Jeff & Petra

Jeff Zablow and his dog, Petra photographed by Jenny Jean Photography

How many? I think the number of posts that we’ve made here has passed 275. Some days we entertain scores and scores of visits to Other days are somewhat quieter.

With the approach of a Trifecta? A what? With the approach of our Thanksgiving holiday, my Birthday, and Chanukah, all falling on November 28th this year…we are sharing a slightly different view. Here I am, this time the subject of the image, with Petra, our Black Russian 3-year old. She is a joy, a sinewy bundle of enthusiasm. Other pups have settled down by age 3, not Petra. She loves life and savors runs, and confronts life with verve!

Thanksgiving is a Big Deal here in the U.S. and each year things slow down more and more in the week before this day when we reflect on the beautiful Land that we have been blessed to live in. Portland or Des Moines or Mission (TX) or St.Louis or Miami or Savannah or Cleveland or Lumberton (Mississippi) where Petra was born, all stop and feast.

So, this break of several days we will take, and then . . . back to Butterflies!



Swallowtail (Israel) at Mt. Meron

Swallowtail butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

Finally! Three weeks in Israel would soon end, and yet another flight back home (Pittsburgh, PA, USA) without a passable photo of Israel’s Papilio machaon. Ramat Hanadiv, Mishmarot, the foot of Mt. Hermon, Tel Dan Reserve, Tal Kadosh Nature Park, and other northern Golan locales, and now Mt. Meron. Still no decent image of this beautiful swallowtail.

It was a lesson in perserverance. I was returning on a Mt. Meron trail, after having worked both sides of it for ¾ of a mile. It was hot, as it should be in mid-June 2013. But it was not excessively hot, and . . . the wildflowers were in bloom everywhere . . . and the butterflies were everywhere. So I was thankful for all that I had accomplished. A fantastic trip, joyous time with family in Mishmarot, travel in Israel without mishap, fair enough  rental car, met many fascinating people, the personal  joy of a strong, upright Israel, tremendous weather . . .

I was approaching the trailhead and my rental car. I’m thinking in total, Thank You. Ok, so maybe the next trip for images of Swallowtails and Two-tailed Pasha butterflies. My eye catches sight of a fresh Lep just off the trial, and I go to it, with my roll of slide film still waiting in my camera. Good, a couple of images . . . Then, WHOA! I see a swallowtail fly in  and land on the tiny flower that you see in the image. Battlestations!

Do I risk moving closer to it? Isn’t the flower too tiny to keep the swallowtail interested, as I make an approach? Hasn’t it been years, without a shareable image? Move? Don’t move. Didn’t Uncle Sam train me to make decisions and execute them? I made an especially cautious approach. Careful Jeff, don’t risk getting too close. She will flee like a rocket!

It may well be that some will look again at this image and think, Eh! I tell you this is one wild, unapproachable species, this Papilio m. This female had not just exited her chrysalis in a house or shed, slowly drying and waiting to spread her wings and then, then fly. Lady Machaon is a wild as they get. I stopped 5 feet away from her, followed the steps in our Technique feature (See the Technique click near the top of your view) and shot,  shot, shot, shot . . .

I am more than happy with the product. Her splashes of blue are dramatic. A bit of her orange/red hindwing marking can be seen. Her wings are sharp and intact. Youthful beauty!

That morning your ears did not deceive you. Whether you were in London, Calcutta, Mexico City, Charleston or Toronto…You did hear a faint, “Yes!” Faint because it was a scream that I let loose, from near the top of Mt. Meron, thousands of miles from wherever you were! I finally, finally scored images of Papilio machaon, just minutes before my final field work in 2013 in Israel.

The author confirms that this is a true and accurate account of one man’s passion for ….


Great Spangled Fritillary . . . Nectaring

Great spangled fritillary butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

She was feeding. concentrating on consuming as much nutrient-rich nectar as she could, from these robust Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) flowers. Some butterflies hover over bloom like mini-helicopters, others perch on the blooms with their wings in furious movement. Great spangled fritillaries set nearly motionless on one flower, then move to the next. This feeding is deliberate, and maximizes the volume of nectar that she can obtain.

It was the morning of the 4th of July, and surely she was readying herself for a moderate flight to the nearest town to Raccoon Creek State Park‘s Nichol road. For the Fourth of July parade of course. A major holiday here in the United States (commemorating our independence as a nation), she was a Pennsylvania butterfly, flying in a state that takes this holiday . . . very seriously.

Were not her “spangles” or silvery spots on her ventral (undersurface) wing surface reminders of our anthem, The Star Spangled Banner?

Speyeria cybele busily working Asclepias tuberosa on the 4th of July. A sweet sight? No?



Hermon Iris (Protected) (2)

Hermon Iris (Protected) butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Northernmost Golan, Israel

Startling! Working this trail in the northernmost Golan region of Israel, searching for butterflies. Always alert, eyes panning from right to left, left to right, poised to note flight. Searching for butterflies. Hyper alert. Lebanon, less than a mile away, is sadly the home of Hezbollah, whose adherents violate all that we learned as children. We were taught to be good citizens, respect the rights of others, and be there to help if someone needs helps. On the other side of the formidable fence, beyond the horizon, roam folks who have been taught, no, trained, to Kill. What a place you see here. Absolute beauty, with hungry knife tips conspiring heinous acts, somewhere over the hill.

Can you imagine my thoughts when I saw these Hermon iris blooms along this trail? OMG! Working to score butterfly images for, I reached floral beauty. Delicate, yet stubborn flowers with petals whose intricacy of tiny inkspots an artisan at Cartier would require weeks or more to copy and master. THE Master craftsman at work. Amazing.

I have never seen irises growing in the wild. I had to reckon a moment, Am I hallucinating?

I have grown irises in my own gardens since 1970. I have occasionally enjoyed comments made by people passing, as I was working my perennial beds. I have grown very beautiful irises. Hermon iris rivaled any that I have ever seen. Period.

These plants are protected by law. They grow on trails that few people ever travel. They bloom in early Israeli Spring, when they go largely unseen.

What a treat on a unique trail in an extraordinary place. What a Shame that the fence will never come down . . .


Hackberry Emperor (In the Delta)

Hackberry emperor butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Greenville, Mississippi

We drove nearly 900 miles from Pittsburgh, down to Greenville, Mississippi. It helped that my grade school teachers made the spelling of this beautiful state an absolute must. You had to be able to spell M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I. Greenville was a bustling cotton town, cotton brought to the docks was loaded on ships and sent to all corners of the globe. Although Greenville no longer thrives, the wildlife in the Mississippi delta region was all new to me.

Well, almost all new. Asterocampa celtis is also found in Pennsylvania. We have posted several images of our northern hackberrys. The Hackberry emperors and Tawny emperors (Asterocampa clyton) flying in western Mississippi were impressively rich in color. Their appealing coloration often led to confusion, i.e., was this one here a Hackberry or a Tawny? Leroy Percy State Park offered both hackberrys. Ours here is a Hackberry emperor.

A trip back to Mississippi included several mornings at Yazoo National Wildlife Refuge. Unfortunately, the Rangers there declined my request to show me the most promising trails? Of course that little damped my enthusiasm to find and photograph new butterflies. Find them I did. Several species I had never seen before. After once seeing (I have not doubt about that) a Goatweed Leafwing (Anaea andria) in Raccoon Creek Sate Park in southwestern Pennsylvania (no photo and I was not expecting to encounter it, and it certainly was startled by me and zoomed away), early in the morning at Yazoo, I had one of those, Am I seeing what I am seeing? experiences. There was a Goatweed leafwing perched on a tree trunk, in the shade of the morning. I regained my head, looked, looked, looked and when I remembered, Duh! You are a photographer, I began to raise my Canon. Whist! it disappeared into the forest. Mississipi. Mosquitoes, moderate. Chiggers, Uh oh!