If I’m Correct . . . This Is The Only . . . .

Melitaea Persea Montium butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow on Mt. Hermon, Israel, 6/16/08

Just finished searching the internet for another photo of a live Fabriciana niobe philistra butterfly, on the internet. I could not find another. None. Ummm. We were on the peak of Mt. Hermon on June 16th, 2008. I was with Eran Banker, my guide. The objective: Scour this peak for any and all of the very rare butterflies found on it. Found nowhere else, in the world.

It was Very Very sunny, very hot . . . and very exciting. We saw some of the rarest of the butterflies that inhabit the peak. Most flew without enabling my approach, so no images of many. This one came in to nectar on these tiny little blooms. Ouch! A fritillary. There are endangered fritillaries on this mountain. Was this one of them?

At this time, utilizing the field guides available, and the internet, I come to conclude that this is a male Fabriciana niobe philistra. Not found down the mountain in Syria, or further west in Lebanon, or further south in Jordan. Only found on Mt. Hermon, in the summer!!

Is this the only image of a live Fabriciana niobe philistra? That would please me, much.

Jeff

Found: A Clay Pond ‘Flasher!’

Common Wood Nymph Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Clay Pond, NY

There are things that fascinate us, and drive us to plumb their meaning. Some many years ago, in the meadow surrounding Raystown Lake in Pennsylvania, I saw Common Wood Nymphs with spectacular baby-blue eyespots on the forewings. After some minutes, this small pod of Wood Nymphs disappeared, and I could no longer shake them out of the meadow grasses.

I will never forget that morning. Those wing ‘eyes’ tore at my imagination. Why were they so different at this lakeside habitat? ‘Eyes’ so large, so comely blue?

Seems on an earlier trip to visit Israel, I brought with me my copy of Robert Michale Pyle’s book, The Thunder Tree – Lessons From An Urban Wildland (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1993). Nearly three weeks ago, after finishing a couple of mystery novels that Rachel had on her Mishmarot bookshelf, I spotted The Thunder Tree, left there by . . . me. I picked it up, and began a re-read that continued on my April 25th El Al flight, and well today, bells and whistles started to go off. Pyle describes how, as a high schooler, he noted the variety of Wood Nymph eyespots along his beloved High Line Canal in what is now Aurora, Colorado. He shares:  “One day as I picked my way through the Sand Creek glade, watching out for the poison ivy whose leaves were as shiny as the cottonwoods,’ I spotted a pale female wood nymph and gave chase. She took cover in a clump of willow and disappeared on a trunk of her own color. Large and perfect, she was invisible with her wings tucked down. Then, disturbed by a fly, her forewings spread, revealing the big, cowlick eyespots that gave her subspecies the name bo-opis, or the ox-eyed wood nymph.” What does Pyle attribute this broad variety of eyespots to? “I concluded that all of these Peggies [Wood Nymphs] belonged to one big plastic species with a lot of latitude for expression, a theory later confirmed by better scientists than I . . . . I showed, to my satisfaction, that wood nymphs escape predation by flashing their big blue eyes . . . .”

Two years ago, Barbara Ann introduced me to Clay Pond in very western New York state. In the wet meadow that surrounded the protected pond, I flushed out this stunner of a Wood Nymph. Would you look at those forewing ‘eyes!’ Mind you not quite baby-blue, but huge, prominent and encircled by hot! yellowish rings! The very kinds of in-your-face butterfly beauty that Pyle and I both find, well startling, enchanting, extraordinary and a bunch more.

Once every so many years I meet such Wood Nymphs again, and it electrifies, Truth Be Told.

Jeff

Chasing American Ladies

Painted Lady Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

Back from those 4 exciting weeks in Israel, Painted Ladies greeted me almost everywhere. They escorted me along trails, and, identical to their American Painted Ladies, brought a comfortable connection to home.  Now, seated a my desk/desktop computer, with a thunderstorm’s bruising winds outside, this American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) assures that north american butterflies are drop dead gorgeous, and await me. Await my travel, and are ready to tease and tantalize my Macro-camera lens.

So many goals were met in 2016, Zebra heliconians, Juniper hairstreaks, Little metalmarks, Bog coppers and Eastern pygmy blues among them. Nancy, John, Virginia, Phil, Sylbie, Mike and Barbara Ann were my enablers, and I continue to extend my gratitude to them.

This 2017, with a grandson born to my daughter just 3 days ago (Aviva and baby boy Werner are now safely home, and well, Thank Y-u!) now sings the siren song to me, to get in the Tundra and maybe even board a plane or two, if the buck$ allow. Trips in the works? Georgia and Ohio. Trips possible?? Maine, Texas, Nevada and Vancouver Island, and ???

What’s that song about Lucky Boy?

Jeff

A Protected Sweetheart of a Butterfly

Anthocharis Damones (Protected), photographed by Jeff Zablow on Qedesh trail, Israel

They fly down trails almost recklessly, seeking suitable mates. I wanted an image of Anthocharis damone. Other visits to this Kedesh trail in the Upper Galilee region of Israel . . . left me frustrated. I saw A. damone, but despite my pleas, they never stopped! This male did, and I shot away, scoring this ‘I’ll take it’ image as this flier made its quick stop to nectar up on this member of the pea family. This was March ’15, and that’s when they fly. A rare, increasingly difficult to find butterfly. Jeff, in the right place and right time! Jeff, eyeing this ‘pat’ of butter on the wing, with a dab of tangerine on each forewing tip.

This by way of sharing. I just received a call from Paul in Silver Spring, Maryland (USA, near D.C). Paul and Aviva just added a son to their family! Mazal Tov!

All in the right time. Thrilled to revisit this exciting image from an earlier trip to the HolyLand and thrilled to shout out that I am once again . . . a grandparent!

Jeff

Flying to the Middle East . . . Me And Gilbert O’Sullivan

Aricia Agestis butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow on Qedesh trail, Israel

My flight on Tuesday, March 28th fast approaches. I have yet to put a single thing in my suitcase. Usually earning B+’s for packing, collecting my field clothing, leisure clothing and Sabbath clothing, along with lenses (Macro- and Wide-angle), and 48 rolls of Fuji film, and toiletries, and shoes, boots and on and on, remains a significant challenge for me. I do have my Israel field guide handy, and hopefully Rachel has my preferred map book there in Israel, waiting for me and my Hertz rental. No GPS for this guy, so set in his . . . .

My first ever Passover in Israel, spent with Rachel and Uri and my 2 grandsons, and extended family. Imagine a table full of folks, with every man there having been in uniform, and most having experienced action in 1 or more wars?

After a year of gently suggesting to butterfly enthusiasts in Israel, wouldn’t you be pleased to join me on your favorite trails and in your favorites butterfly destinations, I must admit that I am alone again, naturally. Know then that when I safely return, and no war has begun  while I am there (that happened to me twice, once in the ’80’s (‘The Lebanon War’) when I arrived with my wife and 4 children, only to find that war broke out while we were in the air!), every butterfly and wildflower I share will be a small miracle, and just years of honing my butterfly strategies.

Rachel learned to cook from her Mom A”H (“OBM”) and Dina, her mother-in-law (now more like a mother) is an excellent cook, so there’s much to be appreciative of.

This Aricia aegistis sweetheart was found on a trail that Dina’s sister Miriam recommended, the Qedesh trail in the norther Galilee, just some 2.5 miles from the Lebanese border, and murderous Hezbollah, with its menacing store of thousands of rockets (why would anyone point thousands of rockets at their neighbor? I never have, have you?).

I’ve struck out trying to urge my many friends to schedule this trip with me, and see the Christian sites that were revered in Sunday school. For some it’$ money, for others it’s the “danger” though there is none, and I shop for fruit in Druze villages! Others have trips planned to other spots. What I would not give to share a trail in the Golan, with . . . . . . . . . . I dare not name names, for I love y’all too much.

So I fly on March 28, and return on April 25, G-d willing, and we will not post any new blogs, I think, until my return to Pittsburgh. Fly there with me in ’18 and win a free . . . . (Hmmmm.)

Jeff