The Day You Heard (Faintly) My “Yes!”

Swallowtail butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

It was that 2nd week of June 2013, and you were wherever your happened to be, some minutes after 11:00 AM, Israeli time. Savannah, Moscow, La Jolla, Seoul, Madrid, Rockefeller Center . . . wherever you were, your eardrums vibrated faintly, prompted by the Scream I, Jeffrey, booomed out from Mt. Meron, almost at its peak. Six years of watching Papilio machaon syriacus elude my Macro- lens, and now, and many flights on El Al and Air Canada (no  thanks) and Continental Airlines, 12-13 hours aboard the Kennnedy or Newark take-offs . . . I achieved a long awaited goal, images of Israel’s most common swallowtail. When I captured my exposures, after he flew off, I caught my breath, brought myself up from the left knee (TommyCo knee pad (Love it)), and Ecstatic, I yelled “YES!” at the top of my lungs . . . Sheer ecstasy. I have seen much, done much, suffered too, escaped sure calamity several times, experienced Joy! with much Gratitude . . . but as you will all understand, there is so much left to savor and claim and overcome. Those minutes on the mountain were owed in part to sheer determination and doggedness, learned steadily and over time.

This swallowtail flies from February to December in Israel. They are solitary, fly at great speed, and are unapproachable. How did I get these images with my Canon 2.8/100mm Macro- lens? I was almost where you see I was. After an attempt to photograph other butterflies there, it did not work out. 70 yards from end of the trail, I was to get up from that crouch, when my left eye caught the flight of a large butterfly, heading to my general direction . . . ? My turned head saw . . . Papilio m. fly almost to me, and land on this tiny bloom. Tiny. How long could this mini-blossom treat its guest to sweet nectar? Do you see? The whole experience was improbable! I was at the end of my morning’s search, I was hot and tired, the swallowtail flew in from who knows where to this 1 cm flower, and remained feeding on this lilliputian bloom long enough for me to depress my shutter button about 14 times. OMG! You know where I’m going with this . . .

Sure you’ve seen similar images, much closer up. All that I can offer is that this image, and the other I posted earlier, is in the wild, not photo-enhanced, more than difficult to get, and I think that the colors (actually I know that . . . )  are correct, real-time.

Thanks for reading through . . .


A Protected Flower Species from Golan, Israel: the Common Gladiolus

Common Gladiolus Wildflower (Protected Species) photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Northern Golan, Israel

Photographing butterflies in the wild rewards us in so many unanticipated ways. The very same trail that led us to the Hermon Iris hit us again with this lovely, Gladiolus italicus. Both rare species of wildflowers grow where few ever venture, bloom just after Israel’s winter season has ended, and they exist very, very close to the border between Israel and Lebanon. The media report this northernmost Golan region as tense. The Hermon iris and this Common gladiolus evidence little interest or concern in the follies of mankind.

How vividly rich was the pink color of this wildflower. How were they bred to achieve the garden gladiolus that we grow in our gardens and put into our flower arrangements? How many funeral flower arrangements have their progeny beautified?

Not always alone on this trail, a future post on wingedbeauty will be of the behemoth cows that briefly blocked our return walk on the trail. Amazing. These 1500 lb. or so cows left the iris and gladioli alone. Because they were protected or because their mothers somehow taught them to avoid eating these beautiful wildflowers. We saw no insects visiting the gladiolus, but in fairness we paused there for only a short time.

Photographing winged beauties ends up not always being what you expected!