Do You See What I See?

Lycanea Thersamon butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

This is what it’s all about. There is no predicting what we will find when we set out to discover butterflies. It is a brew of timing, location, weather, habitat health, and your luck quotient. This view shot that thought through my mind, ‘Do you see what I see?’ A solitary figure on that agricultural road in Mishmarot, Israel, the question was a sweet one for me, although it could not be shared at the time.

The time was perfect, 6:50 AM. Perfect because the July 14th morning sun rises quickly. The location was good, this field remained unplanted, and hardy wildflowers flourished. The habitat? Almost all habitat in the Holy Land is desert hardy, and the previous winter had been wet enough. The Luck Quotient? I was in Israel. It is more beautiful than . . . . Well since few of you have been there, I can share with impunity that this Land is more beautiful can you can imagine. There I was, grandson just born, daughter so happy, sky blue, air super-clear, butterflies abundant, family hosting me and showing me around like visiting royalty.

This shot of the Fritillary butterfly Melitaea Trivia Syriaca engaged from some distance, an insurance shot, is sugar to my eye, truth be told.


My Israeli Wheels

Rental car photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

This is the little compact that I rented in Israel, June and July 2014. This gave me the freedom to get to my photographic destinations, and to go get my gluten free products and fresh fruit in Binyamina. It handled well, did not disappoint.

The roads were good, the Israeli signage was good, with enough English that I only got really lost once. That once was not exactly healthy, because I turned wrong, drove, and was somehow well into the Shomron, the part which was not Israeli. A helpful fellow at a gas station patiently communicated in Arabic ( I know zero) and road map, that I missed a critical exit on the highway, way back then, and off I went, and it was good.

My butterfly-mobile is parked here at the head of that really wonderful trail, not far from the peak of Mt. Meron. Traffic on that road is light, but constant, what with the military post at the mountain’s top.

Butterflies were flying in the foreground of this image, and that was a welcome committee that I relished, each of the 5 mornings and afternoons that I ‘worked’ this mountain-side.

While I was there in Israel, that June ’14, rockets began firing from Gaza. One time we had to go into their “safe room.” The kid from the streets of Brooklyn, now way grown-up, had to go into Rachel’s safe room with his 3-day old grandson. Can you imagine how that upset me? The haters, and anti-Semites and fascists are still at it, folks. Fortunately, almost all Israeli men and many, many women have served, and fought. Moshe, for example has fought in 3 wars. Three. Israelis have a real calm about their status. They have been there, and sadly, done that.

Israel sits at the juncture of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. A good place to photograph butterflies.


Yes Bonnie . . .

Darner dragonfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel
Weeks spent in and on the mountains, fields, groves and backroads of Israel. Glorious weeks, ticking away the time until that El Al airline lifts off the runway and the 13 hour flight back to Pittsburgh. Always alone in whatever habitat, but come to think of it, never alone. Bee, flies, butterflies, lizards, birds, insects, spiders, and those occasional, mysterious gentle movements in nearby growth, signaling, I guess, the presence and withdrawal of animals larger and better left unannounced.

Yes Bonnie, another Middle Eastern Darner. And again, for the moment I cannot identify it for you.

Let me say once again, I find it difficult to pass up the challenge of photographing a darner like this one, all  ebony black, with dappling of blue here and there. If you tire of the same old, same old, invest a few moments of your time and examine a vital darner ( ‘dragonfly’). What follows, for the young and the curious is absolute amazement, i.e., What a feat of design and engineering!

This is among the last of the 53, from June and July 2014. Maybe another post or maybe 2, then our USA Thanksgiving Weekend Break, with my Birthday! neatly folded into that ( the 28th). Yay!


One Piece of the Infinite Puzzle

Wildflower photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

It’s 14 degrees Farenheit here in Pittsburgh, USA. This delicate image of a wildflower on that yummy trail on Mt. Meron, makes it just that much more difficult to acclimate to this frigid existence. Frigid for the next 4 months. Israel has winter too, but they suffer when the thermometer goes down to 45 degrees F.

We’re just about at the end of sharing our photos from June and July 2014. Good flights (El Al), birth of Boaz, a healthy vibrant Israel, and trails with abundant butterflies. Albeit butterflies that know only one speed, Zoooooom! My visits are with hospitality provided by family. I sit with them at their tables, all served, most fought, their friends often didn’t come home. It’s like America used to be, where you could be amongst a group of people, family, neighbors, whatever, and several at the table wore the uniform, served to protect their families. If more Americans visited this beautiful Land, replete with so much theological history, they would fall in Love with this Land of milk and Honey, and its pragmatic, caring people.

That trail shared its butterflies, bees, birds, botany, lizards, myriad rocky outcrops and spectacular views. But times does fly on morning trails in the Holy Land, and the Sun shines every June day, a reminder that after 10:30 AM, this American boy will begin to bake like a pancake.

Some time before that, I notice this Picris Sprengeriana wildflower at trail’s edge. I had once or twice seen butterflies on its flowers, but they never detained long enough for my approach. I took a long look at its yellow flowers, they are one piece of the infinite puzzle. One plant species amidst hundreds and hundreds of different plants, all comprising vibrant, healthy community.

That’s the message I took, all co-existing together, together creating, creating habitat and Life itself. Shouldn’t we all take note of that?



Plain Tigers – Real Time

Plain Tiger butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

What would you do? Several hundred approaches executed during those two weeks working the fields abutting orange groves, and no more than 6 to 8% of those stalks produced Danaus Chrysippus Chrysippus macro- images.

Answers that I’m not seeking: Revert to long lens or . . . or what?

But I was hooked. The Plain Tiger butterfly in Israel is eye-poppingly beautiful. I wanted images.

That is why we are seeing this image of a male sipping nectar on Centaurea Hyalolepis on Israel’s coastal plain. Usually they fly 9 months of the year and are inactive from February through April.

So we share this image, showing him in his habitat, just 25 feet up from that agricultural ditch, the Miracle that is Israel, water piped throughout the Land, nurturing agriculture in the middle of desert.