Flying to the Middle East . . . Me And Gilbert O’Sullivan

Aricia Agestis butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow on Qedesh trail, Israel

My flight on Tuesday, March 28th fast approaches. I have yet to put a single thing in my suitcase. Usually earning B+’s for packing, collecting my field clothing, leisure clothing and Sabbath clothing, along with lenses (Macro- and Wide-angle), and 48 rolls of Fuji film, and toiletries, and shoes, boots and on and on, remains a significant challenge for me. I do have my Israel field guide handy, and hopefully Rachel has my preferred map book there in Israel, waiting for me and my Hertz rental. No GPS for this guy, so set in his . . . .

My first ever Passover in Israel, spent with Rachel and Uri and my 2 grandsons, and extended family. Imagine a table full of folks, with every man there having been in uniform, and most having experienced action in 1 or more wars?

After a year of gently suggesting to butterfly enthusiasts in Israel, wouldn’t you be pleased to join me on your favorite trails and in your favorites butterfly destinations, I must admit that I am alone again, naturally. Know then that when I safely return, and no war has begun  while I am there (that happened to me twice, once in the ’80’s (‘The Lebanon War’) when I arrived with my wife and 4 children, only to find that war broke out while we were in the air!), every butterfly and wildflower I share will be a small miracle, and just years of honing my butterfly strategies.

Rachel learned to cook from her Mom A”H (“OBM”) and Dina, her mother-in-law (now more like a mother) is an excellent cook, so there’s much to be appreciative of.

This Aricia aegistis sweetheart was found on a trail that Dina’s sister Miriam recommended, the Qedesh trail in the norther Galilee, just some 2.5 miles from the Lebanese border, and murderous Hezbollah, with its menacing store of thousands of rockets (why would anyone point thousands of rockets at their neighbor? I never have, have you?).

I’ve struck out trying to urge my many friends to schedule this trip with me, and see the Christian sites that were revered in Sunday school. For some it’$ money, for others it’s the “danger” though there is none, and I shop for fruit in Druze villages! Others have trips planned to other spots. What I would not give to share a trail in the Golan, with . . . . . . . . . . I dare not name names, for I love y’all too much.

So I fly on March 28, and return on April 25, G-d willing, and we will not post any new blogs, I think, until my return to Pittsburgh. Fly there with me in ’18 and win a free . . . . (Hmmmm.)

Jeff

Who Loves the Red-Spotted Purple?

Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park

Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park

America’s most beloved bird? It’s got to be the bald eagle. With tens of millions of birders, the bald eagle enjoys oceans of love. The Telegraph just reported that 20-somethings are increasingly taking up their ‘binis’ and looking for birds.

America’s most beloved butterfly? Easy again, the Monarch butterfly. Thousands of Americans are rearing them, visiting the central Mexico mountains where they overwinter, and planting milkweeds in their home gardens. Other beloved Americans butterflies? Eastern black swallowtails, Giant swallowtails and Pipevine swallowtails.

Why do blogs, NABA, Xerces and many state’s departments of conservation/environmental protection work most vigorously to protect monarchs and many swallowtails? I expect that we generally agree that they are large butterflies, very colorful butterflies, visit home gardens regularly and enjoy c that lend themselves to home development.

Chew on this? Why are butterflies that are found on moist trails, and rarely nectar on flowerheads, little loved? Here, a fine Red-spotted purple. Often seen on trails from New England to Florida and across the south to New Mexico, few hesitate to shower love and admiration for Red-spotteds.

Will tastes change, and the time come that sees the Red-spotted purple butterfly becomes the Golden retriever of the butterfly diversity? Or will Red-spotteds forever be “a butterfly.”

Jeff

Why? Asked A Photographer of Butterflies.

Tawny Hackberry butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Fond? Not strong enough. Really like? Not that either. This image evokes stronger for me, Love. I love this Tawny Emperor butterfly image. Comes the question, why? Why too, in a ‘Media library’ of more than 700 images, do a very few of them earn the ‘Love’ sentiment?

Seek/chase/search/scour habitat for butterflies, and you will be skunked (disappointed) much. It may rain when you reach your destination, or it may be too dry, hot, or devoid of critical hostplants or those very same hostplants may be set in a place that butterflies just don’t go to. It may be too windy, or bad weather may be on its way, and I often wonder if butterflies don’t pre-sense that. All this to understand that when we score a unique image, all of these negatives have not deterred.

Tawny emperors are not common, not usually encountered. The closely related Hackberry emperor is common. This particular Tawny was the first I had ever seen, what friends would call a ‘Lifer.’ That on that morning I shot out at least 40 or more exposures, reminds of how much I wanted to leave there with good stuff. Uncommon butterfly, sweet image = another reason that I ‘Love’ this image.

Aspects of the image? Fresh, fresh individual, with good color capture. Eye-friendly background (green leaves, blurred by the work of my Macro- lens (100mm/2.8 Canon). Near universal fine share of wings, body, head, eyes, antennae. To this add that this Tawny was comfortably sitting on the horizontal member of a wooden trail marker at Raccoon Creek State Park in Beaver County, in southwestern Pennsylvania. Butterfly perched at a tantalizing angle with reference to that hardwood platform adds to the eye-fascination I have always had for this look.

Personal affinities? I love browns, and this is a study of browns. I have always thought that those 4 wings look way oversize, as if this flier could barely rise from the board (after it decided that more 40+ captures were enough, it shot away at shocking speed, in a direct path, some 5 feet or so off the ground). The near mystical. Had I arrived minutes before, or minutes later, I would Never have met this comely beauty. To that add that Miriam and others whom I admire have generously praised this photo, and well, that pleases me, alot.

A brief discussion of why? from someone who thinks about this, once again, alot.

Jeff

Adios Arizona!

Arizona arroyo habitat photographed by Jeff Zablow at White Tank Mountains Regional Park, AZ

Where? Well you already know we’re in Arizona. Just an hour and a half west of Phoenix, in that arroyo (dry creek bed) that I visited a couple of times, and almost lost it all to heat exhaustion (didn’t use my cell when I realized I was going down, that male stupidity ( Guilty! ), not wanting to inconvenience 911, when I thought that Brooklyn here had been through deadlier scraps . . . .).

I loved that arroyo, in White Tank Mountains Regional Park. The good sign warned to stay away, do not enter, for among the reasons, flash floods apparently rage through, when it rains. I never ever saw anyone else in that rock-strewn arroyo bed. Hope the Statue of Limitations is now up?

Well, mother-in-law moved back to Brooklyn about 6 months ago, from Sun City West, and that was why I went there in the first place. I for years wanted to also visit Portal, Arizona as Vladimir Nabokov did in his pursuit of blue butterflies, in the southeastern Arizona mountain system that included the Chirichaua mountains,  sp?). Never got that off my list, for not ever finding anyone to join/guide me to good destinations in those huge mountains.

So I reminisce, seeing this sweet, sweet memory from that gorgeous/deadly arroyo, and think, . . . Adios Arizona!

Jeff