Little Metalmark Butterfly . . . photo by Phineas T. Bluster

Little Metalmark butterfly on bloom, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Shellman Bluff, GA

Ecstatic! That’s what I was when I arrived in Shellman Bluff, Georgia. Nancy and John could not have been more gracious. Four days on the Georgia coast, with the river just behind, looking out at the panoramic wetland.

Nancy and John are birders, who have more recently begun photographing butterflies. They said that they would do all that they could to find us Little Metalmarks, Eastern Pygmy blues, Great Southern whites, Salt Marsh Skippers and more. Both have eagle-eyes, and both could not have been more gracious, spotting for me, and giving me first dibs.

My first introduction to Little Metalmarks, I had to pause and just amaze at how tiny they were. Tiny and nectaring on tiny yellow blooms. How tiny? Very tiny. Wingspan of less than ¾ of an inch. That buzzed me, for it explained why most of the images of this butterfly that I had ever seen weren’t prize winners.

Why, because they are sooo tiny, and they remain on a bloom for a short time, and to capture what I most wanted, my Macro- lens and I had to get down, down, down to them, and then . . . once down with them, they would leave the flowerhead, and move to another, 8 feet away. So there I am, now down almost to the ground, looking at, a butterfly-less flower.

What was it that I most wanted? I wanted to capture those silvery metallic lines that span their wings, as those metallic lines reflected the sunlight. It was a sunny day, so I shot away, asking my back to be patient and stick with me.

So, I wish I could say that this image was taken by Phineas T. Bluster (of fleeting fame), but alas, this is my image, of a Super day in Shellman Bluff (I love that name), courtesy of Nancy and John, and those precious winged beauties, Little Metalmarks.

Please, no pitching of brickbats! LOL

Jeff . . . humbled in the presence of flying jewels

Reaping Rewards in Georgia

Phil Delestrez and his sons, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Panola Mountain State Park, GA

In 2015, Phil guided me through remotes corners of Hard Labor Creek State Park in Georgia. This is a very skilled, experienced wildlife expert, Phil. He pointed out Gemmed satyr butterflies, and they posed, I thought then that they were doing that with his wink and nod, so to speak.

This year, ’16, I contacted Phil and asked again, would he meet and guide me somewhere in Georgia. I was based in Eatonton, Putnam County, near Lake Oconee. His reply was well, OK, but it’d have to be on a Sunday, and he’d come with his family. Dada!

We met at Panola Mountain State Park, east of Atlanta. I held my breath when I saw where he was taking us. A Restricted Area!! I could not and would not have known it existed, or have entered there. What total Fun we had, hiking to the top of this rocky hilltop. This extensive microhabitat has not changed for 10,000’s of years, and with Phil’s keen eagle eyes, we found Juniper Hairstreak butterflies, a very rare grasshopper that eats lichens only, and a spider so rare, that it remains, unnamed.

His children, two shown here with Phil, were a delight, and adept at trail work.

Phil is with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. He is a fine testament to the excellent job they are doing, at each and every one of the state parks I’ve visited.