Party Crashing Viceroy

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

That very same week, the Georgia Native Plant Society (GNPS) shared a FB post, letting us know that native Sumacs were just about ready to bloom. Back up in Pittsburgh, all one heard of was a “poison sumac.” Ellen of the GNPS sung of two native sumacs, and I was interested, wanted to meet them.

I saw them days later, along county and state roads, they just hinting of the telltale dark rust indicative color.

Sunday I drove to Townsend, Georgia, and arrived at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge the next morning. Coastal Georgia is wondrous, and Oohs and Aahs! reigned. Great blue herons, Wood storks, Glossy Ibis, Lots and lots of alligators, Clapper rails, maybe 3 species of snow-white egrets, Zebra heliconians, Palamedes swallowtails, Anhingas, Salt marsh skippers, the biggest spiders I’ve yet to see and the sense that snakes were at hand, but hidden out of sight. It was a dreamland for folks like us.

I think it was Wednesday, along the Wood Pond Trail that I saw it. One of those natives Sumacs, and its flower buds were beginning to open. A first for me, native sumac, in bloom, at the edge of Woody Pond, and those alligators seen and . . . unseen . . . ?

A shadow flew in. What! A fresh, deeply hued Viceroy butterfly. They are always “Uncommon” (Glassberg’s Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America), for I see them rarely, and always briefly, they with something more important to do, some other wetland away, that how it seems.

I shot away, lots of film exposed. It was a clever one, remaining within the inner bounds of the sumac. When it flew, I just stopped, and cynically laughed, at how, with all that was around me, this likable Viceroy came in and stirred the pot, the party crashing Viceroy . . . on a McLaren day in Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge.

Jeff

 

How Many Are So Blessed?

Zebra heliconian caterpillars, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Kathleen, GA

The News each day now is riveting. As crucial as it is that we Americans enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness . . . the journey to that Oasis is often long, and tenuous. So, this very morning as I decide which images to share with you in Golden, Ontario, Madison, Mishmarot, Sao Paolo, this sweet one jumped, yep, jumped out at me.

That’s Mike’s righthand, raising and holding this Passionflower vine. We are a hike from his home in Kathleen, Georgia (Oh that name!), and we were right at the home base of a small squadron of Zebra Heliconian butterflies. Southern butterflies that just thrill! as they fly effortlessly, it seems, amongst thickly vined passionflowers. Just a short time ago, in another blog, we noted that this unlikely brood of Zebra heliconians flies several hours north of their general range. That knowledge made this day sweeter yet! Of course the now legendary Virginia C Linch arranged this day for me, and she is just about the Ryan/Brady equivalent of a Georgia butterfly booster.

Then, what are these little bits of slow-moving jewelry? Zebra heliconian caterpillars. Forgive my repeating myself, but Kudos to the D-signer.

How many are so blessed?

Jeff