Spring Larkspur Wildflowers

Spring Larkspur Wildflower photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Heading along a trail at Raccoon Creek State Park, just minutes after entering the Wetland Trail, I begin scanning the growth on both sides of the trail for butterflies. I always pay particular attention to the right side of the trail. It gets good backlight from the early morning sun, and the girth of the trail edge to treed habitat is more substantial. Then there they were: flowers of bluish-purple color that were especially rich. They were so rich that I just had to stop in my tracks. These flowers evoke decorations used by European porcelain artisans in the 19th century. It was a Wow! experience, seeing these flowers quietly nestled there in the morning shadows. Now bathed in gentle morning sunlight, I knelt down and shot photographs. I’m photographing on film with a hand-held camera, so I took many, many exposures.

Delphinium tricorne is a native delphinium, and they are related to those resplendent flowers hung elegantly from tall,  straight stems. Consider whether or not you want to engage the challenge, and then buy the delphinium and just be aware that there is no guarantee that it will grow as you want it to.

In search of butterflies looking for nectar, I have spent a fair amount of time posted at Spring Larkspur like these. Such an image could become book art, and I’ve never had the good fortune to photograph one. I did,  once, see an Eastern Black Swallowtail nectar on Spring Larkspur. It remained there for seconds, I sucked in my breath and then it was gone! Zero, zilch. No image.


Spring Azure Butterfly Displaying its Dorsal Wings

Spring Azure Butterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park

It’s not every day that you encounter a Spring Azure butterfly displaying its dorsal(upper) wings. It was that productive early morning sun-basking time. The forest is still quite cold on a May 16th night, and the warmth of the sun is needed to get those wings moving fast enough to evade dangers. Once they can fly at full-speed, they are off to nectar and consider other options. They’re seen on trails, where disturbed ground meets treed habitat. They’re those tiny little ones that fly up as you approach and either advance up trail or zip into nearby vegetation. As Spring ebbs, they are replaced by the closely related Summer Azures.

Here we see again tiny dainties that fly with intact wings despite the perils all around them. Fascinating, no?

Academically, how much do we know about the population dynamics of Spring Azures, their future or their habitat pressures?


Little Wood Satyr Butterflies are Found in the Forest, not in Your Garden

Little wood satyr butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

A nice diversion from the larger, flashy swallowtails and brushfoot butterflies . . . the Little Wood Satyr butterfly shuns the open terrain, stays away from wildflower beds.

It spends its time in treed habitat and where woods border on trails and paths. Seek them in May and June. Their numbers are cyclical . . . some years there’s lots of them.

Don’t search for them in your flower beds . . . remember they are found in forest. Don’t wait for them in wildflower beds. They don’t seem to nectar at wildflowers.

Here I was pleased to see that this one had sweet, sweet blue dabbed into its eyespots. Are you able to see the blue in the eyespots?

Which of the following will they enjoy? Rotting fruit or scat or tree sap drip?