Why Eatonton Georgia?

"Billy' Butterfly Mobile photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat I, Eatonton, GA

I’m now a Georgian, though each time I’m asked why I moved to Georgia, and especially why I relocated to the Georgia Piedmont (central Georgia, east of Atlanta), I again and again realize that native Georgians don’t fully appreciate the riches that Georgia provides, time and time again.

Steadfast followers of winged beauty.com recall that those several years of driving down to Virginia’s Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton charmed me, much. When I had to decide where to go, after Pittsburgh, the answer was clear, to this sweet little city, Eatonton, with the best wild butterfly habitat east of the Mississippi River.

Eatonton made Virginia and her loyal supporters move the habitat to a bigger, different locale in town. This now begins year two there, having been forced to dig up and replant several hundred native shrubs, perennials, grasses and trees. This they did with nary a complaint, helped by folks from here and there.

I came here for their butterflies. For the genuine friendliness of folks here in Georgia, for the Big savings in almost everything (Krogers is some 20%-25% cheaper than Pittsburgh’s Giant Eagle, real estate taxes are much cheaper, car care is much cheaper (and high quality service), gasoline is 15% cheaper, . . . )

Why Eatonton? This butterfly mobile sings out the answer to this query. Folks care here, they support our country and they Honor those who did so with their sweat, passion and lives. Lieutenant Colonel Billy Maltbie Jr. is the son of a Big Supporter of the Briar Patch Habitat, and this American Hero died, much too young, while serving in South Korea. A friend of the Habitat fabricated these butterfly silhouettes, and Virginia hung this one for this not forgotten Patriot, whose ancestor fought in our own Revolutionary War, to oust the Brits and create the United States of America.

Jeff, Happy as a Duck, in beautiful Eatonton, where service to country is respected and supported.

Jeff

Hairstreak Euphoria

Red-Banded Hairstreak butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

It never goes away. I expect that I speak for all of us who love and search for butterflies. Whether you arrive at your refuge, meadow, fen, garden or roadside berm, that euphoria that electrifies you when you spot a tiny, tiny Hairstreak butterfly, never lessens.

We stop, verify that it is a Hairstreak, a fresh Hairstreak (the price of film now matters) and as quickly as those years in the field allow, which of the hairstreaks you have found. Me, I best know the hairstreaks of the eastern half of the United States . . . but. I’ve seen hundreds and thousands of these abundant hairstreaks, but others, that count drops to one or two. Or, zero.

This winged beauty is a Red-banded Hairstreak. Fresh, zero bird-struck with gorgeous, rich color including that handsome blue patch and generous red bands.

So many Red-bandeds bear wing damage or extensive wing scale loss. This one, seen at the Butterflies and Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton Georgia is a crowd pleaser for sure. When I’ve shot away, those 20 or more exposures, am I able to slowly back away from this shmeksy! gift from G-d, and share my war-up “YES! May well be you heard it, be you in Brooklyn, Dallas, Mission, Seattle, Atlanta, Mishmarot, or Valdosta.

How I love what I do!

Jeff

My One In A Billion

Jeff with Black Swallowtails on his ears at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

They flew to my hat, then my shoulder and finally to where you see them here. A coupled pair of Gorgeous butterflies, Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies. I was paralyzed with Joy! We were at the Butterflies and Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia. 886 miles from my birthplace in Brooklyn, New York. These were wild butterflies. Sylbie was there too, and she took this photograph of me, teared-up and all. Frieda A”H (OBM) was gone some 8 years by then, and my life was challenged, that day.

Those Brooklyn streets, no food in the house, G-d sent Frieda, teaching, H.S. Dean (not for the ‘good’ kids), NYARNG ARTY & OCSchool. much success in NYNY real estate . . . treacherous partners, no more bricks, Pittsburgh, children and grandchildren, Frieda gone . . . searching. Always the lone rider, so to speak. Gardening since back in 1975, those dirty fingernails for 1/2 a year.

Georgia? Only superlatives. Today, remnants of a nasty ‘cold.’ The sun is shining this morning on my sizable Georgia natives garden. It will begin to awake in February. February! Not late April, but February!

This photo, my one in a Billion, evokes this famous thought shared by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

What is Success?  To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate the Beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a Healthy child, a Garden Patch or a Redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

I sat here this morning, dwelled here at this image of me, and this is what I share.

Jeff

The Honor Roll

Dorsal View of Bog Copper Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Allenberg Bog in New York

I will never forget the thoughtfulness and generosity of those who have invited me to special, sometimes hidden habitat to see and photograph butterflies. Those of you who visit this blog, winged beauty.com are occasionally reminded that you are seeing what only 1 in 126,598 ever get to see. That so pleases me, and helps to drive me forward.

Barbara Ann guided me to this Bog Copper butterfly and a fresh Ringlet butterfly. Rose and Jerry to a bunch of new ones, including the Creole Pearly-Eye, Southern Pearly-Eye and Silvery Checkerspot. Nancy and John to a whole slew of butterflies, the Little Metalmark, Eastern Pygmy Blue, Saltmarsh Skipper, Great Southern White in Georgia and Texas’ Red Rim, Erato Heliconian, Mexican Bluewing, Malachite and at least 18 more lifers. Mike led me to Zebra Heliconians and my first brawl with fire ants. Virginia’s Briar Patch Habitat the fabled Southern version of Viceroy butterflies and Giant Giant Swallowtails. Angela kept the ball rolling with Northern Metalmark butterflies and Edward’s Hairstreaks. Phil straight to that long awaited Gemmed Satyr and Juniper Hairstreak.

These unsung heroes gave us much to cheer. Thank G-d for them, for the big ‘names’ in butterfly conservation and butterfly search remain woefully silent, even these 23 years, plus or minus.

I am thinking in this edgy way, for with 2019 almost upon us, I am frequently daydreaming (again) of butterflies I’d so like to find and greet. I’m working on Mitchell’s Satyrs in Alabama. I’m now booked to return (Yay!!!) to the Lower Rio Grande Valley to explore the National Butterfly Center again (Double Yay!!!), awaiting Angela’s next shout-out for Ohio or the Bruce Peninsula or . . . Friends here in Georgia continue to ask, ‘Have you been to . . . ?’ Washington State happily offers a new friend, who’s familiar with all those northwestern USA butterflies, none of whom I’ve had the pleasure to meet.

Ask me how much I want to see the Very Very rare continental USA ones? Hermes Copper? Mariposa Copper? King’s Hairstreak? Any of the Alpines? Zilpa Longtail? The Giant Skippers?

Always dreaming . . .

Jeff

Monarchs, Come Home!

Monarch caterpillar photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park
What made me stop here? Well, awaiting my 67 new images, shot in Israel in March of this year, I just reviewed my Media library of images. Had to stop at this one. Why?

Like tens of thousands of you, I have, right this very moment, a spectacular stand of common milkweed (Asclepius Syriaca) in my front garden. It has a very good pedigree, having been nurtured by Monarch Watch.  The plants are 5-footers, and the flower heads are just a day or two away from opening. Lush is the operative word.

Every morning, afternoon and evening I take Petra for her exercise time. We stop, I lean over the fence and examine, looking here and there, just as they taught us to at Fort Dix, New Jersey: Scan, scan, scan.

Not a monarch have I seen here. I saw one much farther north, at the Jamestown Audubon Center in New York some weeks ago, and I saw a couple at the Briar Patch Habitat in beautiful Eatonton, Georgia, last week. But none yet in my native US plants garden or in the adjoining Frick  Park (900 acres+).

Yes I am anxious to see them and watch them nectaring on my milkweed. Would seeing their caterpillars excite me? Yuuup!

Monarchs, come home. We need you. Need you to reaffirm that all is good, or almost good.

Jeff