An Energizing Moment (In the HolyLand)

Melitaea Phoebe butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

I was working that long neglected field in Israel, the HolyLand. Mishmarot, a one-time Kibbutz north of Tel-Aviv, and 10 minutes east of the Mediterranean Sea. I knew that in the coming years, homes would be built right here, but for now, it was a moderately ‘disturbed’ field, and wildflowers had nearly reclaimed it.

My daughter’s house, where I was staying, was just a 5 minutes walk away, enabling me to get to this field early, well before the very hot Middle Eastern sun would be overhead. When I began working the edge of the field, what did I see?

There, resting on a dried flowerstalk, was a fresh, colorful Melitaea Phoebe butterfly. I’ve seen many of them before, nearly all when they were worn, with substantial scale (color) loss. This one had recently eclosed and retained all of its scales. Would it tolerate my slow, robotic, slow approach. I shoot Macro- requiring that I carefully descend to rest on the kneepad on my left knee, and slower than slowly bring my lens up to shoot.

I did my best, and thankfully this fritillary of the Middle East remained in place! What a Thrill! How energized I was, knowing that the 35- or so exposures that I got would probably include a good image!

Jeff

Copper Butterfly 10 Minutes From Caeseria

Copper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

This is the genre of thinking that I do when I’m photographing butterflies in Israel, the HolyLand. This Copper butterfly, so beautiful of wing, is the same that the ancient conquerers saw when they traveled to Israel those thousands of years ago. Aaron saw them, Jesus saw them, King David saw them and Jabotinsky saw them. Mishmarot, some 10 minutes from the Mediterranean Sea.

This is the kind of thinking that excites me as I get down to see such a tiny butterfly closely, and realize, those who we revere and celebrate saw what I see!

Wow!

Jeff

The Middle East’s Danaus Butterfly

Plain Tiger butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

Whenever a Monarch butterfly crosses my path, or flies into our garden, I go. Go to see it, almost go to greet it! As hundreds of thousands of you have, I have planted milkweed plants in my garden, knowing that even if some of you have limited space, you’ve set in milkweed in planting pots. When those Monarchs come, no matter what month it is, it is uplifting. Uplifting is healthy and much needed.

On my trip to Mission, Texas, a handful of miles from the Mexican border, those hundreds of Monarch-like butterflies, Queens and Soldiers, lit me up! I was as excited to see my 200th Queen as I was when we arrived in Mission. Monarchs, Queens and Soldiers are all Danaus butterflies, whose hostplants are Milkweeds.

When I travel to Israel my Danaus-love continues with this butterfly, the Plain Tiger. Found in the Middle East, it is the most elusive of the Danaus, difficult to approach and skittish when the camera appears.

It all goes back to Brooklyn, New York, when Monarchs showed up in the ’empty lots’ not empty at all, but just months or a handful of years before they were developed and . . . disappeared.

Jeff

My Birthday Butterfly

Plain Tiger butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

My Fuji slide film (Velvia 50)? I love it, even as its price continues to climb. My eyes are so attended to the hundreds of hours that I spend in the bush. When I get my images back from Parsons, Kansas, the rich color pleases me, for it is 100% true to the real-time butterflies that I see.

Yes, tomorrow is my birthday, and it will be a quiet one. On the eve of B-day, I’ve decided to share an image taken in the HolyLand, at Mishmarot, Israel, north of Tel Aviv and 15 minutes from Caeseria, and the Mediterranean Sea.

This Plain Tiger butterfly (Danaus chrysippus chrysippus) is closely related to North America’s Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). This Israeli one is much more difficult to approach than our Monarch. Scoring the image was not easy, and closer approach was not to happen.

I often wonder how you entertain my frequent sharing of HolyLand butterflies? Me? I think of Who? and How? Th-y saw them back then, and truth be told, I am moved by that. But with my Birthday hours away, I am going to hope that . . .

Jeff

Caron 3

Melitaea Phoebe butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

Late to the party? Caron, on being asked to share her 5 favorite images, did, quickly. She just as quickly asked me to share my 5 favorite images. Beware what you ask for!

Now that I’ve shared Jeff’s Earrings and that Northern Pearly-Eye butterfly, I’m ready Caron, with this, my 3rd inclusion in the Caron series of favorites. I’ve begun to see that my favs are heavily influenced by beauty, and by the fortuitous circumstance at the time.

This shot was not taken in Wisconsin, or Pennsylvania or Georgia or Nevada. It was taken about 1 hour north of Tel Aviv, in the meadow that separates Mishmarot from its orange, mango, grapefruit and lemon groves. Israel.

My daughter and her 2 little boys live there. She ended up preferring village life over her Ernest & Young job (Tel Aviv) or her Washington, DC job (SEC CPA). I was visiting, and that morning got up very early, to make sure that I got out to those meadows early, very early.

I love getting to habitat early, to maybe, possibly find butterflies that have just left their night perches, and are on low hanging leaves, warming up in the morning sun. There, many skittish butterflies will tolerate a close approach, as they enjoy the warmth of the Wisconsin or Middle East sun’s ray.

I saw this Melitaea Phoebe telona enjoying his sun bath, and well, he was handsome, very. I made a very low, slow robotic approach. He did not move. You know the rest, I shot, shot, shot, shot . . . I don’t manipulate my images, and I have liked this from the first.

Jeff