Guide or No Guide?

View of Lebanon from Mt. Meron, Israel photographed by Jeffrey Zablow

Wasn’t I looking due north from my position near the peak of Mt. Meron, in Israel? That trail was wonderful, full of healthy butterflies, and at varying intervals, offered scenic views. At the time I was certain that what I saw was the mountain in the foreground, a large Israeli town in the mid-ground, and villages in Lebanon in the background. Sitting here with 3 maps of Israel before me, I’m am no longer 90% sure of that. Identified here? The dilemma we face when we set out to explore places we’ve never been to before. Whether in the States (USA), Israel or any other country, it’s rough to find butterfly destinations when you are without someone who knows the terrain first hand.

Yes, this trail on the slope of Mt. Meron was very productive. But look down with me. Part of the lower ⅓ of the photo remains a mystery, and a good part of that is off limits (military). The town in the mid-ground, I’m not even sure which it is. When you devote several days to shooting-out a location, you don’t have extra time to tour, and in June, it is too hot to do so, and perhaps foolish to do so alone. The upper (northern?) half of the photo, perhaps ½ of that in Israel, also is unknown, and potentially dangerous. Wild-westy so to speak (AKA dangerous to be there alone). I remain sure that the top of the photograph is the border between Israel and Lebanon, with heavy surveillance from at least one of those armies. The tippy-top of the photo, if Lebanon, remains waaay off-limits for this boy from Brooklyn.

So guide or no guide? Pragmatically, guides are very expensive, and few know butterfly habitat. Home in the U.S. I cannot remember when I have ever enjoyed the company of another person who scouted habitat that they knew. This is tough because when you travel, as I want to in the  2014, your time is limited, and if you spend time in unproductive habitat, and get skunked (find zero butterflies), the time ‘lost’ cannot be recouped.

An earlier post noted my desire to travel for Diana and Regal fritillaries, and to the Keys, and to the southern tip of Texas . . . without any feedback from folks whose footprints are still evident in those places.

So, my faithful readers, know that when you visit blogs like mine, and see photos of wild butterflies, whoever captured those images surely deserves a good deal of credit, for it’s unlikely that anyone helped them get to that spot, that day.

Humility. I just completed Wild America (Peterson & Fisher, 1955). Before that I danced through Mariposa Road (Pyle, 2012). I’m no Peterson, Fisher or Pyle . . . but, they had serious folks guiding them much of the time . . . Oh, how.



3 thoughts on “Guide or No Guide?

  1. The only large town around Mt. Meron is Safed. And why would the North of Israel (except the area immediately adjacent to the border) be dangerous? I have been there many times and haven’t noticed anything more dangerous than wild boars and jackals (dangerous as they are).

    Perhaps you’re already familiar with the butterfly sighting website
    And maybe the Israeli butterfly association might be able to recommend a guide for you should you come back – (in Hebrew, but you can email).

    Happy “hunting”!


    • Thank you Michael. Well…Just to put some closure to this, I must note that I have family all over the place in Israel, I think all have served, some elite, and at their tables, they insist on my assurances that I will not go off on my own in areas unknown to me. So I follow the guidance of those folks. Don’t yet know the website. Am a member of the Israeli Lepidopterist Society, and by happy circumstance, attended their 4 (?) International Meeting at Ramat Hanadiv in June 2013. Enjoyed that, met folks, met folks who knew of my plans some months before…Sorry you took umbrage…as you see, or if you agree, I nevertheless …..Kol tuv, Jeff


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