A Man Can Dream….

Arizona arroyo habitat photographed by Jeff Zablow at White Tank Mountains Regional Park, AZ

Forgive me, but at this very moment it is +/- 14F here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with flurries occurring here and there. The cars moving outside my windows are doing so tentatively, and many of those drivers are driving through the snowy boulevard with much apprehension.

Skipping through our images poised for posting here, I HAD to stop and soak in the warmth, or actually the heat shooting out from this enticing scene, in an arroyo in the White Mountains Regional Park, 25  minutes or so southwest of Sun City West, Arizona. Umm, umm, umm! We are observing this spot at 9:30 in the morning during the first week of March, in 2008. The winter that had just ended was an unusually wet one, and in the 90 degree morning, the wildflowers blanketed the Park.

It was a good morning for observing butterflies, a good morning for drinking in the diversity and beauty of this wonderfully arid region, and it was personally a very good morning for me…very recently widowed.

Very soon, we and much of the rest of the United States will see this frigid blast end, and we will dream of arroyos, and bogs, and trails through sylvan woods, and just as we see here, wildflowers…everywhere.

Jeff

Melitaea Persea Montium

Melitaca trivia butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Mt. Hermon, Israel

The sun heated the top of Mt. Hermon. It was good that my guide, Eran, was a substantial, powerful guy. The liter bottles of water that he carried up there with him were very vital. We spent hours up on the mountain top that day. Looking back on that experience, the view of Syria, laid out below us, was beautiful and serene. Today, men hunt other men (and woman and children) and blast them to bits down there. War!

Marvel at how these butterflies spend the day on this scorched mountain peak, with nary a bottle of water or any source of water in sight. Incredible. This is the only place that Melitaea persea are found in Israel. Good.

These fritillaries (I saw several) all looked harried, as if they had spent a frazzled day at the office. This one thankfully decided to maintain its resting pose during my careful approach. Perhaps it heard my whispered plea of “Stay there, hold that pose. Don’t move.”

A moment of regret: How I sooo wanted to get back up on the top of Mt. Hermon in 2013 and again in June 2014. War! below stopped me. Sad. Too sad. Boy, are men stupid

Jeff

Empress Leilia Butterfly

Empress Leila Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in White Tank Mountains Regional Park, Arizona

September in southcentral Arizona, west of Phoenix. White Tank Mountains Regional Park was in full splendor that morning, and HOT!

I’ve been to this Park over the years, slipping out mornings from Sun City West to take in the wonders of habitat so different from that of eastern USA. Only the arroyos offered wildlife, bone dry as they were.

Asterocampa leilia as expected remained vigilant on rocks in the arroyo. These silent sentries, this then presumably a male (not easy to determine, usually by wing girth) kindly allowed my approach. Arrive to close and poof! he’s moved to a new rock perch, a boulder some 30 feet away. So this image was not immediately captured. We played the move from rock to rock minuet until he mercifully permitted me to approach and shoot-shoot-shoot.

Empress Leilia and other xeric butterflies simply amaze me. There is no water evident for miles, they perch in full, overwhelming sun and no, there wasn’t an abundance of nectar bearing flowers around. In fact there were only these little tiny flowers along the arroyo, and few of them at that.

As the most dedicated wingedbeauty followers know, I am a big fan of butterflies with blue-centered eyespots. And there they are!

Jeff