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.
It seems that when certain butterflies fly into my vicinity, I have them on a mental list, of photo objectives I have. For the tiny Metalmark butterflies, I want better views of those scintillating shiny metal lines that shimmer from their upper wing surface. Mourning cloaks are high on my list. I have a special connection with Mourning Cloaks, a very personal one. I can’t wait for the Spring day when an excitingly fresh one decides to strike a pose for me, and I capture that maroon upper, with the delicious blue spots and those yellow borders. Monarchs? I have 2 or so dozen images in my slide storage cabinet, yet I want a killer image of a Monarch with those strange eyes, deep orange-rust color and body/head aburst with those white explosive dots.
Another chance to shoot that Common Mestra that teased me on the National Butterfly Center trail, would be nice, it not affording my a single exposure. Now that I’m getting a tad Gimme! here, I sure would like to remeet a fresh Compton Tortoiseshell butterfly, this time close enough for my Macro- lens to do what it does, with this heavy favorite of me, the Compton. That Georgia Satyr back in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area in the Florida Panhandle jumps out to me here, for with the sweat pouring down over my eyes those last days of August, my vision was blurred, and image scores turned out to be Eh!
Not true here with this Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly. I wanted to get that shimmering blue that you see on the inner side of those coral spots. I pretty much did, and that is good.
You think it’s easy? It’s fun, exciting, and exhilarating, but I can’t say it’s easy to photograph Heliconian butterflies.
I first met a Zebra Heliconian in 2016 in Kathleen, Georgia. I actually enjoyed at least a dozen of them that day. It was an easy to remember double-header, for I met my Zebras and then I stepped and stayed too long on a concealed fire ant hill!
In December 2017, during that wondrous last week, I ogled my first (how many get a chance to see a second?) Erato Heliconian butterfly in the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. I got some fair to better images of Erato.
That same December ’17 week, John pointed to a spot in a mass of thick growth, some 14 or so feet away. It was Julia! a Julia Heliconian butterfly. He sure was “bright satiny orange” and had the Texas Julia look (no black on the upper wing surface). He remained on that leaf for at least 10 minutes. I got no closer, but I saw and if you indulge me, copped my first image of this Heliconian, Julia.
Lots of times you get what you can get.
Vladimir, what would you have thought about this blue, encountered on Mt. Meron in Israel? Nabokov, perhaps the most expert student of the world’s blue butterflies, probably would have understood the frustration that I felt when the built-in light meter on my Canon film camera . . . failed while I was out on the trails of Mt. Meron. I knew that I was in a ‘pickle’ and I also knew that these hours on the mountain were precious to me. So, I did my best to guess apertures and shutter speed. Arrrgh!
Lampides boeticus Linnaeus enjoying some restful minutes on grass, the location, north-central Israel. Found where Asia, Africa & the Middle East come together, this male, with wings fully open, proudly displays its full upper wing surface. Diagnostic tails and black spots, he looks just fine against the mystically back-lit grass tuft.
It is my hope that 2014 will see me travel to several promising destinations to photograph. I am seeking help with pinpointing actual locations to find butterflies in the Florida Keys, alpine butterflies in Colorado, regal fritillaries, Dianas in West Virginia, Appalachian Satyrs, and more. If you are able to direct me to likely destinations, please let me know.
We are scanning 60 new images, so keep coming back, my friends, there’s so much more winged beauty that we can enjoy!