One More Beauty? Say . . . A Viceroy?

Viceroy butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Butterflies and Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, GA

Marcie, Laura, Ken, Virginia, Cathy, Deepthi, Lisa, Kenne, Sertac, Bill and so many more have been sharing beautiful butterflies these last weeks. Whatever weather and other stresses surfaces earlier this year, the bounty of fresh, handsome butterflies abounds these last weeks of August and into early September.

Prepping for a very special presentation here in Middle Georgia on October 14th (and joined by Ellen Honeycutt of the Georgia Native Plants Society = anticipate a Wow! program), I reviewed and reviewed my own Media Library, selecting which images I will share (I do hope you join us!)

Permission to add one more beauty? This Viceroy butterfly enabled me, as it took some time to rest on a large Tithonia Mexican Sunflower leaf. We were at Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia. All those years of reading those butterfly field guides, reading that the Viceroys of the Southeastern USA sport deeper, luxuriant color, were confirmed again here. My Fuji Velvia film did its job well here. No?

Jeff

Gemmeds

Gemmed Satyr Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Hard Labor Creek State Park, Georgia

I’ve been to Tiffany’s 5th and 57th Street store multiple times. We’d pass David Webb’s showcase store on E. 57th Street many times, always stopping to chat about his very different jewelry. I’ve been to W. 47th Street too, and we’d seek out family friends who owned booths and more. Stared as they swept up the gold fragments from the floor of Mr. Gold’s workshop, as expert workers fabricate good earrings and necklaces at their workstations. Frieda A”H liked jewelry. I liked meeting her in town, having lunch and then a not too very long visit to those swanky fine jewelry emporiums.

I’d seen Gemmed Satyrs in field guides for years. They are tiny little brown satyrs, with a type of bejeweled patch of “gems” on the underside of their hindwings. I really, really wanted to see those ‘gems’ for my very own eyes.

Virginia introduced me to Phil, and Phil spotted this Gemmed satyr in Hard Labor Creek State Park that day in 2016. Jeffrey Glassberg in A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America describes their habitat as “grassy moist woods,” The Gemmed would flit to a blade of grass in the shade, and soon to another leaf, also in shade. It was very small. When it flew a short distance to this leaf in dappled sunlight, I went down, down, down onto my tummy, and this butterfly stayed put. I shot away, and here is my best Gemmed Satyr image so far.

I like the contrast a lot, the ‘gems’ set against the rich chocolate browns. It also evokes such wonderful memories, of days gone by, love lost.

Gemmed satyrs and Georgia satyrs, me looking forward to 2018 reunions.

Jeff

Jeff’s BackStory

Gemmed Satyr Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Hard Labor Creek State Park, Georgia

Summer 2015, in Georgia. This was an exhilarated Jeff. When I seriously began photographing butterflies, Gemmed Satyrs jumped out at me. They sprung out from field guides. It took me years to connect the memories and thoughts that ignited these nano-ignitors. This instant Gemmed was pointed out to me by Phil, a very savvy Georgia State Park naturalist. We had seen others, but they were in deep shade, on forest floor, their usual habitat. This one was too, but flew here to a spot with dappled sun penetrating, and . . . posed there. Posed, for me. Georgia hospitality, as I was getting so used to.

Rose and Jerry, both extraordinary naturalists, guided me to Gemmeds at Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia too. We found several, and truth be told, my ASA 100 Fuji slide film was just not fast enough for that really dark forest floor.

Gemmeds move me. Why? Well when I lived in New York, in the 80’s I would visit the world’s top auction galleries, enjoying seeing  Pre-Sale exhibitions of American paintings and European paintings. Held for generations in homes of the wealthy, their descendants often decided they no longer enjoyed them or, needed the dollar$. You’d see those finest of artworks in the pre-sale, and then they would go up for auction, and end up in homes in Tokyo, London, Santiago or Beijing or Moscow, not to be seen again for coming generations.

At the time, I urged my wife Frieda A”H to come to Manhattan, have lunch with me, and then off to a Pre-Sale exhibition of . . . Magnificent Jewelry. When her slave mother and slave father were liberated from Nazi concentration camps in Germany, they reunited, and married in the camp named Bergen-Belsen, she wearing a wedding gown . . . tailored from a . . . parachute. Imagine that ladies? Among the rations these human skeletons were given, were cigarettes. Hey, they didn’t smoke, their families had never smoked, and now they had cigarettes, American smokes.

Well the Germans who lived in that part of Germany experienced severe deprivation too, the result of the unending military assault on Germany that convinced Hitler to end it. They were desperate for something they could not locate, smokes, American cigarettes. The ragged Holocaust survivors, who were storekeepers before the war, bartered their cigarettes for whatever the Germans had to trade, and that was often, their jewelry. Imagine, Hitler so debased his people that he left them exchanging jewelry for cigarettes. I never smoked, so I don’t know how this can be, be so it was.

So Frieda’s mother, Eda, came to this country with her husband Paul, and 3-year old Frieda, and those stones enabled Paul to once again practice the trade he apprenticed in in Poland, candy making. Eda, now 95 years old, remained fond of jewelry and shared that love of fine jewelry with my wife, Frieda.

Frieda was quite comfortable visiting Sotheby’s and Christies, and she did not hesitate to ask the attendants at those Pre-Sale exhibitions to try on this broach, or that solitaire diamond ring or the other bracelet. (I grew up mostly very poor, and I can say now that this left me very uncomfortable, for I guess understandable reasons).

This brings us to this revelation: I have seen the world’s finest jewelry on my wife’s Spring jacket, or on her ring finger or on her wrist. I have seen multi-million dollar gems up close. I have this personal history with gems. We didn’t buy them, but we examined them, held them and she wore them.

Why do I photograph butterflies? In part because I know, first hand, that the proudest work of the world’s finest artisans does not come close to the exquisite beauty of G-d’s butterflies. Not trying to be preachy here, but this is the wind to my sails.

Gemmed Satyrs then, so rare, so hidden, and so beautiful, evoke and have always evoked much joy, memory, love and yes, sadness for me.

This has been an especially long post for wingedbeauty.com, but one that was, I see, inevitable. Thanks.

Jeff

Reflecting On A Wow! Year: 2015

Allancastria Cerisyis butterfly (Protected), photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hanita, Israel

No guide, no tips from experts, just field guide and maps, and in March 2015 I found these Protected Parnassian butterflies in Israel, minutes by foot from the border with Lebanon.

With the guidance of a local expert, I savored Lady Slipper orchids in the southwestern tip of New York State. No Brooklyn this! Then Clay Pond, and Ackeley Swamp in Pennsylvania. On to the Jamestown Audubon Center, where the Welcome! door is swung wide open! And, JAC’s reserve has . . . butterflies!

Accepted an invite to visit the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia, and was rewarded with an ongoing mob of gorgeous southern butterflies. Met new friends, and soon was swamping with Rose and Jerry in Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, chasing rare Satyrs in the swamp. Phil, a Ranger at Hard Labor Creek State Park introduced me to cane wetlands and other extraordinary habitat. Georgia, a butterfly destination.

Back on my own, I resourced an article in NABA’s magazine, and drove down from Eatonton to Perry, Florida. Big Bend Wildlife Management Area was some seven miles from my Hampton Inn, and  love at first sight.

Then it was walking with a local expert who introduced me to Kelso swamp, 18 miles from my home, created by beavers some time ago, and looks to me that if it is not conserved by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, it will one day, not too far away . . . be developed. Then no herons, no beavers, no frogs, no snakes, and . . . no butterflies.

Those of you who visit regularly will taste some more than 120 images, soon to be posted, one by one.

2016? G-d willing will be . . . !

Jeff

Gonepteryx Farinosa Farinosa on Mt. Hermon

Gonepteryx farinosa butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Hermon, Israel

How did this image get away with it? I’ve dug into my Neumade metal slide cabinets (a gift from a friend some years ago!) who knows how many times, and this June 16th 2008 image somehow managed to again and again give me the slip. What we have here is a large Pieridae butterfly that flies from May to August. In Israel, it is only found in one place. Mount Hermon. If it is found on the other side of the mountain, in Syria, your search for Gonepteryx ff. would be a brief one. Within minutes, pick-up trucks, full of heavily armed men would speed up to you (not me, because I survived Brooklyn, and I ‘ain’t’ looking to end it there). They would yell at you, maybe push you, hard, and then you would be rushed away, to who knows what fate. Why were you there? Who are you? Why do you photograph their positions? Passport! Are you CIA, NSA, with Assad, Seals, or are you . . . stupid. Let’s say that the quest for butterflies is a very dangerous science in Syria.

She flew at high speed to here and then to there, until she spotted this thistle flowerhead. It must have been irresistible, because then and only then did she allow me to approach within 18″ of her. I cannot be sure of the identity of this thistle. The field guides I own are in Hebrew. Feedback from naturalists in Israel is, regrettably, minimal. Oh well.

So her species is not rare, but is found only on that militarized peak. There is a good chance that I will be photographing in Israel this year, with the anticipation of a family celebration. This time, as in 2012 and 2013, Mt.  Hermon is out, IDF only (army). My fervent hope is once again, to photograph the Two-tailed Pasha, Israel’s largest butterfly, and an artist’s palette of a beauty. That is a challenge. In June ’13 I saw 3 of them, and each would not let me get within 30 feet of them. All were on the ground when noticed, all must have been engineered by Grumman, because they swooshed away at incredible speed. I think that I now know the strategy I’ll need. Get there before 6:30 AM and pray alot.

Jeff