Eastern Baton Blue Butterfly in the HolyLand

Pseudophilotes Vicrama butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Ramat Hanadiv, Israel

Blues are found all around the globe. Here in the northeastern U.S. the Eastern Tailed Blue is well known, and a companion to those who hike trails. Stop and look, and they are just a treat, perched on a tiny leaf, all serious and earnest in whatever it is they are doing. Don’t look and don’t stop, well you’ve missed a cutie/sweetie, for sure.

Here in March 2016 I share a blue that I’ve rarely seen in Israel, the Eastern Baton Blue (Pseudophilotes vicrama). His upper wing blue is peaking out for us. We were on a trail at Ramat Hanadiv’s reserve, very close to the Mediterranean Sea. The trail had a gentle slope, and we shared a sunny morning. He perched on his favorite leaf, scoping for females who might fly by, me scoping for butterflies . . . .

The neat little bloom in the right foreground, what is that one?

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

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.

Jeff