Why Am I Fond of This Pearly Eye?

Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

Peggy Klaczyk is an extraordinary landscape photographer, her work on Facebook is stunning. Her beat? Vancouver Island, in far western Canada. Today she shared an image, and Peggy wrote that she “loves” that 2011 capture of a forest winterscape. I ‘Commented’ agreeing it was special, and I asked why of her prolific output, this one was special to her. I await a possible response.

Sure got me to thinking. I recently reordered business cards from Moo, and that forced me to choose images among my Media Library. Of the 650 +/- images, I asked that they print those 500 cards, dividing them among the 49 images I’d chosen. This gave my an opportunity to review my images, and select, well . . . favorites. Select ones I “love.”

Images I love. Should you ask how many I may have seriously taken since 1996, my guess would be, some 120,000 give or take, shot with film.

Now the instant image, of a Northern Pearly- Eye ( Enodia anthedon  ). One of 3 of this individual in the Library, I captured perhaps ten exposures of it, but when lightboxing those 10, I could not eliminate the 3, try as I did. All 3 scanned well. Some weeks ago I posted one, and this is another. This morning I went to critique the 3, and well, I must admit . . . I love this one, the earlier posted one, and the yet unposted third.

Why am I so fond of this image?  Several reasons, some very familiar to me. You must know that I have had my eyes peeled for Northern Pearly-eyes for hundreds of field excursions. Secretive, elusive, rarely seen, shy, seen at the darkish forest edge, never seen nectaring, met on that OMG! trip into the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge (Georgia) with Rose and Jerry, this is a deeply frustrating butterfly, never providing its best face, never posing long enough for me to set-up, and always frustrating JLZ when the images come back, and they are . . . well very pedestrian.

This time the butterfly was shockingly beautiful, and when the image and its sister were delivered from Kansas by FedEx, Holy Smoley! I loved it, them. You examine it, and you will know what I know.

Maine to Georgia, that’s where you find them. If, if, if, if you find them. Then, as I do at times, knock yourself out, trying to get . . . . Then contact me, and let’s share.


Regal Fritillary – My Proprietary Image

Regal Fritillary Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

Every quality butterfly field guide for the United States includes images of Speyeria idalia, the Regal fritillary butterfly. Some guides used their own images. Some sought permission from photographers and then credited photos. Years passed by, and Jeffrey wanted to meet this rare of rare butterflies, and capture good images of them, males and females.

I learned that their site would be open for 4 days in June 2015. I immediately made a reservation, and weeks later there I was at Fort Indiantown Gap military reservation in Lebanon county, Pennsylvania. If you’re planning on driving, it’s just east of our state capitol in Harrisburg.

And I am tickled pink that I did! Hundreds of years ago they flew within ½ miles of my East Flatbush street in Brooklyn. Not anymore, though. Regal Frits are gone from New York, gone from Massachusetts , gone from Virginia, and gone from West Virginia! Why? you ask? I do not know the answer to that.

The day I went rain was predicted, and instead I got a full day of sun. It was a day that I met, and approached the Regals. They allowed approach when they were sipping nectar on Butterfly weed. Sometimes they permitted me to come within 24 inches of their royal presence. I even followed a mated pair off  the trail. You can see that photograph in an earlier post.

My proprietary image is one of the others that I have posted here. It was sunny with no wind. The butterflies were poised and many were fresh. I was thankful to be there,  savoring those moments. That was good, very good. That was in 2015. What will we see this year, 2016?


Winter Antidotes IV

Parnassius mnemosyne butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Hermon, Israel
How do I view a day like today? Mid-January and a ‘balmy’ 41F. With caution I think, because the weather.com extended forecast for us here includes snow showers, cold and lots of cloudy, cold days. In the middle of winter, we are. Still more winter to go, therefore . . . need additional winter antidotes.

Noted recently that this 2015 I am looking forward to travel, to meet butterflies I’ve never met before in Colorado, Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Ontario and Israel.

Israel? Today’s news, encountered almost everywhere, features tiny, little Israel, beloved to Christians, Land of Milk and Honey. IAF rockets directed at terrorists on the Syrian side of the mountain, and it revealed that they struck terrorists and Iranians. An Iranian general was amongst the casualties. Huh, what’s an Iranian general doing on the other side of that mountainous border? Surrounded on all sides by governments, militia, Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS that wish its children dead. How’s that for a downer of a thought?

OK, I was there 6 months ago, and if, if, you haven’t traveled to Israel, you have no idea how moving, beautiful, youthful, safe (Yep!) and Now! a place it is. This Parnassius Mnemosyne Syra butterfly was on the peak of Mt. Hermon, sipping nectar in the blazing heat of the mid-day sun. Rare, when I got my slides back and verified that this image was that species, I was elated! Want to see one, travel thousands of miles, drive to the northern tip of Israel, Hope that the military allows you to go up to the top, bring many liters of water (Or else!), watch for land mines! when you step off of the primitive trails, and then maybe, just maybe you’ll encounter this butterfly, with its almost transparent wings. She was flying low along the ground, fast, but stopped for these blooms. Made my approach, and shot away . . . 10 or 12 exposures later, sped away. Yay!!

Can, will I be back in April? Will they allow me to ascent to the mountain-top? If I can and they do, it will be Muy Hot. Just warms me up, thinking about it. Winter Antidote, that.


Variegated Fritillary Butterfly

Variegated Fritillary Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland

It’s October at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge near Cambridge, Maryland, and we’re looking at eye candy on the wing.  This Euptoieta Claudia would certainly raise the eyebrows of the artisans in the Cartier studios.

He is sipping nectar at the Butterfly Garden at the National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center, and is treating us with just the right background blooms.

Fritillaries are exquisite when they are young. This male offers the full menu of color and patter for this species: rich orange-brown, yellow central banding on all 4 wings, orange spots surrounded by a black border in forewing cells of each wing, black veins and submarginal black spots.

Their nectar diet is not limited to a single flower. So, these generalists drink nectar from passionflowers, pansies, violets, and a menu of other flowering species.

We’ve posted other Variegated Frits. They are generally intolerant of my approach with a camera. Each of our posted images is the result of many, many attempts to score premium images.

Euptoieta Claudia is best known as a southeastern U.S. species. We have many fritillary species here and in the western United States.  It will be awhile before I have western ones safe and secure in my Neumade cabinet of slides.