Rare Butterflies in the HolyLand

Aricia Agestis Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Neve Ativ, Israel

View from Neve Ativ East to Syria photographed by Jeff Zablow at Neve Ativ, Israel

I went to the HolyLand (Israel) to see my grandsons and to photograph rare butterflies. Hillel and Boaz were such Fun! to be with, and rare butterflies?

I scored many images of very rare butterflies there in the Golan. You’d LLOOVVEE trekking the Golan Heights as they used to be called. So much of what you heard in Sunday School took place there, They walked there, and admired the very same butterflies that I found there. That thought so sobered me.

Here’s Aricia Agestis Agestis, seen in the meadows surrounding the village of Neve Ativ, on the slopes of Mt. Hermon. Listed as Protected, I smiled BiG when I spotted its telltale orange wing margin spots.

Forget your outdated mental images of Israel. This second image shows the outskirts of Neve Ativ, green and lush. Just over that hill in the background is the world’s active battlefield, intercine, bloody Syria. Israel? Safe and beautiful. Syria, like the Killing Fields of Cambodia.

The Middle East. A Conundrum.

Jeff

Theirs and Mine (the Golan)

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

I was just scrolling down some Facebook group sites and my eyes were again and again disappointed. People were posting their images of different tiny Israeli butterflies. I was especially drawn to images of rare, Protected Aricia butterflies. Most of their posts were of males, with their delicious reddish-orange spots along the margins of their wings.

Now I have spent hours seeking those same Aricia butterflies, with some success. Some, for they fly at breakneck speeds, making me rush after them, as they alight on a wildflower for 2.31 seconds, and then again speed away, to a similar bloom 20 feet down trail. Exjhilirating/Exhasuting. Both.

Their shares on FB had orange spots that were limpid, weak or washed-out. I remembered my own favorites, and it seemed to me that mine were richly hued. I didn’t hesitate for a moment to go to our Media Library of images, to see if my recollection was correct.

Here’s a favorite of mine. Aricia Agestis agestis. See my smile? I followed those bad boys for several mornings in my time, and I can now safely smile, for I like what I captured here.

That 12 hours flight, the drive to my daughter’s home, and days later, the 2.3 hour drive to the Golan region of Israel, an SPNI field house at SPNI Hermon. It’d blow your mind, as we used to say. Butterflying in the HolyLand.

Jeff

Waiting For Rare Ones

Aricia Agestis Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Neve Ativ, Israel

The Coppers were flying, they in good numbers. None were of the 2 rare, protected Copper butterflies known to populate the peak and slopes of Mt. Hermon. That was OK, for the coppers I was seeing in the field surrounding Neve Ativ, though of the common copper species, were, well, fresh. Very fresh. When I caught sight of mating copper pairs, I went into overdrive. Happy, motivated, loaded with Fuji slide film, and yes, Thankful that I was there on the mountain, in the northernmost tip of Israel, April  2017.

Thankful too that the murderous Syrian regulars, Syrian secret cadre, Iranian regular and other murderers, ISIL, Hezbollah, Syrian ‘Rebels’ (whomever there are/were), Russian uniformed and special forces, North Koreans, Hamas, US special forces, Al Qaeda remnants, Pakistanis and more were down on the northern face of Mt. Hermon, planning,  executing and killing one another (though I wish safe missions for our American Special Forces/Opps heroes).  Just that they were not in Israel, threatening the Israeli Jews and Israeli Druze who live in this OMG! lush, water rich Golan region.

My eyes rested their ‘Rare Copper’ search engines . . . but I did not relent another search mode, for I was on the lookout for the rare, equally protected gossamer-winged Aricia Agestis. Mostly the tiny butterflies were there in those fields, and my eyes were scanning the little for minute butterflies with chains of little orange flashes rimming dorsal (upper) forewings and hindwings.

Some 2 hours into that morning, jackpot! There was Aricia, leisurely nectaring on very small, low to the ground blooms. A very nice one, and sweetie. . . approachable. I shot away, and share here the best of what I got. Hadn’t seen Aricia for 2 years, even though I was in Israel’s north in 2016, looking for this sweetiepie. Good. Very good.

There we were there then, Jeff and Aricia, within sight of The Sea of Galilee to the south, were my Chrisitian friends all tell me they plan to visit “someday,” for Aricia surely flew down to there then, surely wasn’t so rare then, and no doubt was also admired then. Imagine that, if you will?

Jeff