Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘Caprock Canyons

Prairie dog

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Black-Tailed Prairie Dog 1244

In addition to bison, one of which you saw the other day, prairie dogs have also recently been reintroduced at Caprock Canyons State Park. There are five species, and I infer that the ones I saw are black-tailed prairie dogs, Cynomys ludovicianus.

Prairie dogs are always on the alert for intruders into their territory, so whenever I tried to approach one, even very slowly, it began making high-pitched noises—presumably the “barks” that led Anglo settlers to liken these animals to dogs. Even scientists got in on the false naming, because Cynomys means ‘dog mouse.’ The truth is that prairie dogs are in the same mammalian family as squirrels, the Sciuridae.

From the open mouth in today’s portrait you can tell that this prairie dog was barking away at me. When I eventually got too close, as a prairie dog reckons distances, it darted into its burrow—the rim of which surrounds it here—and immediately stopped making noise. And I, who had purposely not been making noise, went back into my mobile burrow known as a car and continued on my way.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 6, 2014 at 6:03 AM

A closer look at a feather dalea

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Feather Dalea Flowering 9784

As becoming as the Dalea formosa, or feather dalea, was in the barren and contrastingly colored landscape of Caprock Canyons State Park on April 15th, a question arose about whether that background drew too much attention away from the flowering plant. It occurred to me that you might want a closer view of this species in isolation, so here it is.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 5, 2014 at 10:03 AM

Feather dalea

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Feather Dalea Flowering 9766

Dalea formosa, known as feather dalea, was flowering in a bunch of places in Caprock Canyons State Park when I was there on April 15th. As barren as the ground may appear to us, this plant has no problem flourishing there.

(Note: I significantly updated yesterday’s article after I posted it.)

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 5, 2014 at 6:01 AM

Astragalus racemosus

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Silky Sophora Flowers 9888A

(Note: I significantly updated this article after I posted it.)

At Caprock Canyons State Park on April 15th I saw some plants that had produced clusters of pretty cream-white flowers, and there was also a tinge of pale violet in them that became apparent only with a close look. Also apparent with a close look were a couple of ants scurrying about on the flowers.

In preparing today’s post, I did some research and tentatively settled on Sophora nuttalliana as the identity of this plant. That’s the way the post went out, but then a comment and a link provided by shoreacres put me back into research mode. I now think the plant shown here is Astragalus racemosus, known as cream milkvetch. To see the places in the United States and Canada where Astragalus racemosus grows, you can check out the USDA’s state-clickable map.

If the name Astragalus rings a bell, it could be because I recently showed photographs of a flower and some leaves of an Astragalus species found in Austin.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 4, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Crystalline layers

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Crystalline Layer 9856

In the picture two days ago showing geological formations at Caprock Canyons State Park, you may have noticed layers of light-colored rock extending across the sandstone in several places. This lighter-colored rock, of which you see a sample more closely in the picture above, is rather soft, and I noticed broken pieces of it, like those shown below, on the trail in several places when I was there on April 15th. Not knowing what kind of mineral it is, I asked geologist Eric Potter, who determined that it’s gypsum. (Coincidentally, Eric and I are leading a nature walk in Great Hills Park starting at 9 o’clock this morning. If you’re in the area and would like to come along, join us at the playscape on Sierra Oaks.)

Crystalline Rock Shards 9746

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 3, 2014 at 6:04 AM


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Bison 1234

Bison have recently been reintroduced at Caprock Canyons State Park, where they’re allowed to range over a good-sized area. On April 15th I photographed this bison, which eyed me warily but eventually wandered off. Flyers and signs warn visitors to keep at least 50 ft. away from these wild animals because they can weigh 2000 pounds and reach speeds of 30 miles per hour, so although the picture makes it look like I was pretty close, I prudently kept my distance and used a telephoto lens.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 2, 2014 at 6:01 AM

I hope you can you tell this isn’t Austin

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Caprock Canyons Park Landscape 9850

From April 12th through the 17th we were on a trip to northwest Texas, partly to see friends we hadn’t visited in 16 years (and whom I’ve known for over 40) and partly to check out nature in a region of Texas we don’t often go to. In the days ahead you’ll be seeing some of the photographic fruits of that trip.

This first view shows typical formations at Caprock Canyons State Park in the Texas Panhandle on April 15th. Fortunately the sky stayed clear all day, and its blue provided a pleasant complement to the browns and oranges that you’ll be seeing more of in the images to come.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 1, 2014 at 6:04 AM

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