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!

Jeff

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.

Jeff

Excuse me?

Darner-type fly, photographed by Jeff Zablow in White Tank Mts. Regional Park, AZ

I was back in that wonderful arroyo, in White Tank Mountains Regional Park. Like thousands of us, I have a senior relative living near Phoenix, in Sun City West, and periodic trips there enable me to do some fieldwork.

The arroyo was its usual, dry as a bone, hot (hot at 7 A.M.), boulders everywhere, plus it had few plants, and very few of those were in flower.

Turns out that was sort of good for me. There were so few flowers about, that any and all fliers could be expected to be at those flowers, sooner or later. They almost had to.

This fly, I think it’s a fly, showed up. It must have been famished, for this wild creature allowed me to do my macro- approach, and I looked, liked, and shot away.

Not a butterfly, but an exotic winged beauty, no doubt. I examined it again, and surely the greatest aeronautical minds of MIT, Harvard, Cal Tech, Carnegie Mellon, Stanford and Georgia Tech must have designed this one. No?

Jeff

Winter Antidotes VI

Queen Butterfly at White Tank Mountains, AZ
Need a winter antidote now. The NOAA forecast for Pittsburgh tonight and tomorrow, 4″ to 6″ of snow, may sound fantastic to Petra (my black russian), but it will mean going back again to that snow shovel.

Got an image that radiates heat? This one sure does. A Queen butterfly (Danaus gilippus) nectaring in an arroyo in White Tank Mountains Regional Park, west of Phoenix, Arizona. Backstory? I found the arroyo, but after working through it for several hundred yards, I did not find any plant in flower. Why would a plant produce flowers in this unrelenting oven of an arroyo? Then I spotted this gentle beauty, with . . . flowers. Tiny flowers. Queen and I were both happy to find what we were looking for, so my approach enabled this image.

What did I do? Bird in the hand. I stationed myself there, and with baby blue sky, here is the result. Closely related the the much discussed Monarch butterfly, the Queen’s host plants are similar to those of all Danaus butterflies, Asclepias plants, milkweeds.

So tomorrow morning, as I psyche myself to go out and shovel, I will first open my iMac and soak in this image, a butterfly nectaring in . . . a veritable oven, and overjoyed for it. No doubt!

Jeff