The Queen

Queen butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Great News! My images shot in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas are now safely set in my Media Library, and ready to be shared. Six days of introduction after introduction to new, and often rare butterflies.

The last week of 2017 and just miles from the Mexican border, this fine Queen butterfly was one of hundreds that I saw over those 6 days. Something like their closely related Monarch butterflies, Queens prove much more difficult to approach and photograph. They are very aware, skittish and frustrate, for as you settle in for a good one of a fresh Queen, it will leave as you are preparing to set in on your knee for the Macro- capture.

Most of the people that I saw those days seemed oblivious to the Queens. Me? I’d seen them before, but very rarely, and seeing platoons of them was yes, something to behold.

It was work, I tell you, constantly reminding yourself that these are Queens, not Monarchs.

This one on mistflower in the gardens of the National Butterfly Center, Mission Texas. Flight to San Antonio. Four (4) hour drive to McAllen, where we stayed, and those 6 days of beautiful butterflies. Rare ones came out to great me.

And yes, those Queens!


Hairstreaks Teach . . . Respect

Gray Hairstreak butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek Park, PA, 9/21/06

They’ve been good to me, these Yeats have. Hairstreaks? So, so many. Striped hairstreak was my first, seen in Rector, Pennsylvania at Powdermill Reserve (University of Pittsburgh aviary research station). Grays, Banded, Coral, White ‘M,’ Red-banded and Acadian. That’s what I met by the end of 2016.

2017 nicely expanded my Hairstreak list: Edwards hairstreak (Ohio), Clytie Ministreak (National Butterfly Center, Mission, Texas), Tropical Greenstreak (‘The Wall,’ Mission, Texas),Juniper hairstreak (Panola Mountain State Park, Georgia), Dusky-blue Groundstreak (National Butterfly Center) and Gold-bordered hairstreak (‘The Wall).

This 2018 is young still. As able, Oh, how I look forward to combing Ohio, Texas, Georgia and Nevada for hairstreaks and more. Dave enable me to reach out to the Georgia DNR’s folks, and they gave me a strong lead for finding Hessel’s hairstreaks in April. I wish.

That long said, I had to stop and well, admire this image of mine of a very shmeksy! and fresh Gray hairstreak. Now that I am in the big leagues of hairstreak chasers, what’s a fresh, gorgeous Gray mean to . . . me?

Truth be told, more than you’d like, hairstreaks found are not fresh, sporting wings with heavy scale loss (cause dulling of color). So down in the Rio Grande Valley, late December 2017, folks came speeding over when a rare hairstreak was found at ‘The Wall.’ I was there early, and some of them were rare, for sure, but long in the tooth, that is, kind of -worn looking.

Grays, like ours here, are usually seen in find color, fresh, perky and just pookies! They pose, prance on a flowerhead, and just demand that I shoot my Fuji Velvia, not hold back.

Rare, uncommon, OMG! hairstreaks excite, but an excellent Gray hairstreak still demands stop, look and shoot.


Panhandling, Finally

Wildflower with Skipper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida's Panhandle

I retired in February 2007. I Loved teaching high school Biology. My Vo-tech students weren’t college bound, but together we enjoyed teaching/learning Biology. The administration of that school often made my teaching life hellish, something about me being from “New York” and more. They continued that although they knew that Frieda A”H was in the later stages of a battle . . . with Cancer. When the Oncologists told us that Frieda would need a caregiver going forward (?), she suggested that I retire and put on my caregiver hat. I retired, ‘though it did not end well . . . .

After, after the shiva (sitting and receiving friends and family) I took stock = what did I want to do with my life, to contribute something substantive? I wanted to continue photographing butterflies. Modest budget, time own. Bust-out to Bolivia, Costa Rica, Senegal, Mongolia, the Rockies? No, that was not my thinking. No getting kidnapped, no gut wrenching gastrointestinal diseases, no Bolivia bus going over the edge, with me in it. The USA was my focus, and east of the Mississippi at that. Israel too, once a year, to see Rachel and Hillel and Boaz, and to head-out to the Galilee/Golan . . . and come home and tease my Christian friends, that I stopped in at Capernum and drove past . . . .

Florida, especially northern Florida was an Oh, 25 year destination dream for me. When NABA published their first Destinations article, of the wonders of Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, that was that, I was going there. There.

Here I am in the Spring Unit of Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, near Perry Florida. The Hampton Inn was OK. Big Bend was 20 minutes away.

Oh, the wonders of that place! I worked the trails, alone (again naturally) and there was so much to see, so many new butterflies and wildflowers. Liatris was just beginning to open that late August 2016.

Native, wild Hibiscus (correct ?) were eye candy. That this little Skipper obliged and came in to nectar bespeaks of the richness of the Florida Panhandle.


Downy Yellow Violet

Downy Yellow Violet photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

A Spring rarity, seen in Raccoon Creek State Park.’s Media Library now houses more than 800 images. Each image survived the culling out of dozens of images, this one disposed because it is out of focus, that one because of depth of field dilemmas, and the next because the butterflies eyes are seriously out of focus, and yet another because who wants to see a butterfly from its posterior end?

Of the many images of wildflowers, I have always favored this look at Downy Yellow Violets. For so many reasons, I have always like it. So delicate these blooms, so vulnerable. Delicate as they appear, they suffer the cold Spring nights, for several days running, and face the next, partly sunny day, proud and independent, almost alone, solitary.

I have found this image to be very soothing, relaxing and calming. Communicating; stop, pause, and then frenetically dashing from chore to chore Jeff, and sit and savor. Do you get that too?