This Is Why I Do What I Do

Aphrodite Fritillary at Raccoon Creek State Park

I thought and thought and thought about what it is that I’m seeking to do with butterflies? I fashioned a goal, among a handful of other goals.

I decided. I wanted, want to score images as good as or better than those found in the most heavily used butterfly field guides. No, I never intended to have a Big Year, and rush around the United States, finding nearly all of the butterflies native. I do continue to work to get images, images better and better than those that I now have in our Media Library, and those stored in my slide cabinets.

A male Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly, shot in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. I am very pleased with this image. It is not Photoshopped, I never do such. It was shot with Fuji Velvia ASA 50 film.

As always, I urge you to provide us your Feedback. You are interested in butterflies, for you’re here. What does this one do for you?


Backwoods Beauty

Appalachian Brown Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, GA

Most of our favorite butterflies visit us, in our gardens, parks, roadside botany and fields. Those are the butterflies we know and enjoy. They accept our invite to come and nectar, on our coneflower, zinnias, fruit trees, buddleia and Mexican sunflower.

Show your neighbor/friend a photo you took of a less well known butterfly, and don’t they usually say, “I didn’t know we had these in _____________________ ( pick your state ).”

This is one of those “We have these in Georgia?” butterflies. The Appalachian Brown butterfly. They don’t know or care that you have a spectacular garden full of natives and nectar pumping plants.

This is none of the above, rather it is a Backwood beauty, found in swamps and wet meadows. This immediate one was seen in Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in middle Georgia.

I’m long on record that I love subtle browns, Love those ‘eyes’ and being kind of a march to your own drummer guy, appreciate such stand alone self-confidence.


Every Time I See It . . .

Jeff Zablow butterfly Mobile III photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat I, Eatonton, GA

Imagine one destination, that negates the need to travel to 15 destinations. As’s audience grew, I knew that some time soon, those wonderful folks would become, well satiated with views of northeastern USA butterflies. I knew it was time to cast out my ‘net’ and expand my image library with southeastern USA butterflies.

I’d been to Mississippi twice, and to Tybee Island/Savannah National Wildlife Refuge twice. Butterfly images captured there were good, but we still needed lots of native butterflies. Connecting with folks on Facebook helped. I found folks in South Carolina, Alabama, Virginia and Tennessee who knew the butterflies of their regions. Problem was when, after weeks of FB’ing and accepting the status of “Friends,’ no sooner did I ask, Would it be possible for me to drive down from Pittsburgh, and would you show my your favorite butterfly destinations? The response was always the same: Complete silence, and withdrawal of the Friends thing.

In 2015, I began to notice a name on Facebook, Virginia C. Linch. People wrote well of her, and she seemed to be a selfless person whom, it was clear, was admired by a good number of folks. She worked in mid-Georgia, in the verdant Piedmont region, in Eatonton, Georgia. After a full day of work, and on weekends, she and less than a handful of friends created this garden, on the site of a brownfield. It was the site of a once operational aluminum processing plant (brownfield is a designation earned by a place that once produced industrial material, and is now presumed to have extraordinary concentrations of metals and other pollutants still present in its soil base).

Its name? Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat. It was jam packed with butterfly hostplants and wildflower plants that pump nectar. I visited 3 times in 2015, 4 times in 2016 and 4 times in 2017. The Habitat presented me with a Bonanza of butterflies, often with a hundred or more aloft at any given time. Southern butterflies.

I’ve shared dozens of images taken at the Butterflies and Blooms Habitat. It’s a dreamworld of fresh, vibrant, healthy butterflies. Giants, Zebras, Pipevines, Sleepys, Cloudless Sulphurs, Monarchs, Carolinas, Junipers, Spicebushes and Purple Hairstreaks . . .

Virginia is very creative. She designed and hung a mobile with metal butterflies. It was fabricated by Doug Barker. Every time I see this one, with my name on it, I am Happy, Very Happy.


Our 2016 Jamestown Butterfly Presentation

Jeff Zablow at Audubon Center & Sanctuary, presenting at First Fridays, June 2016

Did you notice? I lead with the word “Our.” Good reason for that. Our June 3, 2016 presentation at the Jamestown Audubon Center was sheer pleasure. The room was filled, and more chairs had to be gotten, and then some people were left standing! Imagine how pleased I was, as more and more people joined us.

I write “Our” because that was how it felt to me. I cannot remember bringing my images and story to a more intensely committed audience. I felt it in the air, it was an elixir for sure, and trust me in this, I think every one of them picked up the same mojo.

How did we get There? The PowerPoint screen was the best I’ve ever used. Responsive, trouble-free, and, and the images almost made me Gasp! they were so real-time correct, color, background, each image caused me to smile inside, and that was so Good.

Some of the shares were taken at Jamestown’s own reserve (a real destination, that), many at Raccoon Creek State Park, others in Eatonton, Georgia, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge, Maryland, and Big Bend Wildlife Management Area in Florida’s Panhandle and a couple in Israel, right up to the top of biblical Mt. Hermon.

Jennifer, Ruth and Barbara Ann arranged this presentation, brown bag lunch and field walk. They even contracted and got a sunny, wonderful day. Jamestown, New York has a fine, active Audubon Center, with an quality staff and legions of volunteers.

I did try to wish for a magic jet to scoot Virginia, Leslie, Cathy, Sylbie, Phil, Laurence, Jim, Stanley, Erica, Patti, Bo, Peggy, Kim, Dave, Curt, Paula, Marci, Traci, Joanne, Melissa, Holly, Karen, Sharon, Lois and all the rest of you to that place that day, but well, rain checks for all. Butterflies that make you smile! Who doesn’t need that?