Uncommon View Of An Uncommon Butterfly

Little Metalmark butterfly at rest, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Shellman Bluff, GA

To find this one, you must travel to the coastal salt marshes and tidal marshes of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana or Texas. This Eastern Pygmy Blue butterfly was met in Shellman Bluff, Georgia. They are beyond tiny, and the blooms they nectar on stand about 3″ above the ground. To shoot them, you must bend all the way down to them, and hold your tongue when, just as you get down to their level, they slowly fly to another bloom, maybe 4 feet away.

Your back begins talking to you, pleading, ‘Why, why?’ Me, I (foolishly) gave up on trying to capture images with my left knee down to the ground, on my Tommy knee pad. Big mistake when I threw caution to the wind and began shooting them with my stomach to the ground!

This image stands out, for as Glassberg notes in his Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America, these smaller than tiny butterflies “rarely open their wings while landed.”

We were on Jekyll Island, and when I got to my hosts’ gracious home, there was a sizable tick clinging to the center of my chest!! After those tweezers carefully removed it, I sported a large red circle just where it was embedded, and days later, reluctantly went to an Urgent Care office, to be reassured that it was not a vector for serious diseases.

Uncommon view of an uncommon butterfly at some expense, yes Ma’am.

Jeff

Schooled By Little Metalmarks

Little Metalmark butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Shellman Bluff, GA

There they were, finally. Little Metalmark Butterflies. Shellman Bluff, Georgia, along the eastern coast of the USA. Months of anticipation, and there I was with Nancy and John. I should have expected them to be tiny, but truth be told, I was taken aback, for they were smaller than tiny. They were tinier than tiny.

They were methodically nectaring on tiny yellow blooms, and they all but posed, as they slowly worked the flowers, one after another.

I’ll admit to a bit of personal bravado, me thinking that I will leave there with several excellent exposures of these flying gems. I especially wanted to capture images with those silvery hindwing bands, smartly reflecting the strong Georgia sun.

And? Well I’ve studied and restudied the 6 or so exposures that I didn’t pitch into the trash. This one, for instance does Pop! those silvery bands, features other decent Little Metalmark shares (one good antenna, an OK abdomen and a decent eye capture).

17% overconfident Jeff, got schooled by those Metalmarks. Why?

They were so tiny that they required that I crouch over in a very uncomfortable position, that awkward twist of body became increasingly difficult to sustain. They did move across the flower, forcing frequent movement and camera adjustment, then they would fly some 2-3 feet to another flower, sending me following them, into yet another and another pronounced crouch. Soon the sweat begin beading up on my forehead and then, sweat would trickle down over eyes, the Georgia morning humidity soon semi-blinding me, salt in the eyes.

This was before I upgraded to my Canon 100mm/2.8 IS (Image Stabilization) lens. IS lenses compensate for the almost imperceptible sway that moves the camera lens when you shoot such tinies in such challenging shoots.

So, yes, those Little Metalmarks schooled me, learned me good, to not come into the field fully expecting to land the big one, so to speak. Beware specks of butterflies on minuscule flowers, on steamy hot mornings , for the odds of copping a dropdead gorgeous image of the bejeweled Little Metalmark favor Las Vegas, and not the boy from Brooklyn!

Jeff

Going Back to Try Again

Mourning Cloak Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Toronto Canada
So beautiful, and so difficult to photograph. This image of a Toronto, Canada Mourning Cloak is the most satisfying one that I have in my slide storage cabinet. . . and yet when I examine it, I long for the next opportunity to improve on it. This species of butterfly is among my favorites for many reasons. Totally unexpected when you meet one, at times approachable and often very skittish, colors that dazzle, and that session I had with one some years ago, after my wife passed.

Last year, in June 2013 I was on Mt. Meron, in northern Israel. I was there to meet for the first time with another bedazzler of a beauty, the Two-Tailed Pasha (Charaxes Jasius) butterfly. OMG! I only saw 3 during my 4 days on the mountain. They must have been trained by the IAF (Israeli Air Force). Each was resting on the trail, each would not allow me any closer than 30 feet, and each disappeared to Eastern Strawberry Trees at incredible speed.

I am going back to Israel again, on June 18th. Back to Mt. Meron, back to capture images of Two-Tailed Pashas. I will not be posting on wingedbeauty.com until my return to the States on July 17. Hopefully we will have celebrated the birth of a grandchild, and I will return with photographs of many butterflies, including Two-Tailed Pashas. Also . . . hopefully Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Iran will not ‘boil over’ while I am there, or forever, for that matter.

Au revoir!

Parnassius Mnemosyne Syra (Protected)

Levantine marbled white butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Hermon, Israel

Found only on Mt. Hermon in Israel, this butterfly is also known as the Clouded Apollo. Regular visitors to wingedbeauty.com know that 2013 brought War! to the north face of Mt. Hermon, with mortars, ordinance and RPG’s hurtling this way and that down there and sometimes over Mt. Hermon and into Israel.

Sure, it is always hoped and expected that we will soon capture images that surpass the ones that we have been lucky enough to already own. So, I waited. This image was taken in June 2008. Wow! Butterflies on the peak of Mt. Hermon were numerous, exotic, and like Israeli fighter jets, knew only one speed when approached, Zoooommmmm. The challenge was real. The wait for new images up there on the peak was frustrated when I attempted to return in June of this year. Uh uh! Only IDF (Israeli Defense Forces). War below!

This image now has increased worth. A protected species found only on the 7,000 feet above sea level Mt. Hermon, and that now a closed military reservation. They nectar fiercely, like my black russian pup, Petra does, as if the ‘food’ will be snatched away imminently. After this butterfly exhausted the sugary nectar of this ground hugging flower, Zoooommmmm! Gone!

Jeff

Female Blue-Spotted Arab Butterfly

Blue-Spotted Arab Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow

The Colotis Phisadia males have been already been posted. Happily, we can introduce this female Blue-Spotted Arab Butterfly. You might be wondering about the wildflower she is sitting on. It’s not known.

In my travel, males were much more numerous and available for photographing than females. The males spent many more hours flying and resting. She has different goals. Her primary one is eating nectar. We discussed how skittish this species is. It’s well and good that this one allowed a moderate approach by a photographer.

Females show a more pronounced yellow. Of the photographs we took, we prefer this image, with its display of both ventral and dorsal wing.

I miss those December mornings at Ein Gedi. Like any exotic habitat that you are lucky enough to visit, you never know what you’ll see one minute to the next. How do you know when you are so blessed? You know because you find yourself frequently checking what time it is, reluctantly acknowledging that morning is quickly slipping away. In the afternoon, there’s way too much sun to capture images of winged beauties.

Jeff