My First Queen

Queen Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at White Tank Mountains, AZ. Jeff blogs about the art and science of butterflies at http://www.wingedbeauty.com

That bone-dry arroyo was working just fine for me. I’d found this dry creek bed on an earlier trip to White Tank Mountains Regional Park, just west of Phoenix. I have a vague recollection of a sign posted near the arroyo, something about not entering the arroyo ever, for a flash downpour miles away could prove deadly here. In retrospect, I might have honored the sign, but . . . hours of searching White Tank produced almost nothing. When I drove to a 3-car parking area, and happened on the arroyo, that earlier year, I descended down to its bed, and Bingo! Butterflies, not lots of them, but there were plants in bloom here and there, and I tried waiting at a plant with flowers, and almost every wait yielded, drew butterflies.

This one flew in to these diminutive blooms, and I knew at once, my first ever Queen butterfly. We don’t have them in the places I lived in before (Brooklyn, Queens NY, Long Island NY, Sheffield Mass or Pittsburgh). He was a dashing Queen and I decided on not gambling, not moving in with my Macro- lens, to get the full benefit of those magical 18″ from this large butterfly.

I planted my feet, loved that this was a tall wildflower, and I shot away. This image was captured with Fuji slide film and yes, his color was as rich as you see. That deep blue Arizona sky added to my delight when this slide was returned to me.

The wildflower? I still do not know its name. How do they flower despite many weeks of xeric dry 97F weather? I think they have very deep roots, and take moisture several feet down in the arroyo bed.

My first Queen.

Jeff

Rare Arizona Skipper

Arizona Powdered Skipper Butterfly at White Tank Mountains, AZ

I so admire those who share rare butterflies on Facebook. I went to the Lower Rio Grande Valley in December 2017, and Whoopee!! I had several fantastic days, seeing butterflies that there’s no way you could expect to see, in a year or in a decade. Examples? Erato heliconian, Red rim, Tropical greenstreak, Malachite and Gold-bordered hairstreak.

Sharing images and anecdotes? I enjoy doing that. Especially when the butterfly’s like this one, a rare and little seen Arizona arroyo (dry stream bed) butterfly, the Arizona Powdered Skipper.

Where’d we meet? In that arroyo I found in White Tank Regional Park, 35 minutes southwest of Sun City West. Won’t discuss the advisability of those hours scouring the long arroyo, partly because working that boulder strewn bone-dry arroyo nearly cost me, everything.

Pleased to share one that you might never ever see, I am.

Jeff

Orange Julius In The Desert?

Desert Orangetip Butterfly at White Tank Mountains, AZ

This was a Wow! of a find. White Tank Mountains Regional Park, west of Phoenix, Arizona. I pulled over my rental car, and began exploring the dry, cactus rich land at the foothills of the mountains.

I was not sure what I might find in that foreign (to me) vast space. This Orangetip flew in and chose to rest here. Me? What? Aren’t you far, far, too far away from the northeast, to be a Falcate Orangetip?

I shot away, and was beyond Happy! to discover that I had met my First Desert Orangetip, and that he was as juicy orange as those the Orange Julius’ folks got at that corner of East 86th Street on New York’s tony Upper Eastside.

I look at this capture of mine now, with some satisfaction, that was so rich of color, smack dab in the middle of the bone dry desert.

Jeff

Powdered?

Arizona Powdered Skipper Butterfly at White Tank Mountains, AZ

There I go again. Tooting that horn. How does it happen that I made some four different trips to White Tank Mountains Regional Park, west of Sun City West, Arizona, and see a “U?” Not just a “U” but a “U all year” according to Jeffrey Glassberg in his Second Edition of A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America?

You ask where did I see this Arizona Powdered Skipper? I found this arroyo (bone dry creek bed) and worked it for many hundreds of feet. It was summer, and very, very few flowers could be seen. That kind of made it scientific. Find a plant sporting tiny flowers, and wait there some minutes. That stratum paid off several times, including the arrival of this hard to find gem.

Do I recommend this work for the faint of heart? NO. On a later trip I almost didn’t make it out of the arroyo, me lulled by that ‘I can go a little farther than I went the day before’  . . . until without Warning! I nearly lost all motor ability (Heat stroke?) and was too stupid to use my cell to Get Help (I’m a man, for sure, Yes, “man”). I managed to work my way out, most have looked like a drunk, hauling myself from bush to another bush, sitting in the modest shade of said bush, and repeating this again and again. I never interrupted “911” even if I could have hailed them on my cell. It’s tough being a “Man!”

Advice: If you’re shooting in an Arizona arroyo on a late summer morning, DO NOT DO SO ALONE.

Jeff

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!

Jeff