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.


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!


Dainty Flowers on Mt. Meron (Israel)

25 01 2014

Capparaceae wildflower butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

Never seen anything like it. Working the trails on the slopes of Mt. Meron, there they were, here and there along the trail, for some reason almost always on the same side of the trail. Hmm. They looked so fragile, so extraordinary. I can never be blasé about wildflowers, can’t succumb to that seen them all mind-set, because as pictured here, there are alway wildflowers down the road that you have never seen before.

My Israel resource guides/books identify this wonder-flower as one in the Capparaceae family. More I cannot share, and cannot hold my breathe awaiting more info from that region. Pity.

So, I spent quite a few precious minutes over several days, in the mornings and in the late afternoons, waiting to learn which butterflies nectar at these dainty blooms. I did not see a single butterfly visit. Now, the nights are long, and it may be that moths, which abound on Mt. Meron, may be the unseen nectarers. That I will not know firsthand, as I do not work trails at night, especially these trails with huge wild boar, wild dogs and who knows what else afoot….

Yes it appears that I may be returning this summer to Mt. Meron and Mt. Hermon’s slopes (Most of that mountain peak is CLOSED). Review of my posts here from those altitudes reminds me that we have posted some VERY Rare butterflies herein. What’s Vegas’ line on whether or not we can stretch that success?


Gonepteryx Farinosa Farinosa (Mt. Hermon)

22 01 2014

Gonepteryx farinosa butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Hermon, Israel

How did this image get away with it? I’ve dug into my Neumade metal slide cabinets (a gift from a friend some years ago!) who knows how many times, and this June 16th 2008 image somehow managed to again and again give me the slip. What we have here is a large Pieridae butterfly that flies from May to August. In Israel, it is only found in one place. Mount Hermon. If it is found on the other side of the mountain…in Syria…your search for Gonepteryx ff. would be a brief one. Within minutes, pick-up trucks, full of heavily armed men would speed up to you (not me, because I survived Brooklyn, and I ‘ain’t’ looking to end it there). They would yell at you, maybe push you, hard, and then you would be rushed away, to who knows what fate. Why were you there? Who are you? Why do you photograph their positions? Passport! Are you CIA, NSA, with Assad, Seals, or are you … stupid. Let’s say that the quest for butterflies is a very dangerous science in Syria.

She flew at high speed to here and then to there, until she spotted this thistle flowerhead. It must have been irresistible, because then and only then did she allow me to approach within 18″ of her. I cannot be sure of the identity of this thistle. The field guides I own are in Hebrew. Feedback from naturalists in Israel is, regrettably, minimal. Oh well.

So her species is not rare, but is found only on that militarized peak. There is a good chance that I will be photographing in Israel this year, with the anticipation of a family celebration. This time, as in 2012 and 2013, Mt.  Hermon is out, IDF only (army). My fervent hope is once again, to photograph the Two-tailed Pasha, Israel’s largest butterfly, and an artist’s palette of a beauty. That is a challenge. In June ’13 I saw 3 of them, and each would not let me get within 30 feet of them. All were on the ground when noticed, all must have been engineered by Grumman, because they swooshed away at incredible speed. I think that I now know the strategy I’ll need. Get there before 6:30 AM and pray alot.



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