Setting the Table for the Kids

Mating Regal Fritillary Butterflies photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

Our great grandkids? The awful news that washes over our radios, televisions, iPhones and well, some time ago, our newspapers, does every once in a while trigger thoughts of How’re We Doing? Here in the USA, there in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Far East, that tiny miscreant, North Korea? Some of us bite the bait, so to speak, and get caught up in a media malaise.

Wonderfully, those who come visit here, come to see, are the folks who largely deny that unpleasant ‘blanket’ of melancholy to settle over our heads. We look for beauty, wonder, awe, excitement, the thrill of the discovery, and the bounty of the Cr-ator.

We regrettably do have concerns. One that heads the list for me, and  perhaps for you, is what will we be providing for our grandchildren and great grandchildren? I’m now reading Travels of William Bartram, edited by Mark Van Doren . . . ‘an unabridged edition of this classic with all 13 original illustrations’ (Dover Publications, NY 1955, first published in 1928). It is the full account of British botanist Bartram, as he scoured Florida and Georgia, shortly after America’s Independence, seeking useful botany. It is Amazing! 99.899% of America was undeveloped then, and the natural landscape was Rich in life, all kinds of life.

Now, when I walk through Frick Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and search its 900 +/- acres, I cannot escape the reality, that more than 70% of the botany that I see is . . . alien. And the fauna? Where is that carrier pigeon, the cougar, rattlesnakes, and that brings us here, to this view of a pair of mating Regal Fritillary butterflies. They used to fly in Frick. They used to fly from southern Maine to the Florida Panhandle ( corrections would be more than welcome ). Gone from the states that stack themselves Maine to the north and Florida to the south. Fact is, this huge meadow in central Pennsylvania is the only place that they still can be found. Omg! Only a few hundred Regals, in those what, 15 states?

So, we share this graceful, important image, of sheer fragility. What table are we Americans setting for our grandkids and great grandkids, as we continue the rush to build, develop, and bulldoze?

Jeff

 

 

Regal Fritillaries Mating

Mating Regal Fritillary Butterflies photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

What has disappeared from 99.6% of their original range? They have. Regal Fritillary Butterflies no longer are found in the 16 east coast U.S. states, with the exception of one colony in Pennsylvania and a semi-secret colony in Virginia. Gone from their grasslands, gone from their wet swales and gone from their boggy wetlands. Gone.

Last year I jumped at the opportunity to visit the Pennsylvania colony, not too far from the state capitol, Harrisburg. I have posted images from that day on wingedbeauty. They have generated solid traffic, for many know how rare Speyeria idalia is. Unable to skip work or responsibilities, so many of us can’t visit endangered butterflies, time does not allow.

I went in June 2015. Wanted to see them for more than 14 years. I went to this military reservation, Ft. Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, joined the huge group (130 guests!), and, and, it was wonderful. Just wonderful. Regals flew here, and there, and there, and here. The grassland (meadow!) was huge, and the large group began to break up, until I was alone with another guest, and a naturalist on the Post’s wildlife management staff.

Here is an image I was thrilled to capture. A male and female mating, coupled together in silent, motionless bond. Their ventral white spots shone. I shot away, Happy boy! was I, almost alone with Regals, beautiful butterflies whose ancestors flew from Maine to North Carolina, and are now counted as the rarest of the rare.

Blessed was I to go, to see, and as here, to share poignant evidence that we are not doing the best we can, with what we have been given. Native Americans? Their lands? Heck, the entire land mass that is the United States. Regal fritillary butterflies? Down to 0.4% of their native habitat.

I share a coupled pair of Regal fritillary butterflies with you. Will your grandchildren be able to go see them, and share their images of Regals?

Jeff

Middle Eastern Eye Candy

Common Blue butterflies, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Ramat Hanadiv, Israel

These trails in the Ramat Hanadiv nature reserve were loaded with activity that morning. Most were fast fliers, defying this photographer of butterflies. Most Israeli butterflies fly at great speed (males) or hide with great success (females). About an hour northwest of Tel Aviv, and almost within view of the azure Mediterranean Sea, this expansive preserve of rolling hills is lovingly maintained and monitored, going back to its founding by the Rothschild family.

My hunt was for beautiful butterflies and wildflowers and the shy, elusive orchids that were here, this March 2016. Only the gentlest of breezes, full sun and a wet enough winter past all enabled the possibility of good images ahead.

Bingo! I saw them, and they were Fuji slide film worthy. They were locked together. A quick examination of this pair told me that they had chosen well. Both were healthy, complete and fine specimens of Poloymattus icarus zelleri. This species of Blue butterfly surely flies in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, though 2 of those 3 countries are Uber dangerous for Americans and the third, well I will never travel there either . . . So this image will do just fine.

The shades of red and orange, the bullseye black, the Isle of Capri blue and that spectrum of grays, well, Good for that.

Jeff