Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘bird

Two kinds of feathers

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At Raab Park in Round Rock on August 18th I noticed quite a bunch of small feathers on the ground that seemed to tell the story of a bird having met its demise there. Because the feathers were so small and light, a few of them had gotten caught on nearby plants, including the firewheel seed head (Gaillardia pulchella) above and the camphorweed seed head (Heterotheca subaxillaris) below.

Eventually I noticed a much larger feather near by, which I picked up and photographed. I began to wonder if it came from a raptor that had killed the bird that all the small feathers belonged to. If an avian maven among you can shed light on these feathers, please fly to our rescue.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 18, 2020 at 4:39 AM

Posted in nature photography

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Black vulture eating an armadillo

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“Wait a minute, not so fast,” you say, “your title can’t fool me. Neither of these pictures shows a black vulture eating an armadillo. The first is of a bull nettle flower (Cnidoscolus texanus), and the second shows yellowing Lindheimer’s senna leaflets (Senna lindheimeriana) backlit by the sun.” That’s what you say, and you’re right.

The fact remains that maybe once a year in my part of Austin I’ve come across and photographed vultures eating a dead animal. I’ve never posted any of those pictures because even if scenes like that are a part of life in the natural world, many viewers would find them gross. On August 5th, driving back home from the outing in my neighborhood that produced the two pictures above (along with those of the two green herons you recently saw), I had my latest encounter, this time with an armadillo providing the food for a black vulture (Coragyps atratus). If you’re up for such a picture, you can follow this link to see it. If you’d rather stick with the pretty white flower and backlit yellowing leaflets, no one will blame you.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 25, 2020 at 4:36 AM

Green heron

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Click for a larger image.

On August 5th I trekked to an out-of-the-way pond in my neighborhood that I hadn’t visited in at least a year. Given the drought we’ve been in, I found the pond had partly dried up, but not enough to deter a couple of green herons, Butorides virescens, from hanging out there. Putting on my 100–400mm lens, I gradually made my way closer, finally stopping when it looked like one more step would take me into the mud of the pond’s exposed bed. In the picture above, the dead tree and its reflection were intriguing even without the bird; click to enlarge and see more detail. Below you get a closer look at one of the herons.

Here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “Three may keep a Secret, if two of them are dead.”
— Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack (1735).

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 20, 2020 at 4:40 AM

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New Zealand: swirling Stirling Point again

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Three years ago today we reached the southern end of New Zealand’s South Island in a town called Bluff.

At Stirling Point, which for my purposes should have been called Swirling Point, I set my shutter speed to 1/640 and photographed the bull kelp (Durvillaea antarctica or D. poha) surging in and out with the waves.

Not till this week did I notice that a gull had flown into the corner of one frame:

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 24, 2020 at 4:41 AM

From Muhlenberg to Kulmbacher

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In far north Austin on November 19th I drove into a still-under-construction subdivision that already had fully paved streets with signposts showing their names. On Kulmbacher Drive I parked and walked over to check out a pond. A few dense stands of bare plants that I took to be slenderpod sesbania (Sesbania herbacea) caught my attention, and now they can catch yours. Do you see, as I do, a resemblance to the Muhlenbergia that I’d photographed the previous day? And in case you’re wondering about the many little white dots in the lower half of the picture, they’re asters that were happily flowering their heads off.

The last post told about the Muhlenberg that Muhlenbergia was named for. Kulmbacher in German means a person from Kulmbach. Who the Kulmbacher was or is that the Austin street refers to eludes me. Also eluding me was the egret you see below between two poverty weed bushes.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 30, 2019 at 4:43 AM

Great white herons at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge

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On the roof of a shelter at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge on October 6th we saw a great white heron, Casmerodius albus. Half an hour later I got a lot closer to one that was unfortunately behind branches which had me struggling to aim through them for a clear shot. The busy background also fell short of ideal, but we photographers sometimes have to take things as they come to us. Now that I think about it, having my first and last initial come to me in the form of a heron’s neck isn’t so bad.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 5, 2019 at 4:33 AM

Again a bird and Niagara Falls without the falls

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On July 25th we stayed on the American side of Niagara Falls late enough to get a colorful sky while walking back to our car. And so ends the series of pictures from our visit to Niagara Falls.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 16, 2019 at 4:43 AM

Two gulls at Niagara Falls on July 25th

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I took the first picture from the Canadian side in the morning and the second from the American side near sundown, each time with the lens zoomed to its maximum focal length of 400mm. Both birds spoke to me. Take that figuratively and you’re all right; believe it literally and you’re gullible.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 8, 2019 at 4:44 PM

Takeoff

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As I approached the pond adjacent to Naruna Way on the prairie in northeast Austin on May 9th I noticed a white egret (Casmoderius albus) on the near bank. Hoping for a picture, I switched from a wide-angle lens to a 100–400mm telephoto and slowly advanced. As soon as I raised the camera to try for a photo, the egret apparently didn’t like my sudden motion and took off. The one picture I managed to get is at least dynamic. Notice the drops of water clinging to and falling from the bird’s toes.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 16, 2019 at 4:46 AM

Clouds and more

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Near dusk on January 6th I stationed myself at a high place along Lost Horizon Dr. with a good view of the sky, hoping the sunset might be pleasant. As I took the cloud picture above, I noticed that a bird had flown into the frame at the lower right. With no time to change to better settings on the camera, all I could do was pan to follow the bird, which fortunately got closer. Three seconds after the first photograph (thanks, metadata) I took the second, whose dark subject seems to my non-avian-attuned eyes to be a vulture.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 17, 2019 at 4:49 AM

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