Black-Faced Skimmer

Darner butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Rector, PA, 6/15/05

A fine, beautiful July day in Rector, Pennsylvania. These Laurel Highlands are a destination for Fallingwater, Seven Springs, Bear Run, Ohoipyle, and the legions of the wealthy, who have long ago built their understated manses on generous acreage. Frank Lloyd Wright would have loved this refuge that we view here, rich with wildlife, more than 3,000 acres of it. Its margins gently give way to farmland and gentlemen’s farms, wonderfully ensuring a long, unchallenged future. The patrons of this area do not want change. Good for that.

Of course I was here that entire summer to photograph butterflies . . . But, a spectacular darner, one who actually tolerates my approach, always serves as a siren for me. This Libellula cyanea typified Black-faced skimmers, as it rested just several feet from a healthy pond. This species perches much of the time. Not much to fret about . . . food plentiful, weather excellent, enemies? few, mates? sufficient, community? wealthy, protected and private. Well born, so to speak.

I love darners. Speed, aerial brilliance, agility, reserve, tolerant, and so much more. As I work the edges of their ponds, they zoooom by, honoring my own privacy, and my personal space, never ever stopping to distract me from my work

Unsure of his or her gender, it nevertheless sports those snappy white wing spots, eye-catching abdominal streaks, reminding me of how good I feel when I sport my own favorite suit, laundered white shirt, fine silk tie, freshly polished favorite brown leather shoes (never got over that shining shoes thing in Army basic training . . . )