Touched By A Mourning Cloak I Was

Mourning Cloak Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Raccoon Creek State Park

Chasing butterflies? I love the search for butterflies that you will appreciate seeing and hearing about. I daydream of shocking discoveries, of finding butterflies that y’all will be excited to see. The most impossible daydreams? Finding a new butterfly, once never seen or photographed before. It’s 2020, and I know that finding a new butterfly, short of trekking through the wilds of Indonesia or Madagascar, is impossible (?).

This Mourning Cloak butterfly reminds me that during these nearly 3 decades of the search, butterflies have touched my heart, left me semi-a mess. Why? That Mourning Cloak that overflew me repeatedly, 30 feet or so above me, and then disappeared, rocked my boat. Why? I couldn’t see it because . . . it landed on my hat!!

Tears flowed. Why tears, doesn’t Jeff always display bravado, macho-man persona, and boast of how he grew up with Them? All true but, this product of the 1950’s had just endured the loss of Frieda A”H, watched her nearly 8-year fight end. That Mourning Cloak sent me into an emotional tailspin. I was convinced that Frieda’s Blessed Memory was embodied in that Spectacular butterfly. When it flew from my hat, up again 30 feet and then flew over me again, I was turned to Brooklyn Jelly.

I’m hoping to return to Pennsylvania again in early November, visit her grave, and search several refuges and state parks for Mourning Cloaks and their cousins, Compton Tortoiseshells and Milbert’s Tortoiseshells. If I do, photos may happen, and those knees may well go spongey again.

Jeff

Who’s For American Coppers?

American Copper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania, August 2014

Facebook has been a great boon for the growing admirers of butterflies. FB let us share our images of butterflies from all corners of the United States. FB brought us closer together, enabling me to introduce myself to Virginia, Barbara Ann, Angela, Peggy, Phil, Cathy, Rose and Jerry, Laurence, Marcie, Deepthi, Lois and so many more fantastic people.

Over these last years, FB has, I think, contributed to much of my travel abroad, in search of butterflies, as with Ian, and my own images of HolyLand butterflies, knowing that they will have a good platform to be seen and enjoyed.

What I have noticed, is that as the number of butterfly seekers increases, there is the search for rare, ‘uncommon’ butterflies. NABA, aka the North American Butterfly Association, in a way pushes this quest for rarities. FB often shares extra special finds at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. I was there in December 2017, and you sure get caught up in it, for in that week, I saw Erato heliconian, Red-rimmed, Mexican fritillary, Tropical leafwing, Gold-border hairstreak and more, much more. It was Wow! Wow! Wow! daily.

With the ability of almost ea$y travel to once remote American habitat, me thinks that there has been a concurrent near dismissal of more familiar USA butterfly species. Who among the well known butterfly photographers share shots of American coppers, for example?

This richly colored American Copper, at Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania easily compares with the often worn, bird-struck super-rare posts so more common nowadays.

After all, Who’s for American Coppers in 2018?

Jeff