Birders on the Peak of Israel’s Mt. Hermon

Birders photographed by Jeff Zablow at on Mt. Hermon, Israel

Eran and I were surprised to find these men on the peak of Mt. Hermon. Eran was my guide, and we were there to find the rare butterflies that called this mountaintop home. Who were these men?

Eran recognized the man on the right, he another Israeli guide. The man on the left with the Canon long lens was a ‘birder’ who had travelled from Germany to see birds as they travelled across Hermon in their annual migrations. Mt. Hermon is a crossroad for millions of birds that migrate to and from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Footprints from James Audubon, Roger Tory Peterson, James Fisher and E. O. Wilson may well also be found in this very same spot.

I’d travelled to Mt. Hermon from Pittsburgh. The gentleman on the left from Germany. It made sense to me. To you?


Plebejus Eurypilus Euaemon (Protected) (Israel)

Plebejus evrypilus butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Hermon, Israel

Every minute was precious. On the peak of Mt. Hermon in Israel. My guide, Eran Banker, and I were alone up there, though we later met a German birder and his Israeli guide on our way down from the mountain. Turn here, turn there, no matter which way we turned, butterflies I had never seen before. Nirvana. Jeff in the candy store, ogling the mouth watering choices, this time, with the coin to select and savor.

2008 on the mountain. I said it again. One of those days I will never forget. The kid from Brooklyn, who usually had no coin in his pockets, was now the photographer of butterflies on Hermon. Success by Ralph Waldo Emerson came to mind. Surrounded by beauty, appreciating the beauty and soon sharing that beauty with our followers in 83 countries around the world (The Peoples Republic of China, with its 1.3 billion people, remains still out of range, with not 1 visit in our 2.5 years).

Rare, endangered and elusive butterflies here, then there, then over there. The sky was crystal clear blue, there was only a slight breeze . . . and it was hot, very hot. Eran lugged several liter bottles of water, and we drank often.

Our protected blue here flew to this rock to rest, serendipity! My approach was slow . . . and successful. This blue butterfly flies from May to July. Limited to Mt. Hermon and its slopes. Here you find another example of my sometimes overly positive thinking. Sure I have this image, and it is rare, but won’t I score a better one in ’09 or ’11? So what happened? My next chance to go to the top came in ’12 . . . and it was March and the mountain was covered in snow. No problem, I’ll go up in ’13. ’13 comes, I arrange to go to the peak . . . and War! War! on the Syrian side of the mountain.

I don’t know how many others have photographed this male, but here’s mine. See the missing piece of the left hindwing. Look carefully and you’ll note that the right upper wing surface shows some orange. That helped me determine which of the blues this is.