Rare Dragonfly ID’d By Dave

Gray Petal Tail photographed by Jeff Zablow at Davis Memorial State Prairie Reserve, Ohio

Our group was searching for orchids and other rare plants. I was more than Happy to be with them, Dave, Angela, Barbara Ann (A”H), Joe and one or two others. We went to Davis Memorial State Prairie Reserve in Ohio, and it did not disappoint, with its many unusual and uncommon and just rare plants and animals.

As we moved on the trail, an especially large, near giant dragonfly flew by and landed on the tree you see here. Dave would not let this one go unnoticed. He ID’d it as a rare, very ancient species of dragonfly, known as the Gray Petaltail (Tachopteryx thoreyi). It’s a huge northeastern dragonfly that was unique in many ways.

It’s unusual in that it’s the only northeastern dragonfly whose larvae is not aquatic. it’s larvae develop in wet, mossy seeps. When developers build on wild land, they destroy seeps, and reduce the presence of this fascinating dragonfly.

A Big dragonfly that is believed to have not changed since the time of the dinosaurs. When you set out to find butterflies, you also find so, so much more.

Jeff

Searching For Rare Botany

Barbara Ann Case, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Allenberg Meadow in New York

She was methodically searching the grasses and sedges that surrounded the Tamarack Shagnum Moss Bog, looking for rare, hard-to-find plants. Barbara Ann Case (A”H) passed this year, and we’ve lost a naturalist who loves to seek rare and beautiful wildflowers, orchids, ephemerals, ferns and more.

This was at that magical acid bog that we’ve posted about recently, secluded in far western New York, near Frewsburg. Where was I? The bog open water begins just beyond the foreground of this photo. Me? I’m searching too, at the bog pond’s edge, looking for Bog Copper butterflies. Their single flight a year coincides with the appearance of the dwarf Blueberry bushes upon which they will lay their eggs. When the blueberry bushes grow, the Bog Coppers eclose. To ever see them, you must visit a bog like this one, at the correct time, remembering that Bog Coppers fly no more than 3 weeks each year.

The Pitchers plants and Sun Dew plants there fascinate me, they do. The high acidity of the bog, the result of its Sphagnum Moss and other acid-rich botany, insure that the bog continues unspoiled. Few plants and animals can tolerate, nor do they enjoy the extreme acidity.

That same acidity, and its fabled reputation for preserving whatever drops into it, causes your mind to create strange daydreams of what may be down in its depths, preserved in nearly mummified state for what, 500 years? 1,000 years? 2,000 years?

Wow! stuff, and the very same reason that such a bog should not be visited alone, for if G-d Forbid one fell in, and sank down, would it take 250 years for you to be . . . ?

Jeff

I Photograph Butterflies

Gray Hairstreak photographed by Jeff Zablow at Fort Federica, Saint Simons Island, GA

It’s frustrating to watch sylvan habitat lost to development. I’ve been bemoaning the loss since as far as I can recall. That must have begun when I was some 12 years old, and fine ‘bay-side’ land was invaded by bulldozers in the Arverne Section of Rockaway Beach, in New York City’s Queens. I roamed those acres before the ‘dozers came, and their loss, even for a wide awake 12-year old, was forever irreversible.

We didn’t travel at all, and I had no idea how vast the United States were. Pre-teen me thought that soon there’d  be nothing left between Brooklyn and Los Angeles (where many of my friends ended up moving to).

It sure may well be that I still retain that apprehension that butterflies and orchids (didn’t know about natives back then) and bumblebees and darners and such will disappear, on my ‘watch.’ It’s true that back in about the 4th grade, in Public School 244 in Brooklyn, my teacher told us that bald eagles, beavers, and mountain lions would all be gone, during our lifetimes. I’ll never forget that, for it was clear that I’d never even get a chance to see them, except for those sad, forlorn captives in the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn.

So there I was celebrating the losses sure to come, of so much, including plants and animals that were then unknown to me: wildflowers, trees, snakes, lizards, birds (I still hate knowing that the Ivory Billed Woodpecker is lost), bison, the Eastern Timber Wolf, the Regal Fritillary Butterfly that flew where my East 58th Street, Brooklyn house stood, when the British and Hessians marched through there, as they prepared to make their pincer attack on New York, New York.

I am thrilled to go into the bush to find and photograph butterflies. They are still flying, and often in good enough numbers to dissuade me from believing my 4th grade teacher.

There are way too few of us, who seek and shoot butterflies, but that’s what we are doing, and will seek to continue to do. My move, 2 years ago to central Georgia’s Piedmont region pleased me, for there I’ve seen so many new butterflies, some of them in my own yard, it, now busy with hostplants whose siren aromatic signals draw butterflies that we greet with Oohs! and Aahs!

I photograph butterflies, as for example this spiffy Gray Hairstreak.

Jeff

Oh Where Have You Gone, Jeffrey Boy, Jeff Boy . . .

Pink Lady's Slipper Orchid, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Chapman State Park, PA

Headed back today to Chapman State Park, in the Allegheny National Forest. This is northwestern Pennsylvania, near the New York border.

On Friday, June 3, I will enjoy my PowerPoint presentation at the Jamestown Audubon Center. Brownbag lunch after, followed by a . . . field walk. I’ve chosen some of my favorites images, and Boy! I wish you could come. I’d foot the admi$$ion charge, if that’s what it takes!

Will be in my cabin at Chapman through June 7th, and Petra will be even happier than I. Field work those days, mostly headed to bogs and wetlands, for bog butterflies and . . . Orchids!

Oh i’ve gone to Jamestown, to seek me a Bronze Copper (or Showy orchid (I can dream)), it’ll be the  Joy of my Life . . . . From a childhood song I mostly recall.

Jeff (offline ’til I return home)

Thoughts Upon Finding Them . . .

Pink Lady's Slipper Orchid, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Chapman State Park, PA

The objective? Find Pink Lady’s Slipper ( Cypripedium Acaule). Well here are 2 blooms at Jake’s Rocks Reserve, in northwestern Pennsylvania. June 2015.

I love these extraordinary flowers. Despite a nice library of their images, every few years I’m out, searching for more.

When these came into view, thoughts raced: Can these be real? How stately (a word little used nowadays). How do these delicate blossoms go unscathed, in this wild habitat? Cartier, are you and Tiffany’s and Van Clef & Arpels capable of such finery? and How delicate and beautiful are Your creations.

Jeff