Israeli Swallowtail, Check!

Papilla Machaon butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Ramat Hanadiv, Israel

Eight? Nine? The number of visits I’ve made to Israel since 2008. Wonderful visits, meeting one grandson! The a second grandson! Seeing Rachel set roots and flourish. Relishing the vigor, beauty and success of this gutsy little nation. Tasting the sights, sounds, aromas and foods that are so unique to this part of the world.

My visits there are split between being guested at Rachel’s, where I am given the bomb-shelter room, and excursions into the field. Americans don’t know about this, Uh, uh! When they build a home, like Rachel and Uri did, they fortify a room and that will be the bomb-shelter room. Two years ago I was there, and sirens went off, and that meant . . . incoming from Gaza. So we dashed into that room with 1-week old Boaz. I was livid, having to go into a rocket-proof room with my one week old grandson. If all your sympathy is with them, you try living like that, and let me know how much you love it? My youth on the streets back then hardened me in a way, and that episode still triggers anger.

An objective of my each trip was to capture a good image of Israel’s swallowtail, Papilio machaon. They fly at high speed, are there and then gone! All my effort has produced few photo opps of these beauties. This one was a turning point. I was a Ramat Hanadiv, March 2016, on their exciting trails, when she flew in, and began nectaring. Daddah! She continued nectaring on the flowerhead. I shot, shot, shot, shot, and then . . . she was gone.

Fair to good image of Papilio machaon? Check!


Holy Thistle

Thistle, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Mishmarot, Israel

Butterflies kept me busy, but their wildflower choices couldn’t be ignored. This thistle, growing against a chain-link fence in the Mishmarot orchards, was a handsome flowerhead.

Prime bloom time, vibrant color, and beacon to swallowtails and many other butterflies, what was the name of this Israeli blossom?

Holy Thistle (Silybum Marianum). Only in the Holy land would you expect such a name. Butterflies heading to Holy thistle to find succor . . . makes sense, No?


Shooting Darners

Darner dragonfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

Find me one, one experienced nature photographer who passes a posing darner, poised on a twig or dried flowerhead. It just cannot be done. OK, sometimes we pause to get a look, then continue on the trail, reluctant to use time, good light or for me, film.

My experience once you make that brief stop? 90% of the darners and their closely related species flee, before you have a chance to get a good look, or try for a decent exposure. That contributes to future greater and greater reluctance to give darners serious attention.

All that shared, a shmeksy! darner represents a Challenge! If you enjoyed baseball, football, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, boxing, knitting, sewing, painting, tinkering, building scooters from wooden fruit cartons (Brooklyn, NY), then you understand why I Stopped! and followed my Technique protocol, on that trail on Mt. Meron, 7,000 miles from my Pittsburgh home.

We have been visited by friends in more than 85 countries. Is this darner limited solely to Israel, to the Middle East at large, Asia and/or Africa, Europe?

Maybe we will be offered info from here and there.


Eastern Tailed-Blue Butterfly

Eastern tailed blue butterfly photographed at Phipps Conservatory Outdoor Gardens, Pittsburgh, PA 

August 29th and our Eastern Tailed-Blue (ETB) butterfly has been popping from tall verbena flowerhead to the next, silently enjoying the bounty and security of the Outdoor Gardens at Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory.

With a lull and brief absence of other butterflies, I shoot away, remembering that I am always charmed by these diminutive pookies. It helps that they are usually intact and fresh, providing good images.

We, I have concluded, are less happy seeing images of butterflies with damaged wings. So ETB’s are usually great subjects, intact and smartly attired.

We’ve posted other images of Everes comyntas and invite you to have a look at them.

As to why ETB wings are nipped less frequently than other butterflies . . . I invite you to share what you know of this?

Flying from April to October here in Pennsylvania, they are easily overlooked, flying away from your approach just inches above the trail you’re traveling. But they’re worth stopping, approaching and studying.

Very, very soon the mature caterpillars will move from the hiding places they’ve been in these winter months and pupate. Quietly and unnoticed. Hmm.