

Thoughts?

Jeff

Schooled By Little Metalmarks

Little Metalmark butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Shellman Bluff, GA

There they were, finally. Little Metalmark Butterflies. Shellman Bluff, Georgia, along the eastern coast of the USA. Months of anticipation, and there I was with Nancy and John. I should have expected them to be tiny, but truth be told, I was taken aback, for they were smaller than tiny. They were tinier than tiny.

They were methodically nectaring on tiny yellow blooms, and they all but posed, as they slowly worked the flowers, one after another.

I’ll admit to a bit of personal bravado, me thinking that I will leave there with several excellent exposures of these flying gems. I especially wanted to capture images with those silvery hindwing bands, smartly reflecting the strong Georgia sun.

And? Well I’ve studied and restudied the 6 or so exposures that I didn’t pitch into the trash. This one, for instance does Pop! those silvery bands, features other decent Little Metalmark shares (one good antenna, an OK abdomen and a decent eye capture).

17% overconfident Jeff, got schooled by those Metalmarks. Why?

They were so tiny that they required that I crouch over in a very uncomfortable position, that awkward twist of body became increasingly difficult to sustain. They did move across the flower, forcing frequent movement and camera adjustment, then they would fly some 2-3 feet to another flower, sending me following them, into yet another and another pronounced crouch. Soon the sweat begin beading up on my forehead and then, sweat would trickle down over eyes, the Georgia morning humidity soon semi-blinding me, salt in the eyes.

This was before I upgraded to my Canon 100mm/2.8 IS (Image Stabilization) lens. IS lenses compensate for the almost imperceptible sway that moves the camera lens when you shoot such tinies in such challenging shoots.

So, yes, those Little Metalmarks schooled me, learned me good, to not come into the field fully expecting to land the big one, so to speak. Beware specks of butterflies on minuscule flowers, on steamy hot mornings , for the odds of copping a dropdead gorgeous image of the bejeweled Little Metalmark favor Las Vegas, and not the boy from Brooklyn!

Jeff

WingedBeauty Marks Three of Twenty-five Species of Metalmarks!

Little Metalmark butterfly on bloom, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Shellman Bluff, GA

New Year’s Eve, December 31st, 2015 came and went, and I still hadn’t seen a Metalmark. Come 2016, and see here; I fixed that. Here we are with a rather fine looking right forewing and hindwing, of a Little Metalmark, in Shellman Bluff, Georgia. Meeting up with this Oh So Tiny flying winged beauty? Good, very good.

Angela and Barbara Ann invited me to join them in very south-central Ohio, and there I found as many as 50 Northern Metalmarks. How Happy I was that morning! Seems that I just love Metalmarks. I strive to capture the reflection of sunlight off of those scintillating ribbons of silvery strips. Here, I just about did, sort of almost.

Just weeks ago, I was in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, and at the National Butterfly Center, I saw Fatal Metalmarks. I will soon share these images.

Now I’m an owner of A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America (Glassberg, 2017), and my education continues. There are 25 species of Metalmarks that fly in the United States. Some are residents here, others are uncommon migrants.

25 Species! What does one do, when one has seen 3 of 25, and just loves meeting new Metalmarks? What?

Jeff