Dazed at the Serendipity of Seeing this Malachite Butterfly

Malachite butterfly (Ventral) photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

The flight to San Antonio Texas, boarded very early in the morning, because of that I slept in a hotel near Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport. We flew the 1,300 miles or so, rented a car at the airport, and drove more than 4 hours to Alamo, Texas. Those 5 days in Mission, Texas were unforgettable. Every day I met new butterflies. I would turn and there’d be new butterflies.

Many of those new species were more than rare, call them very rare. I was almost dazed at the serendipity (is that the correct word here?) of it all. Christmas week in Texas, almost at the border, and so much to be Thankful for.

This Malachite butterfly was the most memorable of them all. Fresh, poised, elegant and ‘Rare,’ it remained in place much of the time. Injured? No. Weakened by poor health? No. It’s senses dulled by some problem? No.

On seeing the Malachite Butterfly, I appreciated it all, I internalized the incredibility of what I’d experienced and yes, I knew that G-d had again shared great beauty with . . . me.

National Butterfly Center, Mission, Texas.

Rare Holy Land Butterfly Half Mile from the Border

Allancastria Cerisyri butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hanita, Israel

The older I get, the more I marvel at how the world continues to see people who want to conquer, invade and rule over others. My father served, Infantry in World War II, and Jack Zablow A”H (Of Blessed Memory) told me he served so that I’d never have to. Sadly, I did, and had to.

This image of a rare, Protected butterfly, Allancastria Cerisyi speciosa is fondly remembered by me. I wanted to find and shoot them, and no one told where to find them. I scheduled my trip to Israel for April, and I used my Israeli butterfly field guide to guesstimate where they ‘ought’ to be. The morning I drive to Hanita, the town nearby, I roamed a bit, and . . . it was early, and I found them. maybe 30 of them, fresh, beautiful and active. I felt like Wow! finding a rare, protected HolyLand butterfly, a butterfly whose habitat is limited, a rare butterfly. That kind of happiness reduces me, momentarily, to feeling like a 15-year old boy who scores the winning jumpshot in that E. 56th Street, Brooklyn park basketball court! !-for Emphasis.

While I was scouring that area for this rare Parnassian (cousin to swallowtails), I sure kept in mind that the “Hot” border to Lebanon was just 1/2 mile away, and at that border, there were barbarian Hezbollah terrorists. That kind of heightened awareness itself reminded me of growing up, where I grew up. Thank G-d I too made it, eventually leaving those streets in one whole piece.

Jeff

Metullah Mystery

Fritillary Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Iron Falls, Metullah, Israel

During those many trips to Israel, the HolyLand, fritillary butterflies usually eluded me. I hadn’t seen too many of them. There were Frits that were commonly seen there, and there were Fritillary butterflies that were uncommon, rare and super hard to even find, much less photograph.

Back in 2008, I was fortunate to have found and photographed a Frit that is uncommon, and found only on the peak of Mt. Hermon. That cable car up to the 7,000 foot tall peak of Mt. Hermon was difficult for me, especially since my guide, Etan, razzed me for keeping my eyes closed much of the ascent and descent. Heck, getting in the moving skip lift seat was trouble enough!

2017, April, and back in Israel (2 grandsons!!), I wanted find find other uncommon Fritillary butterflies. Up to the Galilee-Golan I drove, with a border town, Metullah, my destination. Border town with Lebanon, a sad country that has been overtaken by some one hundred thousand Hezbollah terrorists. It was extraordinary to stand in a parking lot at the border, and look into Lebanon, where you and yours should not enter.

I didn’t find Fritillaries, and decided to roam a bit. I found a city park, Iron Park they called it. I entered, parked my rental car, and spent several hot hours working their trails. Almost no butterflies to be seen, and those I saw were jet-propelled.

Discouraged some, I hiked back to the entrance to the park, sat on a picnic bench, and proceeded to open and enjoy a Coco Loco bar. Incoming! A butterfly flew in at great speed, and landed on the ground, just 8 feet from me. A Fritillary!! Forgot the Coco Loco, grabbed my Canon with its Macro-ISM equipped lens, and s-l-o-w-l-y made my approach. Still good. I shot. Moved closer and shot and shot again.

Adrenaline. I had given up, had not expected that day to yield anything more, just a day of some familiar butterflies, and then, this promising one rocketed in, near my snack bench. Mama-Mia!

After she fled, I returned to the bench and reflected on what I do, why I do it, and how it can provide such a Rush to a guy who’s seen soo much in his life.

Yes, this, good image, is a bit of a tease, but I want to think that she is Melitaea Arduinna Evanescens. A rare, uncommon Protected species, found only in 2 areas of Israel, and only in April and May!!

A Metullah mystery . . .

Jeff