Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘woods

A different view along Bull Creek

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The morning of December 19th followed that of the 18th by also coming up misty and with barely any breeze, so out I went for the second morning in a row to take pictures. This time I wandered along trails a few miles from home in the part of the Lower Bull Creek Greenbelt accessed from Winding Ridge Boulevard (a short, straight, narrow road that doesn’t wind along a ridge and isn’t a boulevard). While Austin is hardly known as a scenic nature destination, some places here surprise visitors with their attractiveness, and this is one of them.

The creek itself looked greener that morning than I remembered it, perhaps a consequence of the overcast skies that also kept the bright white band of rock from blowing out the photograph’s highlights. The rock layers are limestone, as I presume is the boulder, a much closer view of which you’ll find below. The Ashe juniper (Juniperus ashei) tree to the left of the boulder in the top photo appears brownish due to myriad tiny cones that are about to release the airborne pollen that afflicts on many people something called cedar fever—cedar being the colloquial misnomer for this juniper, and fever being the colloquial misnomer for the strong allergic reaction that nevertheless doesn’t cause any fever.

Oh, did I mention that Bull Creek looked green?

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 21, 2018 at 4:37 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

Confluence of two Bull Creek tributaries

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Confluence of Bull Creek Tributaries 8662

Let me boost my L.Q. (landscape quotient) with this scene from the Bull Creek watershed on October 31. You’re seeing the confluence of two tributaries of Bull Creek as they looked after heavy rain the previous day and again in the overnight. Notice the hardy sycamore sapling (Platanus occidentalis) seemingly growing out of the limestone where the two creeks meet. If your eyes could glance upstream along the creek on the left (which they can), and then follow the water around the bend for a while (which they can’t), you’d have a view of the waterfall I showed you last week.

Between my previous visit to this spot and the current one, somebody (or somebodies) had defaced the upper part of the rocks at the V between the creeks, so I used a bit of digital magic to return those marred rocks to a natural state.

For more information about Bull Creek, including a look at a scenic postcard from 1916, you can check out the relevant Wikipedia article.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 11, 2015 at 5:00 AM

What sunlight through the forest canopy revealed in a new place

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Ball Moss on Slender Branch 3980

Click for better clarity and quality.

The place was a newly opened section of the Violet Crown Trail north of US 290, where the sunlight coming through the forest canopy on the morning of September 2nd lit up the lower of two ball mosses, Tillandsia recurvata. Next to the highlighted ball moss—which is no moss—a dry leaf rotated in the breeze at the end of a long strand of spider silk; here, at the right moment in its cycle, the leaf was fully backlit. Some of the leaves overhead, likewise illuminated, glowed green across the top of the image.

You can read more about the new section of the Violet Crown Trail in an article by Pam Leblanc (who was a calculus student of mine more than 30 years ago).

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 5, 2015 at 5:10 AM

Climbing with aerial rootlets

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Poison Ivy Vine on Tree 6051

A comment and response in the previous post mentioned that poison ivy can grow as a vine. To make that clearer, here’s a picture from January 19, 2012, of two poison ivy vines that had climbed a tree in a wooded part of Great Hills Park. The aerial (as opposed to underground) rootlets that poison ivy uses to attach itself to a tree can be a warning sign to people who might otherwise innocently touch or lean against a tree like this one. The second word in the scientific name Toxicodendron radicans means ‘rooting,’ and now you see why that word was chosen.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 17, 2012 at 12:53 PM

… and blue

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You’ve heard me say that Great Hills Park is my neighborhood park, and fortunately one that because of its terrain is bound to remain almost totally undeveloped. On the afternoon of January 19, with temperatures in the upper 70s, I went photographing along an upper branch of the unnamed creek that runs through the park and whose presence is among the reasons the land can’t be built on. At one point, when I’d just finished balancing my way across the creek on some concrete steps, I suddenly glimpsed a large bird of a type that I don’t remember ever seeing before. It was aware of me and it was wary of me, but I quietly switched to my longest lens, cranked up the ISO on my camera to deal with the dim light in the woods, and began taking what pictures I could.

When I got home, excited at having photographed such a picturesque bird, I looked through my copy of John L. Tveten’s The Birds of Texas and managed to identify what I’d seen: it was a yellow-crowned night heron, Nyctanassa violacea. The bird was attracted to the water pooled up in that part of the creek, and that’s why I found it there that afternoon. In addition to new friend bird, you may recognize a couple of twining friends from recent posts: the sinuous, bark-covered form in the foreground is a mustang grape vine, Vitis mustangensis, while the smooth and slender green vines behind it are rattan, Berchemia scandens. But I doubt you’ve paid much attention to the vines when you’ve had this stately heron right in front of you.

For someone who’s not a bird photographer (I don’t have the requisite enormous telephoto lens and heavy-duty tripod), I’ve lucked out several times recently. One of those, in keeping with the red theme that today’s picture of a blue bird has put an end to, was when I found a mockingbird in a possumhaw tree just two days earlier. To see mockingbirds in suburban-style neighborhoods here is nothing new, but to find a heron like this in one of those neighborhoods—my own—surprised me. It’s one more reason to be grateful for the presence of Great Hills Park. (And thanks to Marie Laing, coincidentally a subscriber to this blog, who was instrumental in getting the land set aside as a park.)

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 28, 2012 at 4:51 AM

Posted in landscape

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