Touched By A Mourning Cloak I Was

Mourning Cloak Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Raccoon Creek State Park

Chasing butterflies? I love the search for butterflies that you will appreciate seeing and hearing about. I daydream of shocking discoveries, of finding butterflies that y’all will be excited to see. The most impossible daydreams? Finding a new butterfly, once never seen or photographed before. It’s 2020, and I know that finding a new butterfly, short of trekking through the wilds of Indonesia or Madagascar, is impossible (?).

This Mourning Cloak butterfly reminds me that during these nearly 3 decades of the search, butterflies have touched my heart, left me semi-a mess. Why? That Mourning Cloak that overflew me repeatedly, 30 feet or so above me, and then disappeared, rocked my boat. Why? I couldn’t see it because . . . it landed on my hat!!

Tears flowed. Why tears, doesn’t Jeff always display bravado, macho-man persona, and boast of how he grew up with Them? All true but, this product of the 1950’s had just endured the loss of Frieda A”H, watched her nearly 8-year fight end. That Mourning Cloak sent me into an emotional tailspin. I was convinced that Frieda’s Blessed Memory was embodied in that Spectacular butterfly. When it flew from my hat, up again 30 feet and then flew over me again, I was turned to Brooklyn Jelly.

I’m hoping to return to Pennsylvania again in early November, visit her grave, and search several refuges and state parks for Mourning Cloaks and their cousins, Compton Tortoiseshells and Milbert’s Tortoiseshells. If I do, photos may happen, and those knees may well go spongey again.

Jeff

Oh, Not A Gray Hairstreak

Gray hairstreak Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Jamestown Audubon Center in New York

There it was. Quick thinking, was, it’s a Gray Hairstreak, and although its here at the Jamestown Audubon Center’s lush reserve, I have many good images of Grays. Nevertheless, always aware that unique looking individuals can be fun, I shot, shot, shot.

Here now, Oh Wow! a Gray Hairstreak, Not! It’s a . . . Banded Hairstreak. Deep gray color shows here, the blue marginal patch is bright blue, and the banding on the hind wing resonates, Banded.

Hairstreaks sometimes startle, because we spend most of our time chasing butterflies or staking-up to them while they are nectaring, or while they are on trails or mud puddling. This look typifies many of our Hairstreak finds, males, perched on leaves, 3 feet to 5 feet off of the ground.

Cech & Tudor’s Butterflies of the East Coast surprised me, for they tell, “This is the most common and widespread of our Satyrium hairstreaks.” I have ID’d no more than 3 of them in these 20 years, so, “common” for them is rare for me. This is a forest butterfly, found near oaks, hickories, and walnut trees. I rarely find myself in hickory or walnut forests, so that may play some factor in my infrequent encounters with Satyrium calanus.

Passive when I met him, I am now enthusiastic with this unexpected identification. Good. Very good.

Jeff