29 Butterflies?

Jeff photographing Georgia's Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch, Eatonton GA

Just miles from picturesque Lake Oconee, where the successful enjoy their comfortable second homes, this man is in the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat, in sweet Eatonton, Georgia. He’s there to find and photograph butterflies, especially butterflies native to the southeastern United States. It’s about 10:10 A.M. and those tiny Swallowtail caterpillars are his instant targets.

His film camera is this Canon Elan 7e with a Cannon Macro- 100mm/2.8 lens. The hat boosts Archangel Ancient Tree Archive. The headband, now having travelled more than 28,000 miles is from Dicks. The green shirt is worn to reduce the perceived threat as I approach butterflies, and from LL Bean. The jeans from Wrangler. The boots from Merrell (they did just great! in ’15 and ’16 on Israel’s uber-rocky terrain). The wool socks from . . . Goldtoe ( and a connection to . . .). Now, the enthusiasm? That’s from just being able to do this, having survived all of those precarious parts of my life, the sheer joy of meeting exquisite beauty, the real desire to be an esthete and a great appreciation for the Almighty, for allowing me to experience all of the above.

There are very few places in the 50 states of the United States that have this potential. What potential? I have seen 29 different species of butterfly at this Habitat in 2017, in a single morning. Virginia’s regulars and irregulars have pushed, pulled & planted a butterfly destination unlike almost any other . . . in America, right here in Eatonton. I’m trying to remember who to credit this photo to. I think to that very same Virginia C Linch.

Jeff

Bulletin! New Central Georgia Tradition

Stanley L on the porch, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA Porch

Reports keep coming in. Increasing numbers of Georgians, and lately folks from out of state, come to visit the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia. Founded in 2014, the stream of visitors in 2015 grew, and 2016 visitor logs convincingly show ever larger attendance. Founder Virginia C Linch, always understated, confirms that lovers of beauty, admirers of butterflies, wildflowers, birds, bees and dragonflies, to name the most enthusiastic, visit as often as they can get there.

I myself have driven down from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania many times these last 2 years. Why? Nowhere else from Maine to the Florida Panhandle am I likely to see and photograph an artist’s palette of different butterflies. On top of that, you never, never know when a very rare, very exotic butterfly may just fly in, and save you hundreds of miles of driving around the South, searching for that very same sweetpie.

When Virginia suggested to Bartow and Roger the addition of a ‘porch’ that would appeal to your memories of sitting on the old homestead porch, rocking the time away with family and neighbors, well, in short time there it was, the ‘faux porch.’ Not its official name, but how I think of it. I’ve enjoyed the porch and its donated rockers many times. After 3-4 hours of working the Briar Patch on a July morning ( 8 AM to 12 PM ), it’s worth $ 1,000,000, me sitting there, enjoying my Coco Loco bar, chatting with other visitors, calling friends and awaiting the arrival of Virginia, Sylbie, Cathy, Kelly, Phil, Dave, Jim, Susan or whoever.

With 2017 now upon us (Yay!!) this new tradition, lolling the time away on the BBBriar Patch porch is expected to continue to grow and spread. The charge? Free. The view? Well, spectacular? The opportunities to Connect? Endless, especially with the Maker. The reception you will get? Unforgetable. The sincerity of that hosts? 100% solid gold.

Here we have Stanley Lines, an early, and stalwart supporter and friend of the BBBriar Patch Habitat, on the porch. In Eatonton, relaxed and calling you, to wit, when shall we expect your arrival?

Jeff

Syria, Butterflies and 2008

Cattle on Mt. Hermon, Israel photographed by Jeff Zablow, 6/16/08

These cattle are doing what they used to do, for perhaps hundreds of years. Their Arab owners lived down the mountain, in Syria. Why they chose to climb 7,000 feet to the peak of Mt. Hermon, still puzzles me. When Eran Banker guided me across the top of this peak, at the northeastern edge of Israel’s Golan region, I was surprised to see . . . cattle. We came up on a ski lift, then hiked across the mountain top. The cattle climbed the mountain. City boy remains baffled by this.

I was up there to find as many of the very rare butterflies of Mt. Hermon as I could. Some of those species can be found nowhere else in the world, only on this mountain top. In one case, as of 2 years ago or so, my images were the only ones of a species of butterfly, on the entire internet.

It was June 16th, and very, very hot on the mountain. Eran, a bull of a man, carried many liters of water for us. No water means, they see your car down at the lift base, at the end of the day, and when they search for you up there, are forced to contact your family to . . . . It’s the Middle East, and mountain-top or not, it’s arid, drier than dry. How do the cattle endure it up there, I have zero idea.

Cringe at this. This 2017, the background of Syria is a killing field. I expect that the villages there are either leveled or full of murderous ISIL or Rebels or Hezbollah or Hamas or Iranian Regulars or Russian ‘advisors’ or Assad’s Army and/or all of them together. The farmers and ordinary folk who lived down there, as you look at those 80 miles of land, dead or fled.

The Middle East has long, long been torn by violence. It came in fits and waves. This is such a time, and when I fly there on March 28th, you need not worry for Jeff, for the reason that those barbarians do not cross that border, is a very strong, very well armed and very disciplined Israeli military. And, after many years, Israel’s Big Buddy, the USA has reaffirmed that in the ‘schoolyard’ of the Middle East, Israel has a very capable Big Buddy, who would prefer that no schoolyard bullies show their face.

Jeff

Viceroy Butterfly Resting

Viceroy Butterfly at rest (right side), photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

She is resting in the Habitat flora. Males have been making their moves on her, fine as she is, and between nectaring and shooing suitors, she must be bushed. Judging from her distended abdomen, she may well have a goodly number of eggs developing. That must make the attention of those males all the more exasperating. Don’t they get it?

We are in the Butterflies & Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, and Georgia sports those especially colorful Viceroy butterflies that the South is so proud of.

Hiding, the morning sunlight nicely streaks through her hindwings, and I like that. I like this little vignette, seen on  summer morning in one of the most beautiful places east of the Mississippi. Do Not doubt me.

Jeff

Gulfs Make Lousy Models

Gulf fritillary butterfly sipping nectar on thistle, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Wildlife Management Area, Kathleen, GA

We’d left the Zebra Heliconican ballet performance near Mikes home in Kathleen. Kathleen, Georgia. I was totally juiced, exhilarated. Meeting Zebras in habitat, for the first time, is well, exciting. Knowing that I had planted my left foot on an ant hill, and felt stinging bites on that leg, was also a type of negative exhilarating.

We went and shot butterflies at Mike’s own garden, Zebras, Gulf fritillaries, Monarchs and more. Concerned that this northern boy might be cooked, in that summer 92F weather, Mike asked if I still wanted to head over to Oaky Woods Wildlife Management Area? Still within the limits of Kathleen, how could I say no to a name as inviting to the visitor as . . . Oaky Woods?

I drove, Mike directed, we passed that Enormous Lays potato chip plant, incredibly plunked down in that rural corner of Kathleen, and there we were at Oaky Woods. I politely declined Mike’s urging, and did not drive into the Management Area on that unimproved trail. 4 x 4 or no, I left her at the trail head.

Oaky Woods delivered. Butterflies and wildflowers. We met nectaring Gulf fritillaries, and they send subliminal messages out to me . . . ‘Shoot us if you can, Jeff!’  Sucker I am to Gulfs, I did a quick calculation of how much film I brought to Georgia, how much I’d exposed so far, how much I brought today/exposed, and in the end, irregardless of how difficult it is to get Gulfs to just stop for a nanosecond . . . there I was, shooting away, going for that goal, capturing those  silver-white hindwing markings and pinkish hue on the inner forewing.

They make lousy models. Just don’t stop. Move, move, move. This one was on a luscious set of blooms, blazing star?

I like what I see here, and wonder if you will too?

Jeff