Twin-Spot Skipper How Do You Do

Twin-spot Skipper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, GA

We made the brief acquaintance of this “U” for Uncommon (Glassberg, A Swift Guide to Butterflies) Twin-Spot Skipper in Laura’s Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge. Yes it was a rush to see a seldom seen and very fresh skipper butterfly, perhaps the 3rd I’d ever seen. My move to Georgia continues to reward me with these kinds of thrilling moments, seeing butterflies that are seldom seen by even the most avid butterfly seekers.

Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge? Highly recommended. It is the home to so many much sough butterflies, wildflowers, botany, birds of wetlands and dry, insects, big alligators and baby alligators, snakes and more and more.

Fortunate you are when one such as Laura takes the time to urge you to head out to a destination, one that she knows is full of G-d’s creations, especially for me, butterflies.

Jeff

Talkers & Doers

Searching for Caterpillars/Eggs James Murdock and Virginia Linch photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat, GA

There are talkers and there are doers. A couple of years ago, I met James Murdock, shown here at the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat I, with the Habitat founder and angel, Virginia C Linch. I followed them around the OMG! Habitat I, as Virginia introduced James to the hundreds of native Georgian hostplants and nectar-pumping plants she and the volunteers set in to make the Habitat I the success it was. James shared that he worked for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and would soon be a middle school science teacher at nearby Putnam County Middle School (PCMS).

It was one of those Georgia 93F mornings, and I took note of how these two, shown there that day, were totally unconcerned by that.

We in Eatonton have a real, excellent local newspaper, The Eatonton Messenger, and this week’s edition, out on July 4, 2019, today, features a very rewarding story on page one of its Community section B. Titled ‘Inspiration Camps – Growing Knowledge and subtitled ‘Putnam’s newest gardeners gain experience through summer,’ reporter Katie O’Neal shares pics of Murdock and his middle school kids at the Habitat II (the Habitat moved from its original site to this new, larger acreage, still in town) and Katie captures the excitement and enthusiasm that these middle school kids daily enjoy, as they work and improve their gardens at Habitat II and in the PCMS gardens.

James has a full beard now, but he is clearly the same in-the-bushes and doer that he was back when I captured them in this photo. His work with these youngsters is important and they’ll be still gardening in the year, what? 2069! Some of them may well be the next stewards of this Briar Patch Habitat, way down the road. Eatonton, Georgia has a real gem here, and they do not yet realize how it will impact on this city in the future (think Butterfly Festival!).

Virginia? Now that she has retired, the Habitat II is just alive with butterflies, botany, bees, dragonflies and visitors.

These here are doers. Brings a smile, no?

I hope that this news story, in the Eatonton Messenger, is available online.

Jeff

Hickory Mound & St. Marks

Georgia Satyr Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida's Panhandle

Fuji film? Check. Camera and back-up camera (film)? Check. Batteries? Check. 40% Off!? Check. Coco Loco bars? Check. Babaganoush? Check. Merrell boots? Check.

Petra’s Wellness kibble? Check. Hills W/D? Check. Baked Wellness bars? Check. Ear cleaning fluid? Check.

Fishing rods and reels? Check. Fishing license (Florida)? No, get that when I arrive.

Knee pad? Check? Flashlight? Check. Alligator repellent? No, no such. ‘No-see-ums’ lotion? Nope, get that in Florida.

Getting ready to travel to Big Bend Wildlife Management Area and nearby St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge is a BIG challenge for me, as is the eventual Oops! when I come to realize that I forgot to bring . . .

All the above to cop new and more pleasing images of this Georgia Satyr butterfly. All that in the  hope of seeing new ‘Lifer’ butterflies for me.

Big Bend and St. Marks can do that, they can bring new joy on a golden platter, rich as they are in butterflies and botany and wildlife.

April 2019 . . . Florida’s Panhandle . . . Yummy!

Jeff

The Butterfly of the Shadows

Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

Along favorites trails we keep our eyes alert for butterflies that fly the forest edge. When the weather forecast fails, and clouds that shouldn’t, do appear, its drats! Butterflies almost universally prefer sunny to dappled sunny locales. Bring dark clouds, and butterflies disappear, as quick as that.

When it’s cloudy, or dark or slightly drizzly, there’s a strong temptation to no longer remain alert for random butterfly flight. Years of working trails has taught that when you are moving through moist wooded habitat, or habitat with active streams or moderate wetland, it’s important to not succumb to dropping your attentive radar, for  with wet conditions flanking your trail, chances are good that you will note these beauties, Northern Pearly-Eye butterflies.

Northern Pearly-Eyes are difficult to make approach to. They flee approach, not with jet-like speed, but just as effectively, as they fly their low, looping flight, and just about vanish from sight.

This magnificent Pearly-Eye was seen on Nichol Road trail in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. It was to my right on the trail, and the forest that began at trail edge was poorly lit, and humid.

I kept asking the Ab-ve to allow me to get my Macro- lens close to this one. It looked handsomely fresh. I approached, robotically. It held the leaf. Closer again, it remained. Slowly lowered my left knee onto my Tommy knee pad, it was still there.

I love this image, now one of my favorites. A butterfly that when seen looks bland, now revealed to be very shmeksy! when you close the distance from Pearly-eye to Macro- lens.

When I occasionally revisit this image, Oh, how I  appreciate the many features that it shares, so easily.

Jeff

Coral Hairstreaks Seen in Adams County

Coral HairstreakButterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park

Met this sweetheart of a Coral Hairstreak butterfly several years ago in Raccoon Creek State Park. Just 3 paces away was its favorite sugary nectar source, Butterflyweed, a milkweed. I cannot recall ever seeing Corals two years in a row. They seem to skip certain years, especially those that suffer a lack of butterflyweed. How they skip years, well that’s a fine doctoral pursuit for that bright young cousin of yours.

Today I dropped off 152 slides with Katie at Rewind Memories ( Pittsburgh ). They were shot in Israel, Georgia, Ohio and very western New York State. I cannot wait to share them with you, in the coming weeks, for they include some very nice butterflies and wildflowers, including orchids.

Among those 152 are images of . . . Corals seen in Kamama Prairie in Adams County, Ohio. Just a short drive to the Kentucky border, this county was everything Angela Carter said it would be.

The butterflyweed was peak, lush and gorgeous that day, about 2-3 weeks ago. Great Spangled Fritillaries were flying to and fro around the butterflyweed flowerheads. I waded into the prairie, hoping to find the elusive Coral hairstreak. Did I? You bet I did. A couple of them were patiently working the butterflyweed flowers. They seriously cooperate when you find them, for they allow a very close approach, and they move ever so slowly from bloom to bloom.

I have a fondness for Corals, their coral spots evoke those spectacular coral stones used in the making of the finest jewelry, the kind that Chinese buyers bid for premiums at Sotheby’s and Christie’s in New York and London.

A good year this, for Jeff found his corals. What do you think Patti would design with such coral gems, over there in Golden?

Jeff