Ever Met Snake Tongue Orchid?

Snake Tongue Orchid (Protected), photographed by Jeff Zablow in Rosh Hanikra, Israel

A sage family member shared, years ago, that grandchildren, for those fortunate enough to enjoy them, were “dividends.” He got that right. Application to butterflies and wildflowers? Seeking butterflies in the field (wild) often produces a very beautiful treat, wildflowers. Wildflowers that you didn’t expect or know you would see. Here, 7,000 miles from Pittsburgh International Airport (USA) I was seeking butterflies, and then . . . I saw these orchids. What? OMG! Excuse Me! And what do we have here? These, all thoughts that shot through my mind.

I was 50 yards from the Mediterranean Sea, in Rosh Hanikra National Park, Israel. At the northwestern tip of Israel, with the border with Lebanon in sight. That border with its own bloom of towers, disks, and other esoteric security gear. But down here, 450 feet from the border, I was meeting a new orchid, the Snake Tongue Orchid. Rare, protected and very extraordinary looking.

I worked about a mile of the Park, all hugging the shore of that blue-green sea. I worked it slowly and thoroughly. I saw approximately 35 of these orchids (Serapias Vomeracea). They were in small groups, plants usually 3-4 feet apart. Their color made them stand out like a sore thumb.

I looked at the dozens and dozens of tourists (Israeli, Chilean, Belgian, German, Canadian, Azbekistanian, and more), and thought what folks like us think. Why were 99.8% of us not stopping, getting out of their cars, and coming over to gaze at these fabulous orchids, limited bloom-time, and in very, very limited numbers?

For those of you who have not visited Israel, and imagine it as war-ravaged, paranoid, stressed and rocky barren . . . well, no, you ought to visit the HolyLand, for as you see, it it Beautiful.

Jeff

Crescent Menu Please?

Pearl Crescent butterfly, (Full dorsal view), photographed by Jeff Zablow at Jamestown Audubon Center, NY

I know to give alot of room, when identifying Crescents in the field. Pearl Crescent butterflies (Phyciodes Tharos) vary from individual to individual, and can give you fits, because some are so variable, enough to tempt you to think that you have found a unique one.

Have a look at this female. She was nectaring in the reserve meadow at the Jamestown Audubon Center in Jamestown, New York. It’s those mid-forewing bands that triggered my curiosity. Yellower than I’ve ever seen, they reminded me of Phaon crescents, though I know that they fly hundreds of miles south of Western New York.

Some of the mystery slipped away after referring to Cech and Tudor’s Butterflies of the East Coast. They caution: “Female mid-FW [forewing] band often slightly yellow-toned (but less so than in Phaon [crescent]).”

When I turn the page in Butterflies of the East Coast, our girl starts looking a bit like a female Tawny Crescent, at least to me. Well Jamestown was once their range, but Cech and Tudor sadly note that Tawnys have disappeared from western New York post-1970’s.

So there you have it, Crescents are very handsome butterflies, but one must allow for a great deal of variation, and it’s a whole lot easier if you are well-schooled in identifying these winged beauties.

Jeff

Seeking and Finding Rare Israeli Yellows

Anthocharis Damones (Protected), photographed by Jeff Zablow on Qadesh trail, Israel

Multiple goals for my March 2015 visit to Israel. Visit my infant grandsons, savor the seas of wildflowers that usually follow wet winters, and introduce myself to rare, endangered Middle Eastern butterflies. All  goals were achieved, I am happy to share. Add to those, rental car good (Hertz), good stays in field houses (SPNI) and lots of friendly Israelis.

Shooting down the trail in northernmost Upper Galilee region, this Anthocharis Damone Syra took this nectar break, and I was right there to record the moment. Resplendent in vivid yellow, orange and black, he sipped long enough for me to shoot and shoot many photographs. His lower wing surface can also be seen, with its marbled green and yellow hindwing. Their flight time is short, they are protected because they are found in limited habitat, at the upper reaches of Israel. If their range extends across the border to Lebanon, we will not know, for which of you will travel through Southern Lebanon, currently generously sprinkled with terrorist cells?

Before you move on, take another moment and look at the pinkish bloom to the right, nice, no?

The ID of the flowers, that will require some feedback from friends there.

Jeff

Excuse me?

Darner-type fly, photographed by Jeff Zablow in White Tank Mts. Regional Park, AZ

I was back in that wonderful arroyo, in White Tank Mountains Regional Park. Like thousands of us, I have a senior relative living near Phoenix, in Sun City West, and periodic trips there enable me to do some fieldwork.

The arroyo was its usual, dry as a bone, hot (hot at 7 A.M.), boulders everywhere, plus it had few plants, and very few of those were in flower.

Turns out that was sort of good for me. There were so few flowers about, that any and all fliers could be expected to be at those flowers, sooner or later. They almost had to.

This fly, I think it’s a fly, showed up. It must have been famished, for this wild creature allowed me to do my macro- approach, and I looked, liked, and shot away.

Not a butterfly, but an exotic winged beauty, no doubt. I examined it again, and surely the greatest aeronautical minds of MIT, Harvard, Cal Tech, Carnegie Mellon, Stanford and Georgia Tech must have designed this one. No?

Jeff