Pinks at Blackwater!

Pink Lady's Slipper wildflower, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, MD

Butterflies are my game, ‘though last year my eyes wandered a bit, to native orchids. Just 2 days ago we shared ‘3 Demure Pinks.’ Those Pink Lady’s Slipper orchids lit up the forest at Chapman State Park. Three of them growing side by side, deep red, and very earnest.

This earlier trip to Maryland’s Eastern Shore, included this run down to the “lower shore.” There, at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, I met this threesome. Very Audrey Hepburn-ish, and somewhat lighter pink. They seemed to be almost begging me to photograph them, with those weightless drops of water perilously hanging on each of them.

Lady’s Slipper orchids prefer small open spaces in thick forest. Often they are found where a tree has fallen a year or more ago. That sudden break in the forest canopy, invites their seeds to grow, thrive, in the limited, dappled sunlight that this new opening in the forest enjoys.

I Love orchids, and as if my eyes weren’t busy enough, I am on the lookout, looking for telltale indicators, like freshly created mini-openings in the forest.

Tomorrow, we drive to Eatonton, Georgia, for 2 weeks of southern butterflies. The Briar Patch Habitat, an amazing destination, beckons. We’ll be quiet, until the return back home.

Jeff

Pipevine with Thankgiving Turkey

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

This night before Thanksgiving is a great time to share this I-like-it image of a Pipeline Swallowtail butterfly. Tomorrow most of us will sit down and give Thanks for all that we are blessed with. Once we are sated with scrumptious turkey and stuffings, some of us will head to the TV to enjoy football, others will find their way to their/his/her computer and check out their usual websites and blogs.

I was reveling with my first meet-up with regal fritillary butterflies. It was June 10, 2015, and I was at their only refuge in the entire eastern United States: Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation in central Pennsylvania. During those hours, this delightful shmeksy, Battus Philenor flew onto the thistle flowerhead. I was pleased and impressed. This is one of those butterflies whose arrival nearly demands Hail to the Chief

No photoshop or equivalent. This one was a beaut, and Cech and Tudor, in their field guide Butterflies of the East Coast, note that these “dazzling” colors are no happenstance. They warn the usual suspects (predators) Uh Uh, I’m over the top toxic!

Soon we’ll post an image of Regals mating. Timing, timing, timing.

Jeff

Visit Family and Photograph Butterflies

Skipper butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow in White Tank Mountains, Regional Park,  AZ

I was visiting my mother-in-law in Sun City West, on the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona. The sun rises there at about 6 A.M. and I myself must leave the arroyos by 10 A.M. If I linger past 10 A.M., I risk a repeat of the morning that I almost didn’t make it out.

This is my usual destination, White Tank Mountains Regional Park, some 35 minutes from her house. Since my first trip to there, many sizable developments have been built, adding thousands of homes to this desert. As I drive through, I often puzzle at where they are drawing their water from, and where they will in the future?

The arroyos are bone-dry creek beds, that are wet briefly during the year. You must always be aware, should an instantaneous downpour send water crashing down the arroyo.

Blooms are sparse in the arroyo, but there are some, and there are a surprising number of butterflies that come to sip whatever sugary nectar they can locate. This dusky colored skipper has done well, scoring what must be a nourishing supply of rich carbohydrates.

A morning in the arroyo, and then back to swap family news.

Jeff

Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly

Spangle Fritillary butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

The caterpillars that they produce are hidden out there, equipped to endure frost. The last frost is now behind us, and surely those caterpillars have been busy!

So it’s just the right moment to post this stirring image of a Great Spangled Fritillary nectaring on butterflyweed flowers. We count the weeks before we see butterfly and wildflower together.

Speyeria cybele is among the largest of the fritillaries.

The freshest of them (males) make their appearance first, then the females make flight.

We see them in our gardens, parks and in sylvan settings that offer them wildflowers.

I used the word esthete this morning in an email.

You are viewing this blog and clearly that distinguishes you as an esthete!

Jeffrey