Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: A colorful seep

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Colorful Seep 5217

Driving along SH 6 north of Punakaiki on the west side of New Zealand’s South Island on February 17th, I caught some flashes of bright colors off to my right on the highway embankment, so I pulled over at the first safe spot and walked back to investigate. I found that the place I’d seen was a seep whose slow but steady oozing of water had nourished the lush growth you see here. If you can take your eyes off the rich reds and oranges, note also the slender green leaves on some young flax plants, Phormium tenax, known in Māori as harakeke.

UPDATE: Thanks to Peter Beveridge, who writes: “Looks to me like the relatively common liverwort Syzygiella colorata.  You know the usual reluctance to be definite about these things in the absence of a close look but this seems highly likely.” In searching online, I see that the species has also been known as Jamesoniella colorata.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 14, 2015 at 5:10 AM

New Zealand: Punakaiki

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Punakaiki Pancake Rocks 5097

The name Punakaiki sounds a little like the English word pancake, so it’s something of a coincidence that the town of Punakaiki on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island is home to the Pancake Rocks. Here in this February 17th view you see one section of these intriguing formations played off the against the blue of the Tasman Sea. If you’d like, you can read more about the geological process that produced these curious structures.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 13, 2015 at 5:15 AM

New Zealand: Rātā flowering

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The genus Metrosideros includes not only the pōhutukawa tree but also the rātā tree, of which there are two species. Gallivanta had told us to look for flowering rātā trees when we drove west on SH 73 through the mountains across New Zealand’s South Island on February 16th, and sure enough, as we approached Arthur’s Pass we began to see some at a distance on the mountain slopes.

Southern Rata Tree Flowering 4888

At the pass itself we got a closer and brighter look at a few, which I take to be southern rātā, Metrosideros umbellata.

Southern Rata Flowers 4866

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 12, 2015 at 5:36 AM

New Zealand: The peak of summer

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Ice on Southern Alps 4831

February marks the peak of summer in the Southern Hemisphere, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t still some white on the peaks of the Southern Alps that we saw from SH 73 on February 16th as we drove west across New Zealand’s South Island. So there you have an ironic contrast: no snow at all in Austin through the whole of this winter, but snow persistent in New Zealand in the warmest month of summer.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 11, 2015 at 5:46 AM

New Zealand: Boulders at Castle Hill

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Castle Hill Boulders 4787

Heading west on SH 73 out of Christchurch on February 16th bound for the west coast of the South Island, we began after a while to wind and climb into the mountains that make up much of that island. At one point we came to a place where heaps of other drivers had pulled over, Castle Hill, and we joined them. The attraction there is a collection of naturally arrayed boulders, including a few that seem precarious, as you see in today’s photographs.

Castle Hill Boulder 4731

To learn more about and see other pictures of this scenic place, check out an online article about it.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 10, 2015 at 5:31 AM

New Zealand: Pied shag

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Pied Shag on Rock 6222

On February 20th along Moa Point Rd. in the southern part of Wellington, on a rock in the sea I spied this Phalacrocorax varius, known natively as kāruhiruhi and in English as a pied shag, which is a type of cormorant. From what I’ve read, pied shags aren’t too skittish around people, and this one stayed put as I gradually approached. It might well have let me get even closer, but by the time I took this picture I’d already made my way forward across all the rocks I could, and getting any nearer would have meant getting wet.

For information about pied shags beyond what the first link provided, here’s a second.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 9, 2015 at 5:31 AM

New Zealand: Little hard fern koru

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Little Hard Fern Koru 4658

Click for greater clarity, especially in the little hairs.

Now that I’ve shown you a little (and only a little) of what’s been going on in springtime Austin, here comes a second round of pictures from my February trip to scenic New Zealand.

At the Christchurch Botanic Gardens on February 14th I photographed this koru (the Māori word for the curled shoot of a fern) on what’s called a little hard fern, Antarctic hard fern, alpine hard fern, or alpine water fern, whose scientific name is Blechnum penna-marina. The species part of the name is Latin for ‘sea feather,’ but that refers to the plant as a whole rather than to this koru, which I think people are more likely to liken to the scroll on a violin, even if no violin scroll has smaller scrolls within it the way this fern does.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 8, 2015 at 5:28 AM

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