Gulf Fritillary On Pickerel Weed (Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge)

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on Pickerelweed blooms photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, GA

We’re in Georgia now, gardening from the first week in February 2019 all the way to the last week in November? Gardening on my Jeffrey’s Birthday, November 28th?? This year, 2019, my Birthday falls on . . . Thanksgiving Day.

The prospect of gardening on Thanksgiving Day boggles my mind. It does. In Brooklyn, Queens, New York (Manhattan), Long Island and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the last week of gardening (I love to garden!) was usually the first week in September. Living in Middle Georgia has added +/- some 5 months of gardening to my life. Five months. That’s 5 months of seeing butterflies. I love that prospect, and Georgia so brings a smile to my face, Virginia, Ellen, Debi, Katy, Laura, Rabbi Aaron, Laura I., Rose, Kelly, Pandra, Sylbie, Brian, Stephen and Barbara Ann.

These memories, as this Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on Pickerelweed in Laura’s Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, do necessitate a modicum of maturity, for once Pickerelweed finishes producing its gorgeous pond-side blooms, we’ve got to wait a full year to again enjoy such eye-soothing sights as this one here. (Yes we were in ankle deep pond, and yes we urged G-d to keep any Gators away from us, while we shot away!).

Jeff

Cliffs, Falling Rock, Arroyos & ‘Gators

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on Pickerelweed blooms photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, GA

This sure tantalizes, bringing vivid memory of that spectacular spot, with its pickerelweed growing in 4 inches of pond at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, on the Georgia coast. Stationed just away from the pond water, I was impressed with the diversity of butterflies that were visiting. Pickerelweed that must be pumping nectar, no doubt of that. This male Gulf Fritillary butterfly was fresh, complete (not bird struck) and hungry.

What’s the big deal? Harris Neck NW Refuge is loaded with alligators. At the time, the heavy traffic of beautiful butterflies to lush pickerelweed just could not be resisted. Even now, having survived the streets and all the rest, having taken guns from high schoolers back in Ozone Park, roaming the East Village before the East Village became what it’s now today, I sometimes (?) dissuade myself, internally arguing that risks are not as risky as they might be.

Might a 10 foot American alligator be near, just 15 feet from this spot? Isn’t it true that a ‘gator can accelerate, to cross 15 feet of pond’s edge in ‘x’ seconds?

Cliffs that give me the ‘Willies,’ Falling rock field where certain Satyr butterflies frequent, those Arroyos in Arizona and Israel where rain upstream can send a wall of water at you at what, 50 mph? Gators that are probably 5 times stronger than you think they could be?

Men who shoot butterflies are few and far between, and some of them devolve into 14-year-old -boy behavior when they see those certain butterflies, magnificent, exotic and challenging, no?

Jeff

Palamedes, Up to my Calf

Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly on Pickerelweed photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, GA

August 2018, at Harris Neck. This National Wildlife Refuge is on the coast, not too far from Brunswick, Georgia. A near wildlife overload those 6 days. A stand-out trip, for I saw there many, many butterflies common to the southeastern USA and especially typical of southeastern wetlands.

The wading birds, waterfowl, anhingas, osprey and bald eagle were all so robust and handsome looking. In their rookeries, on the pond surface, exposed trees and light footed as they worked the pond edges.

I reached this pond edge, and was ecstatic (true!) to see the pickerelweed in full bloom. Vunderbar!! Now, I’m shooting Macro- and have got to get within at least 24″ to cop good shots. Decision time!

In I went, with the pond now up to my lower calf. My beloved Merrell boots submerged, and every step taken risky, for that water was feeling awfully slippery when my feet came down on pond mud.

Decision #2, which I dismissed maybe a bit too quickly, was an unknown = where was the nearest 8-foot alligator, 10-foot or 12-foot alligator? I thought back to those years on the streets, Brooklyn, and how G-d must have been especially kind to me.

This Palamedes swallowtail butterfly was having one fine time at the pickerelweed nectar bar. Must say, there, then, in that, surely confirms that real-time, up to my calves, y’all have got to take my word for it, there cannot be any global . . .

Jeff