Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘Austin

Tip-top tuna

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As you probably already knew and recently heard here, compared to the northern United States, Texas is too far south and therefore too warm for a lot of grand fall color. Most of the relatively little we get leans more to yellow and brown than to red. That said, one saturated red we count on seeing as autumn advances each year is that of a ripe tuna. In this case it’s obviously not the word for a fish: Spanish uses tuna to designate the fruit of a prickly pear cactus (Opuntia spp.), and English has increasingly followed suit.

When I made up the post’s title I planned to include only the view from above, above.
Later, for people not familiar with this kind of fruit, I added a view from the side, below.

These pictures come from my neighborhood on November 2nd. The sheen is natural; I didn’t use flash.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 13, 2018 at 4:58 AM

Softer colors at Stillhouse Hollow

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After leaves have fallen, trees reveal summer-hidden branches and sometimes things within them, like the nest now disclosed here. This bare tree, while neither massive nor colorful like the still-clad oak you saw yesterday, nevertheless appeals in the intricacy of its many slender branches and twigs. Visible beyond it you can make out upper parts of a sycamore tree (Platanus occidentalis) tall enough to catch light from the late-afternoon sun. Though the tree with the nest in it had no leaves left to help with identification, it might have been a cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia). I have no idea what kind of animal made the nest. Below is an unobstructed view of the sycamore’s browning crown in its own right.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 11, 2018 at 4:38 AM

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Fall colors at Stillhouse Hollow

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Another source of colorful fall foliage down here is the Texas red oak tree (Quercus buckleyi). Well into the afternoon on November 26th at northwest-central Austin’s little-known Stillhouse Hollow Nature Preserve I aimed upward to record the colors in the leaves of one of those oaks contrasted with the blue of the sky. The network that the many darker branches created appealed to me as well.

While at the preserve I also recorded the shades of magenta in six clusters of American beautyberry fruits (Callicarpa americana) that were in varied stages of drying out.

Click to enlarge.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 10, 2018 at 4:43 AM

Not many ladies’ tresses orchids this year

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On October 22nd I checked out a site a few miles from home where I look for ladies’ tresses orchids (Spiranthes magnicamporum) in the fall. I didn’t find any. On November 17th at Wild Basin I located exactly two and photographed exactly one. What an exacting fellow I am.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 8, 2018 at 4:38 AM

Ageratina havanensis does its thing

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A great floral attractor of insects in the fall is Ageratina havanensis, known as fragrant mist flower, shrubby boneset, and thoroughwort, and apparently in Spanish as the barba de viejo (old man’s beard) that corresponds to the fuzzier stage the inflorescence takes on after it goes to seed.

Click to enlarge.

The insect shown above working these flowers in my neighborhood on November 2nd is a syrphid fly, which you can see gains some protection by mimicking a bee. The stray seeds with silk attached came from the adjacent poverty weed bush that graciously put in an appearance here a couple of weeks ago. Below you’ll find a much larger and more colorful insect that was visiting the flowers, a queen butterfly, Danaus gilippus.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 4, 2018 at 4:56 AM

Multitudinous snout butterflies and two kinds of white*

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Where the previous post showed you a close and then an even closer view of an individual American snout butterfly (Libytheana carinanta), look at the swarm I found on some frostweed flowers (Verbesina virginica) on November 1st along River Place Blvd. I count at least two dozen butterflies in this picture. The autumn of 2018 has proved a good season for the species, which I’ve continued seeing in other parts of Austin as well.

This multitude of snout butterflies came as a bonus because what I’d stopped to photograph was some poverty weed (Baccharis neglecta), as shown below with another bonus in the form of native grape vines (Vitis spp.) climbing on the bushes. If you look carefully, you may also pick out one or two or three bits of breeze-wafted poverty weed fluff in the air; that’s how this species spreads its seeds.

* A search for “multitudinous snout butterflies” got no hits, so you are probably the first people in the history of the universe (after me) to be reading that phrase. Happy novelty to you.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 24, 2018 at 4:37 PM

American snout butterfly on goldenrod flowers

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On October 29th I photographed this American snout butterfly, Libytheana carinenta, on some goldenrod flowers that were growing around the pond at Central Market on North Lamar Blvd. If you’d like an even closer view from another frame that will better reveal how hairy the snout and head are, click the thumbnail below.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 23, 2018 at 4:55 AM

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