Baltimore Checkerspot in Jamestown

Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Jamestown Audubon Center in New York

The timing was perfect. There were several Baltimore checkerspot butterflies here and there in this wetland, part of the Jamestown (NY) Audubon Center’s extensive reserve. All looked fresh and just so pretty to look at. I really wanted image of Baltimores, and here was my opportunity.

So I stepped (Shhh!) off trail to shoot that one, w/o good result. This other one, flew before I could set up, Oh that’s a nice one, vamoose!, and that is how it went. To do what we do, you cannot give up, and I kept at it.

Checkerspots are limited here in the northeast, and we are Blessed to have these beauts. Their hostplants are Turtlehead, a native wetland wild flowering plant.

The thing about Baltimores is that when you find them, they bedazzle you, and you have to remember why you came there in the first place, to capture the handsome features of these eye-candy lookers.

Jeff

June 3, This June 3rd

Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Jamestown Audubon Center in Jamestown, NY.

When we spotted this Baltimore Checkerspot, I froze in place. Can this be real? Now how often does that thought confront you? I’ve learned to not hesitate, when a super-beautiful butterfly appears. No, hesitate not a 1/1,000 of a second. Act. Act quickly, but in that robotic slo-mo described in our Technique feature here.

This Baltimore is a butterfly high on everyone’s List. I hadn’t seen one for years. Not more than 25 feet from the entrance to the Jamestown Audubon  Center, it had chosen to stop (and rest?) on a small cut lawn, within several feet of the Center’s Butterfly Garden. I was introduced to the Jamestown Audubon Center last year, and quickly enjoyed the warmth and friendly greeting from its staff and volunteers. That welcome continued. I have visited other Audubon Centers. Jamestown’s might offer a Workshop = How to sustain an outreaching, friendly Audubon Center.

I was invited to do a Butterfly presentation and field walk at the JAC. Good. Very Good. That June 3rd program will include a PowerPoint presentation, field walk and brownbag lunch. Jamestown, New York is in very western New York state, east of Erie, Pa..

This NYC high school Biology teacher, and later Pittsburgh Public Schools high school Biology teacher comes with a full career of introducing youngsters to the living world around them. Our family photo albums include several photos of me, a child, hunched over, examining living things. I’m in, totally.

Euphydras phaeton (it’s species name) and its hostplant, Turtlehead are certainly not common, but, they lived side-by-side with this nation’s first residents, and they were probably there to greet the new, immigrants who came from abroad, to make this their home. Baltimore are still here, though a wee bit more difficult to find.

Oh, How I wish You could All join us for this program!

Jeff

Baltimore, Begosh!

Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Jamestown Audubon Center in Jamestown, NY.

They’ve eluded me for many years. I kept my eyes open, for their wetland hostplants, Turtlehead (Chelone glabra), and I’ve found them, many times in many places. But these spectacular checkerspot butterflies, no such luck.

During a visit to the Jamestown Audubon Center in Jamestown, New York, I enjoyed the friendliest, warmest reception that I’ve ever gotten from the staff of an Audubon Center. Relishing the experience, I left the Visitors Center building. Standing at the edge of their cultivated Butterfly garden, my eyes, always keen to spot butterfly movement or color, signaled Stop! Look! There on the ground cover was a Baltimore checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas phaeton). Would it flee? It didn’t, and I took photograph after photograph.

So many years since my last encounter with a checkerspot at Powdermill in Rector, Pennsylvania. I was as happy as . . .

I count this photograph as one of the most satisfying images I’ve photographed. It’s a real American beauty.

Jeff