Me? I’m Dreaming . . . of 2017

Allancastria Cerisyi butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hanita, Israel

Here we are in late October of ’16. We here in southwestern Pennsylvania now see an Orange sulphur butterfly here and there. Maybe a worn Mourning cloak butterfly in Frick Park or in Raccoon Creek State Park. Virginia and friends daily share on Facebook, Monarchs, Swallowtails, Gulf Fritillaries and American Ladies. We are checking where we left our snow shovels, Virginia, Stanley, Nancy, Cathy and Marcie are stalking butterflies.

Somehow that got me to thinking of my next trip to my grandsons in Israel. Two hours waiting for my Pittsburgh flight to New York, then some 3-5 hours wait for my El Al flight to Ben Gurion International airport in Tel Aviv. Meet my daughter Rachel at the beautiful airport, then we rent a Hertz car and drive the 1-hour plus to her home, north of Hadera, not too far from mysterious Caeseria.

Three, perhaps 4 weeks as Rachel’s guest, in their bomb shelter equipped 3rd bedroom . . . and at least 2 long drives north, to the Upper Galilee and north Golan regions. Objectives? #1 Butterflies. #2 Wildflowers and especially rare Orchids and Irises.

In the Galilee and Golan, I pass, see, photograph next to Christian sites that would so excite so many of you. Yet, to date, not a single taker, to my suggestion, book when I do, and let’s roam . . . .

Oh, and what the Media scares you with, that Israel is dangerous, is a whole lot of Hooey (whatever Hooey is).

On a recent trip, I set out to find an endangered swallowtail-relative, Allancastria cerisyi. Well here he is. I found them near a small Galilee village. They fly wildly, and then, unexpectedly, stop, and well, pose. 10-15 exposures, and Zoom!! gone. Then I went on to find the next male, and repeated this minuet. The females, well they were mostly hiding, but when I found one, she usually stuck around a bit, as I softly whispered to her. Totally Fun, and very Rewarding that! Funny, quite rare, but if you find them . . . there they are. Amazing I think.

Jeff

 

Reflecting On A Wow! Year: 2015

Allancastria Cerisyis butterfly (Protected), photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hanita, Israel

No guide, no tips from experts, just field guide and maps, and in March 2015 I found these Protected Parnassian butterflies in Israel, minutes by foot from the border with Lebanon.

With the guidance of a local expert, I savored Lady Slipper orchids in the southwestern tip of New York State. No Brooklyn this! Then Clay Pond, and Ackeley Swamp in Pennsylvania. On to the Jamestown Audubon Center, where the Welcome! door is swung wide open! And, JAC’s reserve has . . . butterflies!

Accepted an invite to visit the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia, and was rewarded with an ongoing mob of gorgeous southern butterflies. Met new friends, and soon was swamping with Rose and Jerry in Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, chasing rare Satyrs in the swamp. Phil, a Ranger at Hard Labor Creek State Park introduced me to cane wetlands and other extraordinary habitat. Georgia, a butterfly destination.

Back on my own, I resourced an article in NABA’s magazine, and drove down from Eatonton to Perry, Florida. Big Bend Wildlife Management Area was some seven miles from my Hampton Inn, and  love at first sight.

Then it was walking with a local expert who introduced me to Kelso swamp, 18 miles from my home, created by beavers some time ago, and looks to me that if it is not conserved by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, it will one day, not too far away . . . be developed. Then no herons, no beavers, no frogs, no snakes, and . . . no butterflies.

Those of you who visit regularly will taste some more than 120 images, soon to be posted, one by one.

2016? G-d willing will be . . . !

Jeff

Palestine Pheasant’s Eye . . . an Israeli Wildflower

Adonis Palaestina wildflower, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hanita, Israel

It was one Oh! after another Ah!! on those trails in Hanita, Israel just months ago. There were dozens of wildflowers and butterflies that were new to me. Happy as a duck, in the northeastern corner of Israel, in the foothills of the Upper Galilee. Less than a U.S. mile from the Israeli-Lebanese border. Not a care in the world, despite bloody Hezbollah so physically close. Ever had millions of people wanting to stick you like a pig, just because of your ancestry? Savagery, despite the efforts of so many loving people, never seems to completely disappear.

This darling wildflower, Protected, was present in abundance. Like many flowering plants in this world, its habitat is steadily eroded, in the name of progress, homes, and such. Hilly land like this faces less threat.

Well friends, I’m booked to fly to Israel in late February ’16, and return home to the States in late March.

My present plan is to visit different SPNI field schools in the Upper Galilee and the Yom Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) area. Wow!

Sharp knives are now the weapon of choice for the butchers of women and children in Israel. Funny, when I attended college in New York City, I rode the subways daily, from one end of the city to another. Those were dangerous times on the subway, and . . . I always could feel the cold presence of long steel on my person. Grew up on the streets, and He looked over me during those 4 years of riding New York’s grand subways. Knives?

Anyone like to join me on 2016’s exciting HolyLand trails?

Jeff

Protected Parnassian (Enjoying Life)

Allancastria Cerisyri butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hanita, Israel

March 2015, and me and my trusty Hertz rental car have found our way up to Northernmost Israel, and my objective, these protected members of Family Papilionidae. I arrived in Israel the first week in March, and some days later, here I was. These males, of species Allancastria Cerisyi Speciosa, were flying at least two weeks earlier than predicted by the field guides. I was thankful for that, and encouraged that this early flight was in part in my honor. They typically fly in March, only.

He was nectaring on these pert little purple blooms, and he was a fine specimen, bedecked in his yellows, black, red and blue, complemented by those racy red eyes.

I was in Israel, enjoyed my grandsons, savoring the absolute beauty of this Land, and grateful to meet many of its most beautiful winged beauties.

Have you booked your flight to the Holyland yet? You will never forget the experience. It ain’t Nepal. It’s a whole other level. No?

Jeff

Rare Parnassian Butterfly? Check!

Allancastria Ceryisri butterfly (Protected), photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hanita, Israel

The flight from Pittsburgh to JFK Airport in New York and the 5-hour layover in JFK. A good flight on El Al (12.5 hours), with a friendly, fascinating couple from Florida sitting next to me. Through the Security screening in Ben Gurion Airport, and onto the train, north to Binyamina. Several days in Mishmarot with my daughter Rachel and her terrific family.

We have an expression, Stay with family too long, and you “begin to smell like fish.” The Hertz car rental in Herzliyah enabled me to drive north, all the way to SPNI Rosh Hanikrah. SPNI is the Israeli organization that strives to fight for and protect wildlife in Israel. They maintain ‘field houses’ throughout Israel, and this one was at the northeastern tip of Israel, roughly 2 miles from the border with Lebanon.

My goal was set months before, search that region for the Protected butterfly, Allancastria Cerisyi. No guarantee that  I would see them. They fly 1 month of the year, April. I went there in the 3rd week of March, so all bets were off.

Without anyone to guide me or direct me to my goal, I studied the map (taught map reading at one time) and off I went. Here? There?

I parked my rental, and followed an existing trail near the village of Hanita. Battle stations! Battle stations! I found one, then another of these members of the Swallowtail family. They were intent upon nectaring, and were . . . approachable.

Here we see a fresh male, focused upon the nectar oozing from these tiny blooms. Pop! Pop! Pop! Rare Parnassian, like those found only in the U.S. far western mountain ranges. Here on a hillside in Israel. A sylvan, sooo green hillside, with rare, protected winged beauties, flying a bit earlier than the field guide suggested. A Happy boy from Pittsburgh, I was.

Jeff