Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘animals

Eight years

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On June 4, 2011, the first post in Portraits of Wildflowers went up. In commemoration, here’s one picture from each June in the first eight calendar years this series has been running. Clicking a photograph will take you back to the original post it appeared in so you can learn about or be reminded of the subject if you wish.

To inaugurate the June that began three days ago, after the eight pictures from yesteryear I’ve appended a picture of prairie verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida) from June 1st of this year at the intersection of RM 2222 and Mount Bonnell Rd. The dreaminess of the portrait belies the noise and heat I experienced.

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 4, 2019 at 2:44 AM

You’ve gotta hand it to me

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On April 12th I wandered for close to three hours along the right-of-way beneath the power lines west of Morado Circle. It was spring and a lot was happening there. At one point I noticed a robber fly on a rock on the ground. I moved in slowly with my macro lens, hoping the insect would stay put. It did, and I took a bunch of pictures from several angles. The robber fly seemed unusually docile for one of its kind, and I suddenly wondered whether I could lift up the rock and take pictures that would have a less distracting background.

Slowly I put my left thumb and index finger around the rock to take hold of it, gradually stood up, and was relieved that the robber fly stayed on for the ride. After I held the rock out in front of me and was about to try for a few more pictures, the fly moved around a little, then walked off the rock and onto my hand. Robber flies are fiercely carnivorous, “robbing” other insects by pouncing on and devouring them, so I wondered whether this handy visitor might suddenly take a nip out of my skin. But no, the robber fly remained friendly, as polite a digital guest as any nature photographer could want.

For a classic three-quarter view of the subject with a better look at its characteristic “moustache,” click below.

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, the newly added point 30 in About My Techniques applies to these two portraits.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 17, 2019 at 4:49 AM

Two kinds of little red things

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When I walked into my computer room early in the afternoon on February 22nd and looked through the window I noticed lots of birds zipping around in the trees. As little as I know about birds, I immediately recognized those as cedar waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) that had come to devour the little red fruits (technically drupes, colloquially called berries) on the yaupon tree (Ilex vomitoria) right outside.* We have several other yaupons on the property, and when I checked I found that the birds were intermittently feeding on them, too. Over the next half-hour I did my best to photograph some of the action, both shooting through windows and walking around outside as well. For whatever reason, these yaupon-devouring cedar waxwings proved more skittish than the ones I photographed nine years earlier, and the light was dull, so I didn’t get pictures as good as on that other occasion. Nevertheless, here’s an okay photo of what was going on.

The title of today’s post promised two kinds of little red things. The second, which I don’t recall ever noticing before, is the not-always-easy-to-see red tips on the birds’ inner secondary wing feathers. Those tips reminded people of red sealing wax, and that accounts for the common name waxwing.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

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* We’re on the slope of a hill, and although we live in a one-story house the window in the computer room is at second-story height, which puts me conveniently at the same level as most of the fruit on the yaupon tree.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 2, 2019 at 4:48 AM

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Falls and gulls

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Neither shortly after returning from our 2017 New Zealand trip nor during the one-year retrospective did I show you a picture of Haruru Falls in the Bay of Islands just minutes away from where we were staying in Paihia. Here, then, are a couple of photographs I took at the falls two years ago today. In the first picture, notice at least a dozen gulls in the background. I got much closer to one to make the second photograph.

But the most dynamic (because of wings being raised) portrait of a gull that day came from the Puheke Reserve on the Karikari Peninsula. The bird had been eating some of the little orange fruits you see close by it, and one second after I took this picture (thanks, metadata) it had spun 180° around to eat more.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 13, 2019 at 12:00 PM

November 6, 2016, in the desert of southern California

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Dunes along Interstate 8: one take at abstraction

Dunes along Interstate 8: a more minimalist take at abstraction

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 6, 2018 at 4:37 AM

Katydid nymph on yucca flower

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Katydid Nymph on Yucca Flower 5892

Click for greater clarity and size.

For the second post in a row, here’s a view from the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve in Austin. The picture, which dates back to June 20, 2013, shows what I think is the nymph of a katydid, but if anyone knows otherwise, please speak up. The petal is definitely that of a yucca, probably Yucca rupicola. If you’d like an overview of how that species looks when it’s flowering, you can skip back to another post from 2013.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 20, 2018 at 4:30 AM

Mayday

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Today’s date reminds us that Mayday is a call of distress and a plea for help. Some help is what these conjoined flower heads of greenthread (Thelesperma filifolium) could have used in warding off attacks from at least two kinds of insects: in the first picture I see several thrips and one tumbling flower beetle.

The view from the other side shows you how the two flower heads were conjoined. As far as I can remember, this was the first such greenthread I’d ever seen. From time to time I’ve shown instances of fasciation but it’s not clear if this twin flower head counts as that.

The date was April 16th and the location was the Blackland Prairie just east of Louis Henna Blvd. and Donnell Dr. in Round Rock.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 1, 2018 at 4:44 AM

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