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.


Blue-Spot Hairstreak (Mt. Meron)

Blue-spot hairstreak butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Meron

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.