Jeff Hits What? A Triple?

Mating Regal Fritillary Butterflies photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

I was taken with their name, Regal Fritillary Butterfly. They once flew where my childhood house is, in Brooklyn’s East Flatbush neighborhood. The British troops and the Hessian troops saw them, during their march to surround George Washington’s men on the island of Manhattan.

I’d never seen Regals, and I wanted to meet them. A nearly 3-hour drive in June, to Ft. Indiantown Gap, a military post near Harrisburg, New York, made this image possible.

I was put off by the crowd that showed up that morning! Nearly 150 people, if you include the naturalist guides provided by Ft. Indiantown Gap. That well-managed program soon had us broken off into many groups, and mine was just 4 people.

We saw many Regals (Yay!!!) and Monarchs and Coral Hairstreaks and Great Spangled Fritillary butterflies. The sight of my first ever Regal Fritillary? A rush, truth be told.

I spotted this pair of coupled Regals, and to this day, I equate that to pounding a triple against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium itself!

Regals, found in only 2 meadows in the Eastern USA. That, folks, is sadder than dirt.

Jeff

My Striped Hairstreak Butterfly

ZablowButt_First60-30BlgPht

Forgive me, but I am very pleased with my capture here of a fresh Striped Hairstreak butterfly. Tiny, like all hairstreaks, it startled me when I first eyed it. I was looking for the usual larger butterflies, in the Powdermill Reserve of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, in Rector, Pennsylvania. Rector is in the sylvan Laurel Highlands of south-central Pennsylvania, and finding such a tiny, “Rare-Uncommon” butterfly there, should not have been a surprise to me.

When my Macro- lens came closer and closer to this beauty, it remained in place, and I marveled at how magnificent it was. A shmeksy! butterfly that is never found in abundance, and is alway seen as a solitary specimen, alone, naturally.

This is one of my early finds, and Yep, it stoked my passion to work to find and shoot common and uncommon butterflies, fresh, colorful and reminders of the Gift that we continue to receive.

Jeff

HolyLand Butterfly ID?

Hipparchia pisidice butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

We’re on Mt. Meron in the Upper Galilee Region. Jews, Christians and Muslims value this region, at the very northern edge of Israel today. Me? I’m finding butterflies the entire time up on Meron.

I’ve already met some of them, most of them. Every once in a while, I catch a fleeting glimpse of a butterfly I do not know. One I never met before.

This one, Sherlock Holmes, is one new to me. Israel’s field guides? They’re helpful, but they are mostly written in Hebrew, and they have years to go before they can be described as ‘Excellent.’

This one is grouped with the Satyrs, but it differs much from the images in Dubi Binyamini’s landmark field guide.

Israeli Butterflies flee on approach, most when you’re 10-15 feet away. That to anticipate your curiousity, ‘Why didn’t Jeff get closer?’

I hope that Yaron or Oz or Dubi will come along and help us here. What is this HolyLand satyr?

Jeff

Backwoods Beauty

Appalachian Brown Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, GA

Most of our favorite butterflies visit us, in our gardens, parks, roadside botany and fields. Those are the butterflies we know and enjoy. They accept our invite to come and nectar, on our coneflower, zinnias, fruit trees, buddleia and Mexican sunflower.

Show your neighbor/friend a photo you took of a less well known butterfly, and don’t they usually say, “I didn’t know we had these in _____________________ ( pick your state ).”

This is one of those “We have these in Georgia?” butterflies. The Appalachian Brown butterfly. They don’t know or care that you have a spectacular garden full of natives and nectar pumping plants.

This is none of the above, rather it is a Backwood beauty, found in swamps and wet meadows. This immediate one was seen in Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in middle Georgia.

I’m long on record that I love subtle browns, Love those ‘eyes’ and being kind of a march to your own drummer guy, appreciate such stand alone self-confidence.

Jeff

Red Admiral and The Conundrum?

Red Admiral butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA. Jeff blogs about the art and science of butterflies at http://www.wingedbeauty.com

2016 will soon close the month of June. After trips to Israel, Georgia, Maryland and western New York state we settled in to consider what we have seen, and Why? Needing more field time to further our observations, I went to my favorite trail, Nichol Road in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. Three mornings spent on Nichol road trail and the adjoining Doak field (meadow of 100 acres +/-) and the conundrum grew.

Six rolls of film (Fuji Velvia slide, ASA 50 and 100) were shot. The average number of rolls of film shot during 3 mornings in the field, between 1998 and 2013, on sunny mornings without wind, would have been 14 to 18. Yes, I am more discerning now, with a solid library of images going back to the mid 1990’s. No, the exposed film product was not because the butterflies I saw were worn, or bird-struck. Most of what I saw was fresh and 100% intact. The single Wood Nymph I met today was especially fresh and beautiful (though not one exposure of that nervous Lep).

When was I out? The mornings of June 22, 24 and 26. Many butterflies I expected to see did not greet me (American coppers, numerous Wood nymphs, Pearl crescents, Duskywings, Skippers (only saw 3 species across 3 mornings), Sulphurs, Ladies, Hairstreaks, Azures, Eastern tailed blues. The only butterfly I saw much of is one that I rarely see, ever, the Northern pearly-eye. I beg your pardon! That tickled my thinking, that 2016 has begun as a footnote year here in this part of the northeast.

The botany? Here were numerous clues. Butterfly weed? Absent. Common milkweed? Scarce and what was there, diminutive. Teasel? Few. Joe Pye weed? Difficult to find. Bergamot, the bergamot that bedazzled me in 2014? Absent. What I did find was a goodly number of a beautiful wildflower, white Beardtongue (Penstemon). Nichol road trail also had an alarming number of Garlic mustard along much of its length.

2016 then is, is certainly a conundrum. The meadows, forests, trail edges and disturbed ground are covered with lush green botany, but populations of butterflies, bees, darners and others are way down. What triggered this stream of consciousness? There was a certain Red admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta), as beautiful as this one, that stayed with me on Nichol road trail this morning, posing patiently, moving as I moved, returning again later, and again, and I wondered was it a female, and I slipped into a wee bit of melancholia, sometimes triggered by butterflies since that day in 2008 . . . .

Closing thought? 2016 on its way to being: a Conundrum.

Jeff