To See This Rare Parnassian Butterfly You Must . . . .

Parnassius mnemosyne butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Hermon, Israel

Where did I see this very Rare Parnassius Mnemosyne Syra butterfly? When did I see it? Why did I see it there? How confident was I that I’d see it?

I secured a guide to find especially rare butterflies, species only found on the peak of Mt. Hermon in the HolyLand(Israel). He picked me up in Tel Aviv and we drove the 3 hours to the Golan. The next day we took the lift up the 7,000 feet slope, and WOW! The peak of the mountain was so much larger and more expansive than I ever imagined. Eran lugged many liters of water for us, vital on that scorching 95F June day. We met birder there, they from Germany, who were seeking migratory birds. Eran spotted a land mine, a menacing man-made monster, in an area I was working in my search for butterflies. The mountain had been a battleground.

Eureka! We found many rare butterflies there, including this one. It was kind of exciting to know that our every move was being observed by the IDF, United Nations Observers and for sure Syrian troops.

The peak of Mt. Hermon is no longer open to us, for Syrian has recently been the world’s worst killing field, and because there are now more than 50,000 Iranian troops on the north base of Mt. Hermon, they wearing Syrian uniforms and driving Syrian marked military vehicle. That’s almost as dangerous a place to be as downtown New York, downtown Portland, Oregon or downtown Minneapolis. Irony of ironies.

I treasure this image. Really. How many have such?


Getting Back to Those Very Rare HolyLand Ones

Parnassius mnemosyne butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Hermon, Israel

Jeff overcame his concern of heights that day, when he and Eran rode the tram up those 7,000 feet to the peak of Mt. Hermon in the HolyLand. We trudged those miles across Hermon’s peak, to find some of the rarest butterflies in the world. We had no GPS, no guidance, no one who told us where to search. It was 95 degrees F that day, full sun on Hermon. Eran is a bull of a guide, and he carried some many liters of water for us.

We were alone up there, except for a group of kids who came up later, briefly, and a German with his own guide, traversing this world birding site. That was good, for when good butterflies appeared, Jeff easily went off trail to follow them. Those trails were made by cattle, Arab cattle (Syrian or Israeli Arabs ?) that have cut those trails amidst the rock, for what, thousands of years? Off trail Jeff became on-trail Jeff when later in the day, Eran called me over to show me a land mine that had been missed by the sappers who clear those tools of war.

Did we? Yes. We saw many rare butterflies, including Parnassius mnemosyne syra, shown here. She incredibly closely related to the swallowtail butterflies! I love this image, and I remember this moment.

It’s been years, and I want to go back. Problem is that war is raging just down the north slope of Mt. Hermon, and some of the most notorious mass murderers on this planet are down there, seeking to kill.

If I could return to that mountain peak, with its extraordinary butterflies and habitat . . . would you go too?



Rare Israeli Butterfly with American Cousins

Parnassius mnemosyne butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Hermon, Israel

I went there to see if I could meet rare butterflies. We took the lift (I am not good with height!) to the 7,ooo foot peak of Mt. Hermon. On the top of this Israeli mountain, success! I met and photographed several species of butterflies, only found on the mountain-top, at the northern border of Israeli and Syria’s bloody bones. Eran is a bull of a guy, and he lugged liters of water, enabling us to continue in that 93F Middle Eastern heat.

I share this today, January 1st, 2017, New Years Day, because I look to this ’17 as a year to extend my list of new butterflies seen and shot.

This butterfly is Parnassius mnemosyne, rare and Protected.

Is it one of the White butterflies? No. Would you have guessed that . . . its American cousins are the . . . swallowtails?

Where in the U.S. are our American Parnassians? You have to travel west of the Mississippi River to find American parnassians.

See, that’s the kind of 2017 I’m looking for, challenge, excitement, new, new, new and fascinating, interesting and compelling, very compelling.

Know this, I will give it my All. To 2017!


Winter Antidotes IV

Parnassius mnemosyne butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Hermon, Israel
How do I view a day like today? Mid-January and a ‘balmy’ 41F. With caution I think, because the extended forecast for us here includes snow showers, cold and lots of cloudy, cold days. In the middle of winter, we are. Still more winter to go, therefore . . . need additional winter antidotes.

Noted recently that this 2015 I am looking forward to travel, to meet butterflies I’ve never met before in Colorado, Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Ontario and Israel.

Israel? Today’s news, encountered almost everywhere, features tiny, little Israel, beloved to Christians, Land of Milk and Honey. IAF rockets directed at terrorists on the Syrian side of the mountain, and it revealed that they struck terrorists and Iranians. An Iranian general was amongst the casualties. Huh, what’s an Iranian general doing on the other side of that mountainous border? Surrounded on all sides by governments, militia, Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS that wish its children dead. How’s that for a downer of a thought?

OK, I was there 6 months ago, and if, if, you haven’t traveled to Israel, you have no idea how moving, beautiful, youthful, safe (Yep!) and Now! a place it is. This Parnassius Mnemosyne Syra butterfly was on the peak of Mt. Hermon, sipping nectar in the blazing heat of the mid-day sun. Rare, when I got my slides back and verified that this image was that species, I was elated! Want to see one, travel thousands of miles, drive to the northern tip of Israel, Hope that the military allows you to go up to the top, bring many liters of water (Or else!), watch for land mines! when you step off of the primitive trails, and then maybe, just maybe you’ll encounter this butterfly, with its almost transparent wings. She was flying low along the ground, fast, but stopped for these blooms. Made my approach, and shot away . . . 10 or 12 exposures later, sped away. Yay!!

Can, will I be back in April? Will they allow me to ascent to the mountain-top? If I can and they do, it will be Muy Hot. Just warms me up, thinking about it. Winter Antidote, that.