Greetings!

Jeff Zablow and his dog, Petra, photographed by Jenny Jean Photography.

Merry Christmas!! Happy Chanukah!! and a Happy New Year!!! to you all.

What an extraordinary year it’s been, and how Thankful I am to have shared so many of our happy surprises with you. You.

I’m off to very southern Texas, NABA-land to make the acquaintance of a whole slew of new (to me) butterflies. Those common to the southwestern USA and perhaps some rarities (let’s hope!).

Petra prefers this look at both of us, as it hides some of her 95 pounds of Black Russian heft.

To ’18 and Health and Happiness for us all!

Jeff

Feel the Excitement?

Pipeline Swallowtail Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

As we watch February 2017 wane, and we see our daffodils peak here, friends farther south of Pittsburgh are sharing images of perennials in bloom, and butterflies flying . . . now! Knock on wood, for the Weather.com forecast here calls for moderate temperatures in the next 2 whole weeks. Carramba!! With some of those 14 forecasts predicting temps above 60F, we can expect butterflies: Cabbage whites, Eastern Commas & Mourning cloaks, and you can almost ‘take that to the bank.’

This view is very special to me, enjoyed at the restricted military reserve in central Pennsylvania. You remember that I travelled there 2 years ago, in June, when it is opened for 4 days, for folks like us to see and go Pop-eye! at the sight of Regal fritillary butterflies. George Washington saw them throughout the colonies, but today, the only ones known to fly between Maine and the Panhandle are in this Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reserve, near Harrisburg, PA and near Penn State University. This instant look captures a very shmeksy! Pipevine swallowtail butterfly, at the thistle bar.

Those regal fritillaries fulfilled a long-term goal. Now what butterflies fly out at my field guides, as I turn the pages? Diana fritillaries in the mountains of northern Georgia (Who? to lead me to them??), Uncommon commas in northern Maine (once again, who??), Northern metalmarks & Swamp metalmarks in Ohio (That one is booked!), Great Purple hairstreaks (Virginia?), Dorcas coppers (That Ohio caper?), the 3 northern Fritillaries that I have yet to make the acquaintance of (Bog, Purplish & Silver-bordered), Viola’s Little Wood-Satyr (???) & Cofaqui Giant-skipper (Dare I ask my friend for another favor???) for starters. Then there is Texas, northeastern Texas (Dreamy!) and my eyes extend to Vancouver Island (With a very experienced resident).

2017, dare I to dream. With the ’06 Tundra willing, Petra (my black russian) eager, and sufficient resource$, the excitement just keeps bubbling up in me. Which of you feel that breed of excitement?

Jeff

Winter Antidotes VI

Queen Butterfly at White Tank Mountains, AZ
Need a winter antidote now. The NOAA forecast for Pittsburgh tonight and tomorrow, 4″ to 6″ of snow, may sound fantastic to Petra (my black russian), but it will mean going back again to that snow shovel.

Got an image that radiates heat? This one sure does. A Queen butterfly (Danaus gilippus) nectaring in an arroyo in White Tank Mountains Regional Park, west of Phoenix, Arizona. Backstory? I found the arroyo, but after working through it for several hundred yards, I did not find any plant in flower. Why would a plant produce flowers in this unrelenting oven of an arroyo? Then I spotted this gentle beauty, with . . . flowers. Tiny flowers. Queen and I were both happy to find what we were looking for, so my approach enabled this image.

What did I do? Bird in the hand. I stationed myself there, and with baby blue sky, here is the result. Closely related to the the much discussed Monarch butterfly, the Queen’s host plants are similar to those of all Danaus butterflies, Asclepias plants, milkweeds.

So tomorrow morning, as I psyche myself to go out and shovel, I will first open my iMac and soak in this image, a butterfly nectaring in . . . a veritable oven, and overjoyed for it. No doubt!

Jeff