I Photograph Butterflies

Gray Hairstreak photographed by Jeff Zablow at Fort Federica, Saint Simons Island, GA

It’s frustrating to watch sylvan habitat lost to development. I’ve been bemoaning the loss since as far as I can recall. That must have begun when I was some 12 years old, and fine ‘bay-side’ land was invaded by bulldozers in the Arverne Section of Rockaway Beach, in New York City’s Queens. I roamed those acres before the ‘dozers came, and their loss, even for a wide awake 12-year old, was forever irreversible.

We didn’t travel at all, and I had no idea how vast the United States were. Pre-teen me thought that soon there’d  be nothing left between Brooklyn and Los Angeles (where many of my friends ended up moving to).

It sure may well be that I still retain that apprehension that butterflies and orchids (didn’t know about natives back then) and bumblebees and darners and such will disappear, on my ‘watch.’ It’s true that back in about the 4th grade, in Public School 244 in Brooklyn, my teacher told us that bald eagles, beavers, and mountain lions would all be gone, during our lifetimes. I’ll never forget that, for it was clear that I’d never even get a chance to see them, except for those sad, forlorn captives in the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn.

So there I was celebrating the losses sure to come, of so much, including plants and animals that were then unknown to me: wildflowers, trees, snakes, lizards, birds (I still hate knowing that the Ivory Billed Woodpecker is lost), bison, the Eastern Timber Wolf, the Regal Fritillary Butterfly that flew where my East 58th Street, Brooklyn house stood, when the British and Hessians marched through there, as they prepared to make their pincer attack on New York, New York.

I am thrilled to go into the bush to find and photograph butterflies. They are still flying, and often in good enough numbers to dissuade me from believing my 4th grade teacher.

There are way too few of us, who seek and shoot butterflies, but that’s what we are doing, and will seek to continue to do. My move, 2 years ago to central Georgia’s Piedmont region pleased me, for there I’ve seen so many new butterflies, some of them in my own yard, it, now busy with hostplants whose siren aromatic signals draw butterflies that we greet with Oohs! and Aahs!

I photograph butterflies, as for example this spiffy Gray Hairstreak.

Jeff

Could 2016 be the Year for Native U.S. Orchids?

Pink Lady's Slipper Orchid, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Chapman State Park, PA

Today was a cool day here, with Pittsburgh highs hovering around 51 degrees Fahrenheit. During the day, I poured through Israeli wildflower field guides, searching for which of their natives orchids will be in bloom next February to March ’16. A friend confirmed that searching and finding Protected Israeli orchids would be . . . you fill in the word. Butterflies and orchids, Oh, I can only dream.

These Pink Lady Slipper blooms graced a tiny clearing in the woods in Chapman State Park, tucked into the Allegheny National Forest in northwestern Pennsylvania, U.S.A. Sweet they were, delicate, shy, awash in color, and just there, like the finest porcelain, for all to share.

I will shovel my way through the snows of 2016, anticipating the search for Showy Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium Reginae) in northwestern New York state, Georgia orchids if a certain expert there can find the time, and, w/o a guide, but with much gusto, Israeli orchids, including Drone Bee-Orchid (Ophrys Holosericea), Carmel Bee-Orchid (Ophrys Umbilicata), Bee Orchid (Ophrys Apifera), Tawny Bee-Orchid (Ophrys Fleischmannii), Anatolian Orchid (Orchis Anatolica), Loose-Flowered Orchid (Orchis Laxiflora), Pink Butterfly Orchid (Orchis Papilionacea) and Toothed Orchid (Orchis Tridentate). Well, there’s actually one more on my bucket list, if you’re still there, Galilee Orchid.

All of these orchids are rare. All are knockout gorgeous. All exist only in sylvan habitat, always with equally beautiful butterflies nearby. Wish me luck, No?

Jeff . . . Orchid amateur.