Eye Contact with Bessie?

Chocolate Brown Cow, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Nahal Dishon National Park, Upper Galilee, Israel

She and her calf weren’t there when I followed a primitive trail deeper into a corner of Nahal Dishon Park, Upper Galilee region of Israel. I’ve been sharing images of my February to March 2016 views, and some of what I share is the product of mixed weather, sometimes thick clouds, sometimes rain. It’s the end of their winter, and the acceptable amount of rain has enriched this verdant region with blankets of wildflowers, Lupines for example were all over, and sweet purple blush.

The drive from my SPNI (Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel) field house quarters to this park was up, up,  up and up, around sharp curves, challenging the boy who is a wee bit uncomfortable with heights.

Back to Miss Bessie. The boy hailing from Brooklyn works his way back to where the trail (mind you not a developed trail – now I know who made this trail over eons of time) began. Then I see her, all 800? or 900? pounds of her. She is just off the trail. I reconnoiter the situation, and spot more sweet brown just a few feet from her. A calf! I slow my pace, and continue on the trail. toward them. What would Virginia or Louise or Dave or Phil, all of you who grew up on farms, do? Mr. Concrete, brick  and asphalt is once again on a trail, with a very Big Girl, she is watching me like, well a hawk, and . . . she’s got her calf, too.

Less than 2 weeks later, on Mt. Belvoir in the Golan region, I again found myself along on a trail with a huge, very interested cow. That cow never stopped watching me, and then she began moving toward me. I at least had trees between me and her, as you see I had between Bessie and I. I moved out down that Belvoir mountain trail, how do you say? Likity split.

Bessie let me be. There was no owner to be seen. Cattle roam here in the Upper Galilee. They roam in the Golan region. I have no idea how their owners keep track of them. Really close to Hot borders with Lebanon and Syria, armored vehicles (AKA tanks) are common here, and they too must be aware of the presence of cattle, here and there.

A share then of the unexpected. City boy cum butterfly photographer, and 900 pound powerhouses, alone together, all parties docile?


Our 2016 Jamestown Butterfly Presentation

Jeff Zablow at Audubon Center & Sanctuary, presenting at First Fridays, June 2016

Did you notice? I lead with the word “Our.” Good reason for that. Our June 3, 2016 presentation at the Jamestown Audubon Center was sheer pleasure. The room was filled, and more chairs had to be gotten, and then some people were left standing! Imagine how pleased I was, as more and more people joined us.

I write “Our” because that was how it felt to me. I cannot remember bringing my images and story to a more intensely committed audience. I felt it in the air, it was an elixir for sure, and trust me in this, I think every one of them picked up the same mojo.

How did we get There? The PowerPoint screen was the best I’ve ever used. Responsive, trouble-free, and, and the images almost made me Gasp! they were so real-time correct, color, background, each image caused me to smile inside, and that was so Good.

Some of the shares were taken at Jamestown’s own reserve (a real destination, that), many at Raccoon Creek State Park, others in Eatonton, Georgia, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge, Maryland, and Big Bend Wildlife Management Area in Florida’s Panhandle and a couple in Israel, right up to the top of biblical Mt. Hermon.

Jennifer, Ruth and Barbara Ann arranged this presentation, brown bag lunch and field walk. They even contracted and got a sunny, wonderful day. Jamestown, New York has a fine, active Audubon Center, with an quality staff and legions of volunteers.

I did try to wish for a magic jet to scoot Virginia, Leslie, Cathy, Sylbie, Phil, Laurence, Jim, Stanley, Erica, Patti, Bo, Peggy, Kim, Dave, Curt, Paula, Marci, Traci, Joanne, Melissa, Holly, Karen, Sharon, Lois and all the rest of you to that place that day, but well, rain checks for all. Butterflies that make you smile! Who doesn’t need that?


Regal Fritillary – My Proprietary Image

Regal Fritillary Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

Every quality butterfly field guide for the United States includes images of Speyeria idalia, the Regal fritillary butterfly. Some guides used their own images. Some sought permission from photographers and then credited photos. Years passed by, and Jeffrey wanted to meet this rare of rare butterflies, and capture good images of them, males and females.

I learned that their site would be open for 4 days in June 2015. I immediately made a reservation, and weeks later there I was at Fort Indiantown Gap military reservation in Lebanon county, Pennsylvania. If you’re planning on driving, it’s just east of our state capitol in Harrisburg.

And I am tickled pink that I did! Hundreds of years ago they flew within ½ miles of my East Flatbush street in Brooklyn. Not anymore, though. Regal Frits are gone from New York, gone from Massachusetts , gone from Virginia, and gone from West Virginia! Why? you ask? I do not know the answer to that.

The day I went rain was predicted, and instead I got a full day of sun. It was a day that I met, and approached the Regals. They allowed approach when they were sipping nectar on Butterfly weed. Sometimes they permitted me to come within 24 inches of their royal presence. I even followed a mated pair off  the trail. You can see that photograph in an earlier post.

My proprietary image is one of the others that I have posted here. It was sunny with no wind. The butterflies were poised and many were fresh. I was thankful to be there,  savoring those moments. That was good, very good. That was in 2015. What will we see this year, 2016?


A Very Exciting Meeting with Rare Butterflies

Regal Fritillary Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

The 19 states that rim the U.S. eastern coastline have a total population of perhaps 150,000,000 people. The sole population of Regal Fritillary butterflies in those 19 US states this year probably included 1,200 butterflies, all living in one isolated location at Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, just a short drive from Pennsylvania’s capitol of Harrisburg. Yes, it’s whispered that there may be 1 or 2 remnant populations in Virginia, but that is a well kept secret, if it is true at all.

Busting with expectation, I arrived there on June 10, 2015, ripping to get going, with my 129 fellow visitors. Roughly 20 naturalists awaiting us, and guided us to the prairie grassland in the military reserve. Orientation came first. Jeff: impatient. Then the mass of us drove in caravan to the prairie grassland. Jeff: Can’t wait. We left our vehicles and all headed to the wide-open meadow-like grassland. Jeff: Come on, come on. Soon the group began to separate into smaller groups. Jeff: How in the world will I be able to score images of . . .  with all of these folks around? Finally, it was just me and her, a naturalist. Jeff: Thank Y-o.

Regals were there in good numbers. Most were males, and some were young and fresh. They were sipping nectar hard: on Butterfly weed, an Asclepias milkweed. They were not please with my approach, though some remained in place, anxious to sip their sugary cocktail. The photographer? Transfixed might be a good choice of characterization for my hours there. My 12 years of wanting to do this, absent support from butterfly aficionados, was beginning to pay off.

This male, on lush Butterflyweed, shares his ventral wing surfaces, sooo much shiny white, awash in a bath of oranges and black blacks.

A very rare butterfly, that once flew on my childhood street in Brooklyn, New York, finally rendezvousing with Kid Zablow, in a verdant meadow in central Pennsylvania! So cool!

Jeff . . . Happy Holidays!

Carolina Satyr at the Briar Patch

Carolina Satyr Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, GA

Elusive is the only way to describe this tiny little Satyr butterfly. Deciding that you want good images of Carolina Satyrs (Hermeuptychia Sosybius) and capturing same, may take a day, or days, or weeks. Trust me on this.

A couple of Carolina Satyrs resided in the tree line abutting the Butterflies and Bloom in the Briar Patch (Eatonton, Georgia). Others ventured into the sun dappled undergrowth of the Briar Patch’s perennial beds. Shooting them required getting down on my left knee pad, staked out at flowers that I know are attractive to them.

Regulars on the blog know I have a thing for satyrs; with their rich chocolate browns and eyespots. Carolinas sport especially pretty eyespots, and that’s reason numbers 1-3 for my choice of this photo.  Beyond that, I have my favorites among the Satyrs, and Carolina Satyrs in the Briar Patch are near the top of my list.

I find that I prefer woodland habitats from West Virginia traveling south to the tip of the Florida peninsula.