Green Vista: The Golan Heights

Move This To The Top Of Your Travel Plans? The Golan..

Winged Beauty Butterflies

Golan Heights Landscape seen from Yehudiya National Park, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Golan Heights, Israel

Working the trails at Yeyhudia National Park in Israel’s Golan Heights, for butterflies. March 2016 it was, and there I was alone for hours, often stopping to Thank G-d for the opportunity to walk these ancient paths. I refrain from sharing too many landscapes here on wingedbeauty. On this trip to Israel, the Land was so lush, so verdant, that I realized that this rule of mine had to be slightly adjusted.

The recently ended winter produced average precipitation, and that insured that the Land of Milk and Honey would green from end to end, from Rosh Hanikra to Eilat. For decades now, Israel has been taking the husbandry and conservation of its resources very seriously.

This is the land that Americans never see. Our media prefers to blast the orchestrated, ready for camera/prime-time noise that they sniff out. Those 5’3″ settlers who began coming in the 1890’s and continued…

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Arid Israel? Give a Gander

View from Ramat Hanadiv to Mediterranean Sea, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Coastal Plain, Israel

Looking down from the ancient farmhouse site on top of Ramat Hanadiv, we scan the Israeli coast, with urban neighborhoods in the mid-ground (Israeli-Jews and Israeli-Arabs), and the Mediterranean Sea in the background. Have you ever seen Israel like this? March 2016, and Jeff is scouring Ramat Hanadiv for butterflies. Jeff could not resist the rich menu of visual stimulation, obviously.

Now I ask, what’s in the foreground here, just beyond the rocky edge of the overlook? This is the Israel few know. Israel was once totally arid, desert. The early settlers were agriculturists, farmers, and they scratched through that sandy terrain. Along the way, they experimented with water conservation and usage. They became expert in stretching every drop of water they could find.

The end result today looks back at us here. That green you see are extensive fields of agricultural crops. Lush green, expertly farmed. Seeking butterflies, I have many times rode the trains that travel north and south. Green fields stretch all the way from the northern reaches of the Galilee down to Beersheva, at the very edge of the desert. Truth be told, that is being extended too, moving green fields south into the desert.

What, then are those grayish forms in the foreground? Give up? They are seas of netting, artfully hung and maintained, for the growth of mangoes, avocados, bananas, oranges, peaches and more. The fruit in Israel is yummy, fresh (small country, minimal shipping mileage).

I travel there to visit my grandsons, and to photograph Middle Eastern butterflies, and while there, I look, see and marvel at what I see.

I guess you’ve never been there. I know most of you know alot about this land. I would love to hear that this does tickle your curiosity about it. Thanks for coming aboard.

Jeff

Green Vista: The Golan Heights

Golan Heights Landscape seen from Yehudiya National Park, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Golan Heights, Israel

Working the trails at Yeyhudia National Park in Israel’s Golan Heights, for butterflies. March 2016 it was, and there I was alone for hours, often stopping to Thank G-d for the opportunity to walk these ancient paths. I refrain from sharing too many landscapes here on wingedbeauty. On this trip to Israel, the Land was so lush, so verdant, that I realized that this rule of mine had to be slightly adjusted.

The recently ended winter produced average precipitation, and that insured that the Land of Milk and Honey would green from end to end, from Rosh Hanikra to Eilat. For decades now, Israel has been taking the husbandry and conservation of its resources very seriously.

This is the land that Americans never see. Our media prefers to blast the orchestrated, ready for camera/prime-time noise that they sniff out. Those 5’3″ settlers who began coming in the 1890’s and continued coming after the Nazi barbarism, now have 6’3″ great grandchildren, who are earnest about the future of Israel. Whizzes at high tech and adept in military service, they will shepherd Israel forward.

Those stone buildings in the foreground? Abandoned in 1948 by Arab farmers, who chose to flee at the behest of faraway Sheiks. Flee from the skin and bones 5’3″ survivors of ovens. Really.

The green vista here just leaves me in awe, I tell you. Mid-ground in the image is a huge valley, watered by streams and springs from the Golan mountain range in the background. Those towns at the base of those mountains are Arab towns and Israeli towns. Beyond view is Mt. Hermon. I’ve been on the top of Hermon. You look down into Syria, and you can see more than 100 miles into that cauldron of Hate and Death.

An ancient land, Israel. And not like any other. Stand in Ben Gurion International Airport, and you will not know what most are saying, because they speak in 100’s of different languages. They come from cities, towns and villages around the world, to savor the Christian, Jewish and Muslim roots that they cherish. They are good people, and moral people, and they come in . . . peace.

Jeff

A Very Exciting Meeting with Rare Butterflies

Regal Fritillary Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, PA

The 19 states that rim the U.S. eastern coastline have a total population of perhaps 150,000,000 people. The sole population of Regal Fritillary butterflies in those 19 US states this year probably included 1,200 butterflies, all living in one isolated location at Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, just a short drive from Pennsylvania’s capitol of Harrisburg. Yes, it’s whispered that there may be 1 or 2 remnant populations in Virginia, but that is a well kept secret, if it is true at all.

Busting with expectation, I arrived there on June 10, 2015, ripping to get going, with my 129 fellow visitors. Roughly 20 naturalists awaiting us, and guided us to the prairie grassland in the military reserve. Orientation came first. Jeff: impatient. Then the mass of us drove in caravan to the prairie grassland. Jeff: Can’t wait. We left our vehicles and all headed to the wide-open meadow-like grassland. Jeff: Come on, come on. Soon the group began to separate into smaller groups. Jeff: How in the world will I be able to score images of . . .  with all of these folks around? Finally, it was just me and her, a naturalist. Jeff: Thank Y-o.

Regals were there in good numbers. Most were males, and some were young and fresh. They were sipping nectar hard: on Butterfly weed, an Asclepias milkweed. They were not please with my approach, though some remained in place, anxious to sip their sugary cocktail. The photographer? Transfixed might be a good choice of characterization for my hours there. My 12 years of wanting to do this, absent support from butterfly aficionados, was beginning to pay off.

This male, on lush Butterflyweed, shares his ventral wing surfaces, sooo much shiny white, awash in a bath of oranges and black blacks.

A very rare butterfly, that once flew on my childhood street in Brooklyn, New York, finally rendezvousing with Kid Zablow, in a verdant meadow in central Pennsylvania! So cool!

Jeff . . . Happy Holidays!