Tragic View Now, Scenic Then

Cow photographed by Jeff Zablow on Mt. Hermon, Israel, 6/16/08

The day after Christmas 2016, and selecting an image to post here . . . this extraordinary view stopped me. There I was, on the tippy-top of Mt. Hermon, June 2008 with my guide, Eran Banker. We were there to find and photograph rare butterflies. There are more than 12 species of butterflies found only on the top of Mt. Hermon. So rare that they are found nowhere else in the world.

It was a super! day, and I found and shot several rare butterflies. It was full of excitement, no greater for me than when Eran (IDF-veteran) called me over and showed me a . . . land mine, left over from the 1967 war! I served, but land mines? That chastened me, for hours before his discovery, I was constantly going off the ancient trails made by the cattle of another time!

Today I look at this picture of Elsie the cow, and Syria behind her. The Russians are now there. The Russians. Fully armed, armed to the teeth. That OMG! concerns my beloved Israel!!! Imagine if we have the Russian army and air force at our U.S. border?

Look beyond the lichens on those Mt. Hermon rocks, and the scrubby plants subsisting on the mountain peak . . . for it is reported that as many as 500,000 children, women and men have been murdered down there, in the last 1-2 years. Who amongst us can grip such slaughter of children? women? men? Whole Christian communities, slaughtered, or the lucky ones forced to flee . . . .

The Russian military is down there. ISIL is down there. The Syrian army is down there. Hezbollah is down there, with thousands of rockets (poised). The evil Iranian regular/irregulars are down there. Syrian villages and cities, mostly destroyed are down there.

The United States of America let this happen. Look again at this 2008 view. Why? Why? Why?

Some of you want these butchers to come here, as ‘displaced refugees,’ young, strong, ISIL-trained ‘refugees.’ Do rethink that, please.


Pipevine on Bergamot for the Holidays

Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow as it perched on Bergamot flower at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania, 7/31/14

With Bergamot in bloom, and an especially good year for it, as it was back here in 2014, there I was on July 31. This was a goldmine that day, in Raccoon Creek State Park, July 31st. Shovel in hand, of course not. Camera instead, with Fuji Velvia film, man and camera seeking rich color.

The flying lanes in this corner of Doak field were busy, and my patience paid off, when this very fine Pipevine butterfly burst on the scene, and was at this very nearby Bergamot flowerhead.

Skipper butterflies interest some, Satyrs interest some, my experience is that Monarchs and Pipevines interest all. Especially when sunlight reflects off of their OMG! wing and body colors.

Right time, right place, right conditions . . . and enough patience to await reward. And reward there was here. G-d’s bounty of color, mutually assuring Pipevine and Bergamot their respective sustenance and success.

Merry Christmas tonight and Happy Chanukah tonight. Good. Very good.


A Likable Toad at Adkins

Toad, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Adkins Arboretum, MD

Cloudy and mostly overcast, early May on the Maryland shore. At least that day, butterflies were not flying, but instead they were ‘cooping’ (a term used to describe certain big city cops who were catching zzz’s in the cars). I was at the Adkins Arboretum, and my own ‘antennae’ told me that this wildlife reserve was a wildlife destination.

On such cooler, moister, cloudy days, we adjust our eye to brain sensory antennae, so that we can discern wildlife usually off our radar. With that unique mechanism in place, this toad showed up. A very pretty toad, very likable. It hopped across the Adkins trail, and stopped. Fixed in place, this Pookie! was just plain pretty. Fascinating, and evoking the little boy in me. I stooped down to look more closely, and the closer I got, the more handsome/prettier it was.

I reached for the camera, deciding that this land toad, if shot well, would be a neat change of pace for wingedbeauty. I depressed the shutter button again and again, and when I was satisfied that I could expect fair success, sugar toad . . . hopped away.


Pearly-eye’s Gold-Rimmed Spots

Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Allenberg Bog in New York

Virginia reminded me that much of what I seek is focused and purposeful. This flies in the face of what most folks think I do. Many believe I work trails, looking for whatever comes along. I think this is incorrect.

Here in northeastern USA, when I scour a trail like this one, critical factors combine to anticipate goals. Goal this instant day and on this series of trails was to spot Northern Pearly-eye butterflies. This because the habitat was right: 1) trail along forest edge 2) wetland bordering trail, with wetland plants and 3) poorly lit forest margin.

So I was looking for Pearly-eyes and . . . I was hungry, hungry to score good to better images of the dorsal (upper side) of fresh fliers.’Good to better’ required, for these cordovan beauts, rich chocolate wing color, striking marginal spots and best of all, 14K to 18K gold ringing the sweet spots. Cherry on top would be orangeish tip on dark antennal clubs.

Certain TV commercials urge folks with good dollar$ to buy gold, and stash it in their safes, just in case . . . . Well, here is a forest-edge butterfly dripping ‘real’ gold.

If you thought that this image could/should have been closer to the Pearly-eye, know that any closer, and sweet stuff would have . . . . just that quickly.

At an ancient sphagnum acid bog in western New York state, along the edges of the bog.


Cloudless Sulphur at the Briar Patch

Cloudless Sulphur butterfly on tithonia photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Butterflies and Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, GA

After some 104+ efforts to follow, approach and ‘shoot’ these large Phoebis yellow butterfly Spring-Summer ’16, the frustration continued to build. Shooting our yellow butterflies usually results in disappointing images, due I suppose to the yellow itself, a complex soup of visual light spectrum physical principals, I suppose. Almost all of these exposures were at the Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia.

They are so big, so eye-popping, and so numerous in the Briar Patch that I have to consciously control my impulse to keep shooting, shooting and shooting . . . till I get it right. Mostly I am successful in that, remembering the co$t of my Fuji Velvia slide film, Dwayne’s Photo processing and Rewind Memories Scanning.

Back home in chilly Pittsburgh months later, I pitched Oh! too too many into the trash can. This one survived that culling.

She is a fine looking Phoebis sennae, sporting the greenish-yellow wing color and hindwing white spots (2). What she cannot do, is repair that huge missing part of her left hindwing (and forewing). A fighter jet would be grounded in the same situation, happy to have made it safely down. Sweet Phoebis here enjoys no such attention, and continues to fly very well, as I witnessed. No medical centers, PCP’s, Urgent Care offices or local clinics for butterflies. That fly on as able.