April in Beg Bend

Palamedes Swallowtail on Thistle Flowerhead photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida's Panhandle

I returned last night, driving those 248 miles home from St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Florida’s Panhandle. One week in a sweet VRBO rental home on the scrumptious Aucilla River. Gifted with mostly sunny weather, this 2nd visit to Big Bend Wildlife Management Area was a joy. Even before you leave Mandalay Road to drive to Big Bend, those early morning walks dish up deer, boar, osprey, and snake. You are in a high state of expectation, for you might see others that abound in St. Marks NWRefuge: bobcat, alligator, bear, manatee, gar, bald eagle, coyote . . .

The devastation from that last hurricane, months ago, was moderate. These same thistle were in rich bloom. The Palamedes Swallowtail butterflies, like this beaut, were everywhere. That 2016 visit was during the last week of August. This early April 2019 trip so convinced me that a Big Bend redo was a very, very good idea.

Why did I go back? Sitting here, working that question in my mind, I again and again remind that I fell in love with the Georgia Satyrs that I saw at Old Grade tram back in ’16, and regretted that my few images of them were Eh! We shared then that late August that time was Hot! Humid! and a plague of biting insects made each and every exposure an eye irritating (salt running down over my Dick’s headband onto my eyes) experience, me on my belly, saying aloud that what I was doing was an incredibly uncomfortable time, and yet I sooo wanted a stunning Georgia Satyr image.

Last week I saw some 15 Georgias.

My skirmishes with No-See-Ums were mostly horrible, the one day they waited for me to exit my vehicle, then, as I began to set out my folding stool to change to my Merrells, they kamakazied me. I quickly sprayed on my Off! 40%, way too late, for I am now a mass of small welts, 97.61% of them itchy!

My exposed slide film now is overnighted to Kansas, with Appalachian Brown, Spicebush Swallowtail, Little Wood Satyr, huge Tiger Swallowtail, Palamedes Swallowtail and Viceroy capture.

Jeff

Pipevine with Thankgiving Turkey

Pipeline Swallowtail Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

This night before Thanksgiving is a great time to share this I-like-it image of a Pipeline Swallowtail butterfly. Tomorrow most of us will sit down and give Thanks for all that we are blessed with. Once we are sated with scrumptious turkey and stuffings, some of us will head to the TV to enjoy football, others will find their way to their/his/her computer and check out their usual websites and blogs.

I was reveling with my first meet-up with regal fritillary butterflies. It was June 10, 2015, and I was at their only refuge in the entire eastern United States: Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation in central Pennsylvania. During those hours, this delightful shmeksy, Battus Philenor flew onto the thistle flowerhead. I was pleased and impressed. This is one of those butterflies whose arrival nearly demands Hail to the Chief

No photoshop or equivalent. This one was a beaut, and Cech and Tudor, in their field guide Butterflies of the East Coast, note that these “dazzling” colors are no happenstance. They warn the usual suspects (predators) Uh Uh, I’m over the top toxic!

Soon we’ll post an image of Regals mating. Timing, timing, timing.

Jeff