Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘lizard

A Halloween lizard

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I’ll occasionally punctuate the posts about our great New Mexico/ West Texas trip with some more-recent goings-on back in Austin. And what could be more appropriate for Halloween than a dead lizard? Mind you, I didn’t think it was dead when I first spotted it in our driveway on the morning of October 25th; I figured the cool temperature had rendered it inert while it waited for more warmth. I went back into the house, put a macro lens and ring flash on my camera, and went back out to the driveway. When I looked more closely at what I take to be a Texas spiny lizard (Sceloporus olivaceus), I noticed tiny movements in the eye socket. Then I realized I was seeing ants, and the lizard was dead. If you’re up for a close look at that, click the thumbnail below. Ghastliness is in the eye of the beholder—and in this case the eye of the photograph’s subject.

Happy Halloween.

 

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 31, 2022 at 4:35 AM

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Red and green at Inks Lake State Park

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One reason I headed out to Inks Lake State Park on May 6th was that some of the prickly pear cactus flowers there in other springtimes have displayed more red than I see in their Austin counterparts. The top picture shows that was true this year, too. In contrast to that red, look at all the placid green around one inlet.

  

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Did you hear about how the imaging technique of photogrammetry has revealed details of cave art in Alabama from about 2000 years ago? “The motifs, which depict human forms and animals, are some of the largest known cave images found in North America and may represent spirits of the underworld.” Check it out.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 15, 2022 at 4:27 AM

Blue lightning strikes again

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You may remember that at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area on April 12th I saw my first-ever common collared lizard, Crotaphytus collaris. On May 6th at Inks Lake State Park I saw a second one, shown above. Then, not quite an hour later, I found yet another, which soon scurried into the crack between rocks that you see below.

And here’s a thought that’s as relevant today as when it was put forth in 1941: “In times of change and danger, when there is a quicksand of fear under one’s reasoning, a sense of continuity with generations gone before can stretch like a lifeline across the scary present.” — John Dos Passos.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 6, 2021 at 4:38 AM

It and I* caused a crowd to gather

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After we’d hiked most of the way back down from the main dome at Enchanted Rock on April 12th, Eve called my attention to a brightly colored lizard the likes of which I don’t recall ever seeing before. I put the 100–400mm lens on my camera, zoomed all the way out, and began to take pictures, gradually moving closer, never knowing when the lizard would dart away. This was along the main trail, so quite a few people passed by, and as they did, more and more of them stopped to see what I was photographing. Once they spotted my subject they were taken, as I of course was, with the lizard’s saturated blue. In all, probably between one and two dozen people had gathered round.

Back home later I searched for an identification and found that this seems to have been a male common collared lizard, Crotaphytus collaris.

* The phrases he and I, she and I, and you and I are common. They and I occurs less often, generally replaced by we. The it and I in this post’s title, though perfectly grammatical, seems strange, probably because of the clash between it, which usually refers to non-human and mostly inanimate things, and I, which is the most personal of personal pronouns. It and you, it and we, it and he, it and she, and it and they also sound somewhat strange, don’t you think?

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 6, 2021 at 4:33 AM

Greater earless lizard

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As we began leaving the sandy area by the river in Pedernales Falls State Park on March 4th for the climb back uphill to the parking lot, Eve called my attention to a lizard alongside the path. I stopped, swapped out the 24–105mm lens that was on the camera for my 100–400mm telephoto, and used it at its maximum zoom to begin photographing the lizard (see above). In my experience most lizards quickly scamper away from people who move; this one, however, showed no inclination to budge as I gradually worked my way forward, taking pictures as I did so. Soon I reached the lens’s close-focusing limit, so I slowly backed up to my camera bag, put on a 100mm macro lens, worked my way back to the complacent lizard, and eventually got so close that the far end of the lens was within inches of it (see below). Only then did it finally move away. My herpetologically inclined friend Ed Acuña tells me it’s a greater earless lizard, Cophosaurus texanus. He says it’s more common in west Texas than in our area, which explains why I don’t remember seeing one before. Oops: memory is fallible, and I see now that I did show one of these lizards in 2015.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 17, 2021 at 4:38 AM

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

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