Aricia Aegesis (Israel – Protected)

Aricia Agestis butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow on Qedesh trail, Israel

In the Uppermost Galilee, perhaps 200 feet from the Israeli Lebanon border. Verdant, sunny, isolated and carpeted with blooms of many colors. March brought a whole new menu of butterflies. I had been on this same Qedesh trail twice before, but never in March. Expectant.

A bountiful basket of butterflies it was. Those blooms must have been pumping nectar hard, because butterflies of many species came up and down the trail, most eating nectar as they went along, other males flying that crazed way that male butterflies do, frenetically searching for receptive mates.

This female, of a species at risk, a brown Argus, gently sipped sweet nectar on this tiny blooms, and her orange margin patches lit up nicely. I lit up also. I was thankful to be here amidst 360 degree beauty, with flying dreams alighting right before my eyes, and a big smile on my face. Alone amidst the Artist’s palette.

Sadly, this morning’s news brought the unbelievable report of the torching of a Christian church in Bethlehem, by Muslim terrorists. That was the trigger for this post, hateful madness vs. Joyous beauty.

Jeff

Brown Argus Butterfly (Upper Galilee)

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.

Jeff

Brown Argus Butterfly

Brown Argus Butterfly at Mt. Hermon, Israel

You do have to reflect on whether or not to post this image. Aricia agestis. The Brown Argus butterfly.

Why didn’t I pitch this slide, as I do the other 4,970 or so that I toss each year? After all, I shoot hand-held, often in a crouch or in some other awkward position.

Why? I’m 6,000 miles+ from home, it’s a spectacular day and I’m on top of Israel’s magnificent Mt. Hermon, still peppered with undiscovered land mines and probably under the supervision of telescope equipped soldiers of 2 different countries.

The mountain-top is rock strewn and it’s butterflies are the most evasive of any I have ever approached!

June is the optimum time to be on this mountain peak. Few if any people and most of its rare butterfly species are flying.

So sure I now share this image with you. I don’t know how many photos of Brown Argus on Mt. Hermon are available. This is my best and it was gone as I belly crawled forward again,on those rocks, to make my next staged approach.

Jeffrey