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 waiteda 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.


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.


You Still Haven’t Booked?

Tour Bus entering Capernum National Park, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lake Kinneret, Golan Heights, Israel

Three days before New Years Day. Just 3, with 2017 beckoning! This will be your year. There is a new excitement in the air here in these butterfly-rich United States of America.

You’ve worked hard all your life, ever since those post-Sunday School days. Lots of you boast kids grown, and out.

The news is full of Trump, Obama, and promising, optimistic, real change. Heroics are in the air. President Obama snakebit Israel, President-Elect Trump promises to finally send the UN out to get a branch, and come back for a ‘likin.’

Get online, book a round trip on El Al Airlines, finally, finally, see Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the Galilee region, and be on this bus here, as it takes you and your new friends right to Capernum!

You be the one on the bus, and return home and revel your family and friends with the Wonder of It!

Know too that the Galilee region, the Golan region, the hills surrounding Haifa, as well as the land surrounding Jerusalem are rich with them . . . butterflies!


And Who are You?

Rare Grasshopper, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Yehudiya National  Park, Golan Heights, Israel

Working the trails at the Yehudiya National Park in the Golan. This northeastern part of Israel is lightly settled, and features lush green valleys, bordered by low mountains, all pointing north to majestic Mt. Hermon. The drive from here to Mt. Hermon is about an hour and a half. On the bottom of Mt. Hermon’s northern face, right there . . . Syrian regulars, ISIS, “Rebels,” US ‘advisors’ and aircraft, Russian ‘advisors’ and aircraft, Hezbollah from you-don’t-want-to-go-there Lebanon, Turkish forces, Kurdish militia and Iranian regular and irregulars . . . are all in a deadly minuet of kill, kill.

Here there’s peace, tranquility and G-d’s creatures. Butterflies were OK that morning, but I cannot say they were abundant. The wolves that roam this park and this region, well, I did not see them these 5 days here, even though I roamed freely, and was “alone again” me, myself and I.

Smack dab in the Middle East, knowing that so many of you, yes you, yearn to visit there??? And, who did I ‘bump’ into? This nicely camoflouged . . . grasshopper? It allowed a lengthy, close approach, just moving around that boulder a bit (boulders strewn everywhere, as if G-d was sprinkling giant salt).

I presume a grasshopper? If my Israeli friends come by, perhaps we will learn more. For the meanwhile, I have to say I was fascinated. It was about 92 degrees hot, 92F in the Middle East is way hotter than it is in Brooklyn, or Pittsburgh. 92F and our little cutie here is sunning itself on a boulder, for a good many minutes. Wow!

April 2017! Sound enticing, anyone?