Back to Big Bend (Florida)

Sign = Big Bend, Spring Creek Unit photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida's Panhandle

Viet Nam? No. Mongolia? No. Costa Rica eco-tour? No. Sao Paolo and then to the Amazon watershed? No? Alaska? No. Turkey? For sure no. Even Washington State, had to be scrubbed.

Where then in this 2019? Truth be told, I had an unforgettable 5 days at the amazing Florida Panhandle place, Big Bend Wildlife Management Area.

Mobbed by Palamedes Swallowtails, challenged by Georgia Satyrs (Bet you can’t cop a good image of me, ’cause the sweat is pouring down your forehead, and streaming over your sweatband). Tiny blues of several species led me in long hide and seeks. Monster Giants and Monarchs.

This month, April, me and ‘Eagle eyes’ head back to Big Bend. Destination? The other smashing unit at Big Bend, the Hickory Mound unit.

The possibilities? Infinite. Butterflies of what, 50 species? 60?

Spanking new Florida fishing licenses, for the little river running alongside the VRBO rental must be swarming with fish to fry.

Jeff

People Plan . . . and G-d Laughs

Wildflower photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida's Panhandle

This was a saying the previous generations used to share with one another, and we kids just flicked it off, grandparents! As as many of us now know, we should have afforded them even more gravitas, then we did.

The plan is to leave Pittsburgh in 4 days, and drive to Eatonton, Georgia. During the 2 weeks there, there was a sub-plan. Repeat the 2015 Huge Success!! of a run down to Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, in the Florida Panhandle. That 4-day Victory trip was OOh La La! I would turn and there was a butterfly new to me, then finish shooting it out, turn and OMG! another lifer for me, and just total buzz! excitement.

Timed perfectly this year, this time with the Liatris in Full Bloom, and SLIGHT HITCH has occurred. My PLAN now confronts the news, that tropical storm Hermine hit the Florida Panhandle at, you guessed it, at, at Big Bend. What must this Paradise, of blooms, like this one, look like now?

People Plan . . . and G-d Laughs (at our plans). No?

Jeff

As Good As Coney Island?

Sign = Big Bend, Spring Creek Unit photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida's Panhandle

Admission price? Free. What’s this Big Bend Wildlife Management Area in the Florida Panhandle, equivalent to? For this Lover of butterflies, wildflowers and nature’s beauty?

Compared to Coney Island in Brooklyn, Rockaway’s Playland in Rockaway Beach, New York, and Kennywood in Pittsburgh, Big Bend gives gives the same roller coaster thrills, feelings of weightlessness, ferris wheel excitement and (though muted!) the same Screams as your car wends its way through the Haunted House of Horrors.

A minefield of Delight! Astonishing twists and pulls at your sense of life’s inertia.

Tickets are . . . Free. Will we be going this September in 2016? The Blazing Star Blooms should be fully open.

Jeff

What’s This? What’s That?

Wildflower with Skipper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida's Panhandle

Driving down Interstate 75 from Georgia to the Florida Panhandle, I was psyched. Florida! I was finally headed to Florida. Trail maps from NABA’s magazine article, and retrieved from Big Bend Wildlife Management Area’s website. Anticipation: Very high. Energy Level: Super-charged. Film? Lots. Hotel? Hampton Inn in  Perry, Florida. Guide/Volunteer Expert? Nope – Alone again, naturally. On a Mission to capture all new images? Absolutely.

Those 4 days at the Spring Unit in Big Bend were all that I had hoped they would be. That forecast of rain, changed to Sunny. Yay!! Sunny and new butterflies and wildflowers everywhere in this coastal swamp.

Now, all new everything is challenging. Take for example this large bloom on the “Old Grade” trail. It was very handsome, and each and every time I approached one of these plants, 2 or 3 skippers would flee. Come minutes later, skippers back at the blooms, and then, gone! Robotic, ultra slow approaches and I was able to shoot these tiny skippers embedded into these large blooms.

What is this wildflower, growing along the edge of the trail, most about 15 feet from the swamp edge? Barbara supplied the ID. It is Pineland hibiscus (Hibiscus aculeatus). What is this tiny skipper? Not sure there either. Who is the photographer? One very Happy Jeff Zablow, Who loved Eatonton and loved Big Bend.

Jeff