The four hour drive from Eatonton, Georgia south to Perry, Florida was a thrill for me. More comfortable with traveling familiar roads, I pushed myself for many months, ‘Go the roads less travelled.’ But alone? ‘Go the roads less, traveled, Yes, alone.’ Then there I was, with a Google map, and a Tundra truck, headed through the deep south to Florida. Most of my friends go to Florida alot. I’ve not been there since I hitchhiked there with John Reed in . . . 1962. What’s the big deal? Florida has butterflies, Ma’am. Florida has butterflies we northerners never get to see.
That 7-mile drive the first morning, Hampton Inn, Perry Florida to Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, at the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, was simple and I was electrified. I had the film, OFF!, a ready camera, and a back-up spare, knee pad. I had packed everything. Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch, Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge and Hard Labor Creek State Park were all life-memorable experiences. Would Big Bend rock?
Big Bend, thanks to an article in NABA’s magazine and its trail maps and helpful charts, was all I had hoped it would be. Butterflies and wildflowers All new to me. Butterflies that were mostly fresh, and butterflies that thwarted macro- close approach. It was so like my field work in Israel, with most of them exercising a 20-foot rule, come within 20 and I’m gone!
During my several days hiking those Big Bend, Spring Unit trails. I saw several Queens (Danaus Gilippus). All were fresh, flying fast, and nectaring was on their minds. Any closer than those 20 feet, and they fled. They fled leaving sweet, attractive nectar in place.
My snap decision, as with Compton Tortoiseshell butterflies, was shoot, shoot, shoot. I don’t get down here much (understatement). This image is one of 2 that I did not cull. I like some of the elements and angles in it, and the color , well I like that too. The flowers are interesting too, Asclepias Lanceolata, Fewflower milkweed (Thanks Barbara Ann).
I, then share this one, of a Milkweed butterfly, 885 miles from home, a victorious trip for the boy from Brooklyn. No Doubt.
Next time you’ll join me, and we’ll see if You are a butterfly whisperer!