Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

More loss

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Pennant Dragonfly 5109

The previous post’s white bluebells were growing behind a subdivision on a strip of land that I knew tended to collect water in several places and that I therefore took to be immune from development. I was wrong. When I visited on June 16th I was saddened to find that most of that strip of land had become a construction site for more houses. 2016 was barely half over, and already I’d lost more properties to development than in any previous year since 1999, when I began paying attention to such things.

As a retrospective tribute to that piece of prairie, here are two upward-looking pictures I took there on June 24, 2011. The one above shows a pennant dragonfly and the one below a sunflower, both with cumulus clouds.

Sunflower Flower Head and Cumulus Cloud 5263

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 12, 2016 at 4:54 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , ,

60 Responses

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  1. That is terribly sad.

    Maria Gianna Iannucci

    August 12, 2016 at 6:09 AM

  2. […] Thank you to Steven Schwartzman for the inspiration (https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2016/08/12/more-loss/).  […]

  3. So sorry to hear about this, Steve; it is something of a national plague. We’ve had beautiful tracts of forested land around us cut to the ground and replaced by mini-mansions and sterile lawns. Very bad for the wildlife, and one of the reasons I am committed to supporting backyard wildlife programs. BTW, the dragonfly photo is stunning.


    August 12, 2016 at 7:02 AM

    • I appreciate your commiseration, Lynn. I’m sorry to hear about those forests near you that have become lawns. Suddenly I hear Édith Piaf singing “C’est toujours la même histoire,” It’s always the same story.

      The dragonfly was perched atop an unusually tall stalk, so I had a good vantage point from below.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 12, 2016 at 7:06 AM

  4. In my end of Texas they are chopping down the Piney Forest.

    automatic gardener

    August 12, 2016 at 7:40 AM

    • Do the logging companies at least replant the land after they cut down the pines?

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 12, 2016 at 7:48 AM

      • They are built on, so no.

        automatic gardener

        August 12, 2016 at 7:51 AM

        • Then it’s similar to what I’ve lamented here, just with pines rather than prairie plants.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 12, 2016 at 7:56 AM

          • It is actually called the Piney Woods.

            automatic gardener

            August 12, 2016 at 7:59 AM

            • What town is it in?

              Steve Schwartzman

              August 12, 2016 at 8:01 AM

              • The Piney Woods is 54,000 square miles. It runs from western Louisiana, eastern Texas, southeast Oklahoma and Arkansas. The Big Thicket, outside Beaumont, is the most biodiverse area outside the tropics. I am in the northeast corner of Harris County along the San Jacinto river. On the good side, Harris County has made a Greenway stretching for miles along the creeks leading to the San Jacinto River. Sam Houston National Park is also located in the Piney Woods.

                automatic gardener

                August 12, 2016 at 10:14 AM

                • Thanks for the information. I need to get back out that way. I haven’t visited the Big Thicket for years, and I’ve never explored the Harris County Greenway you’ve mentioned.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  August 12, 2016 at 11:41 AM

  5. Hi Steve,
    This post – your remakrs about the construction site – reminded me: wasn’t it last week that mankind had used up all the resources our earth had for this year, sustainability considered?
    Have a good start into your weekend,


    August 12, 2016 at 8:21 AM

    • On the positive side, the human race has been perpetually resilient in coming up with more-efficient means to do things. I’m optimistic that eventually people will figure out cheap ways to desalinate water, convert the sun’s energy to a useful form, and so forth.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 12, 2016 at 11:27 AM

      • So you’re way more optimistic than I am. I’m afraid the human race is well on its way to self-destruction. 😦


        August 12, 2016 at 12:01 PM

  6. So sad. I hate to see open and crowded up by some ugly new development. I do love your photos- and that sunflower with cloud and blue sky is a stunner


    August 12, 2016 at 9:25 AM

  7. It is always sad when such a wonderful oasis for nature is lost under concrete and tarmac. It’s good that have at least got these fabulous images as a tribute.

    • I’m afraid I’ve become the King of Tributes to Lost Nature. If only I had the power of a real king to preserve some of the land.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 12, 2016 at 11:38 AM

  8. having just returned to mindo after a ‘pilgrimage’ to riobamba for a friend’s memorial service, i am saddened more than normal with the news you share here… mankind will never grasp the importance of balance with our precious earth.

    on a brighter note, the trip went well, and i had a guided tour around chimborazo by a geoogist … he and his wife drove me to mindo on the following day, and we stopped at another mitad del mundo monument.. will be sharing those details soon, but the photos are still waiting for my attention.

    happy weekend – it’s a holiiday here and mindo is ‘crazy’ with people on vacation!

    Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    August 12, 2016 at 1:31 PM

    • I didn’t know what holiday you were referring to but I did a little searching and found that August 10 is Independence Day for Ecuador:


      A guided tour around Chimborazo with a geologist sounds like just the way to go. The Mapmaker’s Wife has arrived via the library and I’ve gotten about 20 pages in. I’m surprised at how much so far has had to do with physics. At some point I know the big adventure will kick in.

      Yes, the losses of land in and around Austin this year have continued. When I think about it, this isn’t new: every neighborhood was once in a natural state. The difference is that because of my nature photography I’m aware of the losses now.

      We’ll look forward to hearing about your latest adventures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 12, 2016 at 2:09 PM

  9. Another example of mathematics at work in the world. People keep multiplying but the size of the planet is fixed. Sadly people seem to have forgotten their math lessons and have lost all notion of common sense as they reach adulthood (or near adulthood) and feel that they are utterly entitled to produce yet another set of people who will eventually be left with no wild places, homes, infrastructure, money, health services……

    I could go on but you already know where this equation leads to, and it’s a frightening thought 😦

    • I said to Pit (above) that I’m still optimistic we’ll figure out ways to get much more out of readily abundant things such as sea water and sunlight. Most people are surprised when they learn that the space all human beings together take up on the planet isn’t even one cubic mile.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 12, 2016 at 8:17 PM

      • Yeah but people don’t like to crowded together like cattle 😉 In Greece a huge amount of their energy is renewable! Every home has a solar driven hot water tank on the roof, there are solar panel farms on land that is no good for agriculture and they make really good use of windpower too. Most islands have desalination plants to use seawater for agricultural and industrial purposes! Also everyone grows at least some of their own food at home 😀

        • Is there something in the Greek ethos that you think accounts for all those measures?

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 13, 2016 at 7:31 PM

          • I think a lot of it is the many aspects of small island life. The sense of community seems to prevail far stronger than on the mainland or large islands. Self-sufficiency has been part of the way of life for centuries and remains despite the impact of tourism. The land can be hard to manage so while the inhabitants of these islands deal well with the conditions you wouldn’t really find large scale agricultural industries moving in. Family ties are still a big factor in the communities. Although younger generations do often go to study or work on the mainland for a while it seems that most do return. Families are linked together in the community and they really know how to work together and support one another. History has led people of the Mediterranean to be very enterprising and enduring. It seems to pull them together at difficult times whereas in large centres of population it often leads to unrest and division. They’re also pretty laid back about most things, very accepting. Except for work! They really work hard on that island and others!! I can only really put it down to island life, small communities who have to be self-sufficient, close family ties etc. I think I would find a very similar ethos on small island communities across the world!

  10. Last night at Armand Bayou, I talked with a woman who had been involved with the restoration of the NASA prairie. Like you, she lamented the loss of so much irreplaceable land: not only green spaces, but true prairie and bottoms that are more than just pretty scenery because of their importance to the creatures that live there.

    On a slightly brighter note, I was curious about the location where I found my own white bluebells. When I went to the map, I was surprised to find something called Laffite’s Cove Nature Society nearby. The top arrow points to the vacant lot where I found the bluebells. The bottom arrow shows the location of the nature center. It’s 20 acres of marsh and woodlands with quite a history. If you click on the link to the marsh grass restoration project in the sidebar, you’ll see that people there are serious about preservation. And, as the link to the FAQs makes clear, buying into this subdivision includes buying into the LCNS.

    I’m surprised I didn’t see it when I was down there, but of course I’ll be going back. The bay side of the island has even more to offer than I realized. Just now, it’s awash in dragonflies, and I’m sure I saw a pennant. I known I saw a sunflower.


    August 12, 2016 at 6:53 PM

    • From what I’ve read and heard, prairie is our most endangered type of habitat. That certainly holds true in Austin, whose prairie side on the east has relatively few nature preserves compared to the hilly land on the west (which not coincidentally is where most of Austin’s better-off people live).

      I’d never heard of Laffite’s Cove or its Nature Society, but I’m glad to know they exist. For once conservation won out, at least partially, over development. It’s one more place I’ll have to visit in your part of the world. As you said, the bay side of the island, less known than the ocean side, has a lot of things to offer. (In the linked historical article I noticed one of the prime movers was named Evangeline, which you may know is Eve’s full name.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 12, 2016 at 9:21 PM

  11. These are glorious images .. I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of land. Something that seldom is returned


    August 14, 2016 at 3:06 AM

    • I’m afraid any return will be science-fiction-y, meaning it’ll be centuries in the future after some sort of civilizational collapse. Actually in some places that has happened on a small scale. In the American city of Detroit, for example, thousands of houses have been abandoned and fallen into ruin. On some of those properties plants are already springing back up.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 14, 2016 at 4:00 AM

  12. […] Portraits of Wild Flowers […]

  13. I love the the Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina) dragonfly in the family Libellulidae and the fabulous golden yellow sunflower, reminiscent of my maternal homeland in Garnett, Kansas.

    Ariana Vincent

    August 14, 2016 at 6:13 PM

  14. I’m happy to report that, here in eastern Nebraska, there’s a good deal of awareness of what can be lost through unconscionable negligence. We’re regular followers of a Nebraska Educational Television show called The Backyard Farmer, produced by the U of N / Lincoln, and they take great care to stress the importance of the re-introduction and/or maintenance of natural prairie flora. We were also directly instrumental, when the gravel road that runs by our cabin in northern Minnesota was paved a couple of years ago, in ensuring that the immediate adjacent areas were replanted with native grasses and wildflowers. It has paid off and, although we were opposed to the paving, the natural flora are a treat to behold.


    August 14, 2016 at 9:50 PM

    • It’s great to hear about your success in working to get native grasses and wildflowers planted alongside that road. Your probably aware that Lady Bird Johnson, who had a big presence in central Texas, was instrumental in getting native wildflowers planted along many American highways. Now if we can just get the mowers to stop cutting down wildflowers before they produce seeds…

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 15, 2016 at 12:08 AM

  15. I am fortunate that I spend most of my time in places that are very unlikely to be developed. Builders are still building and to do that land is being taken, but much of it has already been designated and not within protected areas. One really has to wonder where planners think wildlife goes when land is taken away from it and why are people surprised when coyotes, foxes and other predators start showing up in their backyards?

    Steve Gingold

    August 16, 2016 at 4:27 AM

    • As much as I’m sorry to lose some great tracts of land, fortunately, like you, I still have greenbelts, parks, and preserves to fall back on. The closest is Great Hills Park, which I’ve mentioned as often as you’ve mentioned Quabbin. Fortunately GHP is just half a mile from home, so I’m never more than a few minutes away from a quick nature fix. A couple of early home buyers in this neighborhood convinced the developer to deed to the city the land that was left over along creeks and in canyons, where no houses could be built anyway. Coyotes have been sighted there from time to time (though I’ve never seen one), and presumably some of the neighborhood pets that have disappeared have fed those coyotes.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 16, 2016 at 7:45 AM

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