Nature's Place

Flood

 

I left to go to the shops to get a local paper this afternoon and I came to flooding a few hundred metres down the road from where I’m living. The fellow in the Landcruiser didn’t make it through the water and had to turn back it was that deep. The field next to the road usually has cows in it but today it’s a flood channel to allow water from the hills behind to get out to sea.

Everywhere I went there was flooding. The normally placid tidal creek was overflowing and rapid today, I often go swimming a ways down from here. It looks as if it will be swollen for a few days at least, and more rain is forecast for the area.

I went a roundabout way to the shop and on the way back had a look to see how the road was from the other side, just thought I’d show you. These signs are not uncommon in regional Australia, where I am – though much development has taken place in recent years and there is more in the pipeline. These roads are allowed to flood because if the water was blocked here it would flood a little further south, where six thousand people live. It would be nice to believe they will leave places like this the way they are, but I don’t.

I called in to the reserve too to see how it is after all the stormy weather. What I found wasn’t unexpected. There were trees fallen across the paths and when I set out to see if one of the creeks I know was flooded I didn’t get very far before I ran into flooding on the trail. This water was flowing, to where I couldn’t see, maybe to the creek but certainly towards the sea.

So I went back a bit and tried another trail. A few hundred metres in and I had to go bush to avoid more minor flooding on the trail. But just twenty metres on I ran into an impassable river where last week there was a stream I could hop across on the stones and logs.

I did encounter a lovely orange mushroom  looking as if it had been standing in the rain waiting to say hello. Hello! There’s a smile in this sweet little form of life. Do you see it? Don’t try; just pull back from looking for anything in the usual way. Relax the eyes and see without looking to see. Look closely without looking at anything in particular. This way you see what others don’t. You see inside, where all things smile.

There was a crew of small native bees hanging on a slender branch of a tree overhanging the trail. They were about head height and I nearly walked into them except I noticed just in time a darkening and thickening along the branch that was out of place.

They are gentle creatures the Aussie bee and these were looking a bit tired from all the commotion, but still hanging in there, no problem. I was about to snap them when they all just flew away. Camera shy I reckon.

It really is a time for doing little, staying indoors and letting the unnecessary things and thoughts fall away. Because really, there is not a lot to be done. And what is to be done is being done.

 

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All copyright reserved / Mark Berkery

 

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Herculean Feet

 

You can’t beat the ant for sheer grit and determination. This slender legged creature was observed pulling its find over a distance of two metres in about one minute. The fly it’s taking back to its nest is five or more times its own size and weight and the two metres distance it was observed is the equivalent of you or me pulling five times our own weight a hundred metres or so. I don’t know about you but I’d be lucky to move something that heavy even one inch.

The stress on its feet must be enormous. Do ants have feet?

 

Slender Ant

All copyright reserved / Mark Berkery

 

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Deluge

 

Water has been pouring from the sky for days now. The garden is flooded, the forest is flooded, and the seas are high and rough. Everything is getting a thorough soaking and it’s wonderful. Everything is just soaking it up, the plants and the earth. All the animals are sheltering in their favourite places and people are indoors doing indoor things until the sun shines again, as it always does.

Today is the day I do my shopping, basically because I live forty kilometres from the nearest shopping centre that has what I want. That’s an eighty kilometre round trip and the cost of fuel has gone up dramatically recently so I keep my use of the car to a minimum. Driving along in the rain is almost blinding at times. Even on high speed the wipers only give me a clear view for a couple seconds at a time and then it’s a blur for a few seconds. Could be dangerous. But I love driving through the water and feel the tyres hit the resistance, hear the water spray up into the car and clean it underneath, and see the spray, whoosh, on either side of me. Great fun.

The only animals I’ve seen outdoors the last couple days are the birds, the ones with young to feed. Today I heard the urgent cries of the young butcherbird and went out to have a look. There it was on the drainpipe under the eave of the roof, looking sodden from the rain. The parent was on the clothes line and when I appeared to get too close to the young one it called to him and flew away and the young one followed.

Some of the birds are having a rough time of it in the strong winds. I’ve seen them blown wildly about, but it is their element after all isn’t it. Is a maggie dodging branches as it is blown between two trees in the back garden down past the water tanks, that box was blown in from I don’t know where.

When the weather is really too rough they know better than to fly. Some don’t though, whether because of experience or the lack of it, or hunger drives them – birds don’t carry much in the way of energy reserves. Or one could risk it and go out hunting while it’s calm because there are young to be fed, and then have to find its way back to the nest after the weather darkens again.

It’s dangerous weather for birds, not being able to fly safely. And with cats, dogs and snakes about it’s a dangerous time for them indeed. Because flying is their only escape from any of these animals.

The other creatures that love this rainy windy weather are the frogs. You can tell they just love the rain the way they sit there soaking it up, contented creatures. The rain helps frogs in other ways than the essential but simple need of water.

They can travel more easily in the fluid of the rain, which means they can travel further so they can spread out and so increase their long term chances of survival. The rain also provides all other creatures with similar opportunities and more insect’s means more food to the frog. Great news, for the frog.

But after all the rain we’ve been having I’d say even the frogs are under shelter.

I love the sound of the rain on the surfaces of the house, mostly on the roof here since there is a veranda around the house. The sound of rain on the roof as it falls in differing volumes and at different intensities blown by a fickle and sometimes steady wind reminds me of the simple sensation in the body.

That tingling I see and feel inside when I’ve closed my eyes and my mind is quiet. Seen all the easier when I’m sitting in the dark just listening, listening in the silence of the night, of inside.

And by the looks of it there will be fresh mushrooms for dinner tomorrow. Yum! Another gift of the rain and the earth. After any significant rain mushrooms appear in the back garden, usually enough for a meal or two. And they’re free.

 

Soaked ButcherbirdStruggling MagpieSoaking FrogEdible MushroomMushrooms

All copyright reserved / Mark Berkery

 

 

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Climbing In Mooball

 

Mooball National Park is a well kept secret. It’s on the map but when I first went looking for it I found no signs for it, anywhere. Without a topographical map what I had to do was look at the road map for the general location and try the various roads and tracks until I found it.

I found the entrance just into the Burringbar ranges on the way to Murwillumbah. It’s just a dirt track off the old Highway One and it’s very easy to miss. And dangerous to navigate to from the south.

The actual park is mountainous, as far as I know there is no flat country here. This means almost nobody comes here so there are none of the advantages of a much visited place such as developed trails, lookouts or parking and picnic areas. That’s not a bad thing it’s just a fact. I enjoy the places people don’t often go to, as long as I physically can that is.

It’s also rainforest country. Because of mountainous terrain to catch the clouds and the greenery to help produce them these hills are often shrouded in mist and right now it’s very wet, having been raining on and off for a few weeks.

One of the effects of this rain is the trees soak it up and take the opportunity to expand and grow which often means they shed the old inflexible bark that protected them since the last rains. This leaves them exposed in their fresh new forest colours.

The road through it is very steep in places and hilly almost every other place, though there are a few areas on the side for parking the car. There are fire trails throughout so at least there is some easy walking, it’s not necessary to break a trail or follow the ones made by motorbikes over the years.

This one is well out of the way. It’s on top of a hill where there was once a house and now there’s a radio mast, and goes down into the valley below where there are a few small farms.

I discovered an interesting looking mushroom on this trail. It’s furry, or shaggy haired, a unique expression of fungi.

These hills are around three to four hundred metres high and the walking is more like climbing at times and I love it. Once the body is used to the exertion it’s a pleasure to walk here. There is always some new nook or cranny to be explored or some old one in a new season, it’s always different.

You can even see the ocean from places here, it’s that horizontal white line in the distance, right of centre.

I went on from this place to one of the trails I know and parked the car, put my hat on and got my trusty stick from the back seat. It’s just a light young tree left to cure in its skin for a while, then peeled of its bark and sanded for smoothness and cut to size – around five foot long.

I find it invaluable these days, as an aid to walking and climbing and for touching things at a distance to see if anything moves. It’s also handy at times for steadying my camera hand, though you wouldn’t know it to look at some of the pix.

It was nice and easy walking on this trail. Cool, wet, with the occasional shower, and relaxing. As I got further up the trail I started hearing squeaks that sounded like frogs calling to each other. The sounds were coming from the side of the trail where the rainwater runs down so I stopped to check it out.

I was hunkered down facing the bank with my feet just in the water listening for the location of the sounds. They seemed to be coming from very distinct areas but when I moved the leaf litter I found only more leaf litter and dirt. I checked a number of areas like this but found no sign of the frogs at all. So I let them go, maybe they will show themselves another time.

I have heard it said the first is the hardest to find, but once you have seen one they are then all over the place. Well it’s true the first, of anything, is hardest to do. Like overcoming the primarily physical barrier of climbing the highest or hardest mountain.

Or the barrier, primarily of will or resistance, to the detachment from mind – to realise no mind.

View From Mooball N PNew BarkTrail On The RidgeFurry FungiView To Ocean

All copyright reserved / Mark Berkery

 

 

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Stormy Weather

 

It has been raining heavily on and off for a few days now. Where I am, on an open plain one kilometre from the beach, the weather usually comes in from the sea. This has meant I haven’t been able to go very far into the bush here before there is so much water I can’t go on. The tracks are sodden in many places and under water in others.

On my walk today I very soon came upon a big spider making her web in a small clearing in the bush. This is the biggest spider of its kind I have yet seen. its body must have been at least an inch across. A golden orb spider. Its silk is a golden colour and her web was big enough to accommodate a number of smaller spiders, maybe males, or just hitchhikers – opportunists taking advantage of her great work in building such a magnificent web.

At the western end of the old house where I live there are two rainwater tanks. One is very old and the other relatively new. I take my water from the new one and the old one is used as an overflow tank. The drainpipes from the house roof run into the top of the new tank and this is where the green tree frogs live, in the pipes, above the inspection hole.

I have also made a little house for the frogs next to the inspection hole. Only one frog has used this as far as I know, a few days ago – perhaps when a lot of debris came down the drain pipe in a heavy downpour. It’s nice to see ones work appreciated.

The old tank is literally falling apart, the top is rusted at the edge and there are a number of significant leaks. The last tenant tried to patch it up but it’s so old any effective patching only serves to put more pressure on another area and a new leak develops.

I just leave it as it is and put water tolerant plants in the way of the leaks, and receptacles to catch the water for the green frogs to bathe in, they do love a good soaking when the weather has been dry.

When the old tank leaks bad enough, that is when the mozzies can get in to breed, something will have to be done. Until then it is a resource for the natural plant, animal and insect life.

I saw an assassin bug on the rhubarb leaf the other day. The assassin didn’t do much, just moving slowly about his patch of leaf.

There was a little neon green fly about 1cm long. There are many of these flies about recently and not all of them are green. Some have red and some are yellow, all with black stripes. I have also seen a bit of blue amongst them. Or is it the other way round – all black with different coloured stripes, green, yellow, blue and red.

They dart around the greenery chasing each other in a merry dance indeed. But only on the big leaves, where they can see each other I suspect, or where I can see them. I even saw one running on its long dainty legs after an ant a fraction of its own size and when the ant disappeared to the underside of the leaf it lost interest; maybe it has a short attention span?

There were also these two creatures mating. I have no idea what they are but I’ve seen them around the garden for the last week or so, maybe not the exact same two but closely related. Another kind of fly. Nature just keeps appearing in one form after another, there seems no end to the variety, beauty and wonder of it all.

 

Golden Orb SpiderSleeping FrogLeaky Water TankAssassin BugNeon FlyMating Fly’s

All copyright reserved / Mark Berkery

 

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