Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘prairie

Just your run-of-the-mill fabulous Texas wildflowers

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Meister Lane cul-de-sac on the Blackland Prairie along the border between Austin and Round Rock on May 26.

Red = firewheels (Gaillardia pulchella)

Yellow = sundrops (Oenothera berlandieri)

Yellow-green = prairie parsley (Polytaenia nuttallii)

Purple = prairie verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida)

Pale violet = horsemints (Monarda citriodora)

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 13, 2019 at 4:43 AM

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

Prairie bishop writ large

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The Blackland Prairie on the west side of Heatherwilde Blvd. north of Wells Branch Parkway looked so good on May 9th that I went back three days later and once again took a slew of pictures. The star in many of them was Bifora americana, called prairie bishop or prairie bishop’s weed. Hardly a weed it is, and having a great spring it is, too. Also prominent in the first photograph: square-bud primroses, Calylophus berlandieri; firewheels, Gaillardia pulchella; prairie parsley, Polytaenia nuttallii.

The upright dark stalks in the second image are drying Indian paintbrushes, Castilleja indivisa, some red flowers of which you also see approaching the end of their reign.

These three pictures show the Blackland Prairie’s version of snow in May.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 14, 2019 at 4:53 PM

The Blackland Prairie does its spring thing

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The east side of Austin lies in the ecoregion known as the Blackland Prairie, named for its rich soil. When land there is left alone, as a plot on the west side of Heatherwilde Blvd. north of Wells Branch Parkway has been for some years now, spring brings colonies of wildflowers like those shown here on May 9th.

The white flowers that draw your eyes are prairie bishop’s weed, Bifora americana. The mostly red ones are Gaillardia pulchella, called firewheel and Indian blanket, which proliferate in May. The mostly yellow-orange wildflowers are greenthread, Thelesperma filifolium, also abundant in the spring. The tall plants with yellow-green flowers are prairie parsley, Polytaenia nuttallii. Below is a view in which the parsley predominates. I believe the dark little thingies are seed head remains of the greenthread.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 13, 2019 at 4:41 AM

Lake Pflugerville

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This morning we walked part of the path around Lake Pflugerville on the Blackland Prairie.
One thing that caught my attention was the reflection of a bare tree.

Another thing was a shaft of light in the clouds.

At the edge of the lake near the main parking lot I noticed seed head remains of bushy bluestem
(Andropogon glomeratus) and cockleburs (Xanthium strumarium) among the cattails (Typha latifolia).

I took these photographs with my iPhone.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 4, 2019 at 5:00 PM

More from my hours on the Blackland Prairie

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While out on the prairie on October 27th looking for Maximilian sunflowers and finding plenty of them, I also came across a colony of goldenrod (Solidago altissima) along Bratton Lane whose flowers were happily fresh.

Some of the plants were simultaneously drying out and putting forth new flowers:

All those goldenrod flowers attracted a slew of insects, including this monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus):

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 1, 2018 at 4:42 AM

A triangular array of gorgeous Maximilian sunflowers

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October 27th was the first completely sunny day here for the past two months, so out I went that morning to photograph my first Maximilian sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) of the season. As I drove around on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin and adjacent Pflugerville and Round Rock, I ended up taking pictures at seven sites in what stretched to over five hours. In the southeast quadrant of A.W. Grimes Blvd. and Louis Henna Blvd. in Round Rock I photographed this triangular floral display:

As dazzling a display of yellow as it was, I’m sorry to tell you that these flowers were growing all by themselves at a construction site, so this was most likely the last time any Maximilian sunflowers would be there. To see the scene as it actually was and to imagine yourself in my place as I scrunched close to the ground and worked hard to isolate the flowers from all the distracting human elements around them, go ahead and click the tiny thumbnail below.

As the two photographs taken together demonstrate, there are times when even in the unlikeliest of places “pure” nature photography is still possible.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 30, 2018 at 4:48 AM

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