Regal Surprises JZ

Full dorsal view of Regal Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

I’ve got to rethink this. This is my 3rd post of a butterfly I thought I’d never get a chance to meet. Start at the Maine/Canada border and drive down to the Keys, and you will have passed only a single population of these Regal Fritillaries. Rarer than rare. Over a decade, I would contact those who could get me through to the military post where they live, and I would enjoy not a single response. Frustration led to Oh well! those butterfly mucky mucks . . .  and I let it go, until someone posted on Facebook, that the annual Open House to view Regal Fritillaries was to be for four days in June.

Booked it, Licketysplit! Then June 10, 2015 arrived, and Thank You G-d! there I was at Ft. Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, some 40 minutes east of Harrisburg (known on Jeopardy! as the capitol of Pennsylvania).

I was The Kid in the Candy Shop. Would you look at this male! His ancestors flew within ¼ miles of my childhood street in Brooklyn, New York, and now you need a military escort to see him.

Speyeria idalia, extirpated from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, District of Columbia, North Carolina, and maybe, maybe Virginia (a secret that may or may not have basis).

Why have I entitled this post Regal Surprises JZ? Uh, because the 2 posts of Regals I’ve already shared . . . barely created a ripple on this blog and our social media outlets. Funny how it is when the $challenged kid finally enters the candy shop. Where are the bugles and drums to celebrate the enormity of the moment?

Jeff  a.k.a
The Kid in the Candy Shop

No Limits in the Briar Patch

Question Mark Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, GA

When you watch the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Cincinnati Bengals, you know who you will see on those 100 yards of football field in Cincinnati. Players of those 2 teams, and NFL referees. Maybe some medical techs and a doctor or two, and that’s it.

At this really neat town in Central Georgia, in their Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch these acres, masterfully designed by Virginia C. Linch, the wizard behind this successful habitat, you just never know what will fly in from above, or at ankle-height. You expect to meet Monarchs, Tiger swallowtails, Long-tailed skippers, Gulf fritillaries, Black Swallowtails, Giant swallowtails, Silver spotted skippers and some other butterflies. Exciting? Every single one of them. But that’s not the end of it there. Add to that excitement, the real prospect of seeing many, many other species of butterflies. Which ones?

Here’s one I was not expecting to see. A butterfly that much prefers to fly at the forest’s edge. Satyr that it is, this Question Mark butterfly kept to its zone. Fortunate for me, time and place were right. Necessity sent it onto a platform to warm itself in the early Georgia sun. One that always flees Jeff, it was briefly programmed to stay and warm, and that, that enabled my macro-lens to go to work.

I love browns and shades of brown, and well-turned form, and this young and fresh Question Mark butterfly sports it all.

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Hi Pretty!

Wildflower photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida's Panhandle

I drove the 4 hours from Eatonton, Georgia due south to Perry, Florida. I checked into the Hampton Inn, and with some help from the front desk staff, was in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area the next morning. Excited? Are you kidding? I hadn’t been to Florida since 1963, and now I’m back with camera, Fuji slide film, knee pad and all the rest of my gear.

Butterflies of the Florida Panhandle, that’s what I came for. Total triumph is about the best way to describe those 4 sunny days. No feral dogs, no nasty critters, just a few ticks (Yes, Ugh!!!), and so many butterflies that were new to me, or that I’d only since once or twice before.

The thing was, not only were there winged beauties aloft and nectaring, but there were also flowers that I had never seen before, not even up in  Putnam County, Georgia or at Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge or at Hard labor Creek State Park. Shoot or conserve film. You know how that worked out.

Excellent example here. I approached this beacon of beauty, and must have said, “Hello, and who are you?” I shot away, knowing that much later I will find the name and info..

It’s a . . . Salt marsh Morning Glory (Ipomoea sagittata) and found along the coast from North Carolina down to Florida and westward to Texas.

I liked/like it, and standing there before it, liked it alot.