Marcie and the Tawny

Tawny Hackberry butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Marcie’s Facebook shared today was bubbling with excitement! There it was, the first Tawny Emperor butterfly that she ever saw in her active South Carolina garden. She had a beauty of a Tawny, and I made sure to stoke her enthusiasm, or at least hope I did. That led me to remembering Caron’s request last week. She asked that I, having seen her 5 ‘favorite’ images, come back with my 5 favs.

When Marcie offered up her Tawny, I realized that I too had a Tawny Emperor image that I loved, and that might well have been included in Jeff’s 5 favorites images.

This is it. When I saw this other worldly magnificent, it was resting in the weak sun of the early morning, on a trail marker post. I’d never seen one before, and me? I thought this was one of the most beautiful creatures I’d ever seen. I shot away, and maybe some 45 exposures later (film) have forever since loved this one.

It rests, well framed (museum glass) on the wall at the dining room table. I secured hand written calligraphy, done by a well remembered, and widely revered Rabbi. At my urging, in a beautiful Hebrew hand, he wrote a thought taken from the morning prayers, roughly meaning ‘How beautiful are G-d’s creations.’

Found wherever there’s a hackberry trees nearby, from New Hampshire to Florida, from Arizona to Wisconsin, give or take.

When I was flourishing in real estate in the ’80’s, I Loved to shop in upscale men’s stores in NYNY, and my favorites were brown hats, suits and brown shoes.

I have a real fondness for this image. Marcie and Caron evoked that, they did.


Rich Chocolate Colored Wood Nymph Butterfly Reminds Me of Fine Leather and Hershey Bars

Wood Nymph Butterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park Enlarged

Ah the Wood Nymph butterfly. The rich chocolate color of fine leather or of a scrumptious Hershey bar. These medium sized butterflies capture the hiker’s imagination because from May to late September they are the trail markers that we encounter as we enjoy our way alongside forest edge, fields and most cut edges. Some zip away and out of sight, some fly ahead just 15 feet, while others hesitate and stand their ground.

Cercyonis pegala offers another benefit. They display fascinating diversity. While the markings of most other butterflies show hardly any variety, those of wood nymphs present a great deal of difference. Large eyes or smaller eyes, yellow, orange or   intermediate colors, blues, or whites or indeterminate pastels in the eyes. Rich browns to a host of brown variations in the wing. You notice these things when you pause to examine your trail sentries. It just makes for fascinating travel.

I have been straining my brain to remember having ever seen a wood nymph butterfly nectaring at a flower. If I have and can’t remember, then even so I’ve spotted hundreds over the years, and though I’ve seen them at scat, and attracted them to traps of banana/fruit, visits to flowers elude my memory.

Our instant individual was on Nichol Road trail in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. On my approach it quickly flew off, straight to a nearby tree. It perched on the opposite side of the trunk. I approached very slowly, saw it there…and it allowed my to shoot quite a few macro- images. Probably  a female, with larger eye spots and larger in size

I kept and now use this image because it effectively shares the real time look of wood nymphs and because of the nice interplay offered by bark and butterfly.