The Irony and the Tear(s)

Earring Series - Jeff with Black Swallowtail Earrings (Best shot), at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

This is the shot with the Eastern Black Swallowtails fully on my right ear.

Caron answered my request with her own. I asked her, a new FB ‘friend,’ to share her 5 favorite images of butterflies. She offered up her favorites within minutes. If those are her best, after 5 years of shooting, she is a new, very talented butterfly photographer!! Her talent is best expressed with her Ruby-throated hummingbird images. I saw her name shared along with another good FB shooter, I went to her FB page, and minutes later requested that she accept my FB ‘Friends’ request, I’m glad that she did.

She turned my request back on me, and wanted to see my 5 favorites. Well, I was reminded that it’s easier to ask than to provide.

I didn’t forget her request. Here is one of my responses. I was at the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat I, in Eatonton, Georgia. I was alone, very early in the morning. I spotted a gorgeous Eastern Black Swallowtail hidden amongst perennials. I shot away. Minutes later, nearby, I spotted a mated pair of Eastern blacks. I began shooting them, when Yikes! I heard a loud, familiar voice, calling out to me, and approaching. It was Sylbie. I went Shhh! Shhhhh!

What followed was that word, Serendipity! The coupled swallowtails flew. Sylbie whispered . . . they are on your hat, Jeff. I handed my camera to Sylbie, changed setting to automatic. As she was watching, the coupled beauts moved from my hat, to my upper arm and soon, to my right ear. That’s the female you see, with the coupled mate somewhat hildden behind her. Sylbie shot true, with a steady hand and trained eye.

Caron, I love this pic, the irony of it is stark. I look to most like an academic type, true to some degree, but I grew up on the streets, Brooklyn, New York, and fought my way through life, wearing an earring back then, a good way to get frequent and brutal punishment, maybe daily. Here, though, I couldn’t give a whatever, for this was one of the handful of butterfly moments that teared me up, the connection to Frieda’s A”H loss so poignant.

The guy who carried cold steel in his pocket, through all those years of college, who stood and delivered, when only G-d knows how I came out alive many times . . . Here I am in Georgia, beautiful Georgia, with those of Creation adorning my ear.

You might see the “Jeff’s Earrings” feature, at the top of this post page, to see more of the amazing moments we had.

Thanks Caron.


What Should You Do When A Giant . . .

Giant Swallowtail butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Butterflies and Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, GA

Not enough of us have yet enjoyed that moment. That moment when its mid-morning or a bit later, and you’ve reflected on your success. You’ve seen and shot swallowtails: Black, Spicebush, Tigers yellow and back form as well as a Pipevine; Ladies: painted and American; Satyrs: little wood and Carolina; brushfoots: snouts, buckeyes, admirals, pearl crescents and maybe silvery checkerspots; yellows and whites: cabbage white, orange sulphur, cloudless sulphur, checkered white and skippers, so many different skippers.

That’s when we begin to slowly close the book on a productive morning. That’s about the time that I reach into my LLBean backpack for my reward! a Coco Loco bar.

What! Huh? Into the pocket goes the 1/2 each coco loco bar, for something big, very big has just flown in. Very big. Those oversize wings provide immediate ID. A Giant Swallowtail has come to nectar!! In it flies, every go elegantly moving its wings in flight.

This one? It came out of the treed perimeter of the Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat, Eatonton, Georgia., flew briefly and assumed this leafy perch.

What should you do when a Giant flies in? 1) Look in wonderment. 2) Thank G-d for continuing to enable such beauty and grace. 3) Make a slow ‘Technique’ approach (see our Technique section) and shoot, shoot, shoot.

This instant one? I scored good general form, clearly show the yellow bands criss-crossing on each forewing, tease with those deep red spots on the hindwings and nicely show the yellow spots on the 2 tails.



Trail of Galilee Memories

Apharitis Cilissa butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

It was a trail of surprises, this one on Mt. Meron in the Upper Galilee. So many butterflies, and so many surprises. This was the trail I worked, to find my goal for that week’s butterfly search. With no guidance, I reasoned that if I was in the right place, at the right time = June, just maybe I might find a flight of this rare (Protected) hairstreak butterfly.

I was booked for 5 days in the SPNI Mermon reservation, in one of their field houses for visitors. I set out very early that first morning, on the main trail in the SPNI reserve. Some 1/2 miles or so down the trail, at a modest clearing with tiny flowers, there they were. Apharitis cilissa. Tiny, perky little hairstreaks, their upper wing surface speckled beautifully marked underwing surface. Most of them kept their wings closed as they nectared or perched. Some did undulate their closed wings, showing hints of lovely burns orange upper wing.

I worked hard and long to score a shot of those wings fully open. This male glowed in the early morning light, and here he is, resplendent in that flowerbed, along a trail in the very Upper Galilee.

Irony. Just some 2-3 miles north of here, the border with Lebanon, and the murderous Hezbollah, armed and financed by Iran, the same butchers who murdered our brave U.S.Marines.


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.