I broke the rules here. I did. I never ever share images of butterflies on my hand, or on my clothing. When I’m opening your post of Facebook, I don’t hit “Like” if your butterfly image is like that. I’m not in favor of contact with butterflies in the field, for a host of reasons.
This one tested that practice. I was working a trail that stretched from one pond to another, at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge on the Georgia coast. There was a sizable area that had once been disturbed, and Blue’s were flying there, with wildlfowers beckoning them, here and there. I sought to ID those tiny blues, were they Cassius Blues or Ceraunus Blues . . . when the comely butterfly flew onto the Cellphone!
Loved those ‘eyes’ on its hindwing. Its marking were sharp and fresh. Wings newly minted and not birdstruck. I wanted this Ceraunus, for my images of this species, several years ago at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area . . . left me awaiting my next chance to shoot Ceraunus.
This was a Beaut! But, but it had come to the Cell to imbibe the minerals I continued to leave, from my sweat, that hot Georgia coastline morning.
True, I am a (stickler), but, but . . . Yep I shot away, and here is the image I want you to see, of a fine Ceraunus Blue Butterfly, who’d make it’s mother and father proud.
It was getting to be a problem. Here we were in Georgia, at the Butterflies & Blooms at the Briar Patch, on my 3rd trip down to this butterfly destination. Good images of Monarch butterflies just weren’t happening. First the USPS delivery of processed slides were stolen by ditzy teenagers from the front of my Pittsburgh home, only to later be found strewn on various lawns along the boulevard that we live on (after days of rain). So my May 2015 images were lost. Then, later, it wasn’t that the Briar Patch doesn’t have Monarchs. They have lots of Monarchs. Problem was that the Monarchs refused to permit good approach. My approach was met with Off it goes!
I got the feeling that folks were looking forward to have a look at the photographic product of all of that time (Glorious time!) spent in the Briar Patch. Set a moniker for 2015 for butterfly enthusiasts east of the Mississippi, and it would be: Year of the Monarchs.
Then one day in August, this stunner came along. My approach? Tolerated. The light available? Just fine. My position vis a vis the butterfly? Good. Set time on the Mexican sunflower head? Good and not rushed.
Something was just not right though. What was it? Oh oh! This butterfly had sustained major bird-struck damage to the right hindwing!! It was a Superstar with a glaring rip in her gown or in his tux. Shoot or don’t shoot?
Virginia, Stanley, Sylbie, Dave and Phil . . .
Great images of Viceroy butterflies have long eluded me. Difficult to approach, quick to flee, wary, that’s been the menu for these many years. I jumped at the chance to see Kelso swamp, just 14 or so miles from my home. Traci was right, the beaver-made, pocket swamp was rich with wildlife, and habitat for Viceroys.
Willows are the hostplants of Viceroy butterflies, and sure enough there they were at the swamp.
Why didn’t I make a closer approach? See above for that. What lens was I using? My Canon macro- lens, 100mm/2.8.
Am I happy with this photo? Yep. The white spots are white, the orange is sweet orange, the black veins are strongly black and the black postmodern lines of the hindwing are prominent.
A word about this pocket swamp. It is on private property, and areas nearby have begun to be developed. The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy scouts such places, and has conserved many. May they go see this one, and save it for our children . . .
Sitting here, happily enjoying the warm air rushing through our HVAC duct vents, the 6F outside vanishes, as I reminisce, sweet memories of my discreet approach to this royal butterfly, Empress Leila. Was this regal Lep a male or female, well, I’m not sure.
We were both in the bed of that Arizona Arroyo, 40 minutes from Sun City West, where I was visiting family. Many know the saying, “Stay too long and you begin to smell like fish.” Seeking to avoid that, I’d leave the house at 6:30 A.M. and search that arroyo for butterflies until about 10 A.M. those March mornings. After 10 A.M. I found it difficult to go any further. Alone, naturally, I blogged some time ago that one of those mornings I almost bought it. Briefly shedding my good sense, I continued seeking winged beauties after 10:30 A.M. and then SUDDENLY, instantaneously I began to lose my senses. Didn’t use the cell that family forces me to carry, and didn’t call for help. D . . b.
So here this Empress Leila was motionless on this rock, and everything was perfect, the sun at my back. Patented approach. He (probably) flew to another rock. I froze, waited. Back to this rock again. I continued to close in. He moved slightly, but held the rock. We came closer and closer. Necessary for macro- work. I’m thinking “Don’t go. Don’t leave.” Here is the image. Blue eyespots on his right hindwing and all.
Close relative to Eastern Brushfoots, an extraordinary opportunity for Jeff to pal around with royalty.