Gulfs . . . No. 1 Or # 2 In The Southeast

Gulf fritillary butterfly sipping nectar on thistle, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Wildlife Management Area, Kathleen, GA

These 4 years shooting butterflies in Georgia have been a joy. So many butterflies, they flying in rich, verdant habitat, from Cloudland Canyon to Jekyll Island. Best of all there are so many of them.

Used to be that I’d struggle to find butterflies in southwestern Pennsylvania. That made finding a fresh butterfly a very exciting experience. In Georgia, the fraction of fresh, beautiful butterflies is so much higher.

Which southern butterflies are most numerous Jeff? Gulf Fritillary Butterflies and Cloudless Sulphur butterflies, so says my hundreds of hours in the field.

Do you get glazed over when you have seen dozens of Gulf fritillaries in a single morning? Nope. Huh? I am forever searching for fresh Gulf Frits, and that accomplished, I want to capture an image of the sunlight reflecting from the dazzling ventral white spots. Not easy to get. Not easy.

Here our Gulf Frit’s lower wing spots are 100% brightened by the morning sun, and the thistle flowers dazzle too. Oakey Woods Wildlife Management Area, guided by Mike.

Jeff

Caron 4

Palmed Swallowtail Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida

Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida

Caron’s 5 were all superb images, no hyperbole necessary. They were extraordinary, made you wonder how she captured such? and left you feeling better, elevated from the you of minutes before!

This is my 4th choice for my favorites. When I drove down to Georgia from 2015, Virginia’s Butterflies and Blooms Briar Patch Habitat actually did have almost every southern butterfly in its 2 open acres. That one morning, when I saw 29 different butterfly species, was just exciting! Those evenings, in Eatonton, I’d study my field guides, looking for southern butterflies that I had not seen yet.

NABA’s magazine ran a new feature, ‘Destinations,’ and its first was Big Bend Wildlife Management Area in the Florida Panhandle. This comprehensive article electrified me, for given a good week and good weather, you could enjoy many new butterflies.  One of the tantalizing possibilities was this large swallowtail, the Palamedes Swallowtail.

I planned a 5 day trip to Big Bend. The 5-hour or so drive was fine, and the Hampton Inn in Perry was adequate. Perry was just 25 minutes from Big Bend. That first morning there, I loved that place. As I drove into the Spring Creek sector of the WMA, large and beautiful thistle appeared, and on them, mobbing them almost, were OMG! large, fresh Palamedes.

Those Palamedes were furiously nectaring on the thistle. They are photographer friendly, and tolerate measured approach. Jackpot!

I often return to enjoy this photo, for I think it presents Palamedes Swallowtails well, their size, grace and beauty. The almost hidden thistle flowerhead frames much of the butterfly, to full advantage.

Caron 4.

Jeff

Viceroy Butterfly Resting

Viceroy Butterfly at rest (right side), photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

She is resting in the Habitat flora. Males have been making their moves on her, fine as she is, and between nectaring and shooing suitors, she must be bushed. Judging from her distended abdomen, she may well have a goodly number of eggs developing. That must make the attention of those males all the more exasperating. Don’t they get it?

We are in the Butterflies & Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, and Georgia sports those especially colorful Viceroy butterflies that the South is so proud of.

Hiding, the morning sunlight nicely streaks through her hindwings, and I like that. I like this little vignette, seen on  summer morning in one of the most beautiful places east of the Mississippi. Do Not doubt me.

Jeff

Why Do It? Virginia

Virginia Cinch in the Briar Patch, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

2014 may have been the first year that Virginia C Linch put shovel into this former industrial site. I’m not sure. I know that when she enthusiastically invited me to visit in 2015, I jumped at the chance. See southern butterflies, drawn to a single  habitat in Georgia! Yippee!

I could not believe what Virginia and Bartow and not much more than a handful of volunteers had accomplished! They’d planted hundreds of perennials, bushes and trees. Host plants galore, nectaring plants, shade plants. The non native, but heroic Mexican sunflowers completed the nectar menu.

Those 4 visits in ’15 were fantastic. Virginia was friendly, helpful, informative and selfless, spotting butterflies and stepping aside, allowing me the opps that guys like me dream of.

2016 delivered me back to this Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat. My posts here caught the attention of other Georgians, and a couple drove over to see what’s all the excitement about. When Virginia finds out that you’re on your way to visit, magic occurs, for 99.37% of the time, she slips away for 3.6 minutes, to make sure that you get that Warm Hello!

I sure met Georgia/Southern butterflies there: Giant swallowtails, Cloudless sulphurs, Gulf fritillaries, Sleepy oranges, Checkered skippers, Long tailed skippers and more. The excitement is always in the air: Will a Zebra Heliconian or a Great Purple Hairstreak make an appearance?

All I know who have met Virginia share this, and I’ve heard it again and again. When you’ve met Virginia, you’ll not ever forget her. It’s that special thing, that charisma thing. It’s ’cause folks are way too superficial, and here you’ve met one who is blatantly Genuine. She cherishes meeting you, and she Wants you to return, come again. I did, and want to, more times.

Here, Virginia began shooting me . . . so I shot her right back!

Jeff

Happy Pup and Happy Jeff

Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Facebook Feature

Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Facebook Feature

Whenever I post images of Petra, traffic here just zooms up. When I saw this one, boy did Virginia Linch score a homerun/touchdown/swisssh bucket!

Petra loves the Briar Patch. No doubt she remembered her 2015 visit. She got the royal treatment from Virginia, Stanley, and the tireless volunteers from Ritz Carlton (there to help assemble a huge canopy ahead of the Earth Day 2016 festivities).

Me? I love the Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch. Eatonton, Georgia, the county seat of Putnam County, where Br’er Rabbit and Br’er Fox became ink to paper. My mother read me those stories when I was a child in Brooklyn, New York. Lookee here! I am in the same town, and just 200 feet from the Br’er Rabbit museum, whose docent, Georgia Smith gave me the tour of a lifetime last year.

When Virginia shared this look, there I am, the photographer as subject, with his fantastic pup, in this wondrous place, with its special people, just a place that gives, and doesn’t ask for a thing, but your enthusiasm. Southern butterflies, as gracious and beautiful as you’d expect.

Jeff