What Will 2018 Bring?

Earring Series - Jeff with Black Swallowtail Earrings (Best shot), at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

This is the shot with the Eastern Black Swallowtails fully on my right ear.

No way I can count the different ways that this shot moves me. I must start with that double-headed tear slowly working its way down to my mustache.  On to that ‘Jeff’s Earring’ of a mated pair of Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies, flew they did to my hat, then shoulder, then my right ear. The red, white and blue head band symbolizes much here, what with the tumultuous year we have all endured. The kind of ruddy look to me here makes some sense, this being the guy/kid who never even saw the golden spoon, growing up on the streets of Brooklyn, New York. There’s so much more talking to me here, in this image captured by Sylbie.

The thing is that this for me is an iconic shot, caught by a friend who was not supposed to be there then, with a pair of G-d’s most beautiful adorning my ear, and she with wings fully shared.

Just back from being Wow’d!!! in the Rio Grand Valley, and hours from New Year 2018, I am buzzed by expectancy. What will ’18 bring? And, as Jan shared, will our path’s cross?

Jeff

Waiting For Rare Ones

Aricia Agestis Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Neve Ativ, Israel

The Coppers were flying, they in good numbers. None were of the 2 rare, protected Copper butterflies known to populate the peak and slopes of Mt. Hermon. That was OK, for the coppers I was seeing in the field surrounding Neve Ativ, though of the common copper species, were, well, fresh. Very fresh. When I caught sight of mating copper pairs, I went into overdrive. Happy, motivated, loaded with Fuji slide film, and yes, Thankful that I was there on the mountain, in the northernmost tip of Israel, April  2017.

Thankful too that the murderous Syrian regulars, Syrian secret cadre, Iranian regular and other murderers, ISIL, Hezbollah, Syrian ‘Rebels’ (whomever there are/were), Russian uniformed and special forces, North Koreans, Hamas, US special forces, Al Qaeda remnants, Pakistanis and more were down on the northern face of Mt. Hermon, planning,  executing and killing one another (though I wish safe missions for our American Special Forces/Opps heroes).  Just that they were not in Israel, threatening the Israeli Jews and Israeli Druze who live in this OMG! lush, water rich Golan region.

My eyes rested their ‘Rare Copper’ search engines . . . but I did not relent another search mode, for I was on the lookout for the rare, equally protected gossamer-winged Aricia Agestis. Mostly the tiny butterflies were there in those fields, and my eyes were scanning the little for minute butterflies with chains of little orange flashes rimming dorsal (upper) forewings and hindwings.

Some 2 hours into that morning, jackpot! There was Aricia, leisurely nectaring on very small, low to the ground blooms. A very nice one, and sweetie. . . approachable. I shot away, and share here the best of what I got. Hadn’t seen Aricia for 2 years, even though I was in Israel’s north in 2016, looking for this sweetiepie. Good. Very good.

There we were there then, Jeff and Aricia, within sight of The Sea of Galilee to the south, were my Chrisitian friends all tell me they plan to visit “someday,” for Aricia surely flew down to there then, surely wasn’t so rare then, and no doubt was also admired then. Imagine that, if you will?

Jeff

Setting the Table for the Kids

Mating Regal Fritillary Butterflies photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

Our great grandkids? The awful news that washes over our radios, televisions, iPhones and well, some time ago, our newspapers, does every once in a while trigger thoughts of How’re We Doing? Here in the USA, there in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Far East, that tiny miscreant, North Korea? Some of us bite the bait, so to speak, and get caught up in a media malaise.

Wonderfully, those who come visit here, come to see, are the folks who largely deny that unpleasant ‘blanket’ of melancholy to settle over our heads. We look for beauty, wonder, awe, excitement, the thrill of the discovery, and the bounty of the Cr-ator.

We regrettably do have concerns. One that heads the list for me, and  perhaps for you, is what will we be providing for our grandchildren and great grandchildren? I’m now reading Travels of William Bartram, edited by Mark Van Doren . . . ‘an unabridged edition of this classic with all 13 original illustrations’ (Dover Publications, NY 1955, first published in 1928). It is the full account of British botanist Bartram, as he scoured Florida and Georgia, shortly after America’s Independence, seeking useful botany. It is Amazing! 99.899% of America was undeveloped then, and the natural landscape was Rich in life, all kinds of life.

Now, when I walk through Frick Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and search its 900 +/- acres, I cannot escape the reality, that more than 70% of the botany that I see is . . . alien. And the fauna? Where is that carrier pigeon, the cougar, rattlesnakes, and that brings us here, to this view of a pair of mating Regal Fritillary butterflies. They used to fly in Frick. They used to fly from southern Maine to the Florida Panhandle ( corrections would be more than welcome ). Gone from the states that stack themselves Maine to the north and Florida to the south. Fact is, this huge meadow in central Pennsylvania is the only place that they still can be found. Omg! Only a few hundred Regals, in those what, 15 states?

So, we share this graceful, important image, of sheer fragility. What table are we Americans setting for our grandkids and great grandkids, as we continue the rush to build, develop, and bulldoze?

Jeff

 

 

Regal Fritillaries Mating

Mating Regal Fritillary Butterflies photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

What has disappeared from 99.6% of their original range? They have. Regal Fritillary Butterflies no longer are found in the 16 east coast U.S. states, with the exception of one colony in Pennsylvania and a semi-secret colony in Virginia. Gone from their grasslands, gone from their wet swales and gone from their boggy wetlands. Gone.

Last year I jumped at the opportunity to visit the Pennsylvania colony, not too far from the state capitol, Harrisburg. I have posted images from that day on wingedbeauty. They have generated solid traffic, for many know how rare Speyeria idalia is. Unable to skip work or responsibilities, so many of us can’t visit endangered butterflies, time does not allow.

I went in June 2015. Wanted to see them for more than 14 years. I went to this military reservation, Ft. Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, joined the huge group (130 guests!), and, and, it was wonderful. Just wonderful. Regals flew here, and there, and there, and here. The grassland (meadow!) was huge, and the large group began to break up, until I was alone with another guest, and a naturalist on the Post’s wildlife management staff.

Here is an image I was thrilled to capture. A male and female mating, coupled together in silent, motionless bond. Their ventral white spots shone. I shot away, Happy boy! was I, almost alone with Regals, beautiful butterflies whose ancestors flew from Maine to North Carolina, and are now counted as the rarest of the rare.

Blessed was I to go, to see, and as here, to share poignant evidence that we are not doing the best we can, with what we have been given. Native Americans? Their lands? Heck, the entire land mass that is the United States. Regal fritillary butterflies? Down to 0.4% of their native habitat.

I share a coupled pair of Regal fritillary butterflies with you. Will your grandchildren be able to go see them, and share their images of Regals?

Jeff

Middle Eastern Eye Candy

Common Blue butterflies, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Ramat Hanadiv, Israel

These trails in the Ramat Hanadiv nature reserve were loaded with activity that morning. Most were fast fliers, defying this photographer of butterflies. Most Israeli butterflies fly at great speed (males) or hide with great success (females). About an hour northwest of Tel Aviv, and almost within view of the azure Mediterranean Sea, this expansive preserve of rolling hills is lovingly maintained and monitored, going back to its founding by the Rothschild family.

My hunt was for beautiful butterflies and wildflowers and the shy, elusive orchids that were here, this March 2016. Only the gentlest of breezes, full sun and a wet enough winter past all enabled the possibility of good images ahead.

Bingo! I saw them, and they were Fuji slide film worthy. They were locked together. A quick examination of this pair told me that they had chosen well. Both were healthy, complete and fine specimens of Poloymattus icarus zelleri. This species of Blue butterfly surely flies in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, though 2 of those 3 countries are Uber dangerous for Americans and the third, well I will never travel there either . . . So this image will do just fine.

The shades of red and orange, the bullseye black, the Isle of Capri blue and that spectrum of grays, well, Good for that.

Jeff