Baltimores and the Magical Jetliner

Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Jamestown Audubon Center in Jamestown, NY.

Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly

Resting on the ground cover at the Jamestown Audubon Center in western New York State, this Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly has the cache of my most appreciated images. Like it was yesterday, I remember spotting it, approaching, and ‘talking’ myself through the Technique steps. I took a number of photographs, mixing shutter speeds and aperture openings, only to wait for my slide film to be processed. You must have faintly heard my screams of “Yes!” in your Texas, Georgia, Brazil, Colorado, New York, Washington, Virginia, French, Pennsylvania and Maryland homes as I looked at slides on my trusted lightbox. I was happy to see a fine image of a gorgeous winged beauty caught in a wonderful place, in the company of wonderful people.

This is one of the views that I will share on June 3, 2016 in a presentation scheduled at the Jamestown Audubon Center. Then we’ll go for a field walk, in their lush,  verdant reserve.

How I would like to send a Magical Jetliner to bring you there to join us, and to hear your thoughts, share anecdotes, enjoy the walk, and catch up on things. We would then retreat to town to savor a little more time together over coffee and sandwiches, before that magical jetliner, Winged Beauty made the return run back to your homes.

Jeff . . . to Dream

Regal Fritillary – My Proprietary Image

Regal Fritillary Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

Every quality butterfly field guide for the United States includes images of Speyeria idalia, the Regal fritillary butterfly. Some guides used their own images. Some sought permission from photographers and then credited photos. Years passed by, and Jeffrey wanted to meet this rare of rare butterflies, and capture good images of them, males and females.

I learned that their site would be open for 4 days in June 2015. I immediately made a reservation, and weeks later there I was at Fort Indiantown Gap military reservation in Lebanon county, Pennsylvania. If you’re planning on driving, it’s just east of our state capitol in Harrisburg.

And I am tickled pink that I did! Hundreds of years ago they flew within ½ miles of my East Flatbush street in Brooklyn. Not anymore, though. Regal Frits are gone from New York, gone from Massachusetts , gone from Virginia, and gone from West Virginia! Why? you ask? I do not know the answer to that.

The day I went rain was predicted, and instead I got a full day of sun. It was a day that I met, and approached the Regals. They allowed approach when they were sipping nectar on Butterfly weed. Sometimes they permitted me to come within 24 inches of their royal presence. I even followed a mated pair off  the trail. You can see that photograph in an earlier post.

My proprietary image is one of the others that I have posted here. It was sunny with no wind. The butterflies were poised and many were fresh. I was thankful to be there,  savoring those moments. That was good, very good. That was in 2015. What will we see this year, 2016?


The False Apollo Butterfly & Heinz Ketchup

Allancastria Deyrollei (female), photographed by Jeff Zablow in Neve Ativ, Israel

I attached Post-it ‘Flags’ to a number of pages in my copy of Dubi Benyamini’s A Field Guide To The Butterflies of Israel. Did that before I left Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh to Boston, then El Al flight to Ben Gurion International. The challenge was on, because with a single exception, no one gave me any inside skinny as to where to find them. I give you a map, and I challenge you to find a specific species of uncommon butterfly, in a 3-county sector in your state or region . . . I tell you that is a substantial challenge.

This trip I was determined to bust-out somewhat from my usual comfort level, i.e., not go to where I know, but go to where challenge awaits. That I did, on my own, no longer awaiting your arrival.

I almost stepped on this False Apollo butterfly, as I worked the perimeter of tiny Neve Ativ moshav (village) at the foot of Mt. Hermon. Several had eluded me those 2 days last year, and I was wired, for I saw that those that fled me were . . . gorgeous swallowtail relatives. I was going to go home without an image, until I nearly crushed this one with my shoe.

This butterfly must have been commanded from Above to remain in place. Otherwise, why didn’t it do the Israeli butterfly thing? i.e., Whoosh! gone. I followed the Technique procedure and it didn’t move. I took a number of photographs and then she jetted away. Gone.

This image is the best of them. Three things characterize it: 1) I was still too far way 2) She was breathlessly beautiful 3) Examine her incredible colors by clicking on the image. Then tell me if you don’t agree with me.

So this year’s trip to Mt. Meron and the Upper, upper Galilee just ended. One of its most compelling goals was to get closer to False Apollos (Archon apollinus bellargus).

And I did! Several times! I made perhaps as many as 20 or 30 exposures (all a blur, I confess). Now, more than once have I thought of Heinz ketchup. Once upon a time there were TV commercials citing the Anticipation you’d experience as you waited for your ketchup to quit the bottle and drop onto your burger. I must wait for Dwayne’s Photo (Parsons, KS) to process and return my slides. I have to wait to reintroduce myself to them, to see how many I got, and which are keepers. How much I want another, equally shmeksy! image of this winged beauty.

My readers understand, don’t you?


Lesser Fiery Copper Butterflies in a Doomed Field

 Lycaena Thersamon photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

Lycaena Thersamon photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

Home again. Four excellent weeks in Israel ended on March 22nd. I played with my grandsons, Hillel and Boaz, photographed butterflies, and did what I could to prune, trim and weed their garden in Mishmarot, Israel. That’s about an hour and a quarter drive north from Tel Aviv. Israeli home cooking is fabo, especially Rachel’s, learned in the kitchen with her beloved Mom, Frieda A”H.

Did I do any field work while I was there? Do chickens fly? Me and my Avis Mazda 2 set off on 2 super trips. The first one was to SPNI Meron, my 4th visit there over he last several years. That was my base camp for scouring the Upper Galilee for butterflies and orchids. Later I drove to SPNI Golan in the Golan Heights, and again success, this time sprinkled with some rain and some healthy wind. As promised, I did come within sight of borders with Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, but got no closer than that. How was Israel’s military, which I saw alot of at those borders? Strong, young and confident. I wish I could think the same of our own US military preparedness.

41 rolls of Fuji slide film are now in Parsons, Kansas, being processed. Funny thing is that Israeli Security “Hand Check-ed” my film in record time. It took just 5 minutes. They have good security there.

Regretably, the field that this image was shot in, just a 5 minute walk from Rachel’s house, is being prepped for the addition of new homes to this section of Mishmarot. Like in the U.S., the population of Israel grows, in part because of folks who find their lives in France, the U.K., Ukraine and Belgium, increasingly threatened by what my students used to call Haters.

And get this, every corner of Israel, even the most remote locales, have excellent cell reception. Evidence of Israel’s very advanced tech abilities.


That Skipper Mystique

Skipper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida's Panhandle

Skipper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida.

He flew to this blossom, and took his time, nectaring happily in the Florida Panhandle morning sunshine. August 2015, and that long dreamed of trip to Florida, destination? Big Bend Wildlife Management Area.

He was sipping nectar. I had to make a split second decision. Do I pursue good images of him, and then . . . encounter the usual difficulty in identifying which species of skipper he belongs to? Do I do that, knowing that skipper butterflies down there are difficult to approach, as I must with my macro- lens? Then, too, do I once again pour through my field guides, with the expected Huh? result??

Sure, I did. It’s Florida, you came because you are an esthete, or a naturalist, or curious, and/or all of the aforementioned positives. Anyway, perhaps Jeff or Phil or Rose or Robert himself will take the time to make a plausible ID.

I was in Florida for the 2nd time. It was gorgeous out, I was Blessed to be doing this, and this tiny butterfly was just a Shout Out! Life is Good, my winged beauty butterfly readers.