Moving from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Georgia was a Big change for me. Few back there thought I’d done the right thing. My family thought I’d kind of made a mistake. Me? There were things I miss, after those 27 years in the region that Steel built.
Folks here in Georgia ask often, Why did I move to Georgia. I was asked that 2 times today. My answer, Snow & Ice. I’d lost my tolerance of them. Walking Petra on a ‘Black Ice ‘ morning? Beyond dangerous to this guy who Loves going into meadow, fen, marsh, forest or medium mountain to shoot butterflies. I also, blessed still with bonafide street smarts, found myself more times than I liked, being sized up by unfriendly youth, as in “Think he’s going to be easy?” With the telepathic answer, “Yeah, this _______ ‘ll be easy.” Not yet carrying, I didn’t want to find myself on the front cover of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, busted-up by teenage youth.
Now in Georgia, I miss this, views of Great Spangled Fritillary butterflies on Butterflyweed, that June-early July sight that always pleased me. I also miss the usually futile search for tortoiseshells, mourning cloaks and rare commas.
We’re back from St. Simons Island, and Georgia, it is . . . beautiful, and its got its own inventory of spectacular butterflies.
Gone are those days, here are these days. Good, that.
It never goes away. I expect that I speak for all of us who love and search for butterflies. Whether you arrive at your refuge, meadow, fen, garden or roadside berm, that euphoria that electrifies you when you spot a tiny, tiny Hairstreak butterfly, never lessens.
We stop, verify that it is a Hairstreak, a fresh Hairstreak (the price of film now matters) and as quickly as those years in the field allow, which of the hairstreaks you have found. Me, I best know the hairstreaks of the eastern half of the United States . . . but. I’ve seen hundreds and thousands of these abundant hairstreaks, but others, that count drops to one or two. Or, zero.
This winged beauty is a Red-banded Hairstreak. Fresh, zero bird-struck with gorgeous, rich color including that handsome blue patch and generous red bands.
So many Red-bandeds bear wing damage or extensive wing scale loss. This one, seen at the Butterflies and Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton Georgia is a crowd pleaser for sure. When I’ve shot away, those 20 or more exposures, am I able to slowly back away from this shmeksy! gift from G-d, and share my war-up “YES! May well be you heard it, be you in Brooklyn, Dallas, Mission, Seattle, Atlanta, Mishmarot, or Valdosta.
How I love what I do!
It’s been far too long since I’ve seen these beauties! This White Admiral Butterfly wowed! me in that amazing park in the middle of Toronto, Canada. I was there visiting a new friend, and when we went to that mid-sized city park, I saw this tiny path off of the main walk, dropped off into it, and entered a Shanghrai Lai. A pocket meadow filled with common milkweed and other blooms. Wowza! On them were more mourning cloaks then I had ever seen before, as well as other fresh butterflies.
Then this flash of sharp white, and my first ever White Admiral ( Limenitis anthemis a. ). Happy was I to add this to my life List.
These last 3 years have finally, finally brought me new friends, in diverse places, who actually answer my tentative: ‘What’s it like to seek butterflies where you are?’ with “What’s it like? Why don’t you get your bahookee (hope that’s a civil word) over here and see for yourself!” That’s how I’ve gotten to shoot out Georgia, Ohio and Maryland.
Canada has many butterflies that I have never yet seen, or have seen once, worn and bird struck . . . but no one yet to show me a trail here, a meadow there, a swamp, rocky outcrop, fen or bog ( I hear tell that they have many bogs ).
So I wait. Oh Canada!!!
This meadow, one I know as Traci’s Meadow, is just some 6 or 7 miles from downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Traci invited me to see it and marvel also at Traci’s Kelso Swamp, 700 feet down the road. This meadow was lush, full of wildflowers . . . and loaded with early September 2015 butterflies. Loaded.
There I was, my second day there. I remembered the day before and how Traci reluctantly explaining that those houses in the background were new. This lovely meadow would soon be destroyed. Houses are going to be built on it.
Meadows are vanishing habitats, steadily snatched from all of us, week by week, here and there. Now I know that this is private property, and I respect the rights of private property owners. But, we are a Rich country, these United States of America, and we can afford (Yes we can) to repurchase and protect vital habitats for our kids and our grandkids.
This meadow haunts me, and I loathe the day that Traci (who lives just across the road) emails me that ‘dozers . . . Ugh!