Fayette Township’s Traci’s Swamp is at Risk

Wildflower photographed by Jeff Zablow in Kelso Swamp, Fayette Township, PA

Sure, Traci’s Swamp at Kelso Road and Pattridge Lane is a neat, pocket swamp. Fayette Township is just 7 miles from downtown Pittsburgh. Beavers likely created the swamp, and hundred of animals and plants are now forever in their debt. The swamp is privately owned, and Traci can’t get the Western Pennsylvania Nature Conservancy to come and consider conserving the swamp and Traci’s Meadow. The Conservancy is too busy to visit, and with much more important fish to fry. Traci? She lives a stone’s throw away, and she’s a consummate naturalist.

At Traci’s invite, I visited the Swamp, and was delighted. Butterflies were all about, and the Viceroys were fresh and deeply hued.

During one of those breaks in the butterfly action, I notice this tiny wildflower. My wildflower guides haven’t helped me yet. It’s pert, self-confident and very optimistic. It grows in very wet soil, in between rivulets of water seeping from the swamp.

Soon after sharing this post, two of our friends got to work identifying it. Here we have Small Flowered Willow (Epilobium parviflorum). Native, no. Rare here, yes. It is a naturalized european transplant. Thanks Pete and Barbara Ann.


We Hadn’t Met for 12 Years!

Silvery Checkerspot Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, GA

The Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge swamp was a Georgia treat! Mucky, dark, wet, oxygen challenged, strewn with foot catching snares, and who knew if any moment I’d be stabbed by an infectious armed vector (mosquito, tick or other micro-meanie). When I was given the mandatory dangers talk in the Refuge office, I actually thought: Look I survived many dangerous threats in my life, do I want, at this point to have a big as the head of a tiny pin vector of bacteria to do what knives, guns, garbage can covers or cars did not do?

But Rose and Jerry were finding Satyr butterflies, and each time selflessly calling me to come and see this gem or that beauty. They were incredibly skilled at finding these low-flying, elusive butterflies, and I was having so much fun.

When we finally left the swamp, Rose asked of butterflies I’d enjoy seeing. Somehow Silvery Checkerspots were mentioned. I had not seen one for 12 years. Off we went to a spot that they knew was good habitat for Chlosyne Nycteis. Still on Piedmont Refuge land, we arrived at a small retaining pond, and minutes later Rose spotted this Silvery Checkerspot. I made my approach, and when I got really close for my macro- shots, I saw that she was wonderful! Her forewing tips were especially dark and she bore the white-centered spots in her hindwing submarginal band.

Like any top model, she cooperated. patiently awaiting my decision that I was satisfied with the exposures I had.

Georgia. Good.