Armed Thistle (HolyLand)

Severe Thistle With Flower Buds photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

This thistle so reminds me of my youth. Then, there were guys in Brooklyn who you knew were rough guys. We called them “rocks.” I never messed with them, they wearing black leather jackets, adorned with sizable metal studs, their hair was heavily greased, and they always hung in groups. To this day, I don’t know how tough they were, but then, it made no sense testing out that unanswered question.

In Israel, this HolyLand Thistle plant totally reminds me of those ‘Fonzy’ characters back in Canarsie, Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst and Flatbush Brooklyn. This 6 foot to 7 foot tall Thistle was covered with severe, saber sharp thorns. No creature I can think of would want to brush up against it. When you first come upon this plant, you stop and wonder, you foolishly hope that this Thistle cannot pick itself up and charge toward you. At least you are thankful that it is anchored in place.

I wondered too why a HolyLand wild flowering plant was so armed with near-deadly knife-like thorns. Why?

It was not in bloom then, and I regretted that I did not see it in flower.

Jeff

License To Kill?

Fly on Jewelweed photographed by Jeff Zablow at Frick Park, Pittsburgh, PA

When we see them, don’t we stop and gaze? Robber flies look so confident, so fierce. I often puzzle over the competing thoughts upon seeing a robber fly. On the one hand we view them as formidable killers, and yet at the same time we don’t speed away from them, instead we approach them. Some of us have shared sidewalks with killers, and we knew to keep a good distance from them, as we heeded the warnings of our parents to stay away from New York City cops, then.

I’ve never seen a Robber Fly capture a butterfly, although I suppose they do. Have you ever seen a Robber fly with butterfly prey? The sight of a Robber Fly with a Monarch butterfly or a Zebra Heliconian butterfly would sadden us all, no?

The insects of our gardens, parks and wild habitat live as they do, with no obvious concern about the possible appearance of a Robber Fly. I think of that often, again reminiscing back to the streets of my childhood home, and the Connected guys who shared them with us.

This Robber Fly was dining on an insect, while comfortably perched on a large leaf in Frick Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Worried, it? No, no, no.

Jeff

Searching Akeley For Butterflies . . . Finding Jewels!

Canada Lilies photographed by Jeff Zablow at Akeleyi Swamp, NY

She led me again to this incredible swamp in far western New York State (Farm-to-table far away from the New York City mayhem happening now). Two years before, we’d gone to Akelely Swamp, a refuge recreated from a once railroad right-of-way that cut through this far as the eye could see swamp.

Once again Barbara Ann (OBM”) spent 99% of her time seeking wildflowers & orchids, and me? Butterflies! I found many butterflies, but I also was way ahead of her on the trail, and I found . . . Canada Lilys in their pre-peak excellence.

I went back to tell Barbara Ann of my discovery, and she high-tailed it to them. She loved them. Loved seeing them. Her smile that first moment was from ear to ear. This was a nearby group of them, close to that first seen one.

I did find that Hickory Hairstreak, that news was a ripple in the swamp compared to her exhilaration upon finding these Jewels of Akelely Swamp!

Great memories of a gifted orchid lover and gifted naturalist.

Barbara Ann’s husband Sig passed just some weeks ago. Missed, they are.

Jeff

Tale Of A 7 Foot Tall Thistle (True)

Hover Fly on Thistle photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, Pennsylvania

That year grew Pennsylvania natives tall and robust. Working the meadows, forests and trails of Raccoon Creek State Park, 40 minutes west of the city of Pittsburgh, produced many cherished images.

This group of Thistle plants were all that, tall, strong and healthy. I chose this plant, a 7 foot tall giant, and hatched a plan.

I would stand under this flowerhead, and wait until a Swallowtail or a Ruby-throated Hummingbird came along. Still as a statue, maybe, just maybe, I could score a shot of a lifetime!

Life taught me to grow patience, and after about 38 minutes of waiting, waiting, waiting, I was reminded of those police shows on TV, with the New York City cops sitting in a police car, ‘staking’ out a house, awaiting the arrival of a criminal (now called a “perp”).

Hey, What This? Not a Tiger Swallowtail or a Great Spangle Fritillary of a Monarch . . . a little Hoverfly . . . . I didn’t hesitate. I shot away. Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!

A Hoverfly hovering over this Thistle flowerhead, it loaded with tiny (?) insects.

This remains one of my all-time favorite images. True that!

I left shortly after, with my Hoverfly images, and no Hummer did come . . . .

Jeff

One Of His Most Loved Images

Fly on Jewelweed photographed by Jeff Zablow at Frick Park, Pittsburgh, PA

Ever wonder what images long term nature photographers love the most? Me, I’ve been seriously photographing wildlife and native plant life since about 1990. Of the estimated 100,000 images I’ve captured, this tiny fly, nectaring on a Jewelweed blossom, remans one of my favorites.

Why? It is one of the most soothing, calming pics I think that I’ve ever taken. Do you agree?

Seen and captured at Frick Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Jeff