That HolyLand Parnassian (Protected)

False Apollo butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Nahal Dishon National Park, Upper Galilee, Israel

The tourists and vacationing Israelis were all headed to the northwest, following the Nahal Dishon (Dishon Stream) toward its source. Me? Nope, I’m headed in the opposite direction, away from the maddening crowd, to the wild, little hiked other end of Nahal Dishon Park. We’re in the HolyLand, and I’m looking for butterflies, beautiful and Protected (rare).

I made sure to get there early, before the drowsy butterflies abandon their nigh perches and fly to a prized flat leaf, to warm in the morning sun.

In the northernmost expanse of the Upper Galilee, where the Biblical giants walked, I met this spectacular Parnassian male, the False Apollo (Archon apollinus ).

I stopped short, studied him, made sure I had the sun to my back, and began robotic approach. Armed with my Macro- lens, I had to get, ideally, 18″ or closer to him. Would he bolt?

He stayed put, I used my patented ‘Technique’ Final Approach, and gulped! He stayed put!! How shmeksy! is this young warrior, wearing well the heavy responsibility of ensuring that this protected butterfly lives to see another and yet another generation.

He was there when I scored perhaps my 32nd exposure. I was there too, daydreaming of how He too would have stopped, stopped here too, fascinated by this masterpiece of Creation.

Jeff

Rare Middle Eastern Parnassian

False Apollo butterfly in Nahal Dishon National Park, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Upper Galilee, Israel

I drove my rental car up, up into the hilly Upper Galilee of Israel. Lacking any guidance, I came upon Nahal Dishon Park. Drove in, and parked. Nahal in Hebrew mean stream. The Nahal Dishon stream moves its water from the higher elevations in the Golan, south westerly. People were coming and going from this park, mostly following the Dishon stream toward its origin. Me? I went in the opposite direction, and was soon alone, naturally.

March is a super time to traipse the Galilee and the Golan, for the snow capped Mt. Hermon range generously waters all below it, and the wildflowers were all around me, lush. The landscape blanketed by vegetation, verdant green everywhere.

I was seeing butterflies, a lot. I’ve been coming to Israel to shoot, since 2008. Most butterflies were now familiar to me. Truth be told, I came to see rare Middle Eastern butterflies. I was in high excitation, for the Upper Galilee is home to many of them.

Bingo! Here’s the most exciting meet-up that morning, a female False Apollo, the Parnassian Archon apollinus. She’s fresh and festooned with reds, blues, black, yellow.

You know that my approach, armed with my Macro- lens, was robotic. She held to that rock, and reluctant to risk all, I stopped a prudent distance from her, and shot, shot, shot, shot, shot.

Female butterflies are generally more relaxed than males and don’t fly like maniacs, as males mostly do. She held her rock perch. I smiled, and Thanked G-d for this opportunity.

A rare, hard to find cousin of our Swallowtails.

Have I seen a parnassgan butterfly in the U.S.? Nope, not yet. They only fly west of our Mississippi River, and mostly in high mountain. If you were along with me, I might do high mountain. Otherwise heights bedevil me.

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

Pink Butterfly Orchid. Guess Where?

Pink Butterfly Orchid (2 stalks), photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mt. Meron, Upper Galilee, Israel

It’s February 2016, and winter here is coming to a predictable end. I’ve been keeping my eyes open lately, searching for more than butterflies. Exploring forests, bogs, swamps, fens and more, I’ve been bumping into new ‘friends.’ Orchids.

Orchids demurely stand, sometimes in full view, and often this hiding in plain view leaves them unnoticed. Imagine that. Fugitives from justice often use this same tactic.

So there I was, on a trail bordered on both sides by lush new growth, most sporting blooms of a palette of pastels. This pair of orchid flower stalks were just inches from the trail edge. Delicate, beautiful and determined. Audrey Hepburn-ish, and equally beautiful.

The media works to convince you that this land is a land of desolation and strife. Hooey. We are at the base of Mt. Meron, far, far to the north of Israel’s Upper Galilee region, a handful of miles from poor, terrorist ridden Lebanon.

Pink Butterfly Orchid, and I ask what you think of this delicate and sturdy at the same time orchid, growing inches from the passing paws of sometimes jackals, antelope, wild boar, wolves, and more?

Jeff