Love the Blues, I Do

Common Blue Butterfly at Mt. Hermon, Israel

Common Blue Butterfly at Mt. Hermon, Israel photographed by Jeffrey Zablow ©2010, http://www.wingedbeauty.com

Tell me how many problems you have with the ‘common’ species name that they gave this butterfly, on the slopes of majestic Mt. Hermon, in Israel? The name? Common Blue Butterfly.

A blue that Frank Sinatra, Ole Blue Eyes, would’ve loved. The kind of blue that you drown in when you look into the eyes of anyone lucky enough to sport same. The class of blue on the finest china services of the very spoiled.

Here is my basis for continuing to shoot Fuji film. Love rich blues, browns, reds and more.

A ‘Common’ blue male, resting peacefully in the northernmost tip of Israel, in the Holyland, as surprised to see me as I was pleased to drink-in its privileged blue with my color thirst eyes.

Jeff

That Danaus Look

Plain Tiger butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

Plain Tiger butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

Danaus plexippus won’t disappoint us. We know they won’t. As I’m writing, they are flying north, now hundreds of miles distant from their winter perches in fir trees in central Mexico. Virginia can expect to see them before I do. Barbara Ann, hours north of me, may well  see them before I do. Miriam may see these Monarchs first, but my turn will patiently come.

What do the statisticians report? That 94.81% of Americans love Monarch butterflies, and will stop what they are doing to marvel at one. The results are not yet available for Europeans, Canadians, Asians, Africans, Central and South Americans, Australians, New Zealanders, and the French (because they are in the News today).

This instant Danaus, nectaring on a Middle Eastern thistle flower, almost instantly identifies as a Monarch relative. Like our other U.S. Danaus butterflies, the Queen and the Soldier, this Plain Tiger butterfly (D. chrysippus) is large, bright orange with broad black borders flecked with prominent white dots, and black veins. Head and abdomen are striking, with sizable white dots set on a stark black background. Hostplant? Israeli milkweeds.

Monarchs will tolerate my approach when they are nectaring, but not when they are resting, or sunning on a flat leaf in the pre-9 A.M. hours. Plain Tigers? No approach is tolerated. I see a beaut!, decide that a shot from ground level would produce a Wow! . . . approach, s-l-o-w-l-y get down on my belly, do that basic training crawl to get closer, s-l-o-w-l-y raise my Macro-lens . . . Gone! Sped away, full throttle! Time and time again.

Know then that this, and several other looks at D. chrysippus, give much much satisfaction. Yes.

Jeff

Goal Achieved? Yes, June, 2015! New Goals?

Full dorsal view of Regal Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

I wanted to photograph these Regal fritillary butterflies for some 17 years or so. Never found anyone who would steer me to them. Than in the Spring of ’15, someone on Facebook noted that they were headed to the 4-day Monitored Tour of the Ft. Indiantown Gap Military Reserve near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I spoke up, found out the details, and here you see my fun day there, guided by military post naturalists, to the huge meadows on the post. I remember the first moment that I saw them, busily moving from flowerhead to flowerhead. 17-year goal, achieved right there, and well, they are regal and beautiful, and they pose. They pose, as they patiently nectar at butterflyweed and common milkweed.

Now we are in the very beginning of my 3rd decade of seeking and photographing butterflies in the wild. I have improved my skills, but my goals are not much different. Finding and shooting new butterflies remains the challenge. This year, if necessary, I know that I can query Virginia, Mike, Rose, Jerry, Phil, Barbara Ann, Nancy and John and Angela for destinations sought. Others have become new Facebook friends, but either do not know rare butterfly habitat, or are not yet ready to share same. Sure I read about 7 of Robert Michael Pyle’s books, and how I relish having the networks of friends that he had/has.

I fly on March 28th to Israel, and plan to spends days away in the Golan mountains and the very upper Galilee region. I’ve had much less ‘luck’ there, never having been able to coax anyone to meet meet anywhere, at anytime. For those who have been visiting wingedbeauty.com for some time, know that when I have posted images of Israel ( read that HolyLand or Middle Eastern ) butterflies, it has been the fruit of sheer determination, field guide/map strategizing, and the mother of them all . . . Luck.

This year in the USA, my new goals include Diana fritillaries in the northern Georgia mountain ( with nary a single offer of where, when ), the Cofaqui giant skipper butterfly ( for me AKA the needle in the haystack butterfly ) and satyrs and alpines in northern Maine and Ontario ( w/o having found anyone to . . . . ). Place your $$$ on me meeting Diana, for I am determined to make their acquaintance.

Jeff

Butterfly Enablers Competition

Mike in Kathleen, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Wildlife Management Area, Kathleen, GA

These 20 years have provided many insights and more puzzles. Pennsylvania butterflies came first, because that’s where I live. There were enough Penna species to challenge. I have now seen most, but not necessarily all butterflies that can be found in my adopted state.

As the years have passed, wingedbeauty.com presented new appetite. It was clear, that to most enjoy my shares, and grow my audience of friends who like butterflies and enjoyed eye-pleasing beauty . . . the time had come to travel, to find and score new butterflies to post/share. Arizona and Maryland were my choices along with Israel. I had family in those places, and those places had butterflies.

The challenges, with time now less of a challenge after I retired, included moderate challenges . . . and Big challenges. The moderate challenges were in order, $, $, and $. The Big challenge was Very Big! How to find new species in new U.S. states, and even bigger than that, how to find rare butterflies. The prominent butterfly experts refused to meet, share, guide, suggest, map. Don’t go Pysch 101 on me here. They just never  . . . .

Cherished are those, Enablers, who knew their butterflies, and urged me to come, we’ll hike and we’ll show you where they are, and we’ll step aside, let you shoot away, and Jeff (here come the magic words!) ‘Take your time, we are in no hurry.’ This I place on the same scale as an Old fashioned ice cream Frappe, Blueberry pancakes with maple syrup and Breyers Mint Chip ice cream with chocolate mini-chips sprinkled on top.

Have I found a state with Enablers? You bet. Georgia. Virginia, Rose & Jerry, Phil, Nancy & John, Sylbie and pictured here in Oaky Woods Wildlife Management Area, Mike.

Many of the images I’ve share in 2015 and 2016 and now in 2017 have been the fruits of the unselfish sharing of these heroes of mine.

wingedbeauty.com has steadily increased the number of ‘Followers.’ It has been fun, fun, fun for me. It has brought me in contact with fantastic new friends.

I mull over the absence of reach-out to me from so many states on the East coast of the U.S.? Should I list? Nah? G-d bless Georgia. It has a certain quality that I have been fortunate to benefit from.

Jeff

A Tree That Butterflies Love

American Holly tree photographed by Jeff Zablow at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Rock Hall, MD

Took a break mid-morning at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge ( Rock Hall, Maryland). May 2014. The Ranger’s house was smack in the middle of their best butterfly habitat. After so much looking down and looking straight ahead, this tree drew my attention, and I look up. What did I see?

This American Holly tree ( Ilex opaca ) had dozens of butterflies flying around it. The Red-spotted purples were numerous among them. Problem was that I don’t bring binoculars with me, so I couldn’t ID the dozens and dozens of smaller butterflies that were up there. This is a 60′ tall tree, so the species zipping about were left to my imagination. Bees and flies were uncountable, and wasps and other predators flew about, on their hunt for prey.

I have seen heavy action around Paw paw trees, and several trees further South, but I don’t remember ever seeing a tree that was so supportive of butterflies, as this one was.

The field guides all cite this tree as equally valuable in the late Fall and Winter, its berries placing it among the Best Trees to Attract Birds (Stokes Bird Gardening Book, Little, Brown and Company).

A native tree that supports wildlife of dozens and dozens of species. Nice. Didn’t need to bring it here. It was always here.

Jeff