Nature's Place

Man Oh Man!


I noticed it a few days ago but I didn’t mention it, maybe because I didn’t really believe it. There are a few spots along the coast near where I live where I frequently go. One of them I enjoy because there is a fair walk from the road where I have to park the car, and the walk is through coastal bushland where wallaby’s and birds and goanna live. Even though there are many farms around here and it is often used by people passing through it is still wild in many ways.

Today I took a pic of another kind of wildness I didn’t expect to find here. Just a few metres in from the road, in plain view of anyone walking this way, was a small bush with women’s bra’s draped over it like tinsel on a Christmas tree. That’s what it was, some sex obsessed man’s present to himself that no doubt served to quell some emotional demand in him. The demand for sexual gratification.

All men have it, this demand, it’s what drives the reproduction of the species. And there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s what all animal bodies do. But man, through thinking about his sexuality, has emotionalised and complicated the matter out of all proportion.

The fact is all bodies mate in some way or other. Sex is sex and serves the species. But man has realised the need for love but he doesn’t know how to find it, so he gets confused about sex.

Poor man.

I went on in towards the beach and saw some shrubbery a little past the narrow trail to the sand and I thought I’d investigate. There were a few different kinds of grasshopper amongst the foliage and a few different insects. I took a load of photo’s and got a few good shots, I always try a few different settings and modes to learn what works, where and when. A delicate hopper, a two faced spider, and a tiger bug.

I went on in to the beach and it was lovely. There was nobody there for miles in both directions and the waves were crashing with that incessant roar that is always here by the ocean. I walked a while along the edge of the water, sometimes getting my feet and legs wet. Nice, cool water. Along the length of the beach I could see flotsam, loads of driftwood and some rubbish from some far away place.

The driftwood was as big as trees at times, some so big they had sunk into the sand and only the main trunk and some branches sticking up here and there. I wonder where all the driftwood came from, somewhere up or down the coast maybe? or some far off land where there had been a mighty storm. I don’t know, I couldn’t tell the kind of wood. We have had coconuts along here so it’s not unthinkable the trees came from another land. It could even be from that tsunami so many months ago.

The clouds were multiform and lovely and soft in a blue sky. And the white of the foam on the breaking waves was easy on the eye.

When I turned around I came back by the softer sand. I often do this for the exercise. To walk in the soft sand is demanding of a full range of movement of the legs and hips that helps strengthen and mobilise the hips and lower spine. The muscles from the calf to the tip of the toes are all vigorously engaged. It’s good for the body basically.

I am relatively new to photography, I’m sure I have mentioned it before. There were a few puddles of water on the trail where it collects after the rain. The birds know about these puddles and like to bathe in them when nobody is around. I’ve seen them before. I waited about five metres away for one to go to the water but as soon as I stopped so did they. It’s like that around here, the creatures are very shy.

But I waited anyway and it paid off. Splash, one bird dipped in for a quick bath but was gone before I even saw it clearly. Then another. So I stood there with the camera pointed at the spot I thought would be best and set the pre-focus so all I had to do was complete the press of the shutter button.

I was looking at the lcd screen on the back of the camera for the bird to drop into the water and as soon as It did I pressed the button. And splash is all I got, it was just too quick for me. I took another one and splash is all I got again. It was getting dark and the mozzies were coming out so I went home.

This amazing beast, monster moth, was at the doorway when I got back.


Disturbed NatureDainty GrasshopperBush SpiderTiger BugMonster Moth

All copyright reserved / Mark Berkery



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Gentleman Mechanic’s and Golden Boy


Even with the air conditioning on the car is hot here in Australia‘s summer. Especially after going for a walk in the bush. The power windows stopped working last week and I couldn’t find the fault myself. It is inconvenient and I do prefer to drive with the windows down. But I just have to accept what can’t be changed, for now.

Today the mechanics I have met since moving to N. E. NSW looked at it for me. It could have cost a lot but I can’t live without working windows in the car. Peter, one of the partners, spent ten minutes on it and it was working again. Mark, the origional owner of the business only charged me ten dollars. Isn’t that amazing? That’s a rhetorical question. It is amazing.

Mechanics are notorious for taking advantage of the lack of mechanical know – how of the man on the street but these guys are the best. Good old fashioned service without the rush, and pleasantly communicative. And honest, they do what needs to be done and you pay an honest rate for it.

If you are ever in this neck of the woods and need a mechanic you will find them just outside the village of Burringbar, north of Byron on the old Highway One to Murwillumbah. Murnane is the name and you’ll find them in the phone book, or if you’re in the area just ask someone.

It’s good to be treated right and I thought I’d pass it on. I have met other gentleman mechanics but not since I started writing this blog and this blog is about my experience here and now.

After I left Murnane’s, with my windows working, I went to the Mooball N. P. for a walk. More like a climb really, it’s very steep hill country. But it is relatively unknown and there’s a certain freedom in being alone in a place few people go to. I enjoy it.

I drove around a bend and saw a Goanna run for the trees in the distance, about a hundred metres. You have to keep an eye out for the creatures if you want to see them in the wild. I saw where it went and made a mental note and stopped about where it ran from the road. I got out of the car and there it was, a small Goanna, about two and a half foot long from nose to tail tip.

I got the camera out and got a couple snaps of this shy creature as it peered from around the trunk of the tree it was climbing to escape from me. A slender quiet thing flicking its tongue to see what I taste like. It may know me a little if ever we meet again, and maybe won’t run away so quickly. It didn’t run too far until I moved around the tree for a better shot. It might have felt I was trying to flank it. And I was but only to take its picture, but it didn’t know that. ( P1000611(1).jpg )

I went for a walk then and came across a few small creatures. A few spiders in their webs and a few grasshoppers. Magnificent creatures in themselves the way they are structured for what they do. And they are designed to survive. The magnificent webs of silver and golden thread that house and feed the spider. And the powerful legs and secondary wings that enable the grasshopper to get away, some of them have suits of thorn so if any frog got one in its mouth it would soon spit it out.

It was nice and quiet on the trails in this place. Nothing to name or think about except nature. But most of the time just seeing what is there, the leaves of a myriad different plants and fallen things. And smelling the air, and feeling the cool breeze up in the hills. That’s nice.

On the way home I stopped at an old spot of mine on the top of a hill that was probably the site of a house before it became a national park. I have stopped here many times and got a few good pix but today was special.

I was in a hollow looking where some old palm trees had been dumped a long time ago. It’s an area that I visit since I found some beautiful yellow fungus there before I had the new camera. The old one couldn’t focus on it. I have also seen a big hornet scouting the place at another time, moving slowly and deliberately from place to place looking for I don’t know what. Food, shelter, nest site. The same things people look for I reckon.

Today I met Golden Boy and he posed for me for a long time, and I thanked him for that. It is a privilege to get close to the wild creatures and I was grateful for it. This fellow was magnificent, a streamlined body with four wings and the muscle to control them that gave him exquisite control in flight. An efficient hunting machine that told its predators ‘I don’t taste good’ with its yellow and black colouring. ( P1000660.jpg + P1000624.jpg)

He had such control in flight he could take his prey on the wing. I saw him take a small insect from the air with ease, as if harvesting what is naturally and rightfully his. He is a predator after all. Cruising his territory with an air of invincibility. Poised to respond to the slightest significant signal.

Such beauty of form and function was unsurpassed in my view today. You should see that head swivel on its ‘neck’ and focus and lock when something I can’t see attracts his attention. It’s robotic. Simply a beautiful, deliberate, instinctively intelligent hunting machine.

Sylvan of this hollow in the top of a mountain. A privilege to meet.




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Good Gum Boots

DragonflyWasp NestAbandoned Spider NestBig Orb Spider

Today was an adventure. I went where nobody goes. Into the swamp called Billinudgel NR. There wasn’t a single sign anybody has been this way since the rain started. It seems so long ago. Even then hardly anyone goes there.

I am honoured. To go where nobody goes.

I saw sign of wallaby, cow and snake. They were the only tracks in the sandy trails that I could discern. There were other creatures too, the spiders and dragonfly’s and many unseen things moving in the water. Too deep to pass in places.

Oh, and a few bees. And of course the mozzies.

I have been waiting for the opportunity to go back to see what became of the spider and the wasp that made their homes on the tall reedy grass, and today it happened.

I didn’t plan to go, I just went on the way back from somewhere else. I could because I had my new gum boots in the back of the car. I am pleased they have been useful at least once.

It was overcast today with the occasional ray of sunshine and the trails were still under yellow brown water, but not as bad as a week ago. The rain has been easing lately and many creatures are venturing out again.

The early trails were easy to navigate, the water was not very deep to start with. The ones deeper in were another matter. I was in water up to within two inches of the rim of my new gum boots in places.

But it was ok, I used my walking stick to test the depth before I would put my foot down and I got through. Slowly but surely.

I got through to the place where I first saw the spider and the wasp living on the reeds over two weeks ago. See Wily Little Spider and Little Lady Wasp (no Pictures uploaded yet). It was under a foot of water in places but seemed well protected from the worst of the storms we’ve been having.

I went to where I thought the wasp nest was and found one.

It is in the same general area, within a metre or two, but this one has three wasps on it and it looks like it has been built up, if it’s the same one.

There are more chambers to one side of what could be the old nest; it has the same general size and shape if you take away the new chambers.

Maybe they are not complete nomads, maybe the first nest, if it survives, is used by new arrivals looking for a safe place for their young.

How safer than one that has survived the storms? Anyway, it was good to see them.

You wouldn’t think it possible but I found the spider’s nest too. Only there was no spider in it. It took a while though because things had definitely changed here.

You can see it’s the same one. I rotated this pic so it has the same orientation as the first pic I took of it over two weeks ago.

It was hanging over and upside down because some insect had eaten away one side of the reed causing it to weaken and fall over. The structure no longer able to support the weight of the seed cluster above.

I suspect the spider evacuated when the house fell down and probably lives nearby in another cosy web. Or it is long dead, who knows?

On the way back I checked for Big Orb and there she was, still sitting in her web oblivious to the passage of time. Just being spidergirl.

What a beauty. It’s been two weeks since I’ve seen her and she hasn’t changed a bit.


All copyright reserved / Mark Berkery


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The Last Day


TempestIt’s God’s Work AnywaySweet Rosella


Today is the last day of my life so far. It could be the last day altogether. Then what? Nothing? I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter. I don’t mind not knowing. I’ll find out soon enough.

Surrounded by mozzies, they are at the windows and the doors. They are anywhere it is cool and damp, that way they live a little longer to do what they have to do and make more mozzies.

But if it’s the last day there will be no more mozzies. If there are more mozzies it’s not the last day.

There are plenty of mozzies to make more.

Maybe it’s not the last day at all.

Maybe it’s just today.

What’s the Rosella got to do with it?



All copyright reserved / Mark Berkery


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Yellow Nymph and Other Beings

Yellow NymphAnd AnotherPosing?Beautiful Yellow ButterflyFlying Mates, Not talking!


Today is a good day. The flip response is ‘every day is a good day’. But that’s not true. There is only today. And today is a good day.

Today I was out the back yard looking at the nature. You know, the simple things. The water in the bowl and other containers, getting rid of mozzie breeding grounds.

The leaf on the small tree with a neon fly on it. Or the tomato plant growing by the young Jacaranda tree to see if anything is ripe yet. The simple things. No big deal.

I saw a small yellow butterfly fluttering around the garden and as much as I love to see them up close I wasn’t going to chase it for a shot. That is too trying, too wanting, too much of a strain.

I smiled and let it go about its business of visiting the plants it was attracted to, maybe depositing eggs, or just sitting there being at ease in existence for a moment, nothing doing.

I was down on my hunkers looking at some flowers as the butterfly wandered around seeming to tempt me this way, no this way, no no that way. No way!

Then she came and sat beside me, just a couple of feet away. So I got the camera ready, slowly, gently. And she sat there posing for me. Proud little thing.

She didn’t go away for ages then and I wasn’t going to disturb her, and my legs were beginning to hurt from the cramped position. Well, you can’t have everything.

Two more came and settled in different places, the one occasionally chasing the other. The other fluttering its wings in disapproval. Delightful to see.

I was able to get a pair of gum boots yesterday, the last pair they had in Tweed? All the shops had sold out over the deluge, which isn’t over yet.

I wanted a pair to go into the reserve to see if the wasp and the spider are still on the long reedy grass. Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow.

Today I went in from another entrance, Jones road. The boots are a good fit but they are a lot heavier for walking far, and not as comfortable as my walkers. I was able to go through the pooled water but the mozzies are a serious deterrent, there are loads of them now and I suspect they will be around for a while to come.

The trouble is the diseases they can give me, all sorts of fevers it seems, so I can’t forget the repellent even once.

If nature is a representation in sense of mans true nature then mossies are those niggling thoughts, worries and fears. The mental and emotional itches that just won’t go away.

The way to deal with them is put on the mozzie repellent, learn to meditate, sit. And swat them with right action and they fall like, well, mozzies.

I didn’t go far today, it was really too tiring with the new gum boots, and dodging mozzies is hard work.

On the way out I saw these two flyers attached to each other by their tail ends. They were definitely connected because when one wanted to fly away and the other didn’t they didn’t go far.

It must be difficult going the same way when facing opposite directions. The stronger one usually wins.

People do that, get attached and try to go their own ways while staying together. Though they are not connected physically the way these two were, not often anyway.

It doesn’t work for long, or they just get used to the pain.


All copyright reserved / Mark Berkery


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Nest DesignNest DesignFatal Flaw in Nest DesignCrafty Jumping Ant’s


It never ceases to amaze me the natural intelligence behind the building of nature’s structures.

As it is the basic instinct of all creatures to reproduce it is not surprising it is in the housing of the young where the most obvious intelligence is employed. Have a look at the first picture.

There are a number of features to this structure that make it ingenious. The first is its innocuous appearance, it could be any bundle of natural debris thrown together higgledy piggledy. But it’s not, it’s a very deliberate and intelligent design.

There are at least two bundles of strands holding it to the blade of grass. If one is detached the other is probably strong enough to hold it. A backup system. I’d bet if the second bundle was cut more than half way through it would still hold.

Nearly all the pieces that make it up are pointing out and down from the top so rain will just run off and the larva or pupae inside stays dry.

It is probably made up of the pieces taken from the blade it is hanging from, see how the blade ends on the right just past the point it hangs from? How’s that for economy of effort.

This also has the effect of denying any predators access from the right. And if one landed right on the end it would probably fall off as the blade bends over at the narrow point on the other side of the nest

See how the blade is chewed narrow to the left of the nest. This will also deter any predator big enough to demolish the nest from crossing to the nest from the left.

Have you ever noticed when a large beetle or ant comes to a narrowing of the path it often turns back? And if a large enough insect crossed to the nest its weight might be enough to bend the blade at its narrow point and it would likely fall off.

I don’t think the creature that made this sat down and thought about it. I think it arises within the creature as an intelligent response to a need of that form of life to survive with its particular characteristics in the situation – if it was a desert it might use sand and hang it from a stone, or attach it to a tumble weed and send it on its way, who knows.

And because the response fits this creature so well it can be called its instinctive nature. Its intelligent instinctive nature.

Have a look around you. There is a hundred examples of nature’s ingenuity at arms length unless you live in a box. And even then nature can’t be kept out.

The second picture is of some creatures nest built using available materials to reinforce and disguise. It’s the simplicity of the thing that deceives the thinker into overlooking the obvious intelligence.

Or the White Ant’s skyscraper. A magnificent idea with a fatal flaw. Can you see it? I didn’t say nature makes no mistakes.

Or look at the Jumping Ant’s nest. No uninvited guests here. No predator to the ant is going to cross that carpet of needles very quickly. Predators like mice and rats and other such creatures.

This is the Billinudgel Nature Reserve after all, not Africa.


All copyright reserved / Mark Berkery


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Black Beauty

Black Beauty Lizard 1Black Beauty Lizard 2Black Beauty Lizard 3Black Beauty Lizard 4Black Beauty Lizard 5


Many times I have been down this trail and nearly seen this thing. I may not have mentioned it before because I don’t want to tease too much with the one that got away.

Recently, as I have approached a bend in the trail where it dips to form a shallow creek bed where a tall grass grows, I have been catching sight of the tail of a creature as it disappears into the growth. It’s a black tail and I have been able to catch sight of it as it scrambles for cover. It is not a snake, it’s too fat and short.

I think it mat be a Blue Tongue lizard. But it’s difficult to be sure, it may be too fast for a Blue Tongue.

It must have a den or something around here since I have seen its tail quite a few times now at the exact same spot. And it always runs in the same direction.

Today is the fourth or fifth time I saw its tail only this time I was prepared. I went slow and quiet as I approached the bend in the trail where it hangs out and as soon as I saw the tail I stopped. But I was too late, the tail was already moving.

I stopped dead still and it stopped moving. I waited and watched and it didn’t move again. After a short while I started moving ever so slowly, quietly, deliberately towards him or her. So as to get a better look at this shy and wonderful creature.

As soon as I could I took a photo. With the old camera. And after each short move I took another photo. Just in case it disappeared again before I got the whole of it.

After a couple minutes of this slow and easy progress I had the beauty in full vision. From tail tip to nose it must have been over two feet and as black as midnight. It was a magnificent creature.

Creature, from created thing. And its magnificence is the touch of the creator.



All copyright reserved / Mark Berkery


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Rain Rain


It’s ten at night now and the rain is pouring down again.

I saw on the news today there is widespread flooding in this north eastern region of NSW. And it is wonderful. Some people complain, but some people always complain.

The sun was shining this afternoon and I went out to have another look at the flooding up the road from me and there were two cars. One was in the water and out of action and the other was out of the water and damaged. They must not have seen the water on the road, it’s easy to miss, it shines like the rest of the road when it’s wet and it’s just over a slight hill. So if you were looking at the flooding in the field beside the road you’d be in it before you knew.

The water level has been rising for a week now. I went to the reserve today to see how far I’d get and to see what I see and enjoy the nature. I didn’t get very far at all. On one of the trails, the one where the spider and the wasp have built their web and nest, I only got a hundred metres before I came to the water level.

There’s the intelligence behind living high on a stalk of grass, if you’re lucky the water won’t reach you. I trust the creatures are above the water line. I went looking for a pair of gum boots the other day so I could go and see the spider and the wasp but they were all sold out. They wouldn’t have been any good to me anyway, not today. The water level is up a metre or so on a couple of days ago, no exaggeration.

I went to the next trail I walk on and though I had to cross some water that wasn’t there last time it was still passable. And it was a lovely reddish brown colour. The sound of the cicada’s is very loud now and they have been joined by a variety of frogs. It’s hard to describe sounds but the cicada makes a rapid clicking sound, and there is thousands of them, so it pulses in waves throughout the forest. The frogs today were mostly crackle and pop pop popping with the occasional needip needip. The crickets were voicing a silver trilling in places. In all it was overwhelming to the ear.

On this next trail a cicada flew out of the bush beside me and landed on my shirt. I raised my hand to activate the camera and it flew away to a nearby branch. They are usually hard to get so close to, I have tried and they usually fly away with a big buzzz as soon as I am ready to snap, but I suspect this one was tired.

A little way on I came across an amazing creature, I’ve never seen anything like it before. Its body is about an inch long and see the antennae, they are huge. I wonder what it senses through them. Nature perhaps?

I disturbed a nest of ants along the way and they were not pleased. They jumped three or four inches into the air and as much distant in search of the culprit, me. I have run into these fellows before and I am not game to see if they bite, I reckon they do, being so aggressive. You can just make out the big mandibles, gripping tools.

When I got back to the car and closed the door the silence was loud. Relief. From all the calling creatures.

I left this place to go see how the water is flowing in the creek a couple miles away. About a hundred metres down the road in the opposite direction to the flooding I have already mentioned the road was flooded. I couldn’t drive through. I didn’t know it but the road out of Wooyung was flooded in both directions since last night.

I am here to stay, for now. It’s all for now.


rimg1645.jpgrimg1664.jpgrimg1832.jpgA WonderJumping Ant

All copyright reserved / Mark Berkery


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Two Things About Frogs

They do travel in the rain. And they do take shelter from the wet when they’ve had enough of it.

Last night I checked around the veranda as I usually do once the small creatures start showing up. I found one toad and dealt with it and was on my way to the fridge in the garage when I noticed movement on the floor near the wall. I shone the light on it and it was one of those striped frogs, a young one, or just a small one – you never can tell, except sometimes.

I put the toad down and picked the frog up to put him somewhere with longer term prospects for his survival. I have a small undercover garden where I put all sorts of shade plants, plants that need shade and plants that provide shade, and shelter. It’s along one side of the covered area at the back of the house.

I put stripy on the stag fern just at the lip of the darkened leaves in the middle of it. Then I looked down to push the on button on the camera, I always take the camera with me to check for the little ones, and as soon as I looked up to him I saw him climb into the dark recesses of the fern and disappear. Poof! Gone! Just like that.

So I went back to the garage and put the toad in the freezer. I was back at the screen door when I noticed movement again. I bent down and there was a dainty looking green tree frog on the rails of the sliding doors. That’s a dangerous place to rest, for any creature, on the rails. Because chances are something will come along and run over you, be it a door or a train.

I picked him up after wetting my hand in rainwater, just in case there was any salt on my hands – salt burns frogs, or any wet absorbent skinned creature. He had beautiful golden eyes. After a few seconds he suddenly jumped and I could feel the pressure of his little feet on my hand, whoosh – that’s the sound of jumping suddenly, and landed on the screen door with a little slap of his body, just at the top left of the cat flap. See how spread out his right back toes are to grip the smooth surface of the plastic cat flap. And how his other toes are curled to grip the loose flyscreen material. Amazing creatures. Not a good place to rest either.

I picked golden eyes up again and brought him over to the same fern and placed him on the log the fern is attached to, sitting on top and to the left. I looked down again to turn on the camera and when I looked up he was gone. Disappeared. I couldn’t see him at all, he just vanished into the greenery around him. Very effective camouflage I’d say, or my eyes are worse than ever. Bit of both maybe?

I had a good look with the torch and I used a bamboo stick to gently disturb the undergrowth but there was no sign of him at all. So I let it go. I had to let it go because I was getting attached to getting a photo of this one in the nature. So I left it to life, if I was to get such a photo life would present the opportunity.

I went back inside the house and did a few things, downloaded the pix, put some food for the cat. And when I was going to turn off the light so I could just sit in the darkened peaceful room listening to the rain I looked down and there was another of these dainty tree frogs in the same position on the cat flap on the door at the spot where the last one had ended up. Amazing.

So I got the camera again and went outside once more. This one was smaller than the last and I brought her straight over to the fern. This one is a she, I can tell. I put her down and looked down to turn on the camera and when I looked up she was gone. Again! Well, this time I had a better sense of the frog, having seen it a couple times so far and when I searched around for it I sighted it very quickly. But it was still almost invisible in the green around it.

I was pleased to have these three visitors come calling. That’s life. I wonder if they will call again.

A very busy frog night indeed.



All copyright reserved / Mark Berkery


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