My First Queen

Queen Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at White Tank Mountains, AZ. Jeff blogs about the art and science of butterflies at http://www.wingedbeauty.com

That bone-dry arroyo was working just fine for me. I’d found this dry creek bed on an earlier trip to White Tank Mountains Regional Park, just west of Phoenix. I have a vague recollection of a sign posted near the arroyo, something about not entering the arroyo ever, for a flash downpour miles away could prove deadly here. In retrospect, I might have honored the sign, but . . . hours of searching White Tank produced almost nothing. When I drove to a 3-car parking area, and happened on the arroyo, that earlier year, I descended down to its bed, and Bingo! Butterflies, not lots of them, but there were plants in bloom here and there, and I tried waiting at a plant with flowers, and almost every wait yielded, drew butterflies.

This one flew in to these diminutive blooms, and I knew at once, my first ever Queen butterfly. We don’t have them in the places I lived in before (Brooklyn, Queens NY, Long Island NY, Sheffield Mass or Pittsburgh). He was a dashing Queen and I decided on not gambling, not moving in with my Macro- lens, to get the full benefit of those magical 18″ from this large butterfly.

I planted my feet, loved that this was a tall wildflower, and I shot away. This image was captured with Fuji slide film and yes, his color was as rich as you see. That deep blue Arizona sky added to my delight when this slide was returned to me.

The wildflower? I still do not know its name. How do they flower despite many weeks of xeric dry 97F weather? I think they have very deep roots, and take moisture several feet down in the arroyo bed.

My first Queen.

Jeff

Where Do You Find A Salt Marsh Skipper?

Saltmarsh Skipper photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris NeckNational Wildlife Refuge, GA

Exactly! And that’s where I met this handsome example. This Salt Marsh Skipper was nectaring in the ‘butterfly’ garden at the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge near Townsend, Georgia. We were at the coast, just moments from the nearest Saltgrass, their hostplant.

They fly in the salt marshes of the United States, from Massachusetts, along the coastline all the way to Texas. They among the grass skippers. They’re easy to identify, with that long horizontal pale strip on their hindwings.

They are very kind, much tolerating the intrusion of the Macro- camera lens, to just inches from them. It seems that nectar near totally dominates their being, and my approach, no problem!

They ground me in reality. We sometimes get too big for ourselves, asking why this or that creature ‘deserves’ to continue its existence. Would not a nice development of fine homes be more important than that  population of skipper butterflies that lived there for say, 200 years? Uh, NO. I’d say that there are some 200 or more good reasons to splat! that suggestion, as we do to Musca domestics on a July day.

Jef

Canada Lily and Dividend

Canada Lily and Tiny Darner photographed by Jeff Zablow at Akeley Swamp, NY

Late June 2018 and we’re at Akeley Swamp in southwestern New York State. You know what I was looking for. Butterflies. Along with that, there is always, always the possibility of comely wildflowers. The eyes don’t stop scanning, from minute one to back to the car (rental) time.

Was Asclepias syriaca, Common Milkweed in bloom? Yes. There were hundreds of flowerheads along the swamp trail, bearing hundreds of thousands of flowers. Few butterflies flew, that a disappointment.

One of the big Yippees! that morning was the discovery of Canada Lilies in fresh bloom. I tell you, you stood and stared at their stark rich red, and did so for several moments. What a sweet pleasure, that table set amidst the sea of green around it.

I liked this bloom especially, and as we, my Canon with its IS Macro- lens closed in on this one, look what I found!

Immature? An adult? Species? All I thought of was get this shot Jeff, for it’d be one fine post on wingedbeauty.com.

Do I have a crew of darner photographers to ID? I don’t think so, do I?

Jeff

Palamedes Nectaring

Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly on Thistle photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, GA

This gorgeous Palamedes Swallowtail butterfly was nectaring on thistle. Now I don’t know the name of the thistle, at the edge of Woody Pond in Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge on the coast of Georgia. I’ve learned that Harris Neck Refuge has a number of very earnest supporters, so I hope Laura and some of the wonderful people I met there in late August 2018 will help name this spindly thistle with its almost white flowers.

Those thistle flowerheads were busy with many different butterflies. This visit by a Palamedes was special though. You’d think that I would bring my Macro- lens closer to the  butterfly, for a Macro- lens can approach 1:1 imagery, as long as they are very close to your subject.

I was at that 3′ strip of green growth at the pond’s edge, and Brooklyn boy did not want to get a single inch closer then I was, with all due respect to the alligators that may or may not be in the pond, an arm’s length away.

I was recently gently chided for this reluctance. You must know that those ‘gators, heretofore mostly unknown to me, soooo reminded me of the Connecticut guys I grew up with. There they are, right where you are, and you know them, they know you, but mostly leave them alone, and all will be good and dandy.

Jeff

In Brooklyn, We Boys Called It a ‘Do-Over’

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

Like it was yesterday. Playing on East 58th Street, with nary a car going by to bother us, our street had an amazing number of boys. I once  counted those boys on my street, who were in a 3-year age range, including me? . . . 30 boys!

We played all of our sports on that asphalt street, punchball, stickball, football, roller hockey ( never liked that last, as my nutso! friends now had hard sticks in their mits . . . ).

When a kid didn’t like how something went, and felt he had basis, he’d yell . . . “Do-Over.” We were a tough, yet fair bunch of boys, and we honored that when it was fair and square.

This 2016 image of a Little Metalmark, captured in Shellman Bluff, Georgia, ranks for me as a reasonable call for a Do-Over. They are among the tiniest of American butterflies, they nectar on these mini-blooms, themselves inches above the ground. Shooting this look on your belly, risks what happened to me on Jekyll Island, culminating in that tick holding fast to my chest, and a subsequent visit to Urgent Care in Eatonton.

The only way to capture this Sweetheart of an eye-pleaser is to crouch down, all the way down, and talk to my Macro-lens, urging it to do it, do it well, and make Papa happy. Now, know that it was unendingly ultra-humid, and each time I sought to score images, the sweat reached my headband, and soon overran it, salty sweat now pouring into my eyes. Got the picture?

Then I share this, and I share how much I wanted those silvery stripes to sing to you. My new lens ( the last quit on me ) has the built-in Image-$tabilizer feature, so . . . .

Jeff wants . . . a  . . . Do-Over!

Thanks to Nancy and John, sincerely.

Jeff