Why Share This One?

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

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 LanceolataFewflower 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!


Upbeat Butterfly on Upbeat Bloom

Skipper on orange Hawkweed, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Jamestown Audubon Center, NY

That expansive meadow at the Jamestown Audubon Center‘s Reserve was jam-packed with blooms and fliers. This Orange Hawkweed flowerhead caught my eye. Lush in color, Hieracium Aurantiacum could have had a tiny sign posted on it, “Super healthy bloom ready for nectarers!”

Decided to pause there awhile, and see if it’s aromatic teasers brought in any action. Bingo! This sweet as sugar skipper zoomed in, and stayed. My instincts must have been good, sweet nectar ready at the pump, so to speak.

The eye candy that it was challenged me to capture a suitable image, and I shot away. A comely bloom with a sucre-sweet little skipper, on a fine morning in Jamestown, New York. ID? A Least Skipper is my vote. Good, very good.

Oh, if I could do as some of you do, block out the nonsense of this nutty political world, and focus on the gravitas of this eye-popping world that we share.


The Day You Heard (Faintly) My “Yes!”

Swallowtail butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

It was that 2nd week of June 2013, and you were wherever your happened to be, some minutes after 11:00 AM, Israeli time. Savannah, Moscow, La Jolla, Seoul, Madrid, Rockefeller Center . . . wherever you were, your eardrums vibrated faintly, prompted by the Scream I, Jeffrey, booomed out from Mt. Meron, almost at its peak. Six years of watching Papilio machaon syriacus elude my Macro- lens, and now, and many flights on El Al and Air Canada (no  thanks) and Continental Airlines, 12-13 hours aboard the Kennnedy or Newark take-offs . . . I achieved a long awaited goal, images of Israel’s most common swallowtail. When I captured my exposures, after he flew off, I caught my breath, brought myself up from the left knee (TommyCo knee pad (Love it)), and Ecstatic, I yelled “YES!” at the top of my lungs . . . Sheer ecstasy. I have seen much, done much, suffered too, escaped sure calamity several times, experienced Joy! with much Gratitude . . . but as you will all understand, there is so much left to savor and claim and overcome. Those minutes on the mountain were owed in part to sheer determination and doggedness, learned steadily and over time.

This swallowtail flies from February to December in Israel. They are solitary, fly at great speed, and are unapproachable. How did I get these images with my Canon 2.8/100mm Macro- lens? I was almost where you see I was. After an attempt to photograph other butterflies there, it did not work out. 70 yards from end of the trail, I was to get up from that crouch, when my left eye caught the flight of a large butterfly, heading to my general direction . . . ? My turned head saw . . . Papilio m. fly almost to me, and land on this tiny bloom. Tiny. How long could this mini-blossom treat its guest to sweet nectar? Do you see? The whole experience was improbable! I was at the end of my morning’s search, I was hot and tired, the swallowtail flew in from who knows where to this 1 cm flower, and remained feeding on this lilliputian bloom long enough for me to depress my shutter button about 14 times. OMG! You know where I’m going with this . . .

Sure you’ve seen similar images, much closer up. All that I can offer is that this image, and the other I posted earlier, is in the wild, not photo-enhanced, more than difficult to get, and I think that the colors (actually I know that . . . )  are correct, real-time.

Thanks for reading through . . .