Vegas Says You’ll Never Meet This One

Dorsal View of Bog Copper Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Allenberg Bog in New York

Jeff sooo wanted to meet up with Bog Copper (Lycaena epixanthe) butterflies. Barbara Ann shared that there was a little known, almost never visited bog near her home, Allenberg Bog, in very western New York State. We agreed that Allenberg may have Bog Coppers, if we go during their very brief ‘flight.’

When to go? They only fly when their hostplant, cranberries, are going into flower.

The opportunity to finally meet this rare butterfly, found only in cranberry bogs in New York, New England, Michigan and Minnesota, was too sweet to pass up.

We followed a very overgrown trail, from where we parked on the side of the road, and after several wrong readings of almost non-existent trail markers, there was Allenberg Bog, replete with Pitcher Plants and Sundew Plants in bloom. The tiny bog cranberries were also in bloom, and there were the Bog Coppers, they something past the mid-point of their brief flight.

Here is a Bog Copper, perched on Cranberry leaf. She was adorable, and I had met, and shot Bog Coppers. Not need to mention how I almost sunk down toooo deep into that unfathomable bog’s depth.

You? Vegas passes on that Your chance of seeing one, at the rate you’re going is 726 to 1.

Jeff

 

No One Forgets A Bog

Barbara Ann photographed by Jeff Zablow near Allenberg Bog, NY

You have never been in an acid bog. Only 0.03% of us have set foot in these surreal places. Why have so few visited such a sphagnum moss bog? Most of them have been destroyed in the last 200 years. Those that remain are few, far from where we live, and their owners include many organizations that fiercely protect them, by keeping their existence mostly secret, and by not encouraging us to visit them.

Barbara Ann is seen here in Allenberg Bog, a remote sphagnum moss (acid) bog in very western New York. Owned by the Buffalo Audubon Society, it remains very difficult to reach, hidden at the end of an. obscure, poorly marked and challenging trail. Owners of acid bogs own them for good reason: they want to protect them for perpetuity, especially from those who destroy, collect specimens without permission and litter.

Such bogs are heavily acidified over thousands of years, and feature flora and fauna that seek such an extraordinary environment: pitcher plants, cranberry plants, sun dew, Bog Fritillary butterflies and Bog Copper butterflies.

Each step you take in a bog requires that you work, work hard to extricate your boots so you can take the next step, and again sink down 2″ – 4″ in the standing bog water. You usually sink no further, for the ageless sphagnum ‘mat’ just below the surface usually  supports you. One time, at this very same Allenberg Bog, we got a scare, as I crouched to photograph a Bog Copper butterfly, and I began to sink, slowly, but down, down, down!! I will never go to such a bog alone, again, and I will not enter such a bog without a partner and a rope!

Know this, you experience a very calming sensation there, as if you have peacefully reached an interplanetary body, covered with strange plants and strange wildlife. Those thousands of steps you take, each a struggle with the bog’s pull on you, leave your calves exhausted . . . but the butterflies you see there, you’ve never seen before, and likely, will never see them again.

Try to go to an acid bog one day, and really try to get someone like Barbara Ann to go too. Knowledgeable, patient and experienced.

Jeff

Orchids & Coppers

Orchid, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Allenberg Bog in New York

It happens. Barbara Ann and I mucked through nearly 3/4 of a miles of over grown trail, to once again explore the wonders of Allenberg Bog in western New York State. Ultra-humid, mosquito rich trail, over fallen trees, large puddles and much mud. It happens meaning? Meaning that the trail didn’t show any evidence of having been used for a very long time, and much of it simply could not be deciphered. This was just last month, June 2018.

Had flown in to Pittsburgh with 2 objectives, see my family, and especially see my grandson, and to also revisit Allenberg Bog. This is an ancient sphagnum moss bog, rich with pitcher plants, sun dew and cranberries. Those cranberries host Big Copper Butterflies. Last years photos of those Bog Coppers were OK, but the butterflies were all of a single flight, all slightly worn. On this 2nd go-around, I was hoping to see a fresh batch of Bog Coppers. Then, I’d triumphantly share with you my newest, OMG! images . . . . Nope, didn’t happen. Barbara Ann tried so hard to get us there, but it was a  labyrinth, and we ended the morning exhausted and a tiny bit discouraged.

Perk up though, for here I share a tiny orchid that Allenberg Bog dished up for us last year. So delicate, so fascinating and so beautiful.  Beauty and grace, resplendent amidst all of the hazards that this acid bog surely delivers, day and night. Amazing, No?

Yes, She told me its name, and yes I can’t recall it. Barbara? Angela? Debra? Jim Fowler?

Jeff

Return To Bogs in 2018?

Open Pond at Allenberg Bog, photographed by Jeff Zablow in New York

Bogs? My first visit was to an acid bog near Ligonier, Pennsylvania about 23 years ago. Unforgettable, it was. Pitcher plants, sundew, while all the time enduring that unnerving feeling that you are about to sink down, never to be seen again, and find near eternal rest inches from another body, entombed in acidic sphagnum moss, some 2,000 years long gone. Louise Davies led that Wetland Study Group. A day impressed solidly in my mind.

This was Allenberg Bog in western New York State, 2016. It too is an acid bog, formed of unknown centuries of the deposition of sphagnum moss. So acidy, that species that cannot endure acid pH’s stay away, and the bog goes on, unchanged. This is where I met a flight of Bog Coppers. They were tiny, mostly cooperative, but near the end of their short flight period, and their wings had dulled as the days went on.

Planning now, I am, to visit Allenberg Bog once again, a bit earlier than I did in 2016. I wish to remeet those Bog Coppers, and see them in their full radiance. Rare fritillaries might also be seen, and even rarer bog orchids. Yummy.

Also in the planning is a trip with Angela and friends to Bruce Peninsula, Ontario, to see, among others, northern bog butterflies and botany. Jeffrey Glassberg’s Swift Guide shook out more than 20 butterflies that I might see for the first time on Bruce.

I’ve made new friends, and am again enlisting Dave’s friends to help me locate Atlantic White Cedar bogs. They just might introduce me to Hessel’s Hairstreak, a rare Southern cedar hairstreak, and one of extraordinary beauty.

Acid bogs beckon, and I promise, I will be cautious, even if I locate those Atlantic White Cedar bogs, where for sure I will be alone. Promise.

Jeff