Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

I wasn’t the only one attracted to algae

with 28 comments

Red Admiral Butterfly on Algae 5108

Click for greater clarity.

I’ve taken more photographs of algae in 2016 than in any previous year, but I wasn’t alone in my attraction when I launched into still another round of picture-taking on February 13th in Great Hills Park. There I found this red admiral butterfly, Vanessa atalanta, extracting minerals or other nutrients from water that was in contact with the algae.

In the two weeks since then, I’ve seen more red admiral butterflies than any other kind. In all weeks I see the “red” in the red admiral as distinctly orange.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 28, 2016 at 5:00 AM

28 Responses

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  1. what a beauty


    February 28, 2016 at 5:57 AM

  2. Lovely, sharp photo. I am standing at attention.


    February 28, 2016 at 6:29 AM

    • And no doubt saluting your admiral as well. I did so too, with my hands on the camera held in part to my forehead.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 28, 2016 at 7:28 AM

  3. I admire your admiral. You are right, they usually appear more orange than red but I have seen them with distinctly red bands, too, at Illinois Beach State Park. Probably a visual dialect, so to speak.


    February 28, 2016 at 8:00 AM

    • That’s a great way to put it: visual dialect. Synesthesia lives. You seem to have came up with the phrase on your own, but I did a search and found that others have gotten there too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 28, 2016 at 8:52 AM

  4. I saw my first red admiral yesterday. At the time, I didn’t know what it was. Now, I do. I like the leaves; they’re almost the butterfly’s color. The most important difference, of course, is that while both fluttered down to the algae, only one can flutter up.


    February 28, 2016 at 8:29 AM

    • Then happy new, red-admiral-wise. The prominent leaf bothered me because I felt it distracts from the butterfly, even if it fits with the color scheme. My impulse was to remove the leaf but I didn’t think the admiral would sit still (literally) for that and would do the fluttering up you mentioned.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 28, 2016 at 9:40 AM

  5. Great shot, Steve. I like capturing butterflies, too.[http://tinyurl.com/hzpuclq] Here in our garden we need to plant more stuff that attracts butterflies. Previously, in Karnes City, we had many more butterflies fluttering by.
    Have a great day,


    February 28, 2016 at 8:54 AM

    • I didn’t know you’d lived in Karnes City. It’s a place I’ve passed through just once, on a 300-mile circuit one day in 2012 to see spring wildflowers:


      The butterfly in your linked photograph is a swallowtail. It’s good that you succeeded in photographing it because swallowtails usually flutter a lot even while drawing nectar from flowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 28, 2016 at 9:47 AM

      • Hi Steve,
        My wife was born and raised in Karnes City and had lived there most of her life. I moved there from Germany in 2008, and 2 years ago we moved here to Fredericksburg.
        Thanks for the link. Some interesting info there about Karnes City. 🙂
        As to the butterfly in my posting: that garden in Fort Davis had an abundance of them and so it wasn’t too difficult to get one, even with the fluttering a lot.
        Have a great Sunday,


        February 28, 2016 at 10:00 AM

        • The name Karnes just reminded me that Karnack in northeast Texas was the hometown of Lady Bird Johnson. She co-founded the Wildflower Research Center, whose native plants attract a great many butterflies here in Austin.

          Fredericksburg is more cosmopolitan than Karnes “City” and of course has all that German heritage, so I expect you’re happy to have made the move.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 28, 2016 at 1:47 PM

          • Isn’t that wildflower research center a wonderful spot?! We were at the opening of that new part, and we like it a lot.
            Both my wife and I are very happy about the move here, not only because of the more cosmopolitan atmosphere. But certainly makes you feel good here. And then there’s the lovely Texas Hill Country around. Oh, and, speaking of Lady Bird, there’s the LBJ Ranch just a few miles away. Another highlight. I’ll be there frequently during the next two weeks for their spring break programme: highly interesting.


            February 28, 2016 at 4:24 PM

            • I’ve been to the LBJ Ranch and have occasionally taken wildflower pictures there over the years, but I’d not heard of the spring break program till you mentioned it:


              Have fun.

              Twelve years ago we moved from the prairie side of Austin on the east to the hilly side on the west. We are now literally one mile inside the eastern boundary of the Texas Hill Country. The Hill Country creeks here keep providing me with nature pictures.

              Steve Schwartzman

              February 28, 2016 at 6:03 PM

              • They started the spring break programme last year as a trial balloon, and since it was quite successful, they extended it for this year.
                I hope to be over at the ranch for pictures quite frequently this year, some times with/on my bicycle.
                Aren’t those Hill Country Creeks something?! I LOVE them.


                February 28, 2016 at 6:06 PM

                • Ah, just a year ago: that explains why I hadn’t heard of them. Let’s hope for a good wildflower spring, although with the lack of rain so far we may be in for a relatively poor showing. Even in a bad year, however, there are always at least a few species that do well.

                  Yes, the creeks are great. I like the prairies too, but living just half a mile from a tributary of Bull Creek is a great advantage.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 28, 2016 at 7:01 PM

  6. It is one of my favorite butterflies.

    Jim Ruebush

    February 28, 2016 at 9:12 AM

  7. Isn’t it fascinating how many misleading colors have been included in common animal names?! I think the same thing whenever I see a purple finch or a red-bellied woodpecker.


    February 28, 2016 at 9:13 AM

    • Color misnomers have been a longstanding theme here. The one I’ve found the most examples of is blue, which occurs in the names of various flowers whose color I see as violet or purple.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 28, 2016 at 9:51 AM

  8. A beautiful butterfly that is common in the UK too.


    March 1, 2016 at 6:39 AM

    • Yes, I was surprised to find out a few years ago from a German blog that the red admiral thrives in Europe as well as in America. I’ve never read an account of how it came to exist on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 1, 2016 at 6:49 AM

  9. Isn’t nature the best! Vanessa doesn’t mind the camera one bit ..


    March 1, 2016 at 12:35 PM

  10. I would say ‘orange’, too.


    March 2, 2016 at 12:10 AM

  11. I’ve never seen a red red admiral. I’ve also never seen a black-eyed black-eyed susan.

    Steve Gingold

    March 2, 2016 at 3:58 AM

    • I think on a few occasions I’ve seen a reddish red admiral, but almost all the ones here are orange. As for the flower, some sources have taken to calling it a brown-eyed susan, which is more accurate—unless you grant poetic license to the English-speaking imagination and allow black to mean dark.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 2, 2016 at 7:26 AM

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