Big Bend WMA Results Are In

Georgia Satyr Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida's Panhandle

This my first meet-up with a Georgia Satyr butterfly. NABA’s Spring/Summer 2015 issue of American Butterflies featured an article, Definitive Destination: Big Bend WMA, Florida. It riveted me, and the very next year, in late August 2016 I drove down to Big Bend Wildlife Management Area. It was a super 5 days.

My images taken there were mostly good, but my Georgia Satyr shots disappointed me. They prefer to be inches off of the ground, requiring that you get down, down to their level. Sure you get down, robotically, and when you nearly reach their life space . . . they’ve flown. Several remained still in the early morning. That was good too, but the humidity was oppressive, the sweat cascaded down over my headband, washing my eyes in salt, every shot required that you first made sure that ‘bad’ snakes were not within your circle of activity, and the ‘No-See-Ums’ came divebombing in squadrons.

This shot here was the best I got. Slightly embarrassed, I shared it back then.

We got back last week from an April 2019 revisit to Big Bend’s Spring Creek Unit, and the lightly visited Old Grade tram (trail) delivered again. This time the very sameNo-See-Ums (sandflies) were worse than 2016, but we did spot 15 Georgia’s. My goal was to score a better image than this one.

The Fuji Velvia slides are back from Dwayne’s Photo, and Yes Ma’am, one of them made me smile. As soon as I can get them back from Rewind Memories in Pittsburgh, we’ll be sharing that one. If the scan does the slide justice, it’s color will be rich, it’ll have a pretty decent eye capture, and y’all (Did I spell that correctly, Virginia?) will see what a Georgia Satyr really looks likes, on a sunny late April morning in the Florida Panhandle.

Jeff

Ordering A La Carte

Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida's Panhandle

Counting the days, until I return to the Florida Panhandle (northernmost Florida). This will be my second trip to Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, near Perry, Florida. The first visit there, in 2016 was better that I could have expected. The thistle was in good bloom and the liatris had just begun to open flower. Milkweed was abundant. The butterflies? I almost want to say everywhere!

That first visit was in the last week of August. This April trip?  The Spring/Summer 2015 issue of American Butterflies (NABA) reported that 84 species of butterflies were recorded there in September, and 70 species seen in Big Bend in April. That “70” jumps out at me, and is the siren’s call to revisit.

When I gaped at this Palamedes Swallowtail butterfly in the last week of August 2016, the high of the day was in the mid-90’s Fahrenheit. Working to shoot as Georgia Satyr, the sweat was pouring down over my eyes, having coursed over my headband, and the salty sweat nearly blinded. April 2019? I can only dream . . .

Taking orders at this time, let me know what you’d like me to find?

Jeff

That Del Webb Window on East 57th Street

Malachite Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Back when I was involved in the management of apartment buildings in New York, New York (AKA Manhattan), we’d occasionally meet for lunch near my office. Sometimes, I have to go stop into my real estate lawyer’s office in the very Art Deco Fuller Building at East 57th Street and Madison Avenue. Other times, we’d enjoy lunch and walk over to Christie’s, the world famous auction gallery, also nearby (fine art, porcelains, jewelry).

She would always stop to enjoy the East 57th Street windows of Dell Webb. Their jewelry was not her style, but we always agreed that it was, very beautiful.

Mesmerized by this Malachite butterfly last late-December 2017, it spent much time resting in this ravine trail at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. Frieda A”H (OBM) passed in 2008, how she would have so enjoyed this magnificent butterfly, deemed “U” for Uncommon all Year in southern Texas (Glassberg, A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America).

This 2019 I have plans for a re-visit to the National Butterfly Center, a return trip to the Florida Panhandle, a drive to northwestern Alabama and several other trips to find and shoot butterflies.

Each and every time I locate a butterfly that is new to me, I enjoy a mind flow of exciting thoughts. Butterflies flee or linger, either way, when they are no longer seen, I hike on, totally spiked by what I’d just seen. My thinking inevitably is that I am Blessed to be among the so very few who have seen what I had just seen. I remember those moments/minutes . . . forever.

What are you thinking when you see a super fresh butterfly or a ‘Lifer’ for you?

Jeff

Thanksgiving Day Telescoped

Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Jamestown Audubon Center in Jamestown, NY.

Sitting here at my iMac computer with its 27″ screen, and just out my window, here in central. Georgia what do I see? Cloudless Sulphur butterflies flying, seriously visiting the few native flowers in my November 22nd garden. I’m pleased, very.

I have so much to be Thankful for, my birthday just 6 days away. My family has its health, I have this, my strong, fulfilling interest, and, and 2019 beckons, calls to me. I am ready, willing and able to scour 2019 fens, meadows, marshes, medium mountains, swamps and such to find new and beautiful butterflies. Thank Y-u for That.

You’re seeing one of my top favorites images, a Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly seen at the Audubon Community Nature Center in Jamestown, New York. I very much want to enjoy such moments again, want 2019 to be a Bust-Out year for Boy Brooklyn.

So my impetuous mind is accelerating to the possible trips I’d love to make, with my brain trying hard to hit the brakes gently, with practical considerations galore.

I keep thinking Big Bend Wildlife Management Area in the Florida Panhandle. Lynx Prairie and Kamamama Prairie in Adams County, Ohio. Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge on the Georgia coast. Okefenokee Swamp here in Georgia. The Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas. 

All this telescoping ahead teases with other Wow! possibilities = Why not travel to find those Very Very rare butterflies that I’ve day dreamed of seeing for these many years: A very rare Satyr in Alabama; Pyle’s beloved Magdalena Alpine; the Bog Fritillary up north, a slew of Metalmarks; those Buckwheat loving Blues; the Sonoran Blue and a bunch of western USA Coppers.

Thanksgiving Day. A day to consider what you have to be Thankful for, a for such as us, a day to dream of future meet-ups with G-d’s winged beauties.

Jeff

Your Feedback?

Erato Heliconian Butterfly on Grass photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Friends asked me to join them and fly to the Lower Rio Grande Valley, a handful of miles from Mexico. There were so many reasons to leave my ‘comfort zone’ and once again see Texas. My friends were A+ butterfly scouters, the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas regularly astounds, with butterflies so rare that they create near riots when they are seen and y’all deliver heavier traffic on wingedbeauty when I share the rare, the beautiful and exciting tales (true) and adventures.

I ponied up the money ($ignificant) and Delta flew us to San Antonio, followed by that 4-hour drive down to the southern tip of Texas.

Here’s part of the Jackpot! A very rare, very mysterious and Very Beautiful Erato Heliconian butterfly. Just as exciting was the Red Rim, that Malachite, the elusive but gorgeous maestro, Pavon Emperor, Tropical Leafwing, Tropical Greenstreak, Julia Heliconian and . . . lots more butterflies, all new to me.

Now, with Fall ’18 here, I’m scouring field guides and wondering? 2019 beckons, loudly. Do I again sit in airports (I shoot film, so I must always consider that the necessary ‘Hand check’ of my film might cause a 1/2 hour of more delay, when an overzealous TSA agent methodically inspects my Fuji film cartridges)? Endure airport terminals, which I am not in love with. $pend the money for air fare, car rental, Airbnb/VRBO living quarters, drive where I’ve never been, and most vexing, find good Habitat with no one to lead me?

The alternative? Travel to nearby states, in my own F150, with Petra riding shotgun? Do Florida, Tennessee, South Caroline and the Okefenokee Swamp? No flying, no airfare, no TSA.

So may I have your feedback, what think you? Fly to Montana, or the Chiricuaha mountains in southeast Arizona or search the Florida Panhandle, Kissimmee Prairie or that Okefenokee Swamp of all swamps?

Jeff