Saw Him at the Dead Sea

Large Salmon Arab Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Binyamina, Israel

A bust out! butterfly for me, 7,000 miles from my home, there he is, I found this one and some others. The Blue Arab butterfly, Colotis phisadia. Tel Aviv? No. Jerusalem? No. The Mediterranean coast? No. Galilee? No. Golan? No.

To see this unusual ‘white’ butterfly, you had to travel in Israel, to its eastern borders, at the Dead Sea, or to the eastern Sinai desert, where for sure you’d be kidnapped by who knows what terrorist group, or by just as interesting locals.

Me, I took a train from Binyamina, Israel south to Beersheva, then a bus to Ein Gedi. I stayed several days in the SPNI field houses there. I hiked from the field house where I stayed to this Wadi (sizable dry river bed). Along the side of the wadi I found them, Blue Arabs. Sooo difficult to approach, nearly impossible to get a good macro- image, and the sun pouring down hot all the time.

I wanted my own images of the Blue Arab. I had hoped that you’d enjoy seeing a butterfly that is different, and that won’t come to you. You’d have to come to it, in the boiling sun, in wadis far, far from Madison, Pittsburgh, Brooklyn, Frewsburg or Silver Spring.

Congrats! for you’ve seen the uncommon Blue Arab butterfly. Other places to see them? Jordan, that Sinai ( again, loaded with terrorists ), and Saudi Arabia.


Who’s Seen A Milbert’s?

Milbert's Tortoiseshell Butterfly

Sure this is one of my favorite butterflies. I’ve seen Milbert’s Tortoiseshell butterflies several times. Always an OMG! butterfly, for when the morning is doing just fine, and you’re having good success with butterflies here and there . . . . One flies into your field of view, and it’s not a this or a that, its . . . OMG! a Milberts!!!! Battlestations!

That how I’ve felt when I’ve seen Milbert’s, a northern butterfly for those of us east of the Mississippi River. I remember each and every time I got that healthy buzz. Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania (2x) and here, Bonkers! unexpectedly in the middle of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the Outdoor Gardens of the Phipps Conservatory.

When the upper side is at a 90 degree angle to the strong morning sun, and your eyes are level with the wing surface, the sunlight dances on those reddish-orange wing bands. It looks just like fire! dancing. I saw this with my own eyes at Raccoon Creek. I subsequently read such an account in one of the butterfly field guides.

I’ve learned to temper my tales of Milbert’s, for when I ask folks here, there and everywhere, have you ever enjoyed a Milbert’s, my statisticians count a 99.874% No. Keep vigilant, for if you’re there enough, you just may.

Who’s seen a Milbert’s?


A Likable Toad at Adkins

Toad, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Adkins Arboretum, MD

Cloudy and mostly overcast, early May on the Maryland shore. At least that day, butterflies were not flying, but instead they were ‘cooping’ (a term used to describe certain big city cops who were catching zzz’s in the cars). I was at the Adkins Arboretum, and my own ‘antennae’ told me that this wildlife reserve was a wildlife destination.

On such cooler, moister, cloudy days, we adjust our eye to brain sensory antennae, so that we can discern wildlife usually off our radar. With that unique mechanism in place, this toad showed up. A very pretty toad, very likable. It hopped across the Adkins trail, and stopped. Fixed in place, this Pookie! was just plain pretty. Fascinating, and evoking the little boy in me. I stooped down to look more closely, and the closer I got, the more handsome/prettier it was.

I reached for the camera, deciding that this land toad, if shot well, would be a neat change of pace for wingedbeauty. I depressed the shutter button again and again, and when I was satisfied that I could expect fair success, sugar toad . . . hopped away.


Chasing Satyrs in the Piedmont

Appalachian Brown Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, GA

Satyr butterflies count among my favorites. In Georgia August 2015, friends put me in contact with Jerry and Rose, a couple who know their butterflies. It was good news when they agreed to meet me in Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge. After a very serious Ranger acquainted me with the acute diseases that are carried by vectors in the swamp, I gulped, paused for thought, and . . . off the 3 of us went, to this wet, muddy, dark, humid, dank swamp.

Jerry and Rose moved through the swamp like Antonio Brown of the Steelers traverses the field: with fluid moves, always moving, looking, searching, and seeking. They would call to me from here, then they’d disappear and call me from there. I didn’t admit it, but I was often out of breath. Oxygen seeming in limited supply in the swamp.

So much was new to me there, and so much demanded your full attention and constant awareness of mud, critters and hazards. Satyrs were afloat, and this one here did the remarkable. It paused long enough for me to click, click, click, taking one photograph after the other. My Fuji film was challenged by the limited light. Many exposures proved to be useless, but not this one, with its dappled light coming down through the trees.

This sweet brown sugar of a butterfly is an Appalachian Brown (Satyrodes Appalachia). I love satyrs, they bring me back to the rich hues of brown offered in those upscale men stores on Madison Avenue in the 80’s, in their shoes, hat, and suits. A magical time for me then, and thanks to Rose and Jerry, I revisited browns with gusto in 2015.


Pipevine with Thankgiving Turkey

Pipeline Swallowtail Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

This night before Thanksgiving is a great time to share this I-like-it image of a Pipeline Swallowtail butterfly. Tomorrow most of us will sit down and give Thanks for all that we are blessed with. Once we are sated with scrumptious turkey and stuffings, some of us will head to the TV to enjoy football, others will find their way to their/his/her computer and check out their usual websites and blogs.

I was reveling with my first meet-up with regal fritillary butterflies. It was June 10, 2015, and I was at their only refuge in the entire eastern United States: Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation in central Pennsylvania. During those hours, this delightful shmeksy, Battus Philenor flew onto the thistle flowerhead. I was pleased and impressed. This is one of those butterflies whose arrival nearly demands Hail to the Chief

No photoshop or equivalent. This one was a beaut, and Cech and Tudor, in their field guide Butterflies of the East Coast, note that these “dazzling” colors are no happenstance. They warn the usual suspects (predators) Uh Uh, I’m over the top toxic!

Soon we’ll post an image of Regals mating. Timing, timing, timing.