Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for February 2012

Agarita gets a visitor

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Click for greater sharpness.

I don’t think we’ve seen this guy (gal?) before—certainly not the individual, but not even this species of hover fly. Last summer I showed a somewhat similar insect on camphorweed, but this one’s huge eyes are redder and the pattern of brown and yellow on its abdomen is different. Both of these species of Syrphid flies are among the many that mimic bees, thereby getting at no extra cost a little added protection from predators that don’t want to tangle with something that might sting them.

This photograph from February 23 gives you a second and closer look at the agarita plant whose flowers appeared in these pages on February 15. And speaking of closer looks, if you click the icon below you’ll get a larger view of this tiny fly’s geodesic-dome eyes.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 29, 2012 at 5:38 AM

Cattail seeds scattering

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Several feet away from the chaos of the last picture, taken at Riata Trace Pond on February 15, was this contrasting and much simpler scene, where some cattail seeds had fallen or been blown onto the rough surface of one of the plant’s long leaves. I assume the seeds eventually came loose and made their way into the water or onto the nearby shore.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 28, 2012 at 1:20 PM

Cattail seeds coming loose

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Yes, cattail seeds coming loose at Riata Trace Pond in northwest Austin on February 15. Don’t you love the chaos? A slightly earlier phase in the process appeared, and from a greater distance, in the post of December 29. Both times I wore hip-high rubber boots so I could wade into the water where the cattails were growing.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 28, 2012 at 5:46 AM

Over easy

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Scrambled Eggs Flowers 9966

The over easy was me, lying on my side to take this picture of scrambled eggs, as Corydalis curvisiliqua is quaintly called. A good name, no? I had this visual breakfast at the Austin Nature Center on February 22. (And speaking of the visual, my wife imagines the flower just to the left of the picture’s center as a bird facing to the right.)

To see the many places in the west-central United States where this species grows, you can consult the state-clickable map at the USDA website.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 27, 2012 at 5:46 AM

Whorl of windflower leaves

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Click for greater clarity.

And here’s the whorl of leaves that encircles the midsection of an Anemone berlandieri flower stalkIf you say you see stylized flames shooting up, I won’t object.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 26, 2012 at 1:21 PM

Purple and white at the same time

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Here are two flowers of Anemone berlandieri with a mixture of the colors you’ve seen separately in posts showing a white anemone and a purple anemone. Unlike those two flowers, which had already opened fully or almost fully and which I viewed from above, these were still only beginning to open, and I put my head near the ground to look at them from below. Note the yellow tinge in the areas where each stem adjoins its sepals. There are also fine hairs on the stems and sepals, though it may be hard for you to see them in an image of this size. And speaking of difficulty, that’s what I often encounter in trying to keep two objects in focus at the same time when they’re at slightly different distances from the camera’s lens—and in this case when there was limited light and the wind was blowing intermittently. Because of those problems, I took a bunch of photographs from varying positions to increase the chances of getting a reasonably good image. This is one of a few that I felt came out all right.

I took this picture on the morning of February 23 in the same place in northwest Austin where, exactly two weeks earlier, I photographed the white anemone, the blue curls, the agarita, and the false dayflower that you’ve recently seen.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 26, 2012 at 5:40 AM

And another sort of visitor

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Click for greater clarity.

When I photographed some of the Texas mountain laurels, Sophora secundiflora, at the Mueller Greenway on February 19, I noticed that the most common insects visiting the flowers were honeybees. We’re used to thinking of them as major pollinators, which they are, but they—along with most of our commercial crops—were brought over to the Americas by Spanish, French, British, and other European settlers in colonial times. In contrast, the butterfly that’s prominent in this photograph is a native, Vanessa cardui, known as the painted lady. I assume the upside down position made it easier for this butterfly to get its tongue into the flower it was on.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 25, 2012 at 1:41 PM

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