Seeing Rare Butterflies Where? In the HolyLand

Anthocharis Damones (Protected), photographed by Jeff Zablow on Qedesh trail, Israel

Working that beautiful Qedesh trail in the Upper Galilee, that recurring thought keeps popping up. How fortunate am I to be here, in the early Spring in the HolyLand, seeing fresh, rare butterflies in the meadows that flank the trail?

This one? Anthocharis Damones, taking a moment to nectar on these tiny orangish blooms, allowing us to gaze at its dorsal (upper) surface and also to see some of the ventral (lower surface) of its right wings.

My eyes drink up this image, and always drift to the right of this photo, up coming a smile, at that extra tiny, yet luscious purple flower.

Spring, on a verdant trail in the uppermost Galilee region of Israel, where Th-y too went at one time, to see and ponder.


Thorns Aplenty

Israeli thistle wildflower, photographed by Jeff Zablow on Qedesh trail, Israel

They were standing, here and there along the Qedesh trail in the uppermost Galilee region of Israel. Ghostly remnants of last year’s summer. I paused to admire their thorny bravado. Armed with a thousand long barbs, they continued to stand guard, warning any and all that intercepting this dried plant skeleton remains fool’s errand.

Again my Israeli wildflower field guides taunt me, my Hebrew language facility near zero. This botanic buzzard may be a Hermon Thistle or another closely related thistle. Here in the States, our thistles often bear thornes, but never such brutal daggers as you see here.

That is very typical of many wildflower species growing in the Israeli biome, nearly all desert, until industrious folks figured out ways to irrigate much of it to life.

Photographer beware. When you see a flying tiny, Israeli blue butterfly for instance, placing your hands on the ground, to secure a good close-up, risks meeting this or that thorny plant growing flush to the ground.

Of course Israel is a challenging place to live (more so with ‘Iran Deals’), and the botany has learned to offset the risks with: Thornes.


Those Wow! Moments

Blue butterfly, (dorsal view), photographed by Jeff Zablow on Qedesh trail, Israel

Tiny? Sure, but I know that every once in a while, one of those extra small blue butterflies can take your breath away. That’s how much of my time was spent on Qedesh trail in Israel’s Upper, upper Galilee region. Just 15 minutes from the small city of Kiryat Shimona, this trail wends its way through a valley. On your left the valley walls conceal the Hot! border with Lebanon, on your right the valley rises some 300 feet. The two mountain goats I saw there made for Fun! on this trail.

March 2015, and tens of millions of Spring wildflowers were attracting lots of butterflies. You find yourself automatically following each and every male with your  eyes. Will this one reveal the blue that Amazes? Amongst the many dozens of blue butterflies that were flying (female blues have brown upper wing color), was this one. The world: Fresh. Fresh.

I carefully did my approach, went down on my left knee, resting on my Tommy #507 garden kneepads, and slowly raised my Canon with its 100mm/2.8 macro- lens. Then the critical re-look, is he still there. Yes, he is. Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, I expose one shot after another, this angle, that angle, hey, try that angle.

My goal, a satisfying image that shares with you the Wow! moments I’m feeling, marveling at the blue that deserves to be on the palette of a Master. Which of the blue butterflies? I’m not prepared to make that call, with too little underwing to guide us.