Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

The view from farther back

with 13 comments

Winter Woods with Algae on Creek 1227

As you’ve heard, on February 15th I spent some time walking along a creek that runs through the hills in far northwest Austin. Apparently brought out by the warming temperatures that week, patches of the algae floating on the surface of the creek seemed preternaturally green. In the last post you had a close view of that algae looking straight down, and now you get to see what the winter woods along the creek looked like. The tree with one of its long trunks arched over the creek is a black willow, Salix nigra, a species that does best near water and therefore is most often found near water. The woody vines hanging from the upright trees are rattan, Berchemia scandens.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 9, 2014 at 8:31 AM

13 Responses

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  1. A sense of spring doesn’t necessarily need blooming flowers to be experienced. I like the way you’ve captured all of the greens, especially the trees against the blue sky, and the cross-hatching of trunks and vines is very interesting.


    March 9, 2014 at 8:44 AM

    • Our repeated bouts of cold weather have made the native wildflowers slow to appear, but yes, there’s still a sense of spring in the air and on the ground. Yesterday’s rain can’t help but bode well. Yours is the first comment here ever to speak of cross-hatching.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 9, 2014 at 9:37 AM

  2. The algae does look enhanced and out of place. I wonder why it is so ‘healthy’. There were a lot of small bubbles in the picture yesterday.

    Jim in IA

    March 9, 2014 at 8:46 AM

  3. We have a bacteria bloom in progress at our local creek, too. There had been some construction nearby which likely provided extra nutrients from unintended erosion. We also had less rain than normal so the water has been more settled and less fluid. I figure a couple downpours ought to help clear up pretty quickly and then the fish will all breathe easy.

    That said: even though the bacteria is a problem the brightness of the color is a welcome sight.


    March 9, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    • As far as I know, these green growths are algae, but perhaps bacteria in above-average numbers are present also. I’ve thought about the possibility that the creek has become polluted, and that that might account for the unusually bright color. Like the water near you that you say is more settled and less fluid than usual, this part of the creek was becoming stagnant. Biologists probably know the truth of the matter, but I’m afraid I don’t. From a strictly photographic standpoint, I was happy to have such bright color to play with.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 9, 2014 at 12:16 PM

  4. Our rivers and streams often have problems with toxic algae; usually when water levels are low. I like Shoreacres comment about cross-hatching. With all that rattan and black willow there could be many woven baskets too.


    March 10, 2014 at 6:03 AM

  5. I enjoyed this photo of early spring trees, their gnarled and twisted branches creating a great landscape of forthcoming spring delights.

    Mary Mageau

    March 10, 2014 at 7:00 PM

    • I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this, Mary. Some—maybe many—people are surprised to learn that we have such dense woods in parts of Austin.

      Happy forthcoming spring.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 10, 2014 at 7:35 PM

  6. I love the green background to these branches.


    March 20, 2014 at 2:26 AM

    • In the month since then, many more things around Austin have turned green. Welcome to spring.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 20, 2014 at 7:34 AM

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