Pipevine w/ Thankgiving Turkey

Pipeline Swallowtail Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

This night before Thanksgiving is a great time to share this I-like-it image of a Pipeline Swallowtail butterfly. Tomorrow most of us will sit down and give Thanks for all that we are blessed with. Once we are sated with scrumptious turkey and stuffings, some of us will head to the TV to enjoy football, others will find their way to their/his/her computer and check out their usual websites and blogs.

I was reveling with my first meet-up with regal fritillary butterflies that June 10, 2015, at their only refuge in the entire eastern United States, Ft. Indiantown Gap Military Reservation in central Pennsylvania. During those hours, this fresh, shmeksy, Battus philenor flew onto the thistle flowerhead. I was pleased and impressed. This is one of those butterflies whose arrival nearly demands Hail to the Chief. 

No photoshop or equivalent. This one was a beaut, and Cech and Tudor, in their field guide Butterflies of the East Coast, note that these “dazzling” colors are no happenstance. They warn the usual suspects (predators) Uh Uh, I’m over the top toxic!

Soon we’ll post an image of Regals mating. Timing, timing, timing.


⅓ of a Second to Success!

Allancastria Deyrollei (female), photographed by Jeff Zablow in Neve Ativ, Israel

I had already found the ‘Protected’ Allancastria Cerisyi butterfly in the extreme northwestern corner of Israel. I love them and have already written and posted about their beauty. Israel also enjoys a second Allancastria species, Allancastria Deyrollei, the subject of this post.  A. Deyrollei flies in Northeastern Israel and in Central Israel.

On my second drive to the north, I stayed in SPNI Hermon, the Society for the Protection of Nature‘s field house at the foot of Mt. Hermon. Driving up the foothills of Hermon mountain, I turned into the small moshav (village) of Neve Ativ. I parked and worked the meadows around the village. It turned out to be a good plan, with butterflies flying in good numbers. Some of these would be great finds, for Mt. Hermon sports many extra rare butterfly species.

I had my eyes open for A. Deyrollei. Over a period of three hours, I saw three of them. They would not tolerate any approach, each zooming away when I got within 15 feet of them. That compounded my resolve to find and photograph one.

On my approach to a small retaining pond, I nearly stepped on this one! It had been sunning itself with wings spread out. Battle stations!! I knew I had something like ⅓ of a second to make my approach, and score macro-images. I moved more quickly than I usually do, smoothly, but quickly. She remained in place. I took one photograph after the other, shooting multiples of 3/camera clicks.

She was spectacular, and this image shares much of it, with yellows, blacks, reds, blues and whites artfully displayed. Compliments to the Master! Then the A. Deyrollei zoomed away!


Protected Parnassian (Enjoying Life)

Allancastria Cerisyri butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hanita, Israel

March 2015, and me and my trusty Hertz rental car have found our way up to Northernmost Israel, and my objective, these protected members of Family Papilionidae. I arrived in Israel the first week in March, and some days later, here I was. These males, of species Allancastria Cerisyi Speciosa, were flying at least two weeks earlier than predicted by the field guides. I was thankful for that, and encouraged that this early flight was in part in my honor. They typically fly in March, only.

He was nectaring on these pert little purple blooms, and he was a fine specimen, bedecked in his yellows, black, red and blue, complemented by those racy red eyes.

I was in Israel, enjoyed my grandsons, savoring the absolute beauty of this Land, and grateful to meet many of its most beautiful winged beauties.

Have you booked your flight to the Holyland yet? You will never forget the experience. It ain’t Nepal. It’s a whole other level. No?


Rare Parnassian Butterfly? Check!

Allancastria Ceryisri butterfly (Protected), photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hanita, Israel

The flight from Pittsburgh to JFK Airport in New York and the 5-hour layover in JFK. A good flight on El Al (12.5 hours), with a friendly, fascinating couple from Florida sitting next to me. Through the Security screening in Ben Gurion Airport, and onto the train, north to Binyamina. Several days in Mishmarot with my daughter Rachel and her terrific family.

We have an expression, Stay with family too long, and you “begin to smell like fish.” The Hertz car rental in Herzliyah enabled me to drive north, all the way to SPNI Rosh Hanikrah. SPNI is the Israeli organization that strives to fight for and protect wildlife in Israel. They maintain ‘field houses’ throughout Israel, and this one was at the northeastern tip of Israel, roughly 2 miles from the border with Lebanon.

My goal was set months before, search that region for the Protected butterfly, Allancastria Cerisyi. No guarantee that  I would see them. They fly 1 month of the year, April. I went there in the 3rd week of March, so all bets were off.

Without anyone to guide me or direct me to my goal, I studied the map (taught map reading at one time) and off I went. Here? There?

I parked my rental, and followed an existing trail near the village of Hanita. Battle stations! Battle stations! I found one, then another of these members of the Swallowtail family. They were intent upon nectaring, and were . . . approachable.

Here we see a fresh male, focused upon the nectar oozing from these tiny blooms. Pop! Pop! Pop! Rare Parnassian, like those found only in the U.S. far western mountain ranges. Here on a hillside in Israel. A sylvan, sooo green hillside, with rare, protected winged beauties, flying a bit earlier than the field guide suggested. A Happy boy from Pittsburgh, I was.