The Excitement Of A Fresh Flight

Edwards Hairstreak Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lynx Prairie, OH

I’m struggling to count the number of times it has happened to me. How many times have I come up a finite area of habitat . . . with a fresh flight of butterflies aloft? That’s, how many times have I arrived at a destination, to find alot of butterflies, all of the same species, and all very recently eclosed ( exited from their chrysalises )?

Magical Adams County, Ohio treated me with a double-header in June 2016. I waded into Lynx Prairie to gape at this Edward’s Hairstreak, spectacular in its reds, blues, gray, white and black as well as dozens of others, perhaps 40 Edward’s about. They were some resting as this one, while others were mobbing Butterflyweed and other wildflowers. I wanted a capture like this one, of the beauty of their Edward’s’ ventral hindwings. I am satisfied that this one accomplishes that.

I somehow managed to get separated from my friends that day. That is not the first time that has happened to me. I’ve quit joining tours in the field, for tour leaders well, hate me, for when I see something that fascinates me, in habitat or in a museum, I get lost in my enthusiasm, and kind of put the tour off schedule, as in “Where’s that guy, Jeff?”

So, very separated from the others in the sizable Lynx Prairie Reserve, I came upon yet another prairie, and OMG!! I found a lifer for me (!!!) a Northern Metalmark butterfly. Then a 2nd one, a 3rd one and soon had seen more than 40 Edward’s Hairstreaks, all fresh and yummy to the eyes.

Lynx Prairie, just miles from the Ohio/Kentucky border drove me nuts! that day, late in June. Two new butterflies for me, and large flights of so so fresh ones at that.

It was a very rewarding Thank You G-d day for me. A very nourishing day for my eyes and a fine adrenaline wash for Jeff. Such days remain long remembered.

Jeff

Acid Bog Blues

Open Pond at Allenberg Bog, photographed by Jeff Zablow in New York

We searched for this in 2016 and found it. Allenberg Bog in very western New York State. Found it, as you see here. A genuine sphagnum moss acid bog. Barbara Ann and I visited it 2 mornings in a row. 

You stand in the bog, your boots all the time sinking, 2 inches here, 4 inches there. That one time, the first day, I stepped onto a spot where the several feet thick moss hidden mat was not in place, and we both had jolt when I begin to sink nearly 2 feet into the abyss. Bye bye Jeffrey L? Thank G-d no, but I was Very Very careful after that.

In 2017 we tried again, but we could not find Allenberg Bog. It seems that the Buffalo Audubon Society that owns Allenberg Bog may not want us to visit it. We could not find it for the trail to it was allowed to grow wild, and trail markings were absent or hidden.

I wasn’t able to join Angela this year, 2018, at Bruce Peninsula in Ottawa, which I much regret. I so wanted to once again see Bog Copper butterflies and the fritillaries that can be found at acid bogs.

Here in Georgia, I am hoping that someone will do the heroics and lead me to good bog destinations. Now planning for trips in 2019, I am not encouraged that y’all will step forward and drop those bread crumbs ’til I am in such a bog. At Allenberg I stood there, impressed that this unique gem has remained unchanged for what 300 years? 500 years? No, 1,000 years?

This is what, the $64,000 Question?

Jeff

 

Wildflower Meet-Up

Wildflower photographed by Jeff Zablow at Pigeon Mountain, GA

Sure I used to search for butterflies, and little noticed the wildflowers I passed. That was then, and well, this is now. I readily identify almost all of the the eastern butterflies that I meet. My search in 2019 will be a much more selective one, compared say to my field work in 2009.

Why? I’ve seen some thousands of Eastern tailed blues, Pearl crescents, Commas, Eastern tiger swallowtails, Great spangled fritillaries and Orange sulphur butterflies. Amazingly, I’ve now scored lots of Zebra swallowtails, Pipevine swallowtails, Gulf and Variegated fritillaries, Giant swallowtails and even Mourning cloak butterflies. When I see them, I don’t ignore them. What I do is run a 1/1,000th of a second scan of each and only stop if the results are fresh, handsome and complete (no wing damage or significant scale loss). This because my own library of slides and images now sports good images of a whole lot of butterflies.

All this allows me more time to stop and admire wildflowers, especially ones that I don’t know. Hauling field guides with me challenges the mule in me, and Jeff, TBTold, will never be adept with using his cell phone to ID wildflowers as so many do. Would that Barbara Ann, Angela, Ellen, Curt, Virginia, Roger, Dave and Phil were with me each time, for they know what they see . . .

This pert wildflower captured my attention on Pigeon Mountain, in the northwest corner of Georgia.  These meet-ups puzzle and challenge. (‘Have we met before?’) What say you to it?

Jeff

The Oh Wow! Lily

Canada Lilies photographed by Jeff Zablow at Akeleyi Swamp, NY

The old railroad grade has been wisely converted to a good use, a nearly straight mile-long trail through a very, very large swamp. Akeley Swamp in western New York State. Barbara Ann and I were there in June 2018.

She was looking for native orchids and wildflowers. I was looking for  . . . butterflies. Hundreds of Common milkweed plants were in peak of bloom. I have never seen such a sight, millions of individual milkweed flowers, set on the globular milkweed flowerheads. Those milkweeds were at the beginning of the trail, and I must have had a Big smile on my face = This will be good, very good. Hundreds of butterflies must await us.

Nuh uh. We saw very few butterflies those next 4 hours. But, but, we had no time for disappointment, for 5 minutes on the trail, on a gorgeous morning, with hundreds of acres of swamp to our right, and compelling treed swamp to our left . . . we saw these! Canada Lillies (Lilium canadense).

Stopped both of us, in our tracks. You stop, you make sure you are seeing what you are seeing (a ‘Pesci’ moment!) and you whisper, “Oh Wow!” I mean, can these be real, or has someone stuck handmade plastic masterpieces along the left side of the trail here and there?

Well, they are real and they are magnificent. Lacking a special clamp to hold these blooms with their inner face looking to us, I am not able to share their attractive spotted inner petals. You must take my word that they sweetly sing to your eyes. G-d’s superb work, Junaisha.

Jeff

Who Knows Shrimp Plants?

Shrimp Plant photographed by Jeff Zablow in Eatonton Georgia

I waited, and my time arrived. For years, living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I’d heard of the great magnet for butterflies, the southern Shrimp Plant. It a native wild flowering shrub that pumps nectar, I was told, and well, Jeff, you won’t be able to cultivate it in your Pittsburgh yard, for it’s a southeastern wildflower.

With the annual icing of Pittsburgh, that year (was it 2014 ?) when the thermometer did not rise above 0 degrees F for an entire week, and those 2 or 3 bad falls when I was walking Petra on icy sidewalks, and Oh No! a dog or a squirrel appeared, and she abandoned the heel position, and her 96 pound heft left me sprawled on the sidewalk of Squirrel Hill. Yes, the very same Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh where Bowers slaughtered 11 innocent Jews just 2 days ago.

Friends had become ‘snow-birds’ and split their year between “Boca [Raton]” and Pittsburgh. Me? I’d been traveling to Georgia to photograph butterflies, and the Georgia Piedmont beckoned me. The thought of gardening in February/March/September/October & 1/2 of November was an elixir, it was.

I had long dreamed of southern natives gardening, those Shrimp plants, Mistflower plants, Passionflower vines, Hibiscus, Pawpaw, Hercules Club, Mountainmint, Hoptree, Pipevine and more, all growing robust and strong in the affirmative Georgia soil.

One year in, I have that garden and more on a fenced in lot, and Petra is ecstatic.

Remains the question . . . this, my Shrimp plant. It’s strong, luxuriant and always bears flowers. Virginia gifted it to me (Thank you! Virginia). After 3 months of fine production, I have not yet to see a butterfly on this, my Shrimp plant. Friends in Shellman Bluff told me of its butterfly prowess. Mine? Zero.

Who knows Shrimp plants? Phil, Kelly, Ellen, Melanie, Heather, Virginia, Cathy, Mike, Jill, Lisa, Marcie and Debbi?

Jeff