Israel Loves the USA

View from Ramat south to Hadera, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Coastal Plain, Israel

It’s independence Day here in America. I dived into my store of ready to post images, and came up with this one I captured in March 2016. It is a view of America’s really good friend, Israel.

The perch I was standing on was the hilly high ground of Ramat Hanadiv. At the ruins of an ancient farmstead (they built their homes and farm buildings of huge stones), we look southwest, toward the coastal city of Hadera. This is the Israel that Americans do not know. I don’t think the French, or the British, or the Italians much care one way or the other. The Americans, the Canadians and perhaps the Russians (perhaps) want Israel to prosper, do their high-tech thing and make it in their nasty neighborhood, surrounded as they are, and have always been, by nasty neighbors.

I’m there to enjoy my daughter and my grandsons and to find butterflies. I look at this image, and remember, the super lush green agricultural fields in the foreground, the suburbs in the mid-ground and the cities in the background. If you have not visited the HolyLand yet, then you are missing this visual of Israel. Successful, striving, earnest, fun-loving, and deep green Israel.

What is that low hung rectangle in the foreground, you wonder? Orchards, covered by acres of netting, with perhaps bananas, mangoes or avocados or dates. The fruit in Israel is fresh, abundant and unforgettable.

Why does Israel exist, when its enemies Hate it? Well this peaceful scene you see is protected by a very efficient, always alert, Awesome capability, thanks in large part to its beloved friend, the United States of America.

Israel, this Israel you see, Loves the U.S.A. Happy 4th of July, America!


Lesser Fiery Copper in Israel

Lesser Fiery Copper butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Ramat Hanadiv, Israel

I was hot, quite hot on one of Ramat Hanadiv’s descending trails. It was morning, but it was h-o-t. No sweat as they say for this guy, a lesser Fiery Copper (Lycaena thersamon omphale), intent on sipping as much nectar as he can. March 2016, and Jeff searches of new, new butterflies, new looks, new botany, new, new, new. New is exciting and shareable, with you.

The challenge is to capture new images that deserve an audience. A big challenge that, because I’d prefer to expose 2o or 30 images of a beautiful new butterfly, and, 19 out of 20 times they just don’t allow that kind of friendliness. They flee, or they alight on a bloom or a left for a split second, and seemingly with effort are repositioned on a new flower, 17 feet away.

When this image returned from Dwayne’s Photo in Kansas, I was taken with the golden forewing and the patterned hindwing, and more.

Jeff, 10 minutes from Mishmarot (my daughter) and 10 minutes from dipping into his LL Bean knapsack for a Cocoa Loco bar (gluten-free). Jeff who loves Coppers, this one included.


Protected Middle Eastern Parnassians, Found and Engaged

Allancastria Cerisyri butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hanita, Israel

Rare butterflies, limited to a hilly range in the northwestern corner of Israel, and they fly for a single month, March.

What I have learned about rare, protected butterflies, I can share with you. Most endangered species have experienced habitat loss. Generalists, like the Cabbage White, nectar on a wide variety of flowers, and tolerate a broad range of habitats. They flourish almost everywhere, and individuals often seek new ranges, expanding their footprints into all new counties, states and regions.

Endangered butterflies remain in their original territory, and continue to feed upon the same flowers that they have depended upon for hundreds of years. Their flight time is usually limited, and often very predictable.

These parnassians are closely related to the Swallowtail butterflies (tiger, black, spicebush, giant, pipevine, palamedes – in the USA). I’ve never seen our US parnassians, all of whom fly west of the Mississippi river, most in the western mountains. This 2015 has been so good to me, largely because I’ve met generous folks, who have offered to show me actual site destinations, and who have met me there and enabled some OMG! fieldwork.

This trip to Israel’s Upper Galilee regions (northwestern Israel’s coast in this case) was a plucky one for me. No one guided me to the place you see here. Using field guides, I decided I wanted to see this winged beauties, and that had to be in March and it had to be where they fly. So I rented my Hertz car, drove for hours, and the next morning, followed my instincts, took a side road that promised to go through the prescribed habitat. Found a nature site with a car parking area. Switched to boots, blousing garters on, film loaded ( yes, Fuji slide), lens cover cleaned . . . and began to hike. OMG!! Not 100 feet into the trail, my first Allancastria Cerisyri. I saw 23 of them that morning. Bliss.

Should you want to enjoy seeing rare butterflies, most of the time the formula remains the same: Be able to travel when they are in flight, have the resource$ to do that, travel great distances to destinations where they have been regularly seen. Field guides are the resource you will need. Maps can be bought when you arrive in the area. Guides will often disappoint, and they are expen$ive. Know all along, that if you are young at heart, and fancy beauty, discovering rare butterflies is fun work.

Another option? Contact me, and see if I can join you. I’m always alone on these forays, and it would be fun to share the rush of a new, gorgeous find.


Ever Met Snake Tongue Orchid?

Snake Tongue Orchid (Protected), photographed by Jeff Zablow in Rosh Hanikra, Israel

A sage family member shared, years ago, that grandchildren, for those fortunate enough to enjoy them, were “dividends.” He got that right. Application to butterflies and wildflowers? Seeking butterflies in the field (wild) often produces a very beautiful treat, wildflowers. Wildflowers that you didn’t expect or know you would see. Here, 7,000 miles from Pittsburgh International Airport (USA) I was seeking butterflies, and then . . . I saw these orchids. What? OMG! Excuse Me! And what do we have here? These, all thoughts that shot through my mind.

I was 50 yards from the Mediterranean Sea, in Rosh Hanikra National Park, Israel. At the northwestern tip of Israel, with the border with Lebanon in sight. That border with its own bloom of towers, disks, and other esoteric security gear. But down here, 450 feet from the border, I was meeting a new orchid, the Snake Tongue Orchid. Rare, protected and very extraordinary looking.

I worked about a mile of the Park, all hugging the shore of that blue-green sea. I worked it slowly and thoroughly. I saw approximately 35 of these orchids (Serapias Vomeracea). They were in small groups, plants usually 3-4 feet apart. Their color made them stand out like a sore thumb.

I looked at the dozens and dozens of tourists (Israeli, Chilean, Belgian, German, Canadian, Azbekistanian, and more), and thought what folks like us think. Why were 99.8% of us not stopping, getting out of their cars, and coming over to gaze at these fabulous orchids, limited bloom-time, and in very, very limited numbers?

For those of you who have not visited Israel, and imagine it as war-ravaged, paranoid, stressed and rocky barren . . . well, no, you ought to visit the HolyLand, for as you see, it it Beautiful.


Yes, It’s a Delphinium!

Wildflower photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

This first week in November mirrors Novembers past. Almost all of our U.S. butterflies no longer are flying. Their wildflowers are memories now. Those of us who enjoy seeing butterfly images . . . are weaning ourselves from this year’s March to October butterfly bounty. Much went well this year, even the Monarch melancholy came to a time-out, what with a fair number of Monarchs seen flying in September and October.

So we turn our attention to the upcoming Holidays and assure ourselves that snow, sleet, shovels and sidewalk salt will come, and go! ASAP.

My visit to Israel in June to July 2014 produced some 2,345 Fujichrome Velvia 50/100 slides. All but about 53 were discarded. That’s central to photographing wildlife. Shoot, shoot, shoot and hope that you capture one OMG!

So you are all very welcome to continue seeing some of them, as well as another group (U.S.) that we will also share.

Here, on the slopes of Mt. Meron, in northernmost Israel, it was butterflies that I was seeking. That’s never the whole picture though, for the more we are out there, the more our eyes notice new things.

This wildflower stem caught my eye. Hmmm. Now that I’m home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, my modest library of the wildflowers of Israel has not identified it. I think that it looks like a Delphinium. Sweet, delicate looking, yet out there, amidst the known and little known wildlife, near the peak of Mt. Meron. Serene, yet it faces a view to the north, Lebanon, where terrorists careen around in weapons -laden 4-wheel drives, scarring that beautiful country.

Good. Oz Ben Yehuda has confirmed that it is a Delphinium, Delphinium ithaburens.