18,000,000 Wait….

20 04 2014

Monarch Butterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park 

April 20th, 2014, and 18 million Americans wait. Additional tens of millions of naturalists and esthetes around the world wait, too. They wait to see if this beautiful moment will again be seen in fields and flowery margins from the Rocky Mountains east to the Atlantic coast. Will Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) return from Mexico and decorate flowerheads, like these Wild Bergamots (Monarda fistulosa)?

My estimates may be too low. Almost every American child learns about the incredible migration of Monarch generations from the mountains of central Mexico to Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Connecticut and Maine. When their schoolteachers assure that these seemingly delicate butterflies actually do make the trips, children internalize a lesson: Determination and sticking to the task lead to reward and success.

Critical trees continue to be illegally and legally cut on those Mexican mountains, genetically modified crops and other agricultural initiatives that reduce the milkweed plants that Monarch caterpillars require, and untimely frosts and storms during the migration north all jeopardize the Monarchs of 2014.

I will also add Common  Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) to my own garden, adding to the million of gardeners in the USA who are planting them to support Monarchs.

I just have to believe that they will return, and flourish, and return back to Mexico in September…and savor that moment, when at Raccoon Creek State Park I turn my head and Yes! A Monarch!!

Jeff

 





Wildlife and Not so- Wild Life on the Trails….

17 04 2014

Cow photographed by Jeff Zablow on Northern Golan Trail, Israel, on 3/20/12

How well do you know your state’s cattle? She’s grazing in Texas? Louisiana? Kansas? New Mexico? Calgary? New Jersey? Montana? Baja California? Holding out for Colorado? Gotta be Utah? If you held out for more choices…you’re a gifted bovine identifier. She’s sampling tasties along  a trail in the northernmost Golan, at the extreme north of Israel.

Rachel and I found ourselves facing a bunch (?) of these behemoths, on our way back on a trail that had descended to a small river. An earlier blog described our nimble response to this challenge. Louise of Pittsburgh Commented that we had nothing to be concerned about…cattle want to do one thing and one thing only, eat. But you know, Louise wasn’t there on that remote hill with us. Nevertheless, city-dad and suburban-daughter did puzzle over this Excuse Me!

With winter gone, we look forward to getting back onto other wilderness trails. What wildlife will we meet up with? Record-breaking drought west of the Mississippi may well have skunked our plans to hike Colorado, or Arizona or California  or Washington mountains and valleys. Grizzlies, cougars, wolves, rattlers and much more may have to await another year for an encounter with Jeffrey.

I have shared trails, fields and forest with an assortment of macro-organisms. All that I can recall communicated about the same message – They were more than uncomfortable near me, and like the huge Israeli boar I startled last year, shot away from me at impressive speed. Others seen include species of wild dogs, alligators, white-tail deer, fox, marten, and a 40-pound long-tailed cat (in southwestern Pennsylvania, of all places). Rattlesnake in Rector, PA.

Which wildlife have made me wary and sent my hand down to the steel I bring along? Dogs. Domesticated dogs traveling in pairs. In Rector, PA two large dogs continued to advance on me with the wrong look on their faces, turning only  when I gave them my patented dog-warning wail and at the same time confronted them with shiny, pointy steel.

Out to see butterflies, delighted to see other wildlife…wary when the wildlife reminds me of guys I used to share those Brooklyn, NY sidewalks with…. But then, that’s me.

Jeff





Fabriciana Niobe Philistra (Protected) (Mt. Hermon) … 1 in 5,000,000,000,000 ?

10 03 2014

Melitaea Persea Montium butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow on Mt. Hermon, Israel, 6/16/08

Wonderful! A working image of this rare, protected butterfly on… Mt. Hermon, at Israel’s northernmost border. He was not approachable … until he spotted these groundcover blooms on the mountaintop. So irresistible their aroma must have been, for he sped to these blossoms, and spent precious moments on each, taking in the sugary nectar.

This is another image that I am sharing, taken in June 2008. I had experienced a life-changing personal loss months before, and my daughter had relocated from Washington, D.C. to Tel Aviv. As I planned to visit her, I pushed myself to go for it, do something radical with my camera. Eran Banker was contacted, and off we went from Tel Aviv to … the peak of Mt. Hermon! Quite a few of my photos from Mt. Hermon can be seen here on wingedbeauty. Never, never will I forget that trip. Eagles flying by us as we took the lift to the mountaintop, butterflies like this one, found nowhere else, a landmine (where there were not supposed to be any), OMG! views of Syria and Lebanon, the cattle, grazing 7,000 feet plus on the mountaintop, and the knowledge that we were being watched, surveillance was watching us.

A rare Fritillary this one, flying May through July, on a mountain that you and I cannot visit because of a certain civil WAR, in  Syria.

Jeff





War and Grazing Cattle….

20 02 2014

Cattle on Mt. Hermon, Israel photographed by Jeff Zablow, 6/16/08

Eran and I drove from Tel Aviv to Mt. Hermon, at the northernmost tip of Israel. We took the ski lift up to the top of the mountain. We watched as a pair of eagles flew past us, Wow! It was exciting to stand on the peak of Hermon! Israel, Syria and Lebanon stretched out this way and that.

I prepared myself for this trip. I knew that the mountaintop was habitat for many rare butterflies. I was not disappointed. We have, and will soon share images of some of these rare, protected winged beauties.

What I was not prepared for, was this. Huh? Cattle grazing on the mountaintop, 7,000. feet above sea level? Cattle no doubt owned by a Syrian farmer. Yet, no farmer in sight. It was 2008. Frieda A”H had passed in January. Standing on the peak of Hermon was good medicine for me. The kid from Brooklyn, who never knew of the ‘golden spoon,’ was soaking in the beauty, glory and blessings of the incredible top of Hermon.

Yes, we found and photographed the butterflies of Mt. Hermon. You can see  them amongst the butterflies of Israel. Some of  them are unchanged, the same as they were when The Great Ones did their teaching.

But…it’s now 2014. What’s become of the farmer who owned this cattle? Has he fled his Syrian farm, amidst the carnage that must be all around him? Are the offspring of these cows still grazing Hermon, or are they also victims of this madness? Pathetic!

Jeff








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