Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘animal

Leafhopper

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I’ve had trouble remembering which of two similar common names is which: planthopper and leafhopper. A glance at an article about leafhoppers convinced me that’s the kind of insect in today’s picture. This one sure is colorful, don’t you think? And what big bulgy eyes for such a small (maybe a third of an inch long) critter. I found it on the stalk of a sunflower (Helianthus annuus) a couple of miles from home on June 17th. If you’d like to zoom in for a more detailed look, all you have to do is click the excerpt below.

Thanks to the diligent folks at BugGuide, I declare this leafhopper to be Oncometopia orbona, known as a broad-headed sharpshooter (hey, that could just as well apply to photographer me). To see and learn about some other leafhoppers in Austin, you can visit Val Bugh’s Austin Bug Collection.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 8, 2020 at 4:38 AM

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More views of Texas bindweed

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You recently saw a Texas bindweed flower (Convolvulus equitans) with a basket-flower serving as a complementary concentric halo. On June 2nd I was working near a different entrance to Great Hills Park and found that another purple flower, the horsemint (Monarda citriodora), provided an out-of-focus backdrop for a softly questing Texas bindweed tendril. (Google turns up no hits for the phrase softly questing tendril, so today is my latest turn as a neologist.)

Jumping ahead to June 15th, I noticed that a Texas bindweed vine had twined itself around a Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera). Riding the flower head was a bug that entomologists call Calocoris barberi, which I’ve learned is most often found on Mexican hats. As far as I can tell, this bug has no common name, so maybe the Entomological Society of America should hold a contest to come up with one.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 30, 2020 at 4:44 AM

Almost camouflaged

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On June 16th we walked a portion of the main trail in Great Hills Park. If this Texas spiny lizard (Sceloporus olivaceus) had kept its head down and in line with the rest of its scaly body it would have blended into the rough bark of the tree it was on and we might have walked right past it. Instead, its sunlit head extended beyond the tree’s profile and contrasted with the darker background, allowing me to notice it and take a picture with my iPhone. As soon as I moved a little closer, the lizard scampered away.

© 2020

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 26, 2020 at 4:46 AM

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Spiral spirit

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Recent pictures of one snail on a fresh basket-flower, another on an opening firewheel, and a foursome on a dry plant have pleased some of you, so here are three more photographs from the limaciferous* Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville during the week of May 4th.

These snails are equal-opportunity climbers. In the top picture, the plant is greenthread, Thelesperma filifolium. The climbed-upon in the middle photograph is blazing star, Liatris mucronata.  Finally you have a square-bud primrose, Oenothera capillifolia.

* I coined limaciferous from the roots of Latin limax ‘snail’ and ferre ‘to bear.’
The choice was between that and the English-Latin hybrid snailferous.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 7, 2020 at 4:34 AM

Fiery skipper on Texas thistle

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You’re looking at a fiery skipper (Hylephila phyleus) on a Texas thistle (Cirsium texanum). Square-bud primroses (Oenothera capillifolia) in the background lit up the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on May 11th.

By the way, Texas thistle flowers have a pleasant scent for people as well as butterflies and other insects. If you’re in an area where these grow and haven’t ever sniffed one, give it a shot while some are still around.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 3, 2020 at 4:04 AM

White snail on a developing firewheel

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Here’s an abstract view of a mostly white snail on an opening firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella) on the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on May 6th. An open flower head of the same species accounts for the red and yellow. If the green in the lower right suggests a bird on the wing, it’s probably just my imagination taking flight.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 23, 2020 at 4:38 AM

The next generation

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A bunch of times in the summer of 2019 we’d seen rock squirrels (Otospermophilus variegatus) on our back deck, especially on one section of the railing. As the year went by and we advanced into the spring of 2020 we didn’t see them any more. Then one day in April I looked out a back window and saw a bunch of baby squirrels. How much is a bunch? The most I ever counted together was five. Here from April 29th are two of them, with the one on the right in what strikes me as a funny pose.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 15, 2020 at 4:38 AM

Brown is the new green

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On the afternoon of April 10th I noticed a bright green anole lizard on the Ashe juniper tree trunk outside my window. I walked several steps to my camera bag, quickly attached a long lens to my camera, and turned back toward the window. In that brief interval the anole had become completely brown. Such a presto change-o has earned Anolis carolinensis the nickname American chameleon, even though an anole isn’t a true chameleon—just as an Ashe juniper isn’t the “cedar” that people commonly call it in Texas. Shakespeare said it well: that which we call an anole, by any other name would be as changeable. And speaking of saying, the word anole is pronounced in three syllables: a-nó-le.

If you’d like to see what one of these critters looks like when it’s green and displaying a bright red dewlap, you’re welcome to check out a classic portrait from 2012. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 24, 2020 at 10:40 AM

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An unusual pink evening primrose bud

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I’ve long been intrigued by the buds of pink evening primrose, Oenothera speciosa, especially as they open. Usually they’re pretty straight, but this one at the Riata Trace Pond on April 5th attracted me all the more because of its curved tip. People have told me that the little green insect, which I’m not sure I even noticed at the time, is an aphid nymph.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 23, 2020 at 4:38 PM

A view from below

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Most of the time we see flowers from above. A look from below is often more interesting artistically, even if (or perhaps in part because) it’s harder to get. The view from down under also lends itself to abstraction, as in this photograph that emphasizes the curving lines and surfaces in a pink evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa). I made this ant-enhanced portrait at the Riata Trace Pond on April 5th.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 17, 2020 at 4:23 PM

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