Yes, It’s a Delphinium!

Wildflower photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

This first week in November mirrors Novembers past. Almost all of our U.S. butterflies no longer are flying. Their wildflowers are memories now. Those of us who enjoy seeing butterfly images . . . are weaning ourselves from this year’s March to October butterfly bounty. Much went well this year, even the Monarch melancholy came to a time-out, what with a fair number of Monarchs seen flying in September and October.

So we turn our attention to the upcoming Holidays and assure ourselves that snow, sleet, shovels and sidewalk salt will come, and go! ASAP.

My visit to Israel in June to July 2014 produced some 2,345 Fujichrome Velvia 50/100 slides. All but about 53 were discarded. That’s central to photographing wildlife. Shoot, shoot, shoot and hope that you capture one OMG!

So you are all very welcome to continue seeing some of them, as well as another group (U.S.) that we will also share.

Here, on the slopes of Mt. Meron, in northernmost Israel, it was butterflies that I was seeking. That’s never the whole picture though, for the more we are out there, the more our eyes notice new things.

This wildflower stem caught my eye. Hmmm. Now that I’m home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, my modest library of the wildflowers of Israel has not identified it. I think that it looks like a Delphinium. Sweet, delicate looking, yet out there, amidst the known and little known wildlife, near the peak of Mt. Meron. Serene, yet it faces a view to the north, Lebanon, where terrorists careen around in weapons -laden 4-wheel drives, scarring that beautiful country.

Good. Oz Ben Yehuda has confirmed that it is a Delphinium, Delphinium ithaburens.


Danaus in the HolyLand

Plain Tiger butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

July 2014 and the closest that I have ever gotten to Plain Tiger butterflies. This pod made their home in  and around an agricultural ditch, July dry in the Israeli sun, but those healthy cattails (Typha) crowded along the length of that ditch surely signaled continued moist mud persisting just below the surface.

I’ve already shared that these cousins to our North American Monarchs are barely approachable. These Plain Tiger photos took days of stalking to capture. U.S. monarchs can be approached, carefully, and are less wary when they are nectaring. These Tigers would have nothing of me, whenever. This shot, and the others shared, were the result of especially robotic approach, sun baring down and sweat almost overrunning the red sweat band over my forehead.

So many Danaus similarities. Just a matter of cleaning His brushes and rearranging the splashes, washes, dots, patches and so on.

Solidly in the category of butterflies I love working with. Wild, fast, independent and beautiful. Mishmarot, a 4-5 minute walk from my daughters home. At extended orange groves.


Two Lesser Fiery Coppers (Israel)

Lycaena Thersamon photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

Lycaena Thersamon photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel


November has arrived here in the U.S. Northeast. Today is one of those beautiful, sunny days that November can offer up. Yet there are also things that ‘grasshoppers’ don’t consider, while the ‘ants’ among us pile-up in our mental things-to-do lists, e.g., check the snow shovel, purchase sidewalk salt (w/o sodium), mulch the flower beds, and on and on.

And then there are those quiet moments, when we realize that we won’t experience the beauty of native butterflies for Gee!, five or more months. Sure we view reports from Florida and Texas, but who do we know down those ways?

This image brought these thoughts up. A pair of Lycaena Thersamons having a look at one another in that agricultural field in Mishmarot, one-hour north of Tel Aviv. Real-time rich reds, with grey, white and black. Sharp, healthy and vibrant. Gems. Living, thriving little gems.


Brown Argus Butterfly (Upper Galilee)

Polyommatus Icarus butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

Polyommatus Icarus butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

After a magical morning on that trail on the upper slope of Mt. Meron, the morning heat combined with that 6:30 A.M. start, were starting to impact me. The frustration of seeing Two-tailed Pashas, and failing to get anywhere near enough to photograph them . . . weighed on me. 7,000 miles of travel, second year trying, equaled a bit of frustration. Don’t I usually get what I’m trying to get?

So I began working my way back on the trail. It was not easy going, with the trail littered with branches of Eastern Strawberry Trees, blasted from their trunks during an especially violent week of winter storms.

The thing is, you know when you search for butterflies, or owls, or terns, or bear, or snakes, that you see what you see. You can only be where you are at the moment, only at one place at a time. If your sought after butterfly happened to be flying where you are not, well what can you do?

This time though, there was an especially strong stand of wildflowers near the trailhead, maybe 30 yards from the end of the trail. There were many very small butterflies flying to those wildflowers, butterflies I’d photographed to my satisfaction. Suddenly . . . Whoa! what was this tiny beauty that flew from the surrounding botany onto a tiny flower? Something new and different. I approached. I followed my Technique protocol. Pop! pop, pop, pop, exposure after exposure. Good, he was kind to me and continued to eat nectar. The Brown Argus (Aricia Agestis). A protected butterfly, uncommon and a very good find. Nice.