Party Crashing Viceroy

Viceroy Butterfly on Sumac (Woody Pond) photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, GA

That very same week, the Georgia Native Plant Society (GNPS) shared a FB post, letting us know that native Sumacs were just about ready to bloom. Back up in Pittsburgh, all one heard of was a “poison sumac.” Ellen of the GNPS sung of two native sumacs, and I was interested, wanted to meet them.

I saw them days later, along county and state roads, they just hinting of the telltale dark rust indicative color.

Sunday I drove to Townsend, Georgia, and arrived at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge the next morning. Coastal Georgia is wondrous, and Oohs and Aahs! reigned. Great blue herons, Wood storks, Glossy Ibis, Lots and lots of alligators, Clapper rails, maybe 3 species of snow-white egrets, Zebra heliconians, Palamedes swallowtails, Anhingas, Salt marsh skippers, the biggest spiders I’ve yet to see and the sense that snakes were at hand, but hidden out of sight. It was a dreamland for folks like us.

I think it was Wednesday, along the Wood Pond Trail that I saw it. One of those natives Sumacs, and its flower buds were beginning to open. A first for me, native sumac, in bloom, at the edge of Woody Pond, and those alligators seen and . . . unseen . . . ?

A shadow flew in. What! A fresh, deeply hued Viceroy butterfly. They are always “Uncommon” (Glassberg’s Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America), for I see them rarely, and always briefly, they with something more important to do, some other wetland away, that how it seems.

I shot away, lots of film exposed. It was a clever one, remaining within the inner bounds of the sumac. When it flew, I just stopped, and cynically laughed, at how, with all that was around me, this likable Viceroy came in and stirred the pot, the party crashing Viceroy . . . on a McLaren day in Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge.

Jeff

 

Silver Spotted Skipper on Liatris

Silver Spotted Skipper Butterfly on Liatris, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Cloudland Canyon State Park, GA

“Wrought” is the word that popped into my mind. This evokes the work of Caron and Phyllis and Peggy and Sherrie and Yaron and Kenne and Marcie and Melanie and Kelly and the rest of you who go out and work to capture the beauty that can be found if you know where to look, what to look for and how?? to get it.

This moment in time, of a Silver Spotted Skipper on Liatris in rich bloom, was enjoyed at Cloudland Canyon State Park, Georgia. When I want to compare a slew of exposures taken in machine gun staccato, I sit there with my light box and loupe, and examine for positives, what are the positive captures in each image.

This one scored well. I was pleased with the translucent yellow cells of that left forewing, the right eye which seems to be keeping an ‘eye’ on me, the good look at the head and antennas, those right legs, the good position of the butterfly (not at center but a bit right of center), the absolutely yummy! color of fresh, happy Liatris and that comely green wash that serves as background  (I’m shooting Macro- and depth of field helps sometimes). What did I miss?

August 2018 in a very sylvan National Wildlife Refuge, looking beyond the wood storks, egrets, rails, herons, lizards and alligators.

All reminds me of the wonders that H- has wrought.

Jeff

Palamedes Nectaring

Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly on Thistle photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, GA

This gorgeous Palamedes Swallowtail butterfly was nectaring on thistle. Now I don’t know the name of the thistle, at the edge of Woody Pond in Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge on the coast of Georgia. I’ve learned that Harris Neck Refuge has a number of very earnest supporters, so I hope Laura and some of the wonderful people I met there in late August 2018 will help name this spindly thistle with its almost white flowers.

Those thistle flowerheads were busy with many different butterflies. This visit by a Palamedes was special though. You’d think that I would bring my Macro- lens closer to the  butterfly, for a Macro- lens can approach 1:1 imagery, as long as they are very close to your subject.

I was at that 3′ strip of green growth at the pond’s edge, and Brooklyn boy did not want to get a single inch closer then I was, with all due respect to the alligators that may or may not be in the pond, an arm’s length away.

I was recently gently chided for this reluctance. You must know that those ‘gators, heretofore mostly unknown to me, soooo reminded me of the Connected guys I grew up with. There they are, right where you are, and you know them, they know you, but mostly leave them alone, and all will be good and dandy.

Jeff

Gulf On Liatris

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on Liatris photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife, GA

That August trip to Townsend, Georgia was fantastic. I photographed butterflies and more in Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge (a national birder destination) and at Ft. Federica on St. Simons Island.

Go back in 2019? Oh, I hope. Little Metalmark butterflies and Eastern Pygmy butterflies eluded me, and I so miss these tiny winged beauties.

The coast of Georgia features a ‘necklace’ of very special refuges, and I never did get to Sapelo Island, Jekyll Island and . . .

My life will be forever richer for the sights and critters that I saw those 6 days, alligators, wood storks, egrets, great blue herons, green herons, rails and maybe 1,680 butterflies.

This was a big year for Gulf Fritillary butterflies, like this one, nectaring on resplendent Liatris blooms.

Good for you Georgia, successfully preserving so much of your Rich coastal habitat!

Jeff

Red-Spotted Purple . . . in Mississippi

Red-Spotted Purple butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Leroy Percy Park, Hollandale, MS, 9/08/09

My first trip to Mississippi. We visited family in Greenville and bivouacked in Leroy Percy State Park, in nearby Hollandale. This was 2011, many years since I met a fellow soldier, Gywnn, who spoke fondly of Mississippi, as we killed time in our bunks at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. But Gwynn was correct, Mississippi was a whole lot different from Brooklyn, New York, and from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Flat for as far as you could see, alligators in the park’s lake, and chiggers! I sought butterflies throughout Leroy Percy Park, and on returning to our log cabin, itching, a sudden onslaught of itching, not just here, or there, but just about everywhere? I did see mosquitoes. Mississippi does not lack mosquitoes. This itching came from  places that mosquitoes couldn’t have gotten to. And . . . I sprayed myself before I left, with Off! Back home, Off! is very effective. The Park Office hadn’t closed for the day, so I walked over there and asked the man and woman there about this almost unbearable itching (I’m starting to . . . itch). Immediate explanation. Chiggers! Tiny insects that get onto you in the high grasses. Our tough Pennsylvania winters make us chigger proof! Yay! for that.

Limenitis arthemis astyanax here in central western Mississippi is remarkably similar to those that we have posted here, from Pennsylvania. Though more than 900 miles apart, they sure look  like one another. Can you imagine that? Mississippi and Pennsylvania are so, so different. Their Red-spotted Purples are so, so similar.

Cech and Tudor (Princeton University Press, 2005) notes that the red marks near the forewing apex are more visible in  the females. Is our example here a male?

Jeff