Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Artist Boat Coastal Heritage Preserve

with 47 comments

On October 6, after time at the Kelly Hamby Nature Trail, we went over to the Artist Boat Coastal Heritage Preserve. Linda had told us to expect to see Solidago odora, called fragrant goldenrod, sweet goldenrod, and anise-scented goldenrod. My nose and brain detected a vinegary scent.

Close to the goldenrod was some croton, Croton sp.

On one of the croton leaves a tiny fly caught my attention. UPDATE: the good folks at bugguide.net have placed the fly in the genus Condylostylus, adding that it may be a female Condylostylus mundus.

Another find was some flowers of Vigna luteola, known as hairypod cowpea, wild cowpea, and yellow vigna.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 26, 2019 at 6:17 AM

47 Responses

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  1. All stunning. What a walk!

    Michael Scandling

    October 26, 2019 at 6:54 AM

    • Say rather what a day, given all we’d found at Kelly Hamby, then here, and finally all that was yet to come at Brazoria (which will occupy some eight posts beginning next time).

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 26, 2019 at 7:03 AM

  2. I’ve never encountered this fragrant goldenrod, I looked it up, and it grows in a few counties in NY, I’ll look for it in the Wisconsin dells, if I ever get out there.
    This is a nice selection of shots, that’s a great shot of the snazzy fly!

    Robert Parker

    October 26, 2019 at 7:34 AM

    • Thanks for reminding me that I should’ve checked fragrant goldenrod’s range, https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=SOOD, which I see now includes Long Island, where I grew up. As with so many other plants, I might have seen this species in my childhood without knowing what I was seeing. The USDA map doesn’t, however, show the plant in Wisconsin, though for other reasons I hope you make it over to the Wisconsin Dells.

      “Snazzy” strikes me as as a good way to describe the little fly, and especially its eyes.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 26, 2019 at 8:18 AM

      • I’m going to pay more attention to goldenrod when I see it, try to ID what type.

        Robert Parker

        October 26, 2019 at 8:33 AM

        • From what I’ve read, even botanists can have a hard time telling some of the goldenrod species apart, so good luck.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 26, 2019 at 9:00 AM

  3. Really enjoyed the beauties you found at the preserve, Steve. I was especially dazzled by the exquisite details in the fly photo. Beautiful creature.

    Jet Eliot

    October 26, 2019 at 8:05 AM

    • The five of us who went on the outing certainly enjoyed the beauties, too. Those big orange eyes on the fly are really something, aren’t they? I’m not sure I’d ever seen anything like it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 26, 2019 at 8:21 AM

  4. Linda has mentioned this wonderful place to me as well, and when I looked it up my mouth watered. What could be better than a place that brings together art, boats and conservation?!
    I like this series of photos, especially that beautiful little fly.


    October 26, 2019 at 8:59 AM

    • And to conservation you can add conversation, what with five people present. Linda is fortunate to live close enough that she can visit whenever she wants. By the time we got there it was pretty hot, and after having already spent time at Kelly Hamby, I would’ve needed extra energy to take better advantage of Artist’s Boat.
      At the Native Plant Society of Texas symposium, one of the presenters was involved with this preserve, so we already knew something about it.

      That tiny fly’s eyes seem special to me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 26, 2019 at 9:07 AM

  5. How did you get that fly to sit still long enough to get that great photo? New York flies are never still longer than 1/1000 of a second.


    October 26, 2019 at 9:11 AM

    • The fly was pretty docile. The main problem was its size, so tiny that getting a good picture was hard. What you see here is cropped in a whole lot from the full image.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 26, 2019 at 9:26 AM

    • By the way, I think that, like the fly, I used to walk faster when I lived in New York.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 26, 2019 at 6:20 PM

  6. Terrific series, Steve. Your detailed and beautiful shot of the fly is the standout here. 🙂

    Jane Lurie

    October 26, 2019 at 5:00 PM

  7. A great photo essay of more summer-like pictures, Steve. All macros are very impressive, especially the second one with its pastel-coloured bokeh.

    Peter Klopp

    October 26, 2019 at 10:21 PM

    • It was still our usual extended Texas summer in early October. Not till a week ago did cooler temperatures finally arrive.

      Playing off a close subject in focus against out-of-focus color in the background is an effective technique, and I find myself doing it pretty often.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 27, 2019 at 7:29 AM

  8. I am not usually one to like flies of any kind, but this little critter is now an exception. What a delicate looking beauty!


    October 26, 2019 at 11:42 PM

  9. Goldenrod is a wonderful late season flower. Ours are now quite past but yours appears to still be in full bloom. Neat little long-legged fly with those bright red eyes. Must have had a tough night.

    Steve Gingold

    October 27, 2019 at 3:31 AM

    • You’re funny with your interpretation of the red eyes.

      Between Austin and the coast we saw stands of goldenrod in various places. In Austin itself this hasn’t been a good year for goldenrod. I’ve seen individual plants and small groups, but not the fields full that I’ve found here in good years. That probably has to do with the fact that we went through three months with practically no rain.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 27, 2019 at 8:03 AM

  10. There’s nothing at all mundane about that Condylostylus mundus. The detail is fabulous, and proof enough that my lens is capable of wonderful things. Here’s something even more wonderful: the female of the species may be metallic green, but the male is blue. Here’s a comparison — amazing.

    I will confess to almost ignoring the cowpea these days. It’s thick right now and appearing everywhere — along with purple bindweed, which seems to have revived itself after recent rains. That’s another purple/yellow/gold pairing that I’d never considered.

    A substantially taller goldenrod is around now, too. I suspect it’s S. altissima, but more exploration’s required.


    October 27, 2019 at 8:24 AM

    • Nothing mundane at all, thanks, as you pointed out, to the macro lens. Without it I couldn’t have seen the details, especially the fly’s red eyes. In trying to remember how tiny the fly was, I said less than a quarter of an inch; your linked article confirms that with its length of 4mm, which is about a sixth of an inch.

      Given how common you say the cowpeas are near you, ignoring them is understandable. For me, in contrast, they were something new, so naturally I focused on them. I’m fond of the picture I chose to show, given that glow in the background.

      I assume the goldenrod we saw at Anahuac on October 7th (and which probably won’t get shown here for several weeks, thanks to all the finds at Brazoria) is Solidago altissima, given its height.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 27, 2019 at 8:47 AM

  11. Great post 😊

    Passport Overused

    October 27, 2019 at 9:17 AM

  12. […] we all spent time at the Artist Boat Coastal Heritage Preserve on October 6th, Shannon and Scott went off on what proved a successful quest to find a rare bird […]

  13. The flowers are pretty – but gotta love the fly!!


    October 27, 2019 at 8:31 PM

  14. I especially like your last image. The blurred background flower could easily be the sun or the moon.


    October 28, 2019 at 3:42 PM

    • Yay, someone finally prefers the last image, which was also my favorite in the group, esthetically speaking. Between sun and moon I’d go with sun, given the color and the heat of the day.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 28, 2019 at 3:48 PM

  15. I would say that you and your camera had a great time! Super shot of that fly ..


    November 1, 2019 at 3:18 PM

    • The camera and I and the other four adventurers shared the great time. Maybe the tiny fly did, too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 1, 2019 at 6:40 PM

  16. That fly is popular. I prefer the goldenrod, even if I can’t smell it.


    November 4, 2019 at 10:51 PM

    • Deservedly popular, I’d say of the fly. Not till this trip did I know that such a thing as a scented goldenrod even exists.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 5, 2019 at 5:22 AM

      • Until your pictures, I did not know there were so many species of goldenrod, or that one lived here.


        November 6, 2019 at 8:22 PM

        • There’s a zillion species of Solidago,


          and occasionally plants in another genus or two are also called goldenrod.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 7, 2019 at 6:31 AM

          • The seriously invasive Acacia dealbata, as well as the rarely planted Acacia baileyana are sometimes referred to as goldenrod.


            November 9, 2019 at 11:04 AM

            • I hadn’t heard that. Even when Acacia flowers are golden, to me they don’t look like goldenrod flowers; they’re not even in the same botanical family.

              Steve Schwartzman

              November 9, 2019 at 12:14 PM

              • Even though I had not seen goldenrod until just a few years ago, I thought it was odd to refer to Acacia as such. It just makes makes things more confusing.


                November 9, 2019 at 12:31 PM

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