Acid Bog Pearly-Eye

Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Allenberg Bog in New York

We hiked to the Allenberg Bog in far western New York State. I wanted to find Bog Copper butterflies (themselves very rare) and Barbara Ann Case looked forward to examining the many specialized plants that can be found in Sphagnum moss (acid) bogs. The Niagra (New York) Audubon Society owns this relic of thousands of years ago, it the size of a small pond, but a very ancient small pond.

This field trip stands out in my mind, for Barbara Ann A”H (Of Blessed Memory) passed away some months ago. She made those hikes despite her worsening health problems. Why did she? She loved the outdoors and an opportunity to see a habitat that is fast disappearing, with its pitcher plants, sundew plants, bog blueberry and a host of plants threatened with extinction.

The happy surprise for me was the appearance of this Northern Pearly Eye butterfly, at the bog’s edge. I’d only seen them on trails, where moving water was nearby. Seeing this beaut at the bog? Exciting. It was fresh, richly colored and it came to rest on a leaf, wings extended. Shooting a Pearly-Eye with its dorsal wing surface revealed? Totally Wow! Those ‘eyes!’ Those ‘eyes!’

Jeff

Memories of Barbara Ann Case & Allenberg Bog

Barbara Ann Case, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Allenberg Bog in New York

We lost Barbara Ann Case weeks ago. Her struggles with getting her much needed liver transplant and probably more have left the Jamestown-Freswburg New York region without one of their most gifted naturalists, and surely one of their top native orchid experts.

I’d driven up to Frewsburg in far western New York State several times, to explore Allenberg, Akeley Swamp and other excellent preserves/reserves. She had the eyes of an eagle when it came to spotting and examining wild orchids, ephemerals and wildflowers. Best of all, she shared her knowledge happily, and immediately let me know when she spotted a less than common butterfly here or there.

Seen here are Allenberg Bog, I now understand how much effort she had to expend to make that 3/4 mile hike on primitive trail to reach the Bog. Those several stops to rest evidenced her heroic effort to get to where you see her here, the edge of the ancient sphagnum moss bog, she amidst a sea of native bog blueberry. Me? I was totally ecstatic, closer to the bog open pond, seeing and shooting the very rare Bog Copper butterflies that only live at acid bogs with those tiny blueberry plants, and only fly when the berries are about.

I cannot soon forget how reticent the Buffalo Audubon Society (it’s correct name?) was to give her access to this, their owned Bog. We got lost many times trying to follow the mostly unmarked trail, they probably wanting to discourage visitors to this gem of a bog. Barbara Ann struggling to cover the rough trail, and we getting lost time and time again until we found the bog.

Had the Buffalo folks only known how gifted this woman was, how much she loved this, and how much of a challenge, physical, it was for her to make the hike, ending with me sharing images of this unique place, with those here there and literally everywhere.

Jeff