Finely Crafted Coppers In The HolyLand

Coupled Copper Butterflies II photographed by Jeff Zablow at Neve Ativ, Israel

It seems that with every generation, we lose craftspeople, whether they be jewelers, welders, goldsmiths, harriers, writers, composers, violinists or ballet dancers.

Me? I have little contact with such gifted artists and creative folks. What I do value is my time, real-time in the field, amidst great beauty. Just weeks ago, in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, I stood there, admiring an Erato Heliconian, a Malachite, a Julia Heliconian and a Red-Rimmed butterfly and then a Mexican Bluewing, and a Common Mestra. They are butterflies all of extraordinary beauty.

Yes, the tailors who sewed decades ago are gone, the painters of the Hudson River School and the great Flemish painters and Rembrandt are gone, the men who built the Chrysler building in NYNY are gone, and the jewelers of bygone Tiffany?  Gone. Yet I am thankful, for as I shot away at this pair of HolyLand Copper butterflies in Neve Aviv, Israel, I knew that H-s finest works continues on, as it will.


Singing the Blues in Israel

Incoming . . . Blue!

Winged Beauty Butterflies

Polymattus Icasus Z. butterfly, (dorsal view) photographed by Jeff Zablow in Neve Ativ,  Israel

They would be coming down the trail or crossing the small meadows that lined this Qadesh Trail Valley. They would not heed my requests to stop, and allow me a better view, and the opportunity to capture a few precious images. Israel in March 2015, following a wet winter = good, very good.

As the tiny blue butterflies shot from here to there, I buzzed with expectation. Most would be commonly seen here, but every once and awhile, one of them would be lots more than that, uncommon to highly threatened species, and very, very photo worthy.

This male blue was good to me, pausing to very methodically nectar at these little yellow blooms. Alone there in this lush valley, my ID is Polymmatus Icarus Zelleri, the Common Blue. I’m not certain though, and I note those yellowish tips on the antennae. So, is it possible that . …

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Busting Your Head to Identify a HolyLand Blue Butterfly

Blue Butterfly ( Ventral View ) photographed by Jeff Zablow at Neve Ativ, Israel

Not easy to do. I was meticulously scouring the meadows surrounding this small moshav on the slopes of Israel’s Mt. Hermon. Snow on Hermon’s peak, as well as sporadic overflow of conflict at the north base of Hermon (Syrian army, Hezbollah, Iranian fighters, Russian ‘advisors, Syrian ‘rebels,’ US advisors, North Koreans and who knows who else) foreclosed my working the top of this grand mountain.

What was flying in those meadows surrounding Neve Aviv? Mostly blues, coppers, the occasional fritillary and the rare parnassian. April 2017, and Jeff was anxious to find one of those rare blue butterflies that are found on this majestic mountain, at the northereastern border of the HolyLand.

Now the hard part. It’s working with this good enough image to identify which blue we have before us. Just as we are all different, so too are butterflies within the same species different from each other.

Our identification here must be based upon the markings on this individual. The orange spots, the black spots, the marking that we see just inside of the ventral wing margins, the rich blue of the regions close to the body.

Until one of the several Israeli butterfly authorities weigh in, I am, with the single resource before me, A Field Guide To The Butterflies of Israel by Dubi Benyamini, citing this one as Pseudophilotes vicrama astabene. Done.


What’s To Like Here?

Coupled Lycaena Thersamon Butterflies photographed by Jeff Zablow in Neve Ativ, Israel

They remained locked for 20 minutes that I know of. Lycanea Thersamon coppers, engrossed in that primary urge, the production of a new generation of copper butterflies. On the slope of Israel’s Mt. Hermon, we were away from the snow covered peak, away from the intercine battles fought that April 2017,  just down on the other side of Hermon. That meadow was blanketed with these little yellow blooms, and no shortage of perches there for interlocked butterflies.

I shot away, from many different angles. Months later, viewing the best of that series of images, I was pleased. I found much to like in several of the slides that I scored.

What did I like here? The rich color of the female on the right. Her distinct right eye and the brightly spotted right antenna. The crisp orange/black markings of the marginal spotting of her forewing and hindwing. The balanced positioning of her right legs. The satisfactory bristling of her wing borders. The discrete but muffled view of their terminal couple. His left antenna and his blurred, but still deep copper red dorsal tint.

Valued too is the seriousness of their look. Purposeful and important. Finally, I am reminded how much I like her spotting, and the whitish framing of each and every wing spot.

Shareable, that always my goal.