Friday for Coral Hairstreaks?

Coral Hairstreak Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

This morning at Raccoon Creek State Park set the table for me, so to speak. The huge Doak Meadow (100 acres +/-) was green and lush, with frenetic male Great Spangled Fritillaries flying non-stop in their desperate search for females. I did see two females, but they stayed low to the ground, flying under the upper stratum of meadow grasses, perennials and shrubs.

There was a near total absence of Bergamot (had a big display in 2014), common milkweed plants were in the minority, even dogbane was not as numerous as years gone by. Joe Pye Weed was present here and there along the forest that edged the meadow, but here another puzzling minimal showing. Goldenrod was coming along, but it too appeared to be reduced in concentration.

The big find of the morning were a handful of Northern Pearly Eyes, looking fine, and probably pleased with the rains that we had a few days ago. One Northern, with what seemed like a smile, offered a swell pose, if, if I set my foot into a small puddle. I did, and my boot sank 4″ into mud! Absent were Wood Nymphs, and the Little Wood Satyrs were all (?) worn and very pale in color. One Little Wood Satyr gave me a full, unhurried photo opp of its dorsal surface, but it was quite worn, with heavy scale loss.

Before I called it a morning, I found this clump of Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa). It’s the same group of plants that this image shows. They were a day or two away from opening. The Coral Hairstreak butterfly you see here is usually difficult to find, and these blooms are their very favorite. You know I’m thinking, wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could cop an image of Coral and Butterfly Weed that surpasses this one?

That means returning those 37.2 miles in 2 days, on Friday, June 24th. No guarantees, and if I can return to this spot, it might also mean bringing my tiny folding seat, and waiting patiently for the Corals to show up, if 2016 is a year when they do. There are no guarantees, only perseverance, tenacity,  enthusiasm and . . . a dab of Luck.

Jeff

Celebrity Shock!

Pipevine Swallowtail  Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow as it perched on Bergamot flower at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania, 7/31/14
I’ll never forget taking an elevator down in the arts deco Fuller building at Madison and E. 57th Street. It stopped. In walked Diana Ross. She was . . . more beautiful than I’ve ever seen her. Taller than I expected, too. We chatted, alone. I knew I’d never forget how beautiful and graceful she was. Never have. Remember too, when on a NYNY street, there was Mike Tyson striding down the sidewalk, with a comely blonde on each arm. Mike!

With thousands of Bergamot blooms fresh and pumping nectar, I knew that butterflies would come, to join the bees, flies, moths and hummingbirds who already were at work, imbibing sugary nectar.

Sure enough, in swooped a large, black butterfly, straight to the Bergamot. Here’s our Pipeline Swallowtail, beaming out its oranges, iridescent blues, and white, all on a starkly black background.

Diana, Mike, Virginia and Pipevine, all in the same league: The big leagues.

Jeff

The (My) Scream . . .

Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow as it perched on Bergamot flower at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania, 7/31/14
You should have seen it. Thousands of Bergamot blooms carpeting Doak field, Raccoon Creek State Park, Southwestern Pennsylvania. I’d been there several mornings that week. Bergamot in bloom means summer butterflies. Lots of them. Bergamot and Bee Balm are true nectar pumps (my own term) and their aroma must really travel, because they are a serious butterfly destination.

And that’s the way it was that July 31st day, 2014. Tiger swallowtails, Great Spangled Fritillaries, Spicebush Swallowtails, Hawkmoths, a Monarch, some Skippers, legions of Bumblebees and other fliers mobbed the Bergamot. I moved from the center of the 100+ acre field to a spot I knew along its margin. I chose a robust looking Bergamot plant and remained there for many minutes.

A large blackish Swallowtail Butterfly flew in. Wait, this was different. Can it be? Turn, turn pretty lady, let me be sure. She was nectaring and moving her wings violently, as she hovered over each bloom. The field guide in my brain was working at super-high speed until . . . Yes! Pipevine Swallowtail. OMG! it is! It is! She was fresh, Very shmeksy . . . . That iridescent blue field extending forward from those coral orange spots, all flashy bright. I shot slides on my traditional film camera: Pop, pop, pop . . .

I know my scream of Joy! could be heard in Pittsburgh. Maybe even in Cleveland. Did y’all hear it at Madison and East 57th Street in Manhattan?

I share.

Jeff