The Butterfly of the Shadows

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

Along favorites trails we keep our eyes alert for butterflies that fly the forest edge. When the weather forecast fails, and clouds that shouldn’t, do appear, its drats! Butterflies almost universally prefer sunny to dappled sunny locales. Bring dark clouds, and butterflies disappear, as quick as that.

When it’s cloudy, or dark or slightly drizzly, there’s a strong temptation to no longer remain alert for random butterfly flight. Years of working trails has taught that when you are moving through moist wooded habitat, or habitat with active streams or moderate wetland, it’s important to not succumb to dropping your attentive radar, for  with wet conditions flanking your trail, chances are good that you will note these beauties, Northern Pearly-Eye butterflies.

Northern Pearly-Eyes are difficult to make approach to. They flee approach, not with jet-like speed, but just as effectively, as they fly their low, looping flight, and just about vanish from sight.

This magnificent Pearly-Eye was seen on Nichol Road trail in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. It was to my right on the trail, and the forest that began at trail edge was poorly lit, and humid.

I kept asking the Ab-ve to allow me to get my Macro- lens close to this one. It looked handsomely fresh. I approached, robotically. It held the leaf. Closer again, it remained. Slowly lowered my left knee onto my Tommy knee pad, it was still there.

I love this image, now one of my favorites. A butterfly that when seen looks bland, now revealed to be very shmeksy! when you close the distance from Pearly-eye to Macro- lens.

When I occasionally revisit this image, Oh, how I  appreciate the many features that it shares, so easily.

Jeff

Coral Hairstreaks Seen in Adams County

Coral HairstreakButterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park

Met this sweetheart of a Coral Hairstreak butterfly several years ago in Raccoon Creek State Park. Just 3 paces away was its favorite sugary nectar source, Butterflyweed, a milkweed. I cannot recall ever seeing Corals two years in a row. They seem to skip certain years, especially those that suffer a lack of butterflyweed. How they skip years, well that’s a fine doctoral pursuit for that bright young cousin of yours.

Today I dropped off 152 slides with Katie at Rewind Memories ( Pittsburgh ). They were shot in Israel, Georgia, Ohio and very western New York State. I cannot wait to share them with you, in the coming weeks, for they include some very nice butterflies and wildflowers, including orchids.

Among those 152 are images of . . . Corals seen in Kamama Prairie in Adams County, Ohio. Just a short drive to the Kentucky border, this county was everything Angela Carter said it would be.

The butterflyweed was peak, lush and gorgeous that day, about 2-3 weeks ago. Great Spangled Fritillaries were flying to and fro around the butterflyweed flowerheads. I waded into the prairie, hoping to find the elusive Coral hairstreak. Did I? You bet I did. A couple of them were patiently working the butterflyweed flowers. They seriously cooperate when you find them, for they allow a very close approach, and they move ever so slowly from bloom to bloom.

I have a fondness for Corals, their coral spots evoke those spectacular coral stones used in the making of the finest jewelry, the kind that Chinese buyers bid for premiums at Sotheby’s and Christie’s in New York and London.

A good year this, for Jeff found his corals. What do you think Patti would design with such coral gems, over there in Golden?

Jeff

Maniola Won’t Come . . . For Sure

Maniola Telmessia butterfly (female) photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

Petra and I just came back from our long walk into Frick Park. She as usual walked beautifully, when no dogs were nearby. When an owner came along with a dog, she did her lunge to play thing. Dogs large and small do not, do not, take this well, and it’s often, drama. Petra is a Black Russian, and though a graduate of several obedience programs, that Black Russian thing is always there. Much of that time my mind was mostly on the FedEx package, expected before 10:30 AM, overnighted from Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas, USA. We now have many followers around the world, thus the vital USA mention.

Maniola telmessia, the butterfly here, is not among the images coming home to me. During those 4 weeks in Israel (March 28 to April 25). Didn’t see a single one there, not in the upper Golan, nor in the top of the Galilee, and not in Ramat Hanadiv, or Mishmarot, or in the ‘Alligator’ River Park, near Hadera. Maniola should/could have been seen, but butterflies fly when they fly, and many factors determine that.

Shooting with film (Fuji Velvia 50/100) forces you to be patient. I’ve not seen them, some for 5 weeks. Don’t know which will be OMG! or which will disappoint. There were many ‘I hope this looks like it looks here!’ opportunities. Only when I haul out my lighbox, and use my loupe to examine each and every one, will you know I’ve scored winners! You’ll know when you hear that faint ‘Yay!‘ coming from Pittsburgh, all the way to Eatonton, Frewsburg, Frisco, Macon, Oxford, Shellman Bluff, Gibbstown, Whitbey Island, Lilburn, France, the Netherlands, Vancouver Island, Poland . . .

Oh, and I finished  The Thunder Tree by Robert Michael Pyle (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1993) today, my 2nd read. That sent me here, to share.

Jeff

If I’m Correct . . . This Is The Only . . . .

Melitaea Persea Montium butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow on Mt. Hermon, Israel, 6/16/08

Just finished searching the internet for another photo of a live Fabriciana niobe philistra butterfly, on the internet. I could not find another. None. Ummm. We were on the peak of Mt. Hermon on June 16th, 2008. I was with Eran Banker, my guide. The objective: Scour this peak for any and all of the very rare butterflies found on it. Found nowhere else, in the world.

It was Very Very sunny, very hot . . . and very exciting. We saw some of the rarest of the butterflies that inhabit the peak. Most flew without enabling my approach, so no images of many. This one came in to nectar on these tiny little blooms. Ouch! A fritillary. There are endangered fritillaries on this mountain. Was this one of them?

At this time, utilizing the field guides available, and the internet, I come to conclude that this is a male Fabriciana niobe philistra. Not found down the mountain in Syria, or further west in Lebanon, or further south in Jordan. Only found on Mt. Hermon, in the summer!!

Is this the only image of a live Fabriciana niobe philistra? That would please me, much.

Jeff