Wonderful! A working image of this rare, protected butterfly on… Mt. Hermon, at Israel’s northernmost border. He was not approachable … until he spotted these groundcover blooms on the mountaintop. So irresistible their aroma must have been, for he sped to these blossoms, and spent precious moments on each, taking in the sugary nectar.
This is another image that I am sharing, taken in June 2008. I had experienced a life-changing personal loss months before, and my daughter had relocated from Washington, D.C. to Tel Aviv. As I planned to visit her, I pushed myself to go for it, do something radical with my camera. Eran Banker was contacted, and off we went from Tel Aviv to … the peak of Mt. Hermon! Quite a few of my photos from Mt. Hermon can be seen here on wingedbeauty. Never, never will I forget that trip. Eagles flying by us as we took the lift to the mountaintop, butterflies like this one, found nowhere else, a landmine (where there were not supposed to be any), OMG! views of Syria and Lebanon, the cattle, grazing 7,000 feet plus on the mountaintop, and the knowledge that we were being watched, surveillance was watching us.
A rare Fritillary this one, flying May through July, on a mountain that you and I cannot visit because of a certain civil WAR, in Syria.
This is too much! Moments after I left my quarters at SPNI Mt. Meron, the trails through the field station/refuge challenged me with butterflies, everywhere I went. We know the problem this happily brings, How do I manage…? Wait a second. Almost none of you shoot film, and many of you have never shot film… Well, the challenge is conserving the film that you expose, because you will be abroad in Israel for 10 more days, and you want to be prepared for the unexpected, for butterfly opportunities that are unexpected, and that could be the chance of (almost?) a lifetime. A very recent post of the Israeli swallowtail is a good example of the need to be ready!
Strymonidia spini were almost everywhere. I had to put a limit to the number of photos that I took of them. Look for only those that are handsome and all positioned. That’s what I did. This male wanted me to photograph him. He had good pose, tolerated my approach and cooperated during this ‘photo shoot.’ Some time ago, in New York, we approached a portrait photo shoot of me. I was amazed then that the fellow who photographed me (arranged through a SoHo acquaintance) insisted that he must have a serious number of shots of me. The one finally selected was excellent, but oh, so many taken, and it finally became tiring.
Found from Jerusalem north to the Mediterranean and then along the northern tier of Israel to Mt. Hermon, this hairstreak flies from April to June. Syrian thistle (Notobasis syriaca) can be seen above and to the left of our Blue-spot. These butterflies fly low along the ground, and when they flee, it is only to some 10 feet away. Wait a minute or three, and the males return to the same perch where they were first found. The females’ flight is to a more distant place, usually more difficult to be seen.
I probably saw 75 to 100 Blue-spots that morning. A ‘tail’ on each hindwing, pleasant markings of white, black, blue spot and hindwing red. Like most hairstreaks, you get few looks at their dorsal wing surface. Little sweeties.
You do have to reflect on whether or not to post this image. Aricia agestis. The Brown Argus butterfly.
Why didn’t I pitch this slide, as I do the other 4,970 or so that I toss each year? After all, I shoot hand-held, often in a crouch or in some other awkward position.
Why? I’m 6,000 miles+ from home, it’s a spectacular day and I’m on top of Israel’s magnificent Mt. Hermon, still peppered with undiscovered land mines and probably under the supervision of telescope equipped soldiers of 2 different countries.
The mountain-top is rock strewn and it’s butterflies are the most evasive of any I have ever approached!
June is the optimum time to be on this mountain peak…few if any people and most of its rare butterfly species are flying.
So sure I now share this image with you. I don’t know how many photos of Brown Argus on Mt. Hermon are available. This is my best…it was gone…as I belly crawled forward again,on those rocks, to make my next staged approach.