Talkers & Doers

Searching for Caterpillars/Eggs James Murdock and Virginia Linch photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat, GA

There are talkers and there are doers. A couple of years ago, I met James Murdock, shown here at the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat I, with the Habitat founder and angel, Virginia C Linch. I followed them around the OMG! Habitat I, as Virginia introduced James to the hundreds of native Georgian hostplants and nectar-pumping plants she and the volunteers set in to make the Habitat I the success it was. James shared that he worked for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and would soon be a middle school science teacher at nearby Putnam County Middle School (PCMS).

It was one of those Georgia 93F mornings, and I took note of how these two, shown there that day, were totally unconcerned by that.

We in Eatonton have a real, excellent local newspaper, The Eatonton Messenger, and this week’s edition, out on July 4, 2019, today, features a very rewarding story on page one of its Community section B. Titled ‘Inspiration Camps – Growing Knowledge and subtitled ‘Putnam’s newest gardeners gain experience through summer,’ reporter Katie O’Neal shares pics of Murdock and his middle school kids at the Habitat II (the Habitat moved from its original site to this new, larger acreage, still in town) and Katie captures the excitement and enthusiasm that these middle school kids daily enjoy, as they work and improve their gardens at Habitat II and in the PCMS gardens.

James has a full beard now, but he is clearly the same in-the-bushes and doer that he was back when I captured them in this photo. His work with these youngsters is important and they’ll be still gardening in the year, what? 2069! Some of them may well be the next stewards of this Briar Patch Habitat, way down the road. Eatonton, Georgia has a real gem here, and they do not yet realize how it will impact on this city in the future (think Butterfly Festival!).

Virginia? Now that she has retired, the Habitat II is just alive with butterflies, botany, bees, dragonflies and visitors.

These here are doers. Brings a smile, no?

I hope that this news story, in the Eatonton Messenger, is available online.

Jeff

Splendor In The Briar Patch

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

That morning in the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia.

Me? I gaze at this and the several other image captures I scored of this pair of Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterflies and my mind is awash in thought.

She is facing you, and he is below her.

Does this picture evoke thoughts, for you? Be so kind as to share them?

Jeff

Me and Br’er Rabbit?

Briar Rabbit statue photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms Briar Patch Habitat, Eatonton, GA

Br’er Rabbit at the entrance to the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia. I now live 1 mile from this, Virginia Linch’s 2nd launch of this butterfly wonderland. Brooklyn to Eatonton? How, why, where and when?

Back in the ’40’s my mother Mary A”H read books to me, I sitting on her lap. A favorite was the tales of Br’er Rabbit in the Briar Patch. She said I’d ask her to read it again, and again, and again and . . .

wingedbeauty.com was launched in 2011. My stalwart early blog followers were loyal, fascinating people. As time went by I sensed that they were steadily tiring of only seeing butterflies of the U.S. northeast, of Israel and of Arizona and Toronto. My decision was to score photos of southeastern USA butterflies.

But how? At that time, no one was willing to meet me in any of the states of the U.S. South, and lead me to butterflies, common or rare. Travel to Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina & North Carolina . . . with no one to guide me. I’d get skunked after each and every 500-880 miles drive!

About that time, I noticed mention, on Facebook of one Virginia C. Linch. Long story short, she FB msg’d me “Come on down!!”

The butterflies in then Butterflies & Blooms Habitat I were incredible! Hundreds would be flying at any given time, and I counted 29 species there, one morning alone.

Snow, ice, cold-shoulders in Pittsburgh after 27 years there, and an unhappy domestic situation, and where to go next, Jeffrey? Well . . . Eatonton, Georgia.

For my kids it’s not the city, and I am kind of different down here, unable to shake my roots and my Brooklyn twang. That said, I love the patience and kindness of Georgians, the 25% lower prices of groceries and so much more, the gorgeous weather and short “winter” and this garden, my new natives garden. Butterflies flying in early February, not late April! My lifelong dream.

Mommy read to me of Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox, Bear, that Turtle and the Tar Baby and more, and now the Briar Patch Museum is some 600 feet from our home.

Thanks Mom, and thanks Joel Chandler Harris, the gifted author of the Briar Patch tales! He an Eatonton native.

Now back to my practicing my “Y’all,” which still comes out kinda . . . Brooklyn.

Jeff

Spicebush & Vegas

Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, GA

What’ve I seen? Well, I’ve seen perhaps some 50 or so Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies, these 24 years of earnestly hunting for butterflies. That makes them a Will of the Wisp butterfly for me, one that you see on say, day 3 of a 4 or 5 day field trip. They fly in silently, elegantly, and by the time you register ‘Spicebush!!,’ he or she has already begun to fly away.

When I saw those 2 of them, here in my New! Georgia Piedmont natives garden, months apart, I mentally bookmarked, ‘Get their hostplants: Spicebush and Sassafras. Glassberg in his field guide Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America shares that they are “U-A.” That is, that finding them can be uncommon or abundant depending on where you are. So mark me down in the “U” end of the spectrum, for I almost never see them.

My sizable natives garden, here in Eatonton, now sports both hostplants, Sassafras and Spicebush, though we are now entering only year 2 for each of them. I did find a lone Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar in October 2018, brought it in to my new ‘cube,’ and it now rests as a chrysalis in the cube on the back porch.

This buster accommodated me at the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat right here in Eatonton. What say you of him?

If I queried Las Vegas on the odds of my attracting Spicebush adult butterflies this 2019, I haven’t a hunch as to what they’d come back with.

I so want these winged beauties to visit, and stay a while. Vegas?

Jeff

The Excitement Of A Fresh Flight

Edwards Hairstreak Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lynx Prairie, OH

I’m struggling to count the number of times it has happened to me. How many times have I come up a finite area of habitat . . . with a fresh flight of butterflies aloft? That’s, how many times have I arrived at a destination, to find alot of butterflies, all of the same species, and all very recently eclosed (exited from their chrysalises)?

Magical Adams County, Ohio treated me with a double-header in June 2016. I waded into Lynx Prairie to gape at this Edward’s Hairstreak, spectacular in its reds, blues, gray, white and black as well as dozens of others, perhaps 40 Edward’s about. They were some resting as this one, while others were mobbing Butterflyweed and other wildflowers. I wanted a capture like this one, of the beauty of their Edward’s’ ventral hindwings. I am satisfied that this one accomplishes that.

I somehow managed to get separated from my friends that day. That is not the first time that has happened to me. I’ve quit joining tours in the field, for tour leaders well, hate me, for when I see something that fascinates me, in habitat or in a museum, I get lost in my enthusiasm, and kind of put the tour off schedule, as in “Where’s that guy, Jeff?”

So, very separated from the others in the sizable Lynx Prairie Reserve, I came upon yet another prairie, and OMG!! I found a lifer for me (!!!) a Northern Metalmark butterfly. Then a 2nd one, a 3rd one and soon had seen more than 40 Edward’s Hairstreaks, all fresh and yummy to the eyes.

Lynx Prairie, just miles from the Ohio/Kentucky border drove me nuts! that day, late in June. Two new butterflies for me, and large flights of so so fresh ones at that.

It was a very rewarding Thank You G-d day for me. A very nourishing day for my eyes and a fine adrenaline wash for Jeff. Such days remain long remembered.

Jeff