Why Am I Fond of This Pearly Eye?

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

Peggy Klaczyk is an extraordinary landscape photographer, her work on Facebook is stunning. Her beat? Vancouver Island, in far western Canada. Today she shared an image, and Peggy wrote that she “loves” that 2011 capture of a forest winterscape. I ‘Commented’ agreeing it was special, and I asked why of her prolific output, this one was special to her. I await a possible response.

Sure got me to thinking. I recently reordered business cards from Moo, and that forced me to choose images among my Media Library. Of the 650 +/- images, I asked that they print those 500 cards, dividing them among the 49 images I’d chosen. This gave my an opportunity to review my images, and select, well . . . favorites. Select ones I “love.”

Images I love. Should you ask how many I may have seriously taken since 1996, my guess would be, some 120,000 give or take, shot with film.

Now the instant image, of a Northern Pearly- Eye ( Enodia anthedon  ). One of 3 of this individual in the Library, I captured perhaps ten exposures of it, but when lightboxing those 10, I could not eliminate the 3, try as I did. All 3 scanned well. Some weeks ago I posted one, and this is another. This morning I went to critique the 3, and well, I must admit . . . I love this one, the earlier posted one, and the yet unposted third.

Why am I so fond of this image?  Several reasons, some very familiar to me. You must know that I have had my eyes peeled for Northern Pearly-eyes for hundreds of field excursions. Secretive, elusive, rarely seen, shy, seen at the darkish forest edge, never seen nectaring, met on that OMG! trip into the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge (Georgia) with Rose and Jerry, this is a deeply frustrating butterfly, never providing its best face, never posing long enough for me to set-up, and always frustrating JLZ when the images come back, and they are . . . well very pedestrian.

This time the butterfly was shockingly beautiful, and when the image and its sister were delivered from Kansas by FedEx, Holy Smoley! I loved it, them. You examine it, and you will know what I know.

Maine to Georgia, that’s where you find them. If, if, if, if you find them. Then, as I do at times, knock yourself out, trying to get . . . . Then contact me, and let’s share.


July/August in Georgia

Jeff Zablow and his dog, Petra photographed by Jenny Jean Photography

We pulled up in front of the house just 17 hours ago, at 2:50 A.M.. No records were set during the drive, but we heeded the requests of Georgia friends, and drove carefully through South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. There were stops along the way, and several vain efforts to catch sleep, any sleep. (nope!)

Georgia again gave its all, 19 days long, and Petra and I loved it. She had the thrill of running free, especially enjoying the shore of Lake Oconne and the excitement of the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton.

Butterflies were very abundant, a far cry from the much reduced numbers that we have been seeing in western Pennsylvania and western New York. One morning last week, I counted 27 different species of butterflies in the Habitat, all in one morning. That came close to my own morning record, that again in the Habitat in 2015, rejoicing with 29 different winged beauties before noon!

A 4-day stay in Shellman Bluff with very good friends was Butterfly Fun! I added lots of new species to my List. I can’t wait until I can share them with you: Eastern Pygmy Blue, Salt Marsh Skipper, Great Southern White, Orange Skipperling and Cassius Blue.

We have much fun and eye candy to look forward to, as my film is processed, scanned and ready to go!


Freyeria Trochylus in the HolyLand

Freyeria Trochylus butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Ramat Hanadiv, Israel

This one wasn’t one of the Israeli butterflies that I ‘tabbed’ in my Dubi Benyamini field guide. After all, it’s been nearly 8 years since I’ve been on the lookout for this HolyLand tiny flier, and I was resigned to never getting a good image. Well, as so many of you know, never say never.

March 2016 was a fine morning. Drove my Hertz rental to Ramat Hanadiv, about 7 miles from Rachel’s home. North of Tel Aviv and Netanya, it is almost shouting distance from the Mediterranean Sea. Parked in their large parking lot, and headed to the trails. Their nature reserve is huge, and these trails often tantalized me.

Then, Whoa! what’s that little beaut on this orange flowerhead? Freyeria trochylus trochylus. They fly much of the year, and the map shows their range to include much of Israel north of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The thing you have to know is that though a butterfly may have an extensive range, their habitat may be limited across that large expanse. Not only that, but you are often skunked when you try to find them. It’s all timing, being in the right place at the right time, and, if I may say so. Luck!

So here we share together Freyeria, a pretty little butterfly, in the Land of Milk and Honey (and fantastic oranges and tangerines).


The Southern Pearly-Eye Butterfly and 99.987% of Americans

Southern Pearly Eye Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, GA

It’s a fact, research shares that 99.987% of Americans, including those in Pennsylvania, know nothing of Southern Pearly-Eye butterflies. I’d be among them, save for the patience and kindness of Rose and Jerry, who guided me to them in the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, in north central Georgia. It was the Piedmont swamp, with cane and river oats.

Why is this photograph so dark? My ASA 100 Fuji slide film was more than challenged by the limited light in that part of the swamp, overhung as it was by trees. I shoot only with available light, without flash added.

Enodia portlandia was very elusive. Rose or Jerry would give the call to come quick, Here’s a Southern! I’d hop over branches, through mud, nearly take a pratfall, only to find Oh, it took off.

I’m telling you, it was toooo much Fun! Just had my annual check-up this morning, and my PCP agreed that it looks like I got away without any of several serious diseases that have been contracted . . . In This Very Swamp. Think about that. Now, who’s ready to return with me in August, to this very spot? Raise your hands higher, ’cause I can’t ’em.


Prime Meadow Habitat . . . Doomed?

Traci Meadow with Development In Sight, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fayette Township, PA

This meadow, one I know as Traci’s Meadow, is just some 6 or 7 miles from downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Traci invited me to see it and marvel also at Traci’s Kelso Swamp, 700 feet down the road. This meadow was lush, full of wildflowers . . . and loaded with early September 2015 butterflies. Loaded.

There I was, my second day there. I remembered the day before and how Traci reluctantly explaining that those houses in the background were new. This lovely meadow would soon be destroyed. Houses are going to be built on it.

Meadows are vanishing habitats, steadily snatched from all of us, week by week, here and there. Now I know that this is private property, and I respect the rights of private property owners. But, we are a Rich country, these United States of America, and we can afford (Yes we can) to repurchase and protect vital habitats for our kids and our grandkids.

This meadow haunts me, and I loathe the day that Traci (who lives just across the road) emails me that ‘dozers . . . Ugh!