Ever Seen an Arizona Powdered Skipper?

Arizona Powdered Skipper Butterfly at White Tank Mountains, AZ

That River Grand Valley trip, a week at the National Butterfly Center, Bensten State Park and the nearby ‘Wall,’ dished up dozens of butterfly species new to me. A constant rush-rush-rush of butterflies I had never seen before. I mean, as I work to recall what we saw, and without instantaneous digital feedback, I am now and then gifted with a recollection, like the one I had yesterday, that a mental vignette: Not only did I want to see the uncommon Mexican Fritillary, but my luck cashed in, when I saw and shot away at a fresh pair of mated Mexican fritillaries!

So now I spend good time recalling so many of the butterflies of the USA that I have been fortunate to have seen, and shot.

High on the list of what Jeff’s seen is this one, a fresh Arizona Powdered Skipper, met just where it should have been, some years ago, in a bone dry arroyo, in White Mountain Regional Park, west of Phoenix, Arizona. I found this one, on a boiling hot day in the desert, in these low mountains, and if you can keep a secret, in the bed of the arroyo (where I actually should not have been).

I count myself among the 0.0014% of Americans who have ever had the pleasure of a meet-up with the Arizona Powdered Skipper. Am I a Lucky Boy, or what!


Adios Empress Leila . . .

Empress Leila Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in White Tank Mountains Regional Park, Arizona

We who travel to find new butterflies, capture, rich, sweet memories. As the years go by, those memories pile onto one another. It’s good to occasionally shake those mental ‘piles,’ and free-up some of the earlier recollections.

Grandma Lehman, my mother-in-law, lived for many years in Sun City West, Arizona. That enormous Del Webb town, for seniors, was just about 30 minutes from White Tank Mountains Regional Park. When we visited Eda, every morning I could, I’d drive to White Tank Mountains, leaving around 6:30 A.M.. The sun is so strong in those beautiful mountains, that working trails in the arroyos had to cease at 10-10:15 A.M.. Stay any later, in those boulder-strewn arroyos, and risk heat stroke/exhaustion and alone as I was, death. An earlier post here describes my brush with death, when I was having so much success working that arroyo, that it Hit Me! without warning. I struggled to get back through the arroyo, and prayed . . . .

Grandma Lehman had a very serious stroke event recently, at age 95. Five and one-half years in a series of German concentration camps, and she is still with us, in a Brooklyn, NY senior home. Hitler? She survived and now has upwards of 30 great grandchildren. Thank G-d our children never will have to know a life where getting your hands on potato peels was something only to dream of. Best keep America strong, No?

With the Arizona house sold, I will surely no longer enjoy this Empress Leila butterfly, a closely related butterfly to several eastern USA butterfly species. We used to meet one another in those very arroyos. I’d see solitary ones perched as here, on sun-baked boulders on the arroyo floor. Approach, it flees, and we continue this until that predictable moment, when the Empress would remain on a boulder, and tolerate my robotic approach. They were fun to pursue, just so long as you keep one eye on the time, or you risk becoming a butterfly photographer memory (for about the last thing I’d do back then was use my cell to call 911 for rescue! Men!!).


Adios Arizona!

Arizona arroyo habitat photographed by Jeff Zablow at White Tank Mountains Regional Park, AZ

Where? Well you already know we’re in Arizona. Just an hour and a half west of Phoenix, in that arroyo (dry creek bed) that I visited a couple of times, and almost lost it all to heat exhaustion (didn’t use my cell when I realized I was going down, that male stupidity ( Guilty! ), not wanting to inconvenience 911, when I thought that Brooklyn here had been through deadlier scraps . . . .).

I loved that arroyo, in White Tank Mountains Regional Park. The good sign warned to stay away, do not enter, for among the reasons, flash floods apparently rage through, when it rains. I never ever saw anyone else in that rock-strewn arroyo bed. Hope the Statue of Limitations is now up?

Well, mother-in-law moved back to Brooklyn about 6 months ago, from Sun City West, and that was why I went there in the first place. I for years wanted to also visit Portal, Arizona as Vladimir Nabokov did in his pursuit of blue butterflies, in the southeastern Arizona mountain system that included the Chirichaua mountains,  sp?). Never got that off my list, for not ever finding anyone to join/guide me to good destinations in those huge mountains.

So I reminisce, seeing this sweet, sweet memory from that gorgeous/deadly arroyo, and think, . . . Adios Arizona!


Visit Family and Photograph Butterflies

Skipper butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow in White Tank Mountains, Regional Park,  AZ

I was visiting my mother-in-law in Sun City West, on the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona. The sun rises there at about 6 A.M. and I myself must leave the arroyos by 10 A.M. If I linger past 10 A.M., I risk a repeat of the morning that I almost didn’t make it out.

This is my usual destination, White Tank Mountains Regional Park, some 35 minutes from her house. Since my first trip to there, many sizable developments have been built, adding thousands of homes to this desert. As I drive through, I often puzzle at where they are drawing their water from, and where they will in the future?

The arroyos are bone-dry creek beds, that are wet briefly during the year. You must always be aware, should an instantaneous downpour send water crashing down the arroyo.

Blooms are sparse in the arroyo, but there are some, and there are a surprising number of butterflies that come to sip whatever sugary nectar they can locate. This dusky colored skipper has done well, scoring what must be a nourishing supply of rich carbohydrates.

A morning in the arroyo, and then back to swap family news.