The world cooks this and that scenario to bring ‘Peace’ to the ‘Middle East.’ The media paints a dark picture of that region, and its viewers imagine a place of tension, strife and conflict, everywhere. Meantime, our Vanessa atalanta savors the real peace, calm and tranquility of Ramat Hanadiv, an hour’s drive north and west of Tel Aviv, and within minutes of the Mediterranean sea. A much better barometer of realities on the ground, imbibing sugary nectars in a land planted decades ago, and now awash in Milk and Honey.
This was March 12th, and I was working the perennial beds of their vast botanical park. Papilio machaon were seen that morning, but only for a moment, mimicking as they do Israeli Phantom jets, Whoooosh! Gone. Archon apollinus (known as False Apollos) rushed down the trails of Ramat Hanadiv, they too maintaining top speed. So, no Wow! photos of Swallowtail or False Apollos those 3 mornings there in March. Too bad, too, because March brings the end of Israel’s winter. Not a winter like we enjoy in Pittsburgh, USA (lots of snow, ice and low temperatures of 0 to 10 degrees Farenheit). Israel’s winter is cold and slightly bone dulling, with night time temperatures down to perhaps 40-45 degrees Farenheit.
We look again, this time more closely, at our Red admiral as its proboscis captures those sweet carbohydrates, mixed with pollen and imperceptible other nutrients. We eye the smashing reds of fore wings and hind wings, and we are pleased with the stark arctic white splashes set hard amongst sheer black and with a little bit of eye strain. There is one of those sweet blue patches along the margin of that right hind wing.
Let the haters and plotters and criminals and fanatics run their bloody games. This is the vision of this Land that is real.
You’re working the paths in the perennial gardens of Ramat Hanadiv, in Israel. It’s a wonderful time to be there, after all in March butterflies typically are fresh, not damaged by preditors, and fun to photograph.
Suddenly, in zooms just such a butterfly, Vanessa atalanta. Now we know that Red admirals can be very skittish, and usually leave within seconds of appearing. But, it’s morning, the sun is out, there is little wind and flying as much as they do requires lots of carbohydrates. End result, our Vanessa a. remains on these flowers for a long enough time for me to shoot away, and enjoy this image with upper left wings, head, antennae and proboscis.
Compare this image taken of an Israeli Vanessa a. with our images of U.S. Vanessa a.’s (click on Butterfly Types – Admiral). 6,300 miles apart and don’t they look great? Red Admirals sure are adaptable.
Happily, we never became jaded when a fresh, undamaged butterfly comes our way. Here, we enjoy Vanessa atalanta resting briefly in the Butterfly garden in Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, just 2 hours from family in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Red Admirals are among those whose appearance cannot be predicted. It just happens. Their visit may last seconds or even a minute or two and then Bye! Bye! They fly away at top speed.
It’s August on the Delmarva, and this one shows the interrupted orange-red band characteristic of summer Red admirals.
We read about their mass migrations, but we haven’t been fortunate enough to have seen them fly enmasse. Have you?
Ahhh! A fresh red admiral! How many times a year do I enjoy exclaiming that?
One of my goals has been to capture a good image of the colorful ventral (below) wing surface of Vanessa atalanta. Countless slides have been pitched into the trash, because they didn’t reveal the wonderful 3-colors that group together. That red, white and blue bunched together always reminds me of the colors of our American flag.
This August morning, our Vanessa was aggressively extracting nectar from a flower in the lovingly maintained butterfly garden at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge on the Delmarva Peninsula on Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. We saw many Vanessas during our 3-morning trip. Those in this beautiful garden enabled me to approach and they patiently complied. So I shot, shot, shot and am satisfied with what I got. Quite different from the skittish ones here in Pennsylvania.
Just months later I was 1/2 way around the world, photographing butterflies in Binyamina, Israel in December. Israel’s Vanessa atalantas were almost identical to this one. What adaptability! Resiliency!
I must note that I have been very impressed with the opportunities offered by the National Wildlife Refuges that I have visited. Yazoo (MS), Blackwater (MD), Savannah (SC) and Eastern Neck have excellent habitat. All provided knowledgeable staff who were eager to give assistance. It was a pleasure.
Ah Vanessa! Dorsal (above) photographs are elusive because Vanessa atalanta is difficult to approach. Ventral (below) photographs are even tougher to obtain. And when you are fortunate enough to get a couple, they usually disappoint.
Why? Because the underside of Vanessa’s wings are especially beautiful and truth be told, difficult to score a really fine image.
Our Red Admiral here is nectaring on milkweed flowers (Asclepias) and those of you who did not settle, can enjoy the rich canvas here with its reds, blues, browns, tans, white, black and washes, swirls, circles, etc.
Captured on June 27th at Raccoon Creek State Park in Southwestern Pennsylvania, milkweed is the Giant Eagle/ Kroger’s/Giant/Piggly Wiggly/Lions/Albertson’s/Big Y of wildflowers. It feeds legions of butterflies, bees, flies, beetles, and on and on.
Our 3rd post of Red Admirals reminds us of how much we enjoy this species. When you’re out there seeking butterflies and getting skunked suddenly like Troy Polamalu there’s a blurrrr and it’s a Red Admiral. Fresh, proud and impatient.