Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘animal

Male elk

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Rocky Mountains; June 5, 2017.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 7, 2018 at 4:48 AM

Blister beetle on Penstemon cobaea

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On April 8th in Round Rock I came across this blister beetle in the genus Pyrota, apparently P. lineata or P. bilineata. The flower is the kind of foxglove, Penstemon cobaea, that you saw from farther back in a post here last month. Thanks to bugguide.net for identifying the genus of the beetle.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 15, 2018 at 5:05 AM

Owl feather

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As I began heading back from the farthest point on my April 17th outing under the power lines west of Morado Circle, I noticed a feather on the ground. Picking it up, I held it in front of me and took pictures of it in several positions. Chuck Sexton, a local expert on birds, says the feather is likely from the right wing of a great horned owl, Bubo virginianus. That’s the same species you caught a glimpse of, and only a glimpse of, in a recent post. Here’s a closer look at one part of the feather:

This feather proved to be the first of maybe half a dozen I found scattered at intervals along the trail. Seems likely the owl met its demise near by.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 3, 2018 at 5:00 AM

A lily and a lady

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On April 17th I spent a while in the right-of-way beneath the power lines west of Morado Circle. There I photographed some of my springtime floral friends, including Schoenocaulon texanum, known as Texas sabadilla, Texas feathershank, and green lily (which is the name I know from Marshall Enquist’s book). The lily in green lily reflects the fact that botanists used to place this plant in the lily family, Liliaceae. Most botanists apparently now put the genus Schoenocaulon in the bunchflower family, Melanthiaceae.

On one of the green lily flower stalks that I noticed during my outing was a painted lady, Vanessa cardui, a species of butterfly about which I recently learned two things. The first, long known, is that it has a wide distribution around the world, including all continents except South America and Antarctica. The other thing, only recently discovered, is that the painted ladies in the UK fly all the way to Africa each autumn. According to the linked article, radar has revealed that “the butterflies are flying at altitudes up to 3,000 feet, which is why they were never spotted by humans, at speeds up to 30mph.”

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 29, 2018 at 4:40 AM

Bug nymph on four-nerve daisy

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In contrast to the willful four-nerve daisy flower head (Tetraneuris linearifolia) you saw last time, the flatness of this one that I found on the same April 1st outing had me aiming straight down at it.

You’ll remember that each “petal” of a daisy is actually an independent flower known as a ray flower. The rays (14 in this case) ray-diate out from the flower head’s center, which is made up of many smaller individual flowers of a different type, known as disk flowers. It’s common in daisies for the disk flowers to form overlapping spirals, some of which go out from the center in a clockwise sense, and others in a counter-clockwise sense. If you count the number of disk-flower spirals in each direction, you typically get consecutive Fibonacci numbers. There’s a confirmation of that in the following enlargements of this four-nerve daisy’s disk. Go ahead, count the number of spirals going each way and you’ll see:

In the unlikely event that anyone ever asks you if daisies know how to count, you can confidently and Fibonaccily say yes.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 13, 2018 at 4:35 AM

A different metamorphosis

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This morning I received a message from Judy Baumann saying she’d finished a quilt based on a monarch butterfly photograph that appeared here last fall and that you see repeated above. My reaction to Judy’s quilt was: Geometry meets lepidoptery. To see that happy geometric metamorphosis, click here and then on the picture of the quilt to enlarge it. Nice going, Judy.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 8, 2018 at 10:15 AM

Now you don’t see it, now you do

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This sawtooth-edged plant is sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri). If you don’t see what else caught people’s attention at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on March 14th, you’re welcome to take more time looking. If you still don’t see it, or if you want more information about it, click to enlarge the explanation on the blackboard below.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 27, 2018 at 4:37 AM

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