Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘reptile

Greater earless lizard

with 35 comments

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

with 68 comments

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

Tagged with , , , , ,

Textures

with 41 comments

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

with 44 comments

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

Tagged with , , , , ,

My first alligator

with 63 comments

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

Estuarium

with 31 comments

Before stopping at Bayside Park on August 10 we’d visited the Estuarium on Dauphin Island. The cleverly named Estuarium, on the model of aquarium, highlights the ecosystems in the Mobile Bay estuary. Most prominent among its exhibits are those dealing with animals, many of which are living. Take, for example, this diamondback terrapin turtle, Malaclemys terrapin pileata.

Photo talk: even at ISO 1600 the low light forced my macro lens to open up to its maximum aperture of f/2.8, so I focused on the turtle’s eye in order to get the most important feature sharp, knowing that only a small nearby area would likewise come into focus. For this picture I also composed at an unusual angle. In fact the turtle was positioned horizontally, but as I’ve asked before: what’s reality, anyway?

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 11, 2019 at 4:51 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , ,

And a lizard

with 23 comments

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

A striking snake, or one that might become so

with 84 comments

At the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in Nebraska on May 29th Eve heard a sound and then saw, menacingly close, a rattlesnake at the edge of the path we were walking on. After taking pictures of it, including this one that clearly shows the upraised rattle, I phoned the visitor center and had the staff warn people who were headed out along the same path.

From what I can tell after reading Venomous Snakes and Snakebite in Nebraska, this appears to have been a prairie rattlesnake, Crotalus viridis.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 14, 2017 at 5:02 AM

Chuckwalla

with 16 comments

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?

with 37 comments

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

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: