Metalmarks in 2018?

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

Would you? I think I want to, I do. I want to revisit those destinations along the Georgia coastline, that delivered Little Metalmark butterflies, Eastern Pygmy blue butterflies, Great Northern Whites, Cassius Blues and more. I know where they mostly are, and I want to let loose my newish Canon 100mm/2.8 Macro-lens with IS. I $prung for that extra IS (image stabilizer (= with built in gyroscope to correct for lens sway) to score sharper captures of eyes, antennae, feet, wing beauty, etc,, This image of a Little Metalmark was taken with my now defunct Macro- lens.

I think about going back. What I want are finer images of these butterflies, especially ones that boast excellent, scintillating silvery wing bands! For the Eastern Pygmy blues, I want images that I can admire, and know that yes, this is my image.

Pyle, RT Peterson, William Bartram, Virginia C Linch and the fabulous Paynes go back. Why shouldn’t I go back and finish the work?

Thoughts?

Jeff

Tropical Leafwing Butterfly

Tropical leafwing butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

Leafwings? I’ve seen three Goatweed Leafwings over these years. I scored not a single image of any of them. In both Mississippi and Southwestern Pennsylvania, I was on trail and a leaf suspended from the trunk of a smallish tree caught me eye. I approached, stared, realized that I was peering at a Goatweed Leafwing butterfly and realized too that I photograph butterflies and How Much I Want An Image Of A Goatweed! During that unfortunate mini-moment, those Goatweeds flew: Vamoose!

Here at the National Butterfly Center’s gardens in Mission, Texas, December 2017, that changed. We saw this Tropical Leafwing (Anaea aidea) on a ‘bait-log,’ smeared with banana, beer and more. She tolerated moments of approach, then flew to this tree limb. I shoot Macro- (Canon ISM 100mm/2.8) and got as close to her as safely possible, and shot, shot, shot.

These are my first images of a Leafwing, and a Tropical at that!

What do you think? Is she is the looker? No?

Jeff

Anxious Monarch Watchers

Monarch butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park

Monarch butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park

She was the only butterfly that did that. As I approached her, on that spent wildflower head, I slowly raised my macro-lens toward her. She did it. She turned her head to the right, and looked at me. It never happened before and it hasn’t happened since. What do you make of a butterfly that did what 314,295 haven’t done? I was surprised, very surprised.

I haven’t seen a Monarch yet, this year, in 2016. When I travel to Maryland next week, will I see my first? Will that happen in Frick Park, my neighborhood park here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania? Must I wait for the first week in June, when I will be in Chapman State Park and Allegheny National Forest and then, when I’m doing a field walk at the Jamestown Audubon Center on June 3rd?

Danaus plexxipus, has given us fits in recent years. Americans are concerned about our economy, our role in the world, jobs, job security, and the education our children are getting in our beloved public schools. We added to that long list, a legitimate concern that we could lose the inspirational arrival and departures of Monarch butterflies like this one. Social share a photo of a 4th grade class delicately handling monarch caterpillars, and hear a multitude of inspired sighs from millions who love this American butterfly.

I’ve seen celebrities in person: Lloyd Bridges, Mike Tyson, Diana Ross and Kirk Douglas come to mind. Meeting a Monarch excites me as much or more. Honest.

Jeff

Steppin’ Out in the Briar Patch . . .

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

It’s what’s so fantastic about the Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch. You never, never know what will fly in. All who visit share this electricity. Some just drive up as close as they can, and sit in their cars with the morning cup of coffee. Others respectfully walk the paths, speaking in lowered volume, as if they are in the presence of . . . Some, wade in (carefully, mind you) to the perennial beds, to see absolute beauty, up front and close. Now if VcL happens to show up, you will not be made to feel like the principal caught you, gotcha.’ You will be complimented and urged to continue to enjoy your eye candy treats.

Eatonton, Georgia, just about in the center of the state, and 1.2 hours east of Atlanta. Lake Oconee territory. Set there so you don’t know if a butterfly common to Florida may fly in or one readily seen in Massachusetts, instead. The straw that stirs the butterfly mix.

This Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio Troilus) is well known to me in my Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania home. Seeing this male, spiffed up in his formal wear, 700 miles from home, well isn’t that something? Reminded me of some time ago when I saw Mike Tyson strolling down a mid-town NYC street, all decked out, with a blonde on each arm . . . .

Jeff

A Conversation Stopper . . . On Dry Land

White Admiral Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at State Gamelands #29, NY

The trail from Chapman State Park to State Game Lands #29 offered up few butterflies. That’s until I startled a . . . White Admiral (Limenitis Arthemis). I had not seen one for many years. ‘For many years’ because my field work rarely takes me north of Pittsburgh, and these beauts are most common to our north.

Took the requisite moment to stare, and then began a long, relentless effort to photograph them. White admiral descends onto trail (slightly moist after rain a few days before), I make a robotic approach (necessary for I shoot macro-, and need to ideally be within 2 feet of butterfly) and . . . it flees, fast, into trailside cover. This was repeated over and over, with the 5 or so that were present along about 90 feet of trail. I never gave up and they usually returned within a handful of minutes.

These Limenitis are closely related to Red-spotted Purples and also to Viceroys. They are exquisite, sporting blue, white, black and reddish-orange, all stark and tightly grouped.

Meeting White Admirals on this trail in northwestern Pennsylvania is electrifying, for the next ½ hour, that’s all you think of, not pressures, tensions, bills to pay, family issues, politics, ISIS – all washes out, as you appreciate the artistry of this butterfly.

Jeff