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

Why? Asked A Photographer of Butterflies.

Tawny Hackberry butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Fond? Not strong enough. Really like? Not that either. This image evokes stronger for me, Love. I love this Tawny Emperor butterfly image. Comes the question, why? Why too, in a ‘Media library’ of more than 700 images, do a very few of them earn the ‘Love’ sentiment?

Seek/chase/search/scour habitat for butterflies, and you will be skunked (disappointed) much. It may rain when you reach your destination, or it may be too dry, hot, or devoid of critical hostplants or those very same hostplants may be set in a place that butterflies just don’t go to. It may be too windy, or bad weather may be on its way, and I often wonder if butterflies don’t pre-sense that. All this to understand that when we score a unique image, all of these negatives have not deterred.

Tawny emperors are not common, not usually encountered. The closely related Hackberry emperor is common. This particular Tawny was the first I had ever seen, what friends would call a ‘Lifer.’ That on that morning I shot out at least 40 or more exposures, reminds of how much I wanted to leave there with good stuff. Uncommon butterfly, sweet image = another reason that I ‘Love’ this image.

Aspects of the image? Fresh, fresh individual, with good color capture. Eye-friendly background (green leaves, blurred by the work of my Macro- lens (100mm/2.8 Canon). Near universal fine share of wings, body, head, eyes, antennae. To this add that this Tawny was comfortably sitting on the horizontal member of a wooden trail marker at Raccoon Creek State Park in Beaver County, in southwestern Pennsylvania. Butterfly perched at a tantalizing angle with reference to that hardwood platform adds to the eye-fascination I have always had for this look.

Personal affinities? I love browns, and this is a study of browns. I have always thought that those 4 wings look way oversize, as if this flier could barely rise from the board (after it decided that more 40+ captures were enough, it shot away at shocking speed, in a direct path, some 5 feet or so off the ground). The near mystical. Had I arrived minutes before, or minutes later, I would Never have met this comely beauty. To that add that Miriam and others whom I admire have generously praised this photo, and well, that pleases me, alot.

A brief discussion of why? from someone who thinks about this, once again, alot.

Jeff

Zebras Sought & Found!

Zebra Heliconioan butterfly sipping nectar, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Kathleen, GA

Virginia. She knew that while in Georgia, my short List had Zebras at the tippy top. More than once she urged me to contact Mike, in Kathleen. Always reluctant to impose, I finally did. The drive to Kathleen, Georgia (What a Name!) took a bit under two hours. Oh, that includes the lost part, TBTold.

Mike and I hiked to where he enjoys seeing Zebra Heliconian butterflies. He said that they’d be just off the path, in that heavily green area. Then, there one was. Eureka! Heliconius charitonius. How they stand out so starkly, from that all green background. Other quickly appeared. They flew in, then flew back in the thick growth, then others flew in. Some came to nectar, then flew back to where they came from. Passionflowers dominated there.

I was caught between gazing/admiring and pursuing. The challenge here was clear, to get close enough with my Canon Macro- lens, I had to plough into the thick growth. That decision took 1/10,000th of a second. I ploughed and pursued, Thank G-d not meeting an snake, but there were those brief stinging sensations on my left leg. I jumped 20 feet when I felt them . . . and that night treated 5 nasty fire ant bites.

I tell you, You had to be there. Mike was fantastic, patient and acting as spotter for me. It was a single day of me and the Zebras, but you know, I’m from New York, and I’ve seen Broadway shows aplenty. Me thinks that I will remember these Zebras longer than I’ll remember Oklahoma!, Hair, Fiddler On The Roof or Cats.

Back in Eatonton, my field guides filled it all in. They are pollen-feeders, and that gives Zebras, male and female, additional benefits, including longevity. They haves especially keen eye-sight and  they remember where they found nectar/pollen in the past. Nice.

Thanks Mike, who also is a very talented authority on Southern wildflowers. Kathleen, she delivered.

Jeff

That Skipper Mystique

Skipper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida's Panhandle

Skipper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida.

He flew to this blossom, and took his time, nectaring happily in the Florida Panhandle morning sunshine. August 2015, and that long dreamed of trip to Florida, destination? Big Bend Wildlife Management Area.

He was sipping nectar. I had to make a split second decision. Do I pursue good images of him, and then . . . encounter the usual difficulty in identifying which species of skipper he belongs to? Do I do that, knowing that skipper butterflies down there are difficult to approach, as I must with my macro- lens? Then, too, do I once again pour through my field guides, with the expected Huh? result??

Sure, I did. It’s Florida, you came because you are an esthete, or a naturalist, or curious, and/or all of the aforementioned positives. Anyway, perhaps Jeff or Phil or Rose or Robert himself will take the time to make a plausible ID.

I was in Florida for the 2nd time. It was gorgeous out, I was Blessed to be doing this, and this tiny butterfly was just a Shout Out! Life is Good, my winged beauty butterfly readers.

Jeff

No Limits in the Briar Patch

Question Mark Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, GA

When you watch the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Cincinnati Bengals, you know who you will see on those 100 yards of football field in Cincinnati. Players of those 2 teams, and NFL referees. Maybe some medical techs and a doctor or two, and that’s it.

At this really neat town in Central Georgia, in their Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch these acres, masterfully designed by Virginia C. Linch, the wizard behind this successful habitat, you just never know what will fly in from above, or at ankle-height. You expect to meet Monarchs, Tiger swallowtails, Long-tailed skippers, Gulf fritillaries, Black Swallowtails, Giant swallowtails, Silver spotted skippers and some other butterflies. Exciting? Every single one of them. But that’s not the end of it there. Add to that excitement, the real prospect of seeing many, many other species of butterflies. Which ones?

Here’s one I was not expecting to see. A butterfly that much prefers to fly at the forest’s edge. Satyr that it is, this Question Mark butterfly kept to its zone. Fortunate for me, time and place were right. Necessity sent it onto a platform to warm itself in the early Georgia sun. One that always flees Jeff, it was briefly programmed to stay and warm, and that, that enabled my macro-lens to go to work.

I love browns and shades of brown, and well-turned form, and this young and fresh Question Mark butterfly sports it all.

You Like?

Jeff