I often puzzle over why I remember somethings going back to those lazy, crazy days on the Brooklyn streets. Why do I remember a certain game of punchball, played with maybe 20 kids playing and watching, including Julie Locke, who still stops by here time and again. There were what? hundreds of games of punchball (played by hitting a Pennsy Pinky ball with your fist and running the bases as in baseball), yet I remember one of them?
I remember this guy well. We were at Cloudland Canyon State Park in northwestern Georgia. We found the power line cut that Phil suggested we visit, and yes the Liatris was in full bloom. This male flew in and he stayed there methodically working one Liatris flower spike after another.
He was large, and he was fresh and he was very handsome.
We both shot him out, he fully accommodating our close approach, hardly fleeing. A fine day, and a Shmeksy! Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, reminding us that G-d’s finery is with us.
He seemed to have a plan, as he worked the Liatris in that meadow. Me? I was in very high mood, because a meadow of Liatris in bloom is a very good find, a near guarantee that you’ll see lots of butterflies.
Shooting film (Fuji Velvia ASA 50 here in full sun) at Cloudland Canyon State Park in the northwest corner of Georgia, I knew that a good capture here would be usable, very. His black and yellow pattern, wings free of bird/predator strikes and his fine head, those crisp, round and shiny eyes would go well with his defined antennae and active proboscis.
Score those blue dots on his hindwings and a tease of orange in those flashes on the trailing margins of his hindwings, that would help too.
Catch all that and the rich color of the Liatris, as well as the comely background tones that film usually does, and all would earn a serious checkmark, image achieved.
His leftwings, well, I’m not concerned. I already like this image.
Sitting here in central Georgia, with rain falling and the thermometer at 45F, I have to overcome this recurring thought ; No Eastern Tiger Swallowtails ’til wha? April 2019? Hmmmm. No Georgia satyr. No Eastern pygmy blue. No Goatweed Leafwing or Monarch butterfly. Buck up, Jeff.
That was what stuck in my head, as I drove down US 75 to the Florida Panhandle. The busiest times for seeing butterflies at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, just south of Perry Florida, are when Liatris, or Blazing Star is in bloom. At the Spring Unit area in Big Bend, they bloom in early September. Arrgh! I could not be there then and could only go there in late August.
I’ve learned enough through the years to know that wildflowers often open a bit earlier or a bit later than prescribed. That’s what convinced me that I should head down there, even though it was a bit early for Gay Feather blossoming.
I went, and . . . Liatris had just started to open. Yay! And, my guides were right. Just stand a bit away from these eye-popping flowers, and watch the comings and goings of a whole menu of butterflies.
Now it was not that easy. The humidity was very real, and each day my sweatband would eventually get overrun by perspiration, sending moisture coursing down over my glasses. This didn’t stop my pleasure as I watched a waiting line (or so it seemed) of butterflies fly into and then away from these Blazing Stars.
This Byssus skipper butterfly didn’t care whether you knew the flowers as Liatris, or Gay Feather or Blazing Star. Either way, that nectary sweet secretion must rival the Cherry Cokes back at Sol’s Candy Store in Brooklyn, back when!