With Blue Trailing Wing Spots and Yellow Chevrons, a Mourning Cloak Butterfly Rests on a Broken Rock

Mourning Cloak Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park

I have some wonderful memories of Mourning Cloak butterflies. I have one very sad, hugely poignant memory of a Mourning Cloak just weeks after Frieda A”H (OBM”) passed.

I have a wrenching recollection of that incredibly beautiful Mourning Cloak, that I came upon as it was warming, resting on a broad leaf in the morning sun. That one remained in place, as I so, so slowly made my approach. Just when I was down, and slowly raised my Macro- lens, that one fled. It would have been a fantastic image.

Another lip biting time, again in Raccoon Creek State Park, I watched as a fine, fine Mourning Cloak flew out from the trailside foliage, and landed on the Nichol Road trail. I spent minutes approaching and reproaching it, each time it fled upon my getting within 8 feet of it. It flew to a part of the trailside that had a vertical-90 degree side to it. Picture that. It was now resting on the vertical little wall, fully facing the center of the trail, its handsome/beautiful dorsal features in good light and in full view. I approached, it did not flee. I approached again, I so wanted this to yield a ‘best ever’ shot. It . . . fled. Arrrrgh!!

TheMourning Cloak Butterfly shown here did not flee. We were in Raccoon Creek State Park, where it chose to warm itself on broken rock, in the early morning sun. Its complete yellow wing margins, blue trailing wing spots, yellow chevrons and diminutive ‘tails’ all please me.

Now in Georgia’s Piedmont (central Georgia), I want, want to find a southern Mourning Cloak, an extraordinary one, and share its yumminess with you. Deal?



Gemmed Satyr Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Hard Labor Creek State Park, Georgia

I’ve been to Tiffany’s 5th and 57th Street store multiple times. We’d pass David Webb’s showcase store on E. 57th Street many times, always stopping to chat about his very different jewelry. I’ve been to W. 47th Street too, and we’d seek out family friends who owned booths and more. Stared as they swept up the gold fragments from the floor of Mr. Gold’s workshop, as expert workers fabricate good earrings and necklaces at their workstations. Frieda A”H liked jewelry. I liked meeting her in town, having lunch and then a not too very long visit to those swanky fine jewelry emporiums.

I’d seen Gemmed Satyrs in field guides for years. They are tiny little brown satyrs, with a type of bejeweled patch of “gems” on the underside of their hindwings. I really, really wanted to see those ‘gems’ for my very own eyes.

Virginia introduced me to Phil, and Phil spotted this Gemmed satyr in Hard Labor Creek State Park that day in 2016. Jeffrey Glassberg in A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America describes their habitat as “grassy moist woods,” The Gemmed would flit to a blade of grass in the shade, and soon to another leaf, also in shade. It was very small. When it flew a short distance to this leaf in dappled sunlight, I went down, down, down onto my tummy, and this butterfly stayed put. I shot away, and here is my best Gemmed Satyr image so far.

I like the contrast a lot, the ‘gems’ set against the rich chocolate browns. It also evokes such wonderful memories, of days gone by, love lost.

Gemmed satyrs and Georgia satyrs, me looking forward to 2018 reunions.