Me and Br’er Rabbit?

Briar Rabbit statue photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms Briar Patch Habitat, Eatonton, GA

Br’er Rabbit at the entrance to the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia. I now live 1 mile from this, Virginia Linch’s 2nd launch of this butterfly wonderland. Brooklyn to Eatonton? How, why, where and when?

Back in the ’40’s my mother Mary A”H read books to me, I sitting on her lap. A favorite was the tales of Br’er Rabbit in the Briar Patch. She said I’d ask her to read it again, and again, and again and . . . was launched in 2011. My stalwart early blog followers were loyal, fascinating people. As time went by I sensed that they were steadily tiring of only seeing butterflies of the U.S. northeast, of Israel and of Arizona and Toronto. My decision was to score photos of southeastern USA butterflies.

But how? At that time, no one was willing to meet me in any of the states of the U.S. South, and lead me to butterflies, common or rare. Travel to Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina & North Carolina . . . with no one to guide me. I’d get skunked after each and every 500-880 miles drive!

About that time, I noticed mention, on Facebook of one Virginia C. Linch. Long story short, she FB msg’d me “Come on down!!”

The butterflies in then Butterflies & Blooms Habitat I were incredible! Hundreds would be flying at any given time, and I counted 29 species there, one morning alone.

Snow, ice, cold-shoulders in Pittsburgh after 27 years there, and an unhappy domestic situation, and where to go next, Jeffrey? Well . . . Eatonton, Georgia.

For my kids it’s not the city, and I am kind of different down here, unable to shake my roots and my Brooklyn twang. That said, I love the patience and kindness of Georgians, the 25% lower prices of groceries and so much more, the gorgeous weather and short “winter” and this garden, my new natives garden. Butterflies flying in early February, not late April! My lifelong dream.

Mommy read to me of Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox, Bear, that Turtle and the Tar Baby and more, and now the Briar Patch Museum is some 600 feet from our home.

Thanks Mom, and thanks Joel Chandler Harris, the gifted author of the Briar Patch tales! He an Eatonton native.

Now back to my practicing my “Y’all,” which still comes out kinda . . . Brooklyn.


Can I Get Your Feedback?

Erato Heliconian Butterfly on Grass photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Friends asked me to join them and fly to the Lower Rio Grande Valley, a handful of miles from Mexico. There were so many reasons to leave my ‘comfort zone’ and once again see Texas. My friends were A+ butterfly scouters, the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas regularly astounds, with butterflies so rare that they create near riots when they are seen and y’all deliver heavier traffic on wingedbeauty when I share the rare, the beautiful and exciting tales (true) and adventures.

I ponied up the money ($ignificant) and Delta flew us to San Antonio, followed by that 4-hour drive down to the southern tip of Texas.

Here’s part of the Jackpot! A very rare, very mysterious and Very Beautiful Erato Heliconian butterfly. Just as exciting was the Red Rim, that Malachite, the elusive but gorgeous maestro, Pavon Emperor, Tropical Leafwing, Tropical Greenstreak, Julia Heliconian and . . . lots more butterflies, all new to me.

Now, with Fall ’18 here, I’m scouring field guides and wondering? 2019 beckons, loudly. Do I again sit in airports (I shoot film, so I must always consider that the necessary ‘Hand check’ of my film might cause a 1/2 hour of more delay, when an overzealous TSA agent methodically inspects my Fuji film cartridges)? Endure airport terminals, which I am not in love with. $pend the money for air fare, car rental, Airbnb/VRBO living quarters, drive where I’ve never been, and most vexing, find good Habitat with no one to lead me?

The alternative? Travel to nearby states, in my own F150, with Petra riding shotgun? Do Florida, Tennessee, South Caroline and the Okefenokee Swamp? No flying, no airfare, no TSA.

So may I have your feedback, what think you? Fly to Montana, or the Chiricuaha mountains in southeast Arizona or search the Florida Panhandle, Kissimmee Prairie or that Okefenokee Swamp of all swamps?


Very Exciting News! Jeff’s Earring . . . .

Earring Series - Blackswallowtail butterflies coupled, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

With much pleasure, I finally, invite you to enjoy my extraordinary and exciting! interaction with fresh, exquisite Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies. We encountered this pair in August 2016, they coupled together, me stunned by their beauty. We were all at the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat, in Eatonton, Georgia.

By the end of this saga, I was adorned with an earring unequaled in beauty, beyond the ability of the workshops of Tiffanys, Cartier’s, David Webb and all the rest.

Sylbie Yon was there, at the right time, in the right place. The 6 featured images were captured by her. The Eastern Black Swallowtails and I will always be thankful for Sylbie’s images.

To view them, see the top of this wingedbeauty window, and click on ‘Jeff’s Earrings’ – Part 1 . . . after reading and viewing, go above once again and click on ‘Jeff’s Earrings – Part 2 . . . and then click on ‘Jeff’s Earrings’ – Part 3.

This sweet series was zippity-doodah! for Sylbie and for me. How I hope that you will provide us with feedback. Tell us what other wild butterfly earring experiences you’ve seen . . . .


The $100 Question?

Rare Skipper, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Brunswick, GA

That $100 question is . . . . Where must you head out to, if you are desirous of  meeting a Salt Marsh Skipper? In my case, the Crosby’s and I drove to Brunswick, Georgia. We wished to see and shoot Eastern Pygmy Blue Butterflies and Salt Marsh Skippers.

Why did we go to Brunswick, on the Georgia coast. Because to find Salt Marsh Skippers, you have to find their habitat, coastal salt marshes. Off we went, for my hoped for 1st view of Panoquina panoquin.

Bingo! Coastal marsh dwellers, they were challenging, alighting on these small yellow flowerheads, and remaining in place for fractions of seconds. No complaint mind you, for that sunny morning these coastal marshes were spectacularly beautiful, and we were treated with a menu of wetland birds, including hard to find Roseate spoonbills, very methodical working the marsh edges with their fascinating bills.

Our Salt marsh skippers spend their whole life living in salty or brackish marshes. I remember as a kid, spending all of those summers at Grandma Polisar’s tiny bungalow in Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York. Every bungalow in that little ‘colony’ had an outdoor shower, a little wooden affair, which scarily housed huge (? were they) spiders in their corner webs. You always showered after spending those 9 AM to 5-ish PM at the salty Atlantic beach. How do these skippers live 24/7 in a habitat just covered with briny salt? Well, that’s why they get the tag, butterfly ‘specialists.’


Pearly-eye’s Gold-Rimmed Spots

Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Allenberg Bog in New York

Virginia reminded me that much of what I seek is focused and purposeful. This flies in the face of what most folks think I do. Many believe I work trails, looking for whatever comes along. I think this is incorrect.

Here in northeastern USA, when I scour a trail like this one, critical factors combine to anticipate goals. Goal this instant day and on this series of trails was to spot Northern Pearly-eye butterflies. This because the habitat was right: 1) trail along forest edge 2) wetland bordering trail, with wetland plants and 3) poorly lit forest margin.

So I was looking for Pearly-eyes and . . . I was hungry, hungry to score good to better images of the dorsal (upper side) of fresh fliers.’Good to better’ required, for these cordovan beauts, rich chocolate wing color, striking marginal spots and best of all, 14K to 18K gold ringing the sweet spots. Cherry on top would be orangeish tip on dark antennal clubs.

Certain TV commercials urge folks with good dollar$ to buy gold, and stash it in their safes, just in case . . . . Well, here is a forest-edge butterfly dripping ‘real’ gold.

If you thought that this image could/should have been closer to the Pearly-eye, know that any closer, and sweet stuff would have . . . . just that quickly.

At an ancient sphagnum acid bog in western New York state, along the edges of the bog.