Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for July 3rd, 2011

Texas thistle as butterfly attractor

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Swallowtail butterfly on Texas thistle; click to enlarge.

Once upon a time in Texas we had water. Some say, and memory confirms, that it was as recently as 2010. On May 4 of that year, thanks to a tip from native plant enthusiast Agnes Plutino, I found myself in a luxuriant field of wildflowers in the old Union Hill Cemetery on FM 1460 in Williamson County about five miles north of downtown Round Rock. The man who was accustomed to mowing the cemetery had been persuaded—and praise be to him—to let this prairie parcel revert to its natural state, which in last year’s rain-rich spring meant that it was covered with wildflowers. The yellow was from a dense colony of Engelmann daisies (Engelmannia peristenia); the red was from some firewheels (Gaillardia pulchella). Those two types of flowers and an occasional Texas thistle (Cirsium texanum) attracted insects and other animals, including a swallowtail butterfly and me. Put my body in a place like this, now and later.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

(Technical note: this was one of those times when I used my Canon 100 mm f/2.8 IS lens not as a macro but as a moderate telephoto. Walking through the field to get closer would probably have scared the butterfly away, and taking time to change to a more powerful telephoto might have meant that the butterfly would finish and fly out of range. I did what I could with the macro I’d been using for close-ups, which fortunately focuses to infinity.)

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 3, 2011 at 4:29 PM

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