Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘reptile

Red-eared slider in Mills Pond

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Red-eared slider, Trachemys scripta elegans.

Mills Pond; August 3rd.

 

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The National Association of Scholars publishes the quarterly journal Academic Questions, whose Summer 2022 issue has just appeared. A section called Academic Levity includes an article that it describes this way: “Math teacher Steven Schwartzman explains that the equity activists have set their sights on mathematics, condemning the marginalization of whole numbers labelled ‘odd.’” I invite you to read “Equity in Mathematics,” which is a slightly altered version of a parody that I tried out here a year ago.

  

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 10, 2022 at 4:31 AM

Striking twice

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They say lightning strikes twice in the same place. Rattlesnakes are also known to strike. The first but not the second came true on April 27th at the Doeskin Ranch. We’d barely begun heading down the main trail when we saw two women a little ahead of us who were talking and looking toward something they’d seen. I asked them what it was and they said a rattlesnake. Years earlier we’d seen a rattlesnake along the same part of the trail, so that’s what I meant by lightning striking in the same place. As for the kind of striking that people are afraid of from rattlesnakes, this one showed no such behavior. It lay calmly across the path, not moving and not even rattling its tail. After some minutes of various people looking at it and taking pictures, it slowly moved off the trail and into low vegetation, where it disappeared from view. (Click the top picture to enlarge it to twice its length. The geometry teacher notes that that also means four times its area.)

  

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Yesterday we watched an excellent one-hour C-SPAN program from the Steamboat Institute on March 12th. Dr. Bjørn Lomborg, author of the book False Alarm that I’ve highly recommended a couple of times, explained why we have to take into account not just the costs of unmitigated climate change but also the costs of the climate change programs meant to deal with the problem. Those programs entail costs of their own that can rival those of climate change. The first 35 minutes of the video are Dr. Lomborg’s presentation, and in the remainder of the hour he answers questions from the audience. I hope you’ll watch the program.

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 9, 2022 at 4:36 AM

An uncommon common snapping turtle

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Seven years ago today I encountered a common snapping turtle, Chelydra serpentina, not far
from Bull Creek. What made this common turtle uncommon was the inchworm on its nose.

 

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Here are three passages from David Mamet’s latest book, Recessional.

 

Justice is the application of previously decided and accepted norms of conduct and the rules for their examination and dispute. It is as imperfect as any other institution. But a dispassionate, considerate, supportable, and moral resolution of differences is the goal toward which it aspires.

Social justice is the negation of that ideal. Here “feelings” are insisted upon as superior to process and order. The iconoclasts claim that justice is too slow, that it is biased, and that it is the right of the individual or whatever groups he may form to express grievances long held, and unheard, in whatever mode he elects.

It is the argument of an abusive parent: Yes, I hit her, but you would have hit her too, if you had to put up with the way she behaves.

Social justice means anarchy….

Huey Long said in 1933 that it was the easiest thing in the world to create a Fascist organization; all one had to do was call it an anti-Fascist organization.

But perhaps the greatest lesson of history is that we never learn from history. And that no great crime was ever committed save in the name of progress, or its stablemates historical necessity and redress of past wrongs.

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 6, 2022 at 4:37 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

A green not seen

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There have been several times when I’ve walked close to a snake I didn’t see, including a rattlesnake in Palo Duro Canyon a couple of decades ago. The latest walk-by occurred on December 7th in Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Metro Park. The Lady Eve, walking behind me on the path, caught sight of a slender green snake maybe a foot long that I’d passed, and she called my attention to it. That’s why you’re getting to look at this portrait of what seems to have been a rough green snake, Opheodrys aestivus.

Our word serpent goes back to the Latin verb serpere, which meant ‘to creep, to crawl.’ Similarly, reptile traces back to the Latin verb repere, which meant the same thing. In contrast, our word snake is native English, with the modern form having developed from Anglo-Saxon snaca. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the figurative sense of snake as ‘a treacherous person’ was first recorded in the 1580s. Treacherous people have been around for a whole lot longer than that.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 12, 2020 at 4:36 AM

Posted in nature photography

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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

Posted in nature photography

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My first alligator

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The first time I ever saw an American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) in the wild was on October 6th in the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. Here’s the rap sheet approach again, with front and side views.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 8, 2019 at 4:46 AM

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