Long-Tailed Blue Butterfly on Mt. Hermon

Long-tailed blue butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Neve Ativ, Israel

June 2013 was near perfect in the northernmost Golan. Sunny, pleasant, and on June 5, nearly free of all but resident Israelis. My rental car was fine, the accommodations at the SPNI (Society for the Preservation of Nature in Israel) fieldhouse were good, and the staff in the fieldhouse office were helpful. What could not be changed was the army’s directive that the peak of Mt. Hermon was closed. Only IDF (military) was allowed to ascend this strategic mountain. War! below. We contacted guides who might be able to reverse this ban for a lonely photographer of parpurim (butterflies) They all declined, all having served before and they knew.

So, unable to work the top of the mountain, I examined my maps and decided to go to a small village on the slope of the mountain, Neve Ativ was a tiny community. Good that the perimeter of this village had habitat that was abundant with butterflies. That was a wonderful morning! All alone, no one to interrupt me and the Leps, with the exception of that small military plane (noted elsewhere) that continuously flew up and back over nearby valleys, no doubt searching for infiltrators from the Syrian side of the mount.

This Lampides boeticus was one of many butterflies there that were active that morning, nectaring seriously on the extensive menu of wildflowers that surrounded them. All of the field guides that I was able to find in Israel were printed in Hebrew only, so I can only offer that this plant appears to be a thistle. Sure, I did visit public libraries in Tel Aviv, they and the museum bookshops possessed wildflower field guides in Ivrit (Hebrew). Sorry.

Once Syria resolves its murderous internal strife, back I intend to go, to Mt. Hermon. It’s summit is breathtaking, with Israel, Syria and Lebanon all there for you to see, with soldiers from armies watching one another, seriously, not sleepily, and with the surveillance devices (and satellites passing above) of who knows how many countries monitoring the movement (or lack  of it) below, including hopefully the future furtive searching of one photographer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Mt. Hermon 2013

Cow Grazing on Mt. Hermon photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mt. Hermon, Israel

The first week of June 2013 was sunny, pleasant, and with little or no wind. The SPNI Hermon field house was adequate and very well located. So all was set for the follow-up to our recent post here, anticipating our second visit to the mountaintop. This mountaintop looks out upon Israel, Syria and Lebanon.

That was as far as we got. My anticipation became frustration. Prospective guides thanked me but explained  that Mt. Hermon‘s peak was closed, because of the ‘situation’ below in  Syria. The possibility that a limited area of the mountaintop would possibly, maybe, be available was not an option. My attempt to reprise a 2008’s visit to the Mount, with me following butterflies here and there, promptly changed when Eran, my guide, found a land mine.

So I  chose instead to wander the base of Mount Hermon, and a settlement, Neve Ativ, built along the slope of the mountain. There, a small military plane kept flying back and forth along a nearby valley.

I will add to my list of things to do: Have another look at those 2008 photos that I’ve left in my slide storage cabinet. My ’08 Mt. Hermon photographs that seemed so-so at the time are now are much more meaningful.