Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘Round Rock

Two kinds of feathers

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At Raab Park in Round Rock on August 18th I noticed quite a bunch of small feathers on the ground that seemed to tell the story of a bird having met its demise there. Because the feathers were so small and light, a few of them had gotten caught on nearby plants, including the firewheel seed head (Gaillardia pulchella) above and the camphorweed seed head (Heterotheca subaxillaris) below.

Eventually I noticed a much larger feather near by, which I picked up and photographed. I began to wonder if it came from a raptor that had killed the bird that all the small feathers belonged to. If an avian maven among you can shed light on these feathers, please fly to our rescue.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 18, 2020 at 4:39 AM

Posted in nature photography

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A bitterweed bud and bloom and beyond and a bee

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It’s been a couple of years since I showed you the common wildflower known as yellow bitterweed, Helenium amarum var. amarum. The native-bee-bedecked portrait above is from August 18th in Round Rock. At the same time I took what I believe are my first pictures ever of a bud in this species, so here’s one of those:

Toward the opposite end of the development cycle, here’s what a seed head looks like when it’s decomposing:

Many parts of the United States are experiencing a summer drought now. People longing for cooler and wetter times may find the following cold-weather fact welcome, and probably also surprising: if a lake has a solid covering of ice 12 inches deep, an 8-ton truck can drive on it. If you want to know how much weight other thicknesses of ice can bear, check out this chart. Notice that the relationship isn’t linear: doubling the thickness allows the ice to bear a lot more than twice the weight.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 26, 2020 at 4:38 AM

I hardly expected a basket-flower on August 1st

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On August 1st, after taking a bunch of nature pictures at a large construction site in southern Round Rock, I was almost back to my car when I noticed something unusual for a date so far into the summer: a fresh basket-flower (Plectocephalus americanus), the only one of its kind. It was almost touching one of those low black fences that mark the boundaries of work sites, so I lay on the ground and contorted myself to take pictures in ways that excluded both the dark fence on one side and a nearby sign on the other. Below is a more detailed view that I made by standing back up, leaning over, and aiming down at the flower head.

Here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.” — Maurice Switzer in Mrs. Goose, Her Book, 1906.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 13, 2020 at 4:44 AM

Happy horsemints

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On June 8th I was driving along Greenlawn Blvd. in southern Round Rock when I saw a colony of sunflowers and doubled back to check it out. Leaving my car in the parking lot of the adjacent construction site for a school, I walked over and discovered a great colony of horesemints (Monarda citriodora) that hadn’t been easy to see from the road. The horsemints were a trifle past their prime but still looked good, as you can confirm.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 11, 2020 at 4:29 AM

Nine years

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Click to enlarge.

Nine years ago today I put up this blog’s first post, which featured a basket-flower (Plectocephalus americanus) with a soft cloud beyond it. On May 10th of this year I drove to the site in Round Rock where I made that important portrait in 2000 and was relieved to find basket-flowers and others still flourishing there on the Blackland Prairie. Then I drove a quarter-mile east to a site that had later become my favorite for basket-flowers, given the expanse and density of the basket-flower colonies that I found there in most years. Alas, the entire site had been razed in preparation for development! Today’s picture shows how things looked there in the spring of 2014, and how I’ll always remember the place.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 4, 2020 at 4:24 AM

Basket-flower colony on the Blackland Prairie

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Click to enlarge.

From May 10th, here’s a happy colony of basket-flowers (Plectocephalus americanus) on a piece of the Blackland Prairie at the southern edge of Round Rock. The numerous yellow flowers farther back are known as sundrops or square-bud primroses (Oenothera capillifolia). People call the red flowers firewheels and Indian blankets (Gaillardia pulchella). The white flowers in the distance are prairie bishop (Bifora americana).

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 14, 2020 at 4:41 AM

Flowering huisache tree on a cloudy day

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I’d gotten to thinking that 2020 was one of those years when the huisache [wee-sáh-chay] trees (Vachellia farnesiana) in my area weren’t going to put out any flowers. Finally on March 16th I noticed some on the two trees I’d been keeping an eye on in my neighborhood. Encouraged, the next day I drove around and found several fully blooming trees in Round Rock. Normally I’d have waited for a clear day to play off the blue of the sky against the saturated yellow-orange of these trees’ flowers, but we’d had weeks of mostly cloudy weather and the forecast was for more of the same. “If you can’t beat them, join them,” so I incorporated clouds into some of my pictures, as you see here.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 20, 2020 at 4:41 AM

Galaxies of buttercups

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On April 4th I drove around on the Blackland Prairie east of Round Rock to see what nature was doing there. On my way back west toward the town I followed University Blvd., where at one point I noticed that a slew of small yellow flowers had colonized a drying creek bed. Barbed wire prevented me from making my way down to see what the flowers were, but not far away on the other side of the road I found an equally dense colony of the same wildflowers that I was able to walk up to. They turned out to be small buttercups of some sort, perhaps Ranunculus hispidus var. hispidus, formerly known as Ranunculus carolinianus.

This second colony was near the entrance to a recently built community called Vizcaya. As I took my pictures, a mower approached, and of course I wondered whether he would cut down all the flowers, as so often happens. I was relieved when I saw him mow right up to the edge of the colony but leave the flowers untouched. Someone still has a brain.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 15, 2019 at 4:48 AM

A different kind of arc

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Unlike the low arcs of the little bluestem seed heads that appeared here last time, the arc in today’s photograph is tall and wooden and frames the bright red leaves of a young Texas red oak (Quercus buckleyi). Contrasting with the red leaves are those of a greenbrier vine (Smilax spp.) that had climbed up not only onto the young oak but also into the taller bare trees on both sides of it. I photographed this pleasant landscape along the Brushy Creek Trail East in Round Rock on December 2nd. Below is another oak I looked up to about 20 minutes earlier, when we’d just begun to follow that section of the trail.

Click to enlarge.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 20, 2018 at 4:44 AM

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