Petra & Jeff

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

Jenny Jean shot dozens of images of us. This is the the other image that stood out as the 2 best. The companion picture was posted a week ago. Many of you have been with us for nearly the entire 2 years that has been posting.

After decades without the company of a dog, our Black Russian, Petra has been a treat and a handful. When I was a kid in Brooklyn, the attached houses surrounding us suffered too many break-ins, people coming in through windows at night. My family had a succession of 4 boxers back then, all stout, broad chested males. Thankfully, no one ever stuck their nose in our nighttime windows during our boxer era. Petra, acquired during a trip to breeders in  eastern Mississippi, is a terrific dog. At 3 years, she’s a big pup by temperament by day, and a serious shepherd of our well-being at night. Good.

I’m just at the end of Robert Michael Pyle’s Walking the High Ridge (Milkweed Editions, 2000). An important read for me. Clear examination of who, why, what and where for him and for me. Few reads bring me there.

Thanks to all for a good year. Especially, Miriam, Jim, Coralie, Chuck, Paula, Luise, Lonnie, Jock, Laurence, Michelle, Rachel and all of you. I love this blog and deeply appreciate your kindness and your visits. Thanks too for your patience with my offering of images. I have family in Israel, photograph butterflies while there, and offer them along with my U.S. Leps. For some of you, that may be novel, and I recognize that.

wingedbeauty is always a reminder for me of the almost indescribable beauty of all butterflies and the struggle that timeless jewelry artisans have faced when they attempted to copy G-d’s work.

Happy Holidays to all.

Large Wall Brown (Old City, Jerusalem)

Turkish meadow brown butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Jerusalem, Israel

Our accommodations in the Old City of Jerusalem were unbelievable. At our windows you looked across the vast courtyard, and you were looking straight at The Kotel (Western Wall). We were not nearby, within easy walking distance. We were There! This month of December is so connected to the ancient, meaningful city.

I got off to my usual very early start each day. Everyone else was fast asleep. Rachel’s wedding was more than a week off. Had my camera and lenses with me, of course. Had my Canon 100mm 2.8 Macro- lens there too. When I packed, I packed that one too. Maybe our 17-day stay in Israel would find me some time to search for butterflies?

So early those Jerusalem mornings I slipped out silently, and ? Hmm. The Old City of Jerusalem and butterflies. Were there any in this built-to-the-last-centimeter city? I descended several flights of stone stairs near where we slept, and there was a small city park. It looked like it didn’t enjoy much attention. Didn’t the millions who came each year to visit the Old City, Christians, Jews, Muslims- didn’t they come to savor the timeless flavor and spiritual aroma of this theological destination?

This park had some shrubs here and there, some in bloom. Butterflies. There were butterflies there. At first I saw only blues, tiny Common blues. But, I searched and searched. I saw lots of what appeared to be ancient stone. In the Old City the horrific invasions of Greeks and Romans and other armies led to colossal demolition of the stone Temples and structures. There are massive stone about whose original site remains unknown.

Here in this park the butterflies were intolerant of approach. I accepted that images of them had to be at some distance. So here, after many failed attempts, we have Lasiommata maera o. resting on such a hewn stone. He flies in the middle of the city, at this moment in a park that does have some shrubs and does have a number of pomegranate trees. He flies close to the ground, disappears upon approach, then returns 3 or 4 minutes later. What is he waiting for? Does he acknowledge that he is flying amidst ground that the world’s greatest figures have walked?

Large wall brown on hallowed ground. June 26th. Rachel’s wedding was on July 6th. It was beautiful. I cried.


Hyponephele Lupinus Centralis (Mt. Meron)

Hipparchia pisidice butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

Hello to another butterfly I met on the northern slope of Mt. Meron. The Upper Galilee region of Israel was all new to me in June 2013. Butterflies were everywhere. Some were known to me. This species was a lifer, the first I’d ever seen and identified of this species. Boing! Camera loaded (film), sun at my back, zero wind, now make a careful approach…risky because I’d never seen this one before, and if it flees, I may not see it …. Followed my Technique (see Technique feature at the top of your screen)…Good.

Our image here causes me to make this determination, Hyponephele lupinus c.. The ventral wing surface is mottled brown, with abundant dotting. The hindwing has that jagged pattern running through its center. The hindwing edges are also jagged. There is a tiny peek of the orangish-brown coloring of the center of the ventral forewing. The head is brownish as are the antennae. Much thanks to Dubi Benyamini’s A Field Guide To The Butterflies of Israel (Keter Publishing, 2002) for helping me identify this butterfly. They fly from May to June, then are not seen until August and fly into September. Where? Jerusalem and immediately north of Jerusalem, and a corridor at the north of Israel, roughly from Mt.  Meron to Mt. Hermon. They are Satyrs. I Love satyrs.

What do I wish? I wish that I had someone with me that, and other Whoopee! mornings, someone who would get me a photograph of ME! each time I discovered a new butterfly species, new to Jeffrey. New to me. What that moment must look like. Me, flush and satisfied. Me, setting out to uncover more new, more exciting, more…to share with You!


Great Spangled Fritillary

Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Umm! I’m overdue. Our 2 shih tzus and black russian need to go out for their walks. But out the window its dull, gray, slushy and slippery. So I’m putting it off until they signal, now or never! Opening this image in our queue: Up comes this satisfying shot = Summer! You’ve just got to pause and visually drink it in. Don’t ski, toboggan, sled. Skin on my hands gets really challenged by the below freezing winters of Pittsburgh (No this is my home, so that’s that).

You already know that some of my images aren’t as close-up as others share, but I think our color here is good, real-time, and the plant life shared looks real, and not blah! She is motionless on a gravel trail in Raccoon Creek State Park, one of the many beautiful state parks in western Pennsylvania. That puts us about 400 miles due west, and a little bit south of New York City.

This morning I opened a new Robert Michale Pyle book, and after the last several terrific butterfly reads, this all has begun bringing my blood to a low boil. Look again at this image. How nice it will be to again share the trail with Speyeria cybele. Today is December 9th. Where are they now? They are present in your yards, parks, schoolyards and refuges. Where? They are hidden caterpillars, hidden in the leaf litter. When you watched your neighbor rake up the leaves last month in their large yard . . . good chance they were raking up some potentially eye-catching butterflies (or what would have been butterflies). Man and butterflies . . . sometimes they . . .

It is my hope to travel a bit in 2014, to photograph, and share Regals, Diana’s, butterflies of the Keys, Texas’ much raved about Mission, Tx area, and Newfoundland. If you like, look at our last post. I need your eyes and ears and boots. Thanks.



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.