Eye Candy Swallowtail

Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly on Thistle photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, GA

We were at ‘What’s this, What’s that?’ mode, now examining this heretofore never seen thistle. Its stems looked way too frail, and its flowers had delicate petals, they a difficult to describe pinkish white.

What also caught our eye was the steady arrival of butterflies and bees. I reasoned that with the obvious magnetic pull of these blossoms, I might just stop at this particularly robust looking thistle, and await what might fly in.

That worked out well, for soon this especially gorgeous Palamedes Swallowtail butterfly arrived. He had to be very fresh, for his wings were almost black, and their shocks of color were as dramatic as you’d see in the butterflies of Costa Rica, Peru, Bolivia or Indonesia.

A super-duper Palamedes swallowtail at the edge of Laura’s Woody Pond in Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, on the Georgia coast.

Eye candy in this showcase of a Refuge.

Jeff

Panhandling, Finally

Wildflower with Skipper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida's Panhandle

I retired in February 2007. I Loved teaching high school Biology. My Vo-tech students weren’t college bound, but together we enjoyed teaching/learning Biology. The administration of that school often made my teaching life hellish, something about me being from “New York” and more. They continued that although they knew that my dear wide Frieda A”H was in the later stages of her battle with Cancer. When the Oncologists told us that Frieda would need a caregiver going forward (?), she suggested that I retire and put on my caregiver hat. I retired, ‘though it did not end well.

After, after the shiva (sitting and receiving friends and family) I took stock = what did I want to do with my life, to contribute something substantive? I wanted to continue photographing butterflies on a modest budget, on my own time. Should I bust-out to Bolivia, Costa Rica, Senegal, Mongolia, the Rockies? No, that was not my thinking. No getting kidnapped, no gut wrenching gastrointestinal diseases, no Bolivia bus going over the edge, with me in it. The USA was my focus, and east of the Mississippi at that. Israel too, once a year, to see Rachel and Hillel and Boaz, and to head-out to the Galilee/Golan and to come home and tease my Christian friends, that I stopped in at Capernum and drove past.

Florida, especially northern Florida was a 25 year destination dream for me. When NABA published their first Destinations article, with the wonders of Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, that was that, I was going there. There.

Here I am in the Spring Unit of Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, near Perry Florida. The Hampton Inn was OK. Big Bend was 20 minutes away.

Oh, the wonders of that place! I worked the trails, alone (again naturally) and there was so much to see, so many new butterflies and wildflowers. Liatris was just beginning to open that late August 2016.

Native, wild Hibiscus (correct ?) were eye candy. That this little Skipper obliged and flew in to nectar bespeaks of the richness of the Florida Panhandle.

Jeff

Black Swallowtail Magic

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

I cannot ever forget the morning in 2016. I’d seen coupled butterflies in the field, lots of times. My favorite to date was that pair of Zebra swallowtails on the tiny beach at Mason Neck State Park, on Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay shoreline. They were super fresh, incredibly beautiful, and they unabashedly tolerated my presence, off and on for more than ½ of an hour. Paw Paw trees were nearby, and bald eagles were diving for lunch in the Bay. I was alone, naturally, and just beside myself with thankfulness, for the being there, then.

These Eastern Black Swallowtails above startled me, they did, when I noticed them  in the perennial bed at the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat. I’d seen so much eye candy there, that I was just beginning to get a teensy bid jaded to it all. Then I spotted them. Fresh, awash in sharply defined color. What a jolt! of excitement that was. I began the special silent pleading I do when I happen onto butterflies that I absolutely want to shoot, something that happens a fews times each year. I am pleading with the Almigh-y Above ( That’s a me thing. ).

And look, I scored the image I wanted. This is before Sylbie Yon entered the Habitat, totally unexpected. What followed is highlighted in the feature at the top of your screen, “Jeff’s Earrings.” The drama/excitement continued, culminating in that Sweet! front page newstory in the Eatonton Messenger ( Thursday, March 9, 2017 edition ).

The female shown in full dorsal ( super) display is gorgeous, and the male, too is a buster!

Jeff has been to many pre-sale exhibitions of Magnificent Jewelry at New York’s Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Doyle auction galleries. My eyes have seen. Trust me then, please, that this is Black Swallowtail Magic.

Jeff

The Perils of Playing Favorites

Tawny Hackberry butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Tawny Hackberry butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Just saw a movie last night, Netflix provided “August, Osage County” produced by the Weinstein brothers. Sadder than dirt. Family strife and fracture in the plains of Oklahoma. Much of it featured unfulfilled dreams, childhood abuse and neglect, and  especially the perils of playing favorites.

We worked hard to not ever do that with my 4. I think we did well. I’ve seen the effects of it in extended family and friends and acquaintances, and it pains to see the sadness and misery that it breeds.

Scrolling down our Media Library, I stopped here. Reminded how I so value this image of a Tawny Emperor female. I will  always remember that morning. She was eye-popping, as she rested there in the early morning sun’s first rays. Had never seen the likes of her before. She did not give me the brushoff, but suffered my close approach! I shot, shot, shot and shot, shot, shot, then it struck me. The only reason a beauty like this would remain in place, was . . . she must be ill. Moments later, defying my diagnosis, this Tawny flew, no, better, zoomed away at the speed of one of those new F-35’s.

This image pleases me, reminds me, triggers me to remember, and always treats my eyes to delicious eye-candy. It hangs in my living room, and there are 2 more original prints out there, archivally framed and hanging in homes, and I hope pleasing whomever regularly enjoys them. This is one of my favorites.

Jeff

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!

Jeff