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.
This is the way it is when you pursue wild beings. They are super attentive to any approach, and sustain that level of high alert. Experience has taught me to wait. Sometimes, sometimes that suspicion slips, especially when attractive nourishment is there.
This Turkish Meadow Brown butterfly (Maniola telmessia) flew to this tiny, but abundant wildflower. She began to sip nectar, with her wings closed. Turkish meadow brown butterflies rarely open their wings for you. Friends who follow wingedbeauty.com know that I rank this one high on my list of Favorites. They are beautiful. Dozens of images of them, yet still going for a shot with wings open, with that dorsal surface and its Daddah! spot awash in yellow, orange & black.
So I waited. She nectared. Then, OMG! She opened her wings. You know, I am currently reading a biography of Roger Tory Peterson. I respectfully share that Peterson, Pyle, Fisher, Destrade, Nabokov, Linch, Kaufman, Malone and I all enjoy such moments. Moments when especially beautiful creatures shine. They just shine. Sparkle!
She lowered her guard, revealing that shmeksy! left upper wing. The morning sunlight, on the slope of Mt. Meron (Israel), kissed her wing, and here it is, my best shot!
Our accommodations in the Old City of Jerusalem were unbelievable. At our windows you looked across the vast courtyard, and you were looking straight at The Kotel (Western Wall). We were not nearby, within easy walking distance. We were There! This month of December is so connected to the ancient, meaningful city.
I got off to my usual very early start each day. Everyone else was fast asleep. Rachel’s wedding was more than a week off. Had my camera and lenses with me, of course. Had my Canon 100mm 2.8 Macro- lens there too. When I packed, I packed that one too. Maybe our 17-day stay in Israel would find me some time to search for butterflies?
So early those Jerusalem mornings I slipped out silently, and ? Hmm. The Old City of Jerusalem and butterflies. Were there any in this built-to-the-last-centimeter city? I descended several flights of stone stairs near where we slept, and there was a small city park. It looked like it didn’t enjoy much attention. Didn’t the millions who came each year to visit the Old City, Christians, Jews, Muslims- didn’t they come to savor the timeless flavor and spiritual aroma of this theological destination?
This park had some shrubs here and there, some in bloom. Butterflies. There were butterflies there. At first I saw only blues, tiny Common blues. But, I searched and searched. I saw lots of what appeared to be ancient stone. In the Old City the horrific invasions of Greeks and Romans and other armies led to colossal demolition of the stone Temples and structures. There are massive stone about whose original site remains unknown.
Here in this park the butterflies were intolerant of approach. I accepted that images of them had to be at some distance. So here, after many failed attempts, we have Lasiommata maera o. resting on such a hewn stone. He flies in the middle of the city, at this moment in a park that does have some shrubs and does have a number of pomegranate trees. He flies close to the ground, disappears upon approach, then returns 3 or 4 minutes later. What is he waiting for? Does he acknowledge that he is flying amidst ground that the world’s greatest figures have walked?
Large wall brown on hallowed ground. June 26th. Rachel’s wedding was on July 6th. It was beautiful. I cried.
Hello to another butterfly I met on the northern slope of Mt. Meron. The Upper Galilee region of Israel was all new to me in June 2013. Butterflies were everywhere. Some were known to me. This species was a lifer, the first I’d ever seen and identified of this species. Boing! Camera loaded (film), sun at my back, zero wind, now make a careful approach…risky because I’d never seen this one before, and if it flees, I may not see it …. Followed my Technique (see Technique feature at the top of your screen)…Good.
Our image here causes me to make this determination, Hyponephele lupinus c.. The ventral wing surface is mottled brown, with abundant dotting. The hindwing has that jagged pattern running through its center. The hindwing edges are also jagged. There is a tiny peek of the orangish-brown coloring of the center of the ventral forewing. The head is brownish as are the antennae. Much thanks to Dubi Benyamini’s A Field Guide To The Butterflies of Israel (Keter Publishing, 2002) for helping me identify this butterfly. They fly from May to June, then are not seen until August and fly into September. Where? Jerusalem and immediately north of Jerusalem, and a corridor at the north of Israel, roughly from Mt. Meron to Mt. Hermon. They are Satyrs. I Love satyrs.
What do I wish? I wish that I had someone with me that, and other Whoopee! mornings, someone who would get me a photograph of ME! each time I discovered a new butterfly species, new to Jeffrey. New to me. What that moment must look like. Me, flush and satisfied. Me, setting out to uncover more new, more exciting, more…to share with You!