Rare Parnassian Butterfly? Check!

Allancastria Ceryisri butterfly (Protected), photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hanita, Israel

The flight from Pittsburgh to JFK Airport in New York and the 5-hour layover in JFK. A good flight on El Al (12.5 hours), with a friendly, fascinating couple from Florida sitting next to me. Through the Security screening in Ben Gurion Airport, and onto the train, north to Binyamina. Several days in Mishmarot with my daughter Rachel and her terrific family.

We have an expression, Stay with family too long, and you “begin to smell like fish.” The Hertz car rental in Herzliyah enabled me to drive north, all the way to SPNI Rosh Hanikrah. SPNI is the Israeli organization that strives to fight for and protect wildlife in Israel. They maintain ‘field houses’ throughout Israel, and this one was at the northeastern tip of Israel, roughly 2 miles from the border with Lebanon.

My goal was set months before, search that region for the Protected butterfly, Allancastria Cerisyi. No guarantee that  I would see them. They fly 1 month of the year, April. I went there in the 3rd week of March, so all bets were off.

Without anyone to guide me or direct me to my goal, I studied the map (taught map reading at one time) and off I went. Here? There?

I parked my rental, and followed an existing trail near the village of Hanita. Battle stations! Battle stations! I found one, then another of these members of the Swallowtail family. They were intent upon nectaring, and were . . . approachable.

Here we see a fresh male, focused upon the nectar oozing from these tiny blooms. Pop! Pop! Pop! Rare Parnassian, like those found only in the U.S. far western mountain ranges. Here on a hillside in Israel. A sylvan, sooo green hillside, with rare, protected winged beauties, flying a bit earlier than the field guide suggested. A Happy boy from Pittsburgh, I was.


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