Boom What You Do To Me!

Tiger swallowtail butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

It’s that moment when you’re working the trail at the forest edge. Like here, in Raccoon Creek State Park (Beaver County, Pennsylvania 8 hours west from Manhattan). You hustled to get there early, and when you arrive, the sun is beginning its ascent, and butterflies leave the forest canopy, and find flat leaves, like this one. The average time spent warming in that sweet sunshine is some 15 minutes.

I’m working the wooded edges of the trail, and I see what you see. She is motionless, in a state of pure relaxation. And . . . she is Gorgeous! I’ve spent more than 23 years seeking such moments. Unexpectedly coming upon a Spectacular Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly, resplendent with the huge washes of blue, flawless wing edges, stark yellows and blacks. Body? Svelte will do for a description.

Once upon a time there was a singer, Perry Como, and he sang it so sensuously, Hot Diggity, Dog Diggity, Boom What You Do To Me, It’s So New To Me, What You Do To Me . . . From The Moment You’re Mine.

She remained in place, I shot away, what 20 or so exposures (Fuji Velvia Slide Film, ASA 50). I will always remember those what, 2 handfuls of times when I got such a rush when photographing butterflies: That Mourning Cloak, Mestra just last December in Texas, Fritillary in the fallow field near Mishmarot, Israel, Baltimore at the Jamestown Audubon Center, Parnassians on the peak of Mt. Hermon, Zebra Heliconians in Kathleen, Georgia, Eastern Pygmy Blues in Shellman Bluff, Georgia, Coral Hairstreak in Lynx Reserve in Adams County, Ohio . . .

I’m thinking that when Virginia, Cathy, Barbara Ann, Peggy, Joanne, Aileen, Deepthi, Curt, Erica, Leslie, Stuart, Jill, Elisse, Julie (from E. 58th Street), Sherry, and you read this you will so connect with these magical Moments!

What A Wonderful Feelin’ To Feel That-A-Way.


Pinks at Blackwater!

Pink Lady's Slipper wildflower, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, MD

Butterflies are my game, ‘though last year my eyes wandered a bit, to native orchids. Just 2 days ago we shared ‘3 Demure Pinks.’ Those Pink Lady’s Slipper orchids lit up the forest at Chapman State Park. Three of them growing side by side, deep red, and very earnest.

This earlier trip to Maryland’s Eastern Shore, included this run down to the “lower shore.” There, at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, I met this threesome. Very Audrey Hepburn-ish, and somewhat lighter pink. They seemed to be almost begging me to photograph them, with those weightless drops of water perilously hanging on each of them.

Lady’s Slipper orchids prefer small open spaces in thick forest. Often they are found where a tree has fallen a year or more ago. That sudden break in the forest canopy, invites their seeds to grow, thrive, in the limited, dappled sunlight that this new opening in the forest enjoys.

I Love orchids, and as if my eyes weren’t busy enough, I am on the lookout, looking for telltale indicators, like freshly created mini-openings in the forest.

Tomorrow, we drive to Eatonton, Georgia, for 2 weeks of southern butterflies. The Briar Patch Habitat, an amazing destination, beckons. We’ll be quiet, until the return back home.