You Almost Never Meet Your Favorite Movie Star Butterfly at a Chic Cafe

Viceroy Butterfly on Sumac (Woody Pond) photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, GA

This is how it happens. You never ever will meet your favorite heart throb movie star at a chic cafe for coffee and babka. You also almost NEVER meet a butterfly you so want to photograph in exactly the place, time and weather that you’d like to.

I’ve been startled, startled over these years when, without warning or anticipation, I’ve met butterflies that were GORGEOUS and chose to set down in a landing site that was perfect for me. Off of the top, some opps I’ve missed, me caught off guard and not expecting deliverance, included unexpected meeting with Mourning Cloaks, Common Mestras, Compton Tortoiseshells, Goatwood Leafwings and Orange-barred Sulphurs.

We were working the trail that’s 4 feet from Woody pond in Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, along the Georgia coastline. We were near native Sumac. The day before, the Georgia Native Plant Society had shared a Facebook post, of the wonderfulness of native Sumac. That blew up all the negatives I’d heard, back in New York City, of the Sumac that always invaded empty city lots and those tiny city back yards and gardens. Alien Sumac it was, and Sumac became a dirty word, for me.

Suddenly, this big Viceroy flies in, and begins slowly nectaring on the native Sumac. Well I have a fondness for Viceroys and I’d been given a Re-Education about Sumacs the day before! Mamma Mia!! Viceroy supper fresh, big and richly hued . . . and Sumac in an eye-pleasing setting!

The Viceroy was well within the Sumac branches, meaning that my images would, should show part Viceroy in sun and part Viceroy in Sumac-shade. I shot away!

Here’s the image of a beautiful Viceroy, don’t know if male or female, on a healthy, native Sumac in early bloom. You’ll be as lucky as anything if you ever meet your favorite, smile pleasing star for coffee in the perfect sidewalk cafe, on the perfect day, you unhitched and carefree. No?

Jeff

Unknown Flier

Unidentified Fly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, GA

Those 700 miles bring much that’s new. Scouring the Woody Pond perimeter at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge produced this new fly.

I’m not sure what it is. I was sure that it was film worthy, and I had no doubt that you’d help us ID it. I’ve never seen this one before, and I’m guessing that its found in the southeastern United States.

ID?

Jeff

Viceroy Butterfly at Woody Pond

Viceroy Butterfly on Sumac (Woody Pond) photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, GA

The trail skirted along the edge of Woody Pond. Laura was right, Harris National Wildlife Refuge was rich, rich in wildlife. It’s on the coast of Georgia, and those 6 days there in August 2018 delivered, big time. It’s a national destination for birders, anxious to see hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of wood storks nesting in vast rookeries there. Egrets, rails, anhingas, warblers, it’s dreamland for birders.

This image was taken in the 3-foot strip of vegetation that separates the trail I was on from the pond. That’s all well and good. What you need to know then, is that Woody Pond, just 3-feet away, is the home of maybe 100 alligators: 10-foot and 12-foot and 14-foot gators.

Looking at this gorgeous Viceroy butterfly nectaring on Sumac blooms that opened the day before was an unexpected treat. Ellen Honeycutt, for the Georgia Native Plant Society had just shared on Facebook of the high value of native Sumacs, and here I was watching a shmeksy butterfly! It was a Viceroy nectaring on day old Sumac blooms.

Know I was a bit cautious (Well very cautious) leaning into the Sumac-Viceroy OMG! moment. Why? Because that planted me less than 3 feet from Very, Very Big alligators, something that the mean streets of Brooklyn never prepped me for, Truth Be Told. Proof? You want proof? Well, that was the day after the News Media of the Southeast reported the death by Alligator of a woman in Hilton Head, South Carolina. She was apparently walking her little dog on leash at the edge of an upscale development pond, and the ‘gator charged them, and dragged the woman in, to her death.

Photographing Viceroys with blue spots at the very edge of Woody Pond on a native Sumac tree.

Jeff