Is it Easy? No.

Tarucus Balkanizes butterfly  Near Syrian border, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Golan Heights, Israel

It’s the first week of September. That means that the search for butterflies now slows, and soon stops. 2018 has been a very interesting year. Travelled to New York State, Pennsylvania, the mountains, Piedmont and coast of Georgia.

How’d I do with scoring new images? Good, though the ones that I tried for and didn’t capture, sure do irk.

That day in Israel was such an experience. I booked a field house at the SPNI Golan, and that morning drive south, intent on seeing the tiny Tarucus butterflies. With no one to guide me, I chose a destination right near the Jordanian border. Breath-taking scenery greeted me, on that 1.5 hour drive, especially the eastern coast of the Sea of Galilee, familiar to most, back in those Sunday school classes.

Dark clouds and intermittent sun followed me, nearly the entire time. I reached the intersection I targeted, on my map book of Israel. I parked my rental, and explored  an abandoned park.. Jackpot! I found and photo’d Tarucus rosaceus. Tiny gems they, found in many places along Israel’s eastern, southern and western edges.

Nearly one hour after arriving in this spooky, deserted place, I spotted Tarucus balkanicus, shown here. I threw caution to the wind, and carefully got down on my stomach.He was handsome, tiny, but handsome. Fresh too! So . . . why the blurry image?? He did not flee when I got down to his level (2 inches above the trail). He stayed in place when I crawled closer. I prepared to take my first exposure . . . then . . . it came down in buckets,. This was my one and only lifetime picture of this HolyLand butterfly. He fled like a missile.

Me? By the time I got myself up from the ground, I was SOAKED.

Easy? No!

Jeff

Next Year? War or No War?

Golan Heights Landscape seen from Yehudiya National Park, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Golan Heights, Israel

I was reminded to take pictures of the HolyLand (Israel) by Cathy. I remembered to stop and gather significant images as I worked the Golan Heights region and the Upper Galilee region. I also shot away when I stopped my rental car when Capernum loomed in the distance. Cathy was right, these places so pull at our heartstrings. I’ve sought to induce you to go there, travel there, and luxuriate in the reality, that same reality that you listened to in Sunday school back when.

This particular view was captured when I paused on a trail in an Israeli National Park in the Golan. I was there to search for Golan butterflies. Butterflies, not so many that late morning, but look at this view. Those whom we revere saw almost the very same landscape, and They Loved it.

Life events made a trip there this 2018 impractical. 2019? I want to go. I really want to be there again. See Rachel and her sons. Eat the sun drenched fruit and vegetable that abound in the supermarkets and tiny fruit stands. I want to ride the trains across the country, and admire the thousands of soldiers, men and women, mostly very young, who travel those trains every day. Bright, young, athletic, disciplined, well trained and serious, Oh so very serious.

That Golan mountain range is home to many very rare, very “U” (Uncommon) butterflies.

Green landscape, mountains, clear streams, expanses empty of people . . . Just Jeff and the Golan, the Galilee.

You are viewing what most strategists consider the most dangerous territory in the world. I’ve hiked it since 2008, after Frieda A”H passed. It’s moving, very moving I tell you.

Next year there? Yes if Iran, Syria and Russia don’t do the unthinkable. Maybe, if Iran and its evil allies bring War to this very place.

The Joker here? The current White House looks upon Israel as its little kid brother, and we all remember what a mistake it was to bully the skinny little kid, when his big brother was notorious for his ferocity and love of his brother.

I opened up a bit here, didn’t I?

Jeff

She Had A Calf

Chocolate Brown Cow, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Nahal Dishon National Park, Upper Galilee, Israel

As I begin preparing to go out and find butterflies this Spring 2018, I’m planning where to go to: Bruce Peninsula, the National Butterfly Center, the North Georgia mountains. I’m also considering what to search for–butterflies common to Ontario, rare butterflies in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Hessel’s and Dianas.

I’m having to consider how to deal with the problem of almost always being alone in lightly (read that never frequented) travelled Refuge, Park, Reserve and other remote areas. It’s been years since my children pressured me to carry a cell phone, and I now have an iPhone 6s. Rare but real encounters with feral dogs remains a serious concern. Cold steel has in the past worked well- 2x. The one time, 2 sizable, menacing dogs looked at my 6″ blade (I gently moved it so the sun’s rays would hit their eyes) decided that the kid from Brooklyn still could swing it, and they happily left. I don’t carry yet, though those isolated tragic reports from the Appalachian Trail do make you stop and think. Deliverance did get my attention, I must tell you.

Scrolling down my Media Library of scans; this one brought a weak smile. I was working a trail in Nahal Dishon, in Israel’s Golan Region. Butterflies were all about- lots of HolyLand butterflies. There she was, all 1,500 pounds of her! Her gorgeous rich brown coat should have enraptured me, but she kept watching me with a very hostile look. Moving forward meant passing within 10 feet of her. She did not flinch.  Truth be told, I have no idea how to determine if Elsie the Cow is capable of aggressive behavior? In northern Israel, cattle roam unattended, owned by Israeli Arab and Druse.

Ouch! Peeking up out of the low growth was her calf! Mom was fit and trim, and she did not take here eyes off of me. The calf lay there, looking dramatically helpless, while Mom continued to scowl at me. You, who grew up with cattle, weren’t there to see this. Please tell me if cows, used to this much independence, might charge at anyone who broaches the life space of her calf?

I waited a pretty long time. They didn’t budge. Nor did I. Finally, I inched forward, real slow. She never took her eyes from me. Me? I’m trying to calculate the head-butt pounds per square foot power of a healthy cow in the Golan.

Jeff

Back in Business in 2018

Tarucus Balkanizes butterfly  Near Syrian border, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Golan Heights, Israel

Remember this one? I unashamedly shared that I drove nearly 2 hours down from the Golan, along the Syrian border, to finally captures images of two butterflies that continued to elude me. I relied solely on a field guide map. I did find and shoot Tarucus rosaceus. That was good. I accomplished that goal.

Where, though was Tarucus balkanicus? Like T. rosaceus, T. balkanicus’s range straddled dangerous territory. It is found along the border with Syria and the Israeli border with Jordan, and it is found along Israel’s western border, along the Mediterranean, south of Tel Aviv, and not far from Gaza.

I finally, after much frustration, saw this tiny, tiny fine looking T. balkanicus! I so carefully got down on my stomach (ticks?) and even more carefully crawled closer to its perch on these diminutive flowers.

Jeff, this image is not so hot. Why share? Just as I prepared to shoot away, rain came down!! Hard. This is what I got. It flew. Me? Drenched.

Drive hours, with no one to meet you and definitely show you where to see hard-to-find butterflies, and you run the risk of getting skunked, getting soaked, and wondering why do I do this?

Among my goals this Spring? Meet and shoot Hessel’s Hairstreaks and Elfins; that is to say, several species of Elfins. What do I have to assure me of success? Just field guide maps. Oh, and that determination that only you and I have, determined as we are to see the most beautiful and sometimes the least known of butterflies. And, to occasionally look around, and just Sigh! what with the beauty that surround us.

Dianas later? How does that go? “I’m so . . . . . . and you’re so. . . . . . , this Diana I’ve been told . . . . “ The rest, well I may remember it while out in the field.

Jeff