Caron 5

Mourning Cloak Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Toronto Canada

I’m counting, Caron, counting the many reasons that I select this image as one of my 5 favorites. This gorgeous Mourning Cloak butterfly. Where’d I meet this elusive beauty? Smack-dab! in a large park in the city of Toronto, Ontario. How I met it, I will not forget.

Mourning Cloaks are few and far between in southwestern Pennsylvania. They are solitary, and mostly fly in the Spring and in the Fall. Their preference is on or about trails that pass through dappled shade, near running stream and rivulets. I’ve posted earlier how that Mourning Cloak, months after I lost Frieda A”H, flew above my head, some 70 or so feet up, then disappeared out of sight. ???? It flew to my hat, and rested there. Next it flew up again, to about 70 feet, and flew down the trail some 100 feet, turned and flew over my head once again, at the same hight of 70 feet. Then . . . it was gone. I lost it all, and cried like a baby, I did. I had lost my love and best friend, and my whole being made a connect with that Mourning Cloak, in a way that defies explanation.

When I began to date, after that void in my life, I began seeing a new friend in Toronto. Six hour plus drive from Pittsburgh. On that certain trip, I brought my camera. We went for a walk in a pretty Toronto park, West Don Park, I think. I notice a modest break in the bushes that lined a walk, and told her I’d be back in a second . . . I pushed through that likely deer passageway through the heavy shrubbery and I entered a small meadow, one I will never forget. It was almost filled with Common Milkweed (Asclepias Syriaca). They bore round huge flower heads, and on those extraordinary blooms were squadrons of Mourning Cloaks, and skippers and other butterflies. Loaded. I was in a kind of butterfly shock. All, or nearly all were fresh and comely.

This is my favorite from that magical meadow in the center of Toronto. I had for Oh! so long wanted a Mourning Cloak image that boasted their rich color, the maroon of the wings, the eye-popping blue spots of the wing margins and the lemon-yellow of the wing edges.

And there is the very real Sigh! I feel, recalling a Mourning Cloak so beautiful that its escape, just as I was now down on the floor of Nichol Road Trail continues to sort of haunt me. It had flown to the perpendicular bit of rock at the side of the trail, and posed there, a sight for Happy eyes. I’m down on my tummy, raising my Canon, and . . . it flew!!!

A OMG! Mourning Cloak moves me, for sure it does.

Jeff

Plebejus Pylaon Nichollae (Mt. Hermon)

Plebejus Pylaon Nichollae butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mt. Hermon, Israel, 6/16/08

I read yesterday that 150,000 are estimated to have been killed in the carnage that is going on in . . . Syria. That’s 150,000 men, women and children. That’s why the Israeli IDF would not let me near the peak of Mt. Hermon, 8 months ago, in June 2013. Three days ago, 2 rockets landed on the mountain.

That mountain peak, Mt. Hermon, is home to numerous rare and endangered species. At a nexus where 3 continents meet, it is an important wildlife focus, for the tens of millions of migratory birds that fly over it, and for rare, exquisite butterflies, like this one.

One of the species of blue butterflies, tiny, purposeful little jewels that those of us who have read this far love to find and follow, this male has flown for days or weeks, and shows evidence of several interactions with predacious birds, insects and or reptiles and perhaps even mice. But, just look at him! Lost lots of his tiny scales as well as wing edges, yes. Still gorgeous? Absolutely. These blues and purples bedazzle, even then.

Vladimir Nabokov was to his death the world’s expert on blue butterflies. How he would have been fascinated by this one.

Found only on Mt. Hermon, and, as we’ve posted earlier, not to be seen by you and I and them . . . for a very long time ahead. Those lethal weapons on  the other side of the mountain, in Syria, will assure that.

Jeff