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

Giant on Thistle at Oakey Woods

Giant swallowtail butterfly sipping nectar from thistle, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Wildlife Management Area, Kathleen, GA

A frozen moment in time, caught at Oakey Woods Wildlife Management Area. Mike and I were working the trails, hot, dry trails through Oakey Woods, he focused on flora, I scoping for butterflies.

This patch of thistle showed up, and we paused there, anticipating the traffic you see in this region, at Krogers or Publix. Sure enough butterflies came in and left. This Giant Swallowtail flew in, and, as they do, nectared furiously on the thistle flowerhead. I split my time well, spellbound and again determined to get this compelling scene on film. Appraisal? Like the thistle here, and like the Giant, wings nicely played with translucent sunlight and that left eye.

In Kathleen, Georgia, 738 miles from my Pittsburgh home, with a butterfly that I have seen twice in 27 years. Pleased to be in tow with Mike, a very committed, very serious botanist, who enabled, with great patience, my dilly dallying, each and every time I stopped to see unusual butterflies.

I am enjoying these experiences more and more often this last few years. Making trails with top naturalists, some birders, some orchid enthusiasts, and others botanists. Way too much fun!

Jeff

Chasing Those Silvery Metallic Lines

Little Metalmark butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Shellman Bluff, GA

Facebook has taught me a new word, “Arrgh!.” Just the perfect word for someone who is in Shellman Bluff, Georgia, chasing Little Metalmark butterflies, from tiny bloom to tiny bloom.

We’ve chronicled earlier that this butterfly is one of the tiniest in North America, and it prefers these tiny yellow blooms, which rise just 3″ from the ground. These little Tinkerbells of butterflies do not linger long on a bloom, nectar -up quickly, and they they are off to the next flower top, 4 feet away. Me, I’ve just scrunched down, Canon camera equipped with Macro-lens, and just when I am ready to capture that image . . . my ‘subject’ has flown, and me, I’m alone down there, ‘naturally. You must sober up then, remember how seriously you want a good image, how long you’ve travelled to get it, and how much you want to share . . . with . . . You.

My major objective? Those silvery metallic lines on forewings and hindwings. How do I want them? There lies the challenge. I want them as they reflect the bright coastal Georgia sunlight. I want to catch the “solder lines” effect.

Well, I seem to have achieved that here, in part. What does that mean for me? It means that I’m aching to get back to that little wildflower bed, and ‘cross the red zone’ and ‘score!’ an ever better look (Tonight is the Super Bowl).

Place your bets!

Jeff

Gulfs Make Lousy Models

Gulf fritillary butterfly sipping nectar on thistle, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Wildlife Management Area, Kathleen, GA

We’d left the Zebra Heliconican ballet performance near Mikes home in Kathleen. Kathleen, Georgia. I was totally juiced, exhilarated. Meeting Zebras in habitat, for the first time, is well, exciting. Knowing that I had planted my left foot on an ant hill, and felt stinging bites on that leg, was also a type of negative exhilarating.

We went and shot butterflies at Mike’s own garden, Zebras, Gulf fritillaries, Monarchs and more. Concerned that this northern boy might be cooked, in that summer 92F weather, Mike asked if I still wanted to head over to Oaky Woods Wildlife Management Area? Still within the limits of Kathleen, how could I say no to a name as inviting to the visitor as . . . Oaky Woods?

I drove, Mike directed, we passed that Enormous Lays potato chip plant, incredibly plunked down in that rural corner of Kathleen, and there we were at Oaky Woods. I politely declined Mike’s urging, and did not drive into the Management Area on that unimproved trail. 4 x 4 or no, I left her at the trail head.

Oaky Woods delivered. Butterflies and wildflowers. We met nectaring Gulf fritillaries, and they send subliminal messages out to me . . . ‘Shoot us if you can, Jeff!’  Sucker I am to Gulfs, I did a quick calculation of how much film I brought to Georgia, how much I’d exposed so far, how much I brought today/exposed, and in the end, irregardless of how difficult it is to get Gulfs to just stop for a nanosecond . . . there I was, shooting away, going for that goal, capturing those  silver-white hindwing markings and pinkish hue on the inner forewing.

They make lousy models. Just don’t stop. Move, move, move. This one was on a luscious set of blooms, blazing star?

I like what I see here, and wonder if you will too?

Jeff