Exotic Blooms in the Land of Milk and Honey

Just One Hour To . . . Capernum

Winged Beauty Butterflies

Scilla wildflowers, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Society for the Protection of Nature Hermon, Israel

Two Unforgettable flower stalks, perched on a rocky hill edge, overlooking the verdant (OMG! green) northern border of Israel. I was determined to save my film for butterflies, but c’mon, how could I not succumb to this temptation? March 2015 in the Golan Heights region of Israel. A wet winter insured the arrival of a Spring with flowers blanketing the land, and rare wildflowers determined to capitalize on the excellent growing conditions.

These Hyacinth Squill blooms (Scilla Hyacinthoides) dotted the sides of these hills, on the SPNI Hermon Reserve. They enjoy a short growing season, and are listed as a Protected Species. The expanse of view looks to the northwest, into Lebanon. Lebanon, a country wracked with violence. A pastoral view then, with bad-boy land to the horizon.

Yes, this is primarily a butterfly blog, but . . . the camera made me do it!

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Bust Out Butterflies

Plain Tiger butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

Watching plane loads of people arriving at Ben Gurion International Airport, reminds me that groups visit the HolyLand from every corner of the world. There have been times that I just sit there, waiting for my own flight, and playing a guessing game, Where Are They Arriving From? Chile? Nigeria? Sweden? Taiwan? Azerbizian? Portugal? Iceland? Japan? Myanmar?

You? I’ve urged my wingedbeauty friends to visit the HolyLand, sharing maybe 100 posts from there, or more. It’s safe there, very, and starkly beautiful. The dry desert area, buildings built of stone block and the emotional rush of seeing what you imagined back in Sunday school, make for lifelong memories, meaningful memories. If you prefer, luxury hotels abound, as do many other hotels.

What I do ask you to think about is driving your rental car out of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or Eilat, and spending 2 or 3 days in search of what we Love, butterflies. My most beloved destinations are in the north of Israel, the upper Galilee and the Golan Heights. Stay like I do in an SPNI (Society For The Protection of Nature in Israel) guesthouses (reservations must be made in advance) and explore the many nature parks and roadside flora for butterflies. The roads are excellent, and the signs are 98% Hebrew/English.

Delight yourself in June/July when you spot this Danaus butterfly, the Plain Tiger butterfly. Just as our Monarchs and Queens do here in the USA, these HolyLand butterflies are milkweed butterflies, laying their egg on milkweed.

I’ll reward anyone who takes this suggestion, with an extra special Giant lollypop, made in America.

Jeff

Captured Before the Russians, North Koreans, Hezbollah, Iranian Regulars/Irregulars, ISIL . . .

Tarucus Rosaceus butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow near the Syrian border, at Golan Heights, Israel

I wanted images of the 2 Tarucus butterflies found in the HolyLand. I was in an SPNI field house in the Golan, and my plan was to drive south to a place I’d never been to, with no guidance other than the maps in an Israel field guide. The more than one hour drive skirted the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, past Capernum, to scout out probable habitat for these black and white nifties.

Found them! Here is Tarucus rosaceus, sweetly nectaring in a spot some 3/4 of a miles or so from the Syrian border. His markings are striking, and I was very happy that I made the effort to add Tarucus to my ‘I Really Want To Locate These Butterflies’ itinerary.

I did stand there and marvel at how close I was to villainous, murderous demons, the Syrian butchers, the mercenary Russians and their high tech ‘toys,’ Iranian Thugs who call themselves the Iranian Guard, for hire North Korean Satans, ISIL monsters who kill and behead Christians and whomever else, Hezbollah Haters who train 7 days a week to kill Jews, Chinese technicians who are there to do what?, Hamas murderers and  . . . All of them madmen less than a mile away, and there I am breaking my own rule, getting down on my belly to cop a shot of a tiny Tarucus butterfly (thus offering myself up to ticks, scorpions and Middle Eastern pit vipers-of the no known serum type).

A grown man acting like a boy, all to catch a good look at G-d’s work.

Jeff

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