Blue-Spot Hairstreak (Mt. Meron) (2)

Blue spotted hairstreak butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Meron

I left my SPNI Meron fieldhouse quarters, satisfied that I had with me all that I needed that morning. Hours in the northern Israel sun required at least two plastic bottles of water. Check. 15 rolls of Fuji slide film, ASA’s 50 and 100, for sunny or moderately cloudy conditions. Check. Canon camera, lens and UV filter clean. Check. Knee-pad for my left knee. Check. Glutino Gluten Free Bars (Blueberry & Strawberry) should hunger happen. Check. Ability to fend off the unexpected (I did encounter wild boar and wild dog). Check too.

The abundance of butterflies on Mt. Meron, at the very north central edge of Israel, was exhilarating. It also challenged my stash of film. I brought 53 rolls of Fuji 36-exposure film. You would have noticed the grimace that couldn’t be hidden, when I announced the need for “Hand Check – Film” at the TSA security area in Pittsburgh, and again at JFK International Airport, when I reached the very serious Israeli Security area. You can no longer plead, “Vietnam-era Vet” or “Brooklyn Born & Raised” in Pittsburgh or “Love Israel” or “Daughter living in Mishmarot” or “Cousins-Lots of them” at the JFK Israel security station. So, good, my film was not bombarded with x-rays or any other rays (as far as we know). But more than 50 or so rolls of film would have been unwieldy and would have taken even more time, as each and every roll was hand checked. Yes, in the future I will “Go Digital” but, the colors captured on film remain much superior than those captured digitally. I spend so much time moving through habitat, that I know what real-time colors are really real.

This male Strymonidia spini melantho was one of hundreds that were seen on the mountain. They move about quickly, then land on a flowerhead or branch or other object. Often, the males pose, and allow my patented approach. As long as I remained the agreed distance away, they maintained their pose. I liked them. Their coppery-brown wings, easily visible white band on all wings, blue patch on the hindwings, orange marking capped with outer black dots, pair of tails, and other features combined to produce an eye pleasing butterfly.

I had to off and on talk to myself, remind myself that my exposures were not infinite and had to be conserved. There were other habitats and adventures ahead.