That Satisfying Moment

Little Metalmark butterfly at rest, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Shellman Bluff, GA

‘Swish’ was the word we used, on the basketball courts back in Brooklyn, when your jump shot went through the backboard rim, smoothly, without touching the cold iron. Some National Basketball Association (NBA) players excel from way back from the rim, sailing the ball on a high arc, ‘swish’ into the rim for a healthy 3-points. Swish.

That’s exactly how I felt when we were on Jekyll Island, Georgia having located a colony of Eastern Pygmy Blue Butterflies. We shot away, at those fresh tinies, just inches from the ground. Backs soon protested the grotesque strain of leaning all the way over, time after time, to perfect our images of these “Locally Uncommon” blue butterflies.

I just surveyed our Media Library of images, and my eyes fixed on this one. Why?

Jeffrey Glassberg, in his superior Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America shares that “Eastern Pygmy-Blues rarely open their wings while landed.” Look here and please smile, for this is a view that is difficult to enjoy, of a rare butterfly, found only on the coastline from South Carolina to Texas. Few see what you see here.



Trail of Galilee Memories

Apharitis Cilissa butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Meron, Israel

It was a trail of surprises, this one on Mt. Meron in the Upper Galilee. So many butterflies, and so many surprises. This was the trail I worked, to find my goal for that week’s butterfly search. With no guidance, I reasoned that if I was in the right place, at the right time = June, just maybe I might find a flight of this rare (Protected) hairstreak butterfly.

I was booked for 5 days in the SPNI Meron reservation, in one of their field houses for visitors. I set out very early that first morning, on the main trail in the SPNI reserve. Some 1/2 miles or so down the trail, at a modest clearing with tiny flowers, there they were. Apharitis cilissa. Tiny, perky little hairstreaks, their upper wing surface speckled beautifully marked underwing surface. Most of them kept their wings closed as they nectared or perched. Some did undulate their closed wings, showing hints of lovely burns orange upper wing.

I worked hard and long to score a shot of those wings fully open. This male glowed in the early morning light, and here he is, resplendent in that flowerbed, along a trail in the very Upper Galilee.

Irony. Just some 2-3 miles north of here, the border with Lebanon, and the murderous Hezbollah, armed and financed by Iran, the same butchers who murdered our brave U.S.Marines.


Nordmannia Myrtale ( Mt. Hermon )

Nordmannia Myrtale butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Hermon, Israel

I take great pleasure from this photo. I hired a guide, we drove up to the Golan ( Israel ) and I kept my wits about me as we took the lift up, 7,000 feet, to the peak of Mt.Hermon. Managing my reluctance to scale heights wasn’t a picnic, but I did it.

The peak of this giant mountain, at the northeastern reaches of Israel, was not what I expected. The peak was enormous, and somewhat flat. The temperature reached the mid-90’s that June day. Eran toted many liters of water. We saw butterflies, many species of very rare butterflies. Eran spotted that very evil looking land mine, and during the later half of the day up there, I stayed mostly on those ancient trails that cross here and there.

The view of Syria, down the north face of the mountain, was picturesque and serene. Today? Down there today, Syria, is rated the Most Violent place in the world today.

This tiny Lycaenidae butterfly, Nordmannia myrtale is Protected, a very rare butterfly that few have ever seen. I saw it, and that pleases me, Truth be told.


Bulletin! New Central Georgia Tradition

Stanley L on the porch, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA Porch

Reports keep coming in. Increasing numbers of Georgians, and lately folks from out of state, come to visit the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia. Founded in 2014, the stream of visitors in 2015 grew, and 2016 visitor logs convincingly show ever larger attendance. Founder Virginia C Linch, always understated, confirms that lovers of beauty, admirers of butterflies, wildflowers, birds, bees and dragonflies, to name the most enthusiastic, visit as often as they can get there.

I myself have driven down from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania many times these last 2 years. Why? Nowhere else from Maine to the Florida Panhandle am I likely to see and photograph an artist’s palette of different butterflies. On top of that, you never, never know when a very rare, very exotic butterfly may just fly in, and save you hundreds of miles of driving around the South, searching for that very same sweetpie.

When Virginia suggested to Bartow and Roger the addition of a ‘porch’ that would appeal to your memories of sitting on the old homestead porch, rocking the time away with family and neighbors, well, in short time there it was, the ‘faux porch.’ Not its official name, but how I think of it. I’ve enjoyed the porch and its donated rockers many times. After 3-4 hours of working the Briar Patch on a July morning ( 8 AM to 12 PM ), it’s worth $ 1,000,000, me sitting there, enjoying my Coco Loco bar, chatting with other visitors, calling friends and awaiting the arrival of Virginia, Sylbie, Cathy, Kelly, Phil, Dave, Jim, Susan or whoever.

With 2017 now upon us (Yay!!) this new tradition, lolling the time away on the BBBriar Patch porch is expected to continue to grow and spread. The charge? Free. The view? Well, spectacular? The opportunities to Connect? Endless, especially with the Maker. The reception you will get? Unforgetable. The sincerity of that hosts? 100% solid gold.

Here we have Stanley Lines, an early, and stalwart supporter and friend of the BBBriar Patch Habitat, on the porch. In Eatonton, relaxed and calling you, to wit, when shall we expect your arrival?


Middle East Parnassian (Protected)

Allancastria Cerisyi Speciosa butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Hanita, Israel

Not a single Parnassian Butterfly east of the Mississippi River. I’d never seen one of these beautiful butterflies, until my March 2015 trip to Israel’s Upper Galilee region. They fly in limited habitat, within 100 yards of the Israeli-Lebanon border. They fly in March, and I jumped into my rental car, and there I went.

Back yesterday from weeks in central Georgia, and days in Florida’s Panhandle (Wow! to both, and more about that in the coming days and weeks), we can finally share the diverse images that I captured there.

This male could not be followed, flying at great speed, and making sharp turns, as though IDF trained. But it was very early, and he and the others stopped often to sip nectar from native flowers. Approach could be made, for he was fully focused on fueling-up.

Allancastria Cerisyi Speciosa. Rare, protected and gorgeous, with its yellow, black, red and blue hindwing spots.

I am learning that rare butterflies can be seen if you know where they can be found (Thank you Dubi Benyamini), you can be there when they fly, you can travel there, get good weather and respect the OMG! of their limited existence.

A butterfly protected by Israel. Just 300 feet ( meters? ) from the very dangerous border. We both enjoyed the morning, Parnassian and I.