Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘lizard

Textures

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On August 12th I spent some time on the Blackland Prairie in far northeast Austin. Of the many textures I observed there then, this post singles out two. Compare and contrast, as schoolteachers are wont to say.

In the first you’re looking at a Texas spiny lizard, Sceloporus olivaceus, on one of those low construction fences that have become so common in central Texas (and presumably also everywhere else).

The second picture is a closeup of the brain-like chartreuse fruit of a Maclura pomifera tree—known as osage orange, hedge apple, and bois d’arc—that I found fallen on the ground.

Did you know that the words text and texture are both ancient metaphors? They come from textus, the past participle of the Latin verb texere, which meant literally ‘to weave,’ and then more generally ‘to fabricate.’ As a noun, textus took on the sense “the style of a work,” which is metaphorically how it is woven, which is to say its texture. The subjects of these portraits gave me a pretext for providing a bit of etymology that I hope has let you put things in context (two more derivatives of textus).

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 15, 2020 at 2:38 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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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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And a lizard

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Click to enlarge.

Here’s a lizard I found at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument in northern New Mexico on June 12th. Thanks to Pat Maher and Scott Bulgrin of the New Mexico Herpetological Society for identifying this as an eastern collared lizard, Crotaphytus collaris. You can read more about collared lizards at Wild Herps. You can get a much closer view of this one by clicking to enlarge the thumbnail below.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 19, 2017 at 4:38 AM

Chuckwalla

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chuckwallah-1818

Like me, you probably didn’t know that there’s a lizard called a chuckwalla (Sauromalus spp.). This picture from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on November 7th of last year shows that there is.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 2, 2017 at 4:56 AM

What is it?

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Texas Spiny Lizard on Pecan Tree 1281

On April 15th I walked past a pecan tree at McKinney Falls State Park in southeast Austin and noticed a broken branch. Then I saw more.

Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Guess; then click to make your visit.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 6, 2016 at 5:03 AM

Greater earless lizard

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Greater Earless Lizard 3561

On August 31st out by Lake Travis I photographed my first Cophosaurus texanus, known as the greater earless lizard. Whether earless is also hearless I don’t know, but I do know that this pale lizard blended in well with the rocks in its environment.

If you’d like to know more about this guy, you’re welcome to read an informative article (which is what leads me to believe this is indeed a guy).

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 15, 2015 at 4:51 AM

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Lizard

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Whiptail Lizard 2393

Behind the visitor center in the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park on September 29, 2014, I saw this lizard. I don’t know what species it is, but you’re welcome to read a page about some of the lizards that inhabit that national park.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 12, 2015 at 5:39 AM

Anole

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Analoe Lizard with Red Dewlap on Branch 4079

On the afternoon of May 2, in preparation for a public nature walk in Great Hills Park the following Saturday morning, I walked through a portion of the park and jotted down the names of the prominent native wildflowers I saw so I could list them in a handout for the people who would attend. At one point I encountered a yellow-crowned night heron, just as I had on January 19, but this time my movement startled it and it flew away before I had time to take a single picture.

When I’d mostly finished my note-taking and was walking back toward the trailhead I’d entered the park from, I caught a glimpse of a green anole lizard, Anolis carolinensis, near the tip of a dead branch. I hadn’t seen one of these slender lizards for quite a while and hadn’t photographed one for years, so I set down my camera bag, put on my longest lens, and settled in to see what I could do.

My first pictures were so-so, but gradually I moved a little closer, and the anole began to display, perhaps because it felt I was encroaching on its territory. From then on, my challenge was to get pictures of the anole with its red dewlap extended—not an easy task, because the lizard kept its colorful flap of skin out for only a few seconds at a time before withdrawing it. As I took pictures the anole changed position occasionally, sometimes holding itself with its head up and other times reversing position and ending with its head down. The downward stance gave me an advantage I’d never had before, because in that position the dewlap just happened to be lit from behind by sunlight coming through the trees in front of me. That accounts for the unusually bright red-orange that you see here.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 18, 2012 at 5:40 AM

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