Light Deprived Amazing Photo

Ventral view of Erato Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

I cherish those occasional 1 in 5 million (1/5,000,000) moments when you are intent on finding and photographing rare butterflies. Not all, in fact many/most end in frustration.

This is such here. He’s an Erato Heliconian butterfly discovered in a heavily shaded glade in the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. Images of the ventral side of an Erato are few, and I cringe a tad when I view this one. I don’t Photoshop my work, so this will remain as you see it. There are soooo few such, making this image, the result of a failed in the camera light meter, even more disappointing.

The flight from Atlanta to San Antonio, Texas, and the 4 hours drive to Alamo, Texas took some effort and expen$e. Missing this amazing opportunity? You tell me.

Jeff

Rare Butterflies in the HolyLand

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

View from Neve Ativ East to Syria photographed by Jeff Zablow at Neve Ativ, Israel

I went to the HolyLand (Israel) to see my grandsons and to photograph rare butterflies. Hillel and Boaz were such Fun! to be with, and rare butterflies?

I scored many images of very rare butterflies there in the Golan. You’d LLOOVVEE trekking the Golan Heights as they used to be called. So much of what you heard in Sunday School took place there, They walked there, and admired the very same butterflies that I found there. That thought so sobered me.

Here’s Aricia Agestis Agestis, seen in the meadows surrounding the village of Neve Ativ, on the slopes of Mt. Hermon. Listed as Protected, I smiled BiG when I spotted its telltale orange wing margin spots.

Forget your outdated mental images of Israel. This second image shows the outskirts of Neve Ativ, green and lush. Just over that hill in the background is the world’s active battlefield, intercine, bloody Syria. Israel? Safe and beautiful. Syria, like the Killing Fields of Cambodia.

The Middle East. A Conundrum.

Jeff

2019? Peace?

Cow photographed by Jeff Zablow on Mt. Hermon, Israel, 6/16/08

The memories stream back to me. We, Eran, my guide and I were on the peak of Mt. Hermon. Standing on the extreme northeastern border of Israel, Hermon has us looking into embattled Syria. You are seeing perhaps 180 miles of southern Syria. When was this image taken? June 2008. The cow was owned by Syrians, and it wandered to the peak of Hermon, 7,000 feet, to graze.

I was searching for butterflies, endangered ones. The views take your breathe away ones. Never to be forgotten. June it was there in Israel, and we hiked with temperatures in the mid-90’s. Eran was a huge man, and he carried liters of water for us, on that mountaintop. Few others were seen up there, and all the time we were under the surveillance of Israeli Army security.

That bovine and its 15 or so companions wandered up there, to I suppose, graze. The landmine Eran found, chastened me, and made me wonder how she manages to avoid them, or do they?

We sure found special, rare butterflies that day, drank drank drank, and managed to avoid other land mines.

Now, the farmers and Syrians who lived down there are all dead or gone, replaced by soldiers and spies and ISIS crazies from Iran, Russia, North Korea, the Syrian Army, Hezbollah, People Republic of China and other crazies. You see a pastoral landscape, but what actually followed was . . . a killing field. Men, women and children.

I’ve sought to return to this extraordinary mountain top since this day in June 2008. Each year I tried I was forbidden from going up there. The Israeli military control it, and they are ever diligent.

Did you stop back where I shared that the Syrians who lived there just a decade ago are all gone or dead? When I think of that, on this day that reminds us of so much, I have trouble grappling with what happened down there, less than a decade ago.

I was there for the butterflies, some 10 or so species found nowhere else in the world! What happened down there soon after, just stuns me. This mountaintop, back in 1967 was a bloody battleground. It now is the borderline between Israel and Syrian forces, Hezbollah forces, Russian forces, our own U.S. forces, North Korean advisors, ISIL savages, Pakistani advisors, Syrian ‘Rebel’ forces and who knows who else.

That region is gorgeous, rich in wildlife and desperately needs a rest, say 100 years of Peace?

Jeff

Mt. Hermon and The ‘Wall’

Brown Argus Butterfly at Mt. Hermon, Israel

When the call went out, on their cellphone network, dozens of butterfly lovers converged on the ‘Wall,’ all anxious to see the Tropical Hairstreak butterfly that had been spotted near the entrance to the Mission, Texas development. 

It happened again when the Gold-Bordered Hairstreak was spotted, nectaring nearby. The Gold Bordered drew a near mob, and earlier I shared how I was considered “selfish” when I came in low and close, for my Macro- lens cannot do its job at a distance of 10 feet.

This Aricia agestis agestis butterfly on the peak of Mt. Hermon in the HolyLand suffered an audience of me and my guide, and Erin had sum zero interest in rare butterflies.

Poor Aricia agestis, earning just the excitement of a single butterfly lover, on that overheated, high peak at the roof of Israel.

Jeff

Rare Arizona Skipper

Arizona Powdered Skipper Butterfly at White Tank Mountains, AZ

I so admire those who share rare butterflies on Facebook. I went to the Lower Rio Grande Valley in December 2017, and Whoopee!! I had several fantastic days, seeing butterflies that there’s no way you could expect to see, in a year or in a decade. Examples? Erato heliconian, Red rim, Tropical greenstreak, Malachite and Gold-bordered hairstreak.

Sharing images and anecdotes? I enjoy doing that. Especially when the butterfly’s like this one, a rare and little seen Arizona arroyo (dry stream bed) butterfly, the Arizona Powdered Skipper.

Where’d we meet? In that arroyo I found in White Tank Regional Park, 35 minutes southwest of Sun City West. Won’t discuss the advisability of those hours scouring the long arroyo, partly because working that boulder strewn bone-dry arroyo nearly cost me, everything.

Pleased to share one that you might never ever see, I am.

Jeff