On the afternoon of May 2, in preparation for a public nature walk in Great Hills Park the following Saturday morning, I walked through a portion of the park and jotted down the names of the prominent native wildflowers I saw so I could list them in a handout for the people who would attend. At one point I encountered a yellow-crowned night heron, just as I had on January 19, but this time my movement startled it and it flew away before I had time to take a single picture.
When I’d mostly finished my note-taking and was walking back toward the trailhead I’d entered the park from, I caught a glimpse of a green anole lizard, Anolis carolinensis, near the tip of a dead branch. I hadn’t seen one of these slender lizards for quite a while and hadn’t photographed one for years, so I set down my camera bag, put on my longest lens, and settled in to see what I could do.
My first pictures were so-so, but gradually I moved a little closer, and the anole began to display, perhaps because it felt I was encroaching on its territory. From then on, my challenge was to get pictures of the anole with its red dewlap extended—not an easy task, because the lizard kept its colorful flap of skin out for only a few seconds at a time before withdrawing it. As I took pictures the anole changed position occasionally, sometimes holding itself with its head up and other times reversing position and ending with its head down. The downward stance gave me an advantage I’d never had before, because in that position the dewlap just happened to be lit from behind by sunlight coming through the trees in front of me. That accounts for the unusually bright red-orange that you see here.
© 2012 Steven Schwartzman