Oh, Not A Gray Hairstreak

Gray hairstreak Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Jamestown Audubon Center in New York

There it was. Quick thinking, was, it’s a Gray Hairstreak, and although its here at the Jamestown Audubon Center’s lush reserve, I have many good images of Grays. Nevertheless, always aware that unique looking individuals can be fun, I shot, shot, shot.

Here now, Oh Wow! a Gray Hairstreak, Not! It’s a . . . Banded Hairstreak. Deep gray color shows here, the blue marginal patch is bright blue, and the banding on the hind wing resonates, Banded.

Hairstreaks sometimes startle, because we spend most of our time chasing butterflies or staking-up to them while they are nectaring, or while they are on trails or mud puddling. This look typifies many of our Hairstreak finds, males, perched on leaves, 3 feet to 5 feet off of the ground.

Cech & Tudor’s Butterflies of the East Coast surprised me, for they tell, “This is the most common and widespread of our Satyrium hairstreaks.” I have ID’d no more than 3 of them in these 20 years, so, “common” for them is rare for me. This is a forest butterfly, found near oaks, hickories, and walnut trees. I rarely find myself in hickory or walnut forests, so that may play some factor in my infrequent encounters with Satyrium calanus.

Passive when I met him, I am now enthusiastic with this unexpected identification. Good. Very good.


Could 2016 be the Year for Native U.S. Orchids?

Pink Lady's Slipper Orchid, photographed by Jeff Zablow in Chapman State Park, PA

Today was a cool day here, with Pittsburgh highs hovering around 51 degrees Fahrenheit. During the day, I poured through Israeli wildflower field guides, searching for which of their natives orchids will be in bloom next February to March ’16. A friend confirmed that searching and finding Protected Israeli orchids would be . . . you fill in the word. Butterflies and orchids, Oh, I can only dream.

These Pink Lady Slipper blooms graced a tiny clearing in the woods in Chapman State Park, tucked into the Allegheny National Forest in northwestern Pennsylvania, U.S.A. Sweet they were, delicate, shy, awash in color, and just there, like the finest porcelain, for all to share.

I will shovel my way through the snows of 2016, anticipating the search for Showy Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium Reginae) in northwestern New York state, Georgia orchids if a certain expert there can find the time, and, w/o a guide, but with much gusto, Israeli orchids, including Drone Bee-Orchid (Ophrys Holosericea), Carmel Bee-Orchid (Ophrys Umbilicata), Bee Orchid (Ophrys Apifera), Tawny Bee-Orchid (Ophrys Fleischmannii), Anatolian Orchid (Orchis Anatolica), Loose-Flowered Orchid (Orchis Laxiflora), Pink Butterfly Orchid (Orchis Papilionacea) and Toothed Orchid (Orchis Tridentate). Well, there’s actually one more on my bucket list, if you’re still there, Galilee Orchid.

All of these orchids are rare. All are knockout gorgeous. All exist only in sylvan habitat, always with equally beautiful butterflies nearby. Wish me luck, No?

Jeff . . . Orchid amateur.

Your HolyLand Geography Lesson, circa March 2015

Mt. Hermon, Israel photographed by Jeff Zablow from Qedesh trail, Israel

I’ve travelled alot this 2015, at least alot for a guy who is kind of reticent to travel to very new places. Me, “the solitary traveler,” makes trips to Georgia, Florida, Western New York, and as seen here, Israel.

I’ve met alot of interesting people this year, and surprise, surprise, the topic often moves from finding butterflies to the current nasty state of the U.S., and to . . . Israel.

I’m amazed at the number of Christians out there, who share zeal (Yep, zeal) for Israel. I didn’t always, hearing not much about Israel when I was a kid. Now, with good belief underpinnings and a daughter, son-in-law and 2 tiny grandsons there, plus extended family . . . Well, that’s why I visit it year after year.

Like U.S. butterflies, Israeli butterflies are beautiful. The other bonus is that Israel is so small, that you can travel north or south in a matter of hours. Butterflies that are found in the Upper Galilee, Golan Heights, Negev, Ein Gedi, or Jerusalem are within a moderate drive from my daughter Rachel’s home.

Seen from Qedesh trail, mid-way across Israel’s northern border, Mt. Hermon greets us at the center of the image. At 7,000 feet, that snow you see prevented my going up there to find butterflies. Remember I went to the peak in 2008, and yes, there were super rare butterflies flying up there. it was a Wow! experience for me, the widow who months before lost the mother of my children.

Though the airfare rates on El Al are OMG! low today (The problem! has emptied the shops and hotels), I still have yet to convince a single Christian to get up and go there. That despite my recounting the crush at Ben Gurion airport, with thousands of Christians coming and going, mostly in groups, from Slovenia, Uzbekistan, Bolivia, Canada and Tanzania.

So, for a quickie HolyLand Lesson, we are standing on this verdant trail and looking due north. Directly on the other side of Hermon mountain is Syria, where tens of thousands of crazed and desperate men are killing one another. To the left, beyond Hermon is Lebanon, that once beautiful country that is buried deep now in Hezbollah, another killer franchise. Somewhat to the sharp right is Jordan, armed to the hip, but with a very resolute leader, keeping all working nicely. Directly south of us, to our back is Jerusalem. On the way to Jerusalem, are many stops that you learned about in Sunday school. Also behind our back, and to the left is Tel Aviv, as hip a city as exists, anywhere.

Any questions?


Bath White Butterfly

Bath White Butterfly at Ramat Hanadiv, Israel

Our Bath White butterfly is enjoying the abundance of  Ramat Hanadiv, the exquisite arboretum north of Tel Aviv.

Found throughout Israel and one of the ‘white butterflies,’ Pontia daplidice is similar in behavior to the cabbage whites, but slower on the wing and a bit easier to approach.

She was one of many when I photographed her in July 2009.

The whites can be taken for granted . . . but not by us. We understand that the rich mix of butterfly species is the way it must be, and whites are a rich part of that mix.


Eastern Tailed Blue Butterfly

Eastern tailed blue butterfly photographed at Phipps Conservatory Outdoor Gardens, Pittsburgh, PA 

Photographed at Phipps Conservatory Outdoor Gardens, this July 28, 2010 photo introduces us to this spirited-like beauty, the Eastern Tailed Blue butterfly.

They’re very common, solitary and usually found very close to the ground. This one was especially attractive with bright and distinct markings and fully intact tails. I always smile when I see their pixie- like heads and earnest work-like devotion to the challenges at hand: locating nectar and for the males… locating a suitable female.

When it alighted on this black eyed susan I really liked the color contrasts that I saw. Most of their favorite flowers are a bit drab. Black eyed susans have bursts of yellow.

Of course since not too many butterflies visit these flowers, I’d have to conclude that this eastern tailed blue was not too picky.

If it’s an Eastern Tailed Blue…where’s the blue? (Hint: See our other post of an Eastern Tailed Blue).