Nature's Place

Sir Ant

Ant ReflectionsAnt ShadowAnt Through the Looking GlassHungry AntAnt Lapping it upA Flower
It has been lovely and mild weather today, not cold and not hot, but warm in the sun. And many beautiful flowers in bloom as well. A lovely day it is today.
I spotted him from a distance of five metres. Slowly crawling along the wall of the living room at about waist height. The short black shadow on the old ‘white’ painted wall was unmistakably live.

When I saw it was an ant I got the camera to see what he looks like close up. Ants are fascinating creatures, deserving of special consideration for their role in Australian ecology.

They are the ever present recycler’s, tillers of the soil, cleaners of the otherwise left to rot. Mighty ant, caretaker of this ancient land.

He probably came into the house on my back, perhaps having fallen from a tree or bush where I had been inspecting. Or through the screen door with holes in and around it.

Either way he was in and he was no doubt looking for food. What else? A mate? Maybe that too.
I tried photographing him on the wall but it didn’t work for some reason I forget. So I captured him in a drinking glass and placed the glass on a white board to better see him.

The few shots of him through the glass were not very good, distorted and out of focus. But an interesting perspective all the same.
He is clearly a warrior, ranging alone across strange lands and often difficult terrain. My living room would be a truly alien place if he thought of such things.

I think he doesn’t, he senses the things he comes to without a thought for strange or familiar. Though these things would register in his magnificent ant mind, as what they are in sense, not thought.
See his weaponry? Those pairs of horns pointing rearward from two different segments of his beautiful black body. These would keep anything attacking from behind well away from the segment that I suspect contains the brain and the head. Probably the ant could live without the unprotected rear body segment, though maybe not for long.

But what would attack such an ant? Spiders don’t, they are too well matched in strength and ferocity. Frogs don’t, they are too small for a frog to eat and probably serve to keep the frog clean too. I can’t speak for any other creatures though.

Any attacker would have to be formidable indeed to brave this dark ant knight. Sir Ant! I dub thee.
I took a few shots of him while he was in the glass that night which turned out ok. I like the ones with the shadow and the reflection. The one through the glass is also interesting.

I didn’t try to photograph him outside the glass the night I caught him, it was just too dark and he was too lively. I don’t use artificial means to keep the insects still; I just manage the situation if I can.

So it was in the glass for the night, sitting on the stool where I left him. The next day when I went to him he was very still so I took him out to the light of the sun to warm him up, even though he might just walk away.

But I had a little trick ready. I knew he’d be hungry so I put some honey on a seashell and pushed the shell under the glass until he found it. Then I could take the glass away.

The honey kept him occupied for a while. Long enough for me to get some decent photo’s anyway. And uninterrupted by the glass.

In one you can see him clearly supping the honey and you can also see the sensors he uses to taste the honey, another kind of antennae. And he doesn’t sink into the honey with his front feet.

Interesting things to notice.
Never mind the name, look at the magnificent design, the beauty of his colour and texture. One simple wonder of our Earthly existence.
Copyright Reserved / Mark Berkery

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Winter Sunshine

Winter Sunshine DandelionMagnificent Created WaspWho You Lookin At?Scavenging WaspScavenging Wasp TooJinny Jo
When it is cold enough to rug up you know summer is over. A cold wind blows in across the sea and over the fields here at Wooyung and the light, the space, is crisp and clear in the morning sun. Beautiful is the word that comes to mind. Simple.
Some time ago I wrote of a wasp nest that I allowed to be made and develop under a table I don’t use at the back of the house. To see what eventuates.

Well, predictably, what eventuated was more wasps. They became so numerous the young ones that would seek to return to the nest at dusk had begun to swarm at other places around the house. The nest was so successful they couldn’t fit there any more.

This happened just as the weather turned cold recently, especially at nights. And I noticed the neon fly was no more abundant on the leaves of the Passionfruit plant. All the small forms of life had begun to withdraw, from view at least, though there is waves of coming and going with the heat of the sun.

I can tolerate anything nature presents as long as it doesn’t threaten the balance, as I see it. Swarming, or homeless wasps looking to establish themselves, are threatening. And not just to me.

Apart from the physical danger to me should the hive be unintentionally or unknowingly disturbed. It seemed to me the wasps were cleaning the place out of other insects that my green tree frogs need to survive. That is my perception anyway.

My green tree frogs because I take some responsibility for their welfare.

So I had to take action.
The wasp is a magnificent creation, I have the same respect for it I have for the green frog, but the balance had become disturbed. The balance of the nature where I am. My balance.

If you ever see a wasp close up you will notice the appearance of a meanness in the visage. It’s not really meanness since it is an instinctive expression, meaning the wasp doesn’t think about it the way a man might. But it is a positive deterrent to interference. The words ‘What you lookin at?’ aggressively spoken, come to mind.

I have also observed the wasp will not waste its energy on useless action opposing a form in its world that presents no threat, like me. Nature is not stupid or belligerent.

But one has to be very careful, with some creatures more than others, not to do anything that may be perceived as a threat.

I didn’t dare interfere with the nest during the day when the wasp is so active and protective of its territory. And I knew from observation it isn’t equipped to function at night.
After much consideration over a period of time it became imperative the nest be moved, if not destroyed. Here’s what I did.

One night, long after sunset, I dressed up in as much protective clothing as I could still function in. I went to the table with the nest attached and lifted it, gently, so as not to disturb the hive. Then brought it to a tree about fifty metres away from the house and left it there.

The hope, as I see it now, was that the wasps would fly away to the surrounding nature and not stay around to build more hives. But it didn’t work that way.

When the young wasps left the nest the next day to search for food and eventually return at dusk they returned to the house, not the hive. Same problem.
So there was nothing else I could see to do but destroy the hive. But I didn’t want to kill the wasps, just move them on.

I had left the hive protected from the weather, under the table, under the tree. Now I had to change that.

One night, about a week ago, I snook up on the hive in the dead of night. I put my foot up to the edge of the table, keeping my body and exposed face furthest from the hive, and pushed the table upside down exposing the hive to the sky, where the weather comes from.

Then I ran back to the house, not stopping till I was safely inside, just in case.

Since then I have gone to see what’s happening at the hive and the origional makers, the mature adults, were gone within the first two days. After that some young ones returned for a while, possibly to nurture the still emerging young, but definitely to scavenge.

Yesterday I saw the hive was deserted so I broke it off the table leg and turned it to see inside and it was hollow. Except for one last wasp, tiny compared to his now departed siblings.

It always touches me that life will take form against all odds, as long as the form is viable. As long as there is enough focus of intelligence to give the form life.

What I did was alter the balance of focus. Or more correctly, I acted as I saw the need – according to my perception, life changed the balance and it turned out to be good for me.

Thank God, whatever it is, for that.
Copyright Reserved / Mark Berkery

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Waves of Intelligence

Deep Yellow SunsetDainty Green Tree FrogDainty FellowUnder The FusciaMoonrise
The last of the day’s sunshine coloured the red flower a rich yellow. Sunlight bursts into a deep yellow just before night falls from the ocean east. You can almost taste it at times.

It looks like culling the cane toads has paid off. When I got here over a year ago there were just three green tree frogs in the drainpipes. Now they are many and in various nooks and cranny’s about the place.
This morning I had a job to do with the truck so I checked the usual spot for the green frogs, under the door above the front wheel, but there was nothing there. Often there is and I put them in a place I have made for frogs I have to move during the day.

When I got home after travelling about 100 kilometres I wasn’t surprised to see three green frogs emerge from a vent hole on the drivers side wheel hub looking a bit battered. They would have been subject to enormous G forces, not unlike the centrifuge pilots train in.

They were blackened and disoriented so I brought them to the old water tank for cleaning and refreshing. When I lowered one to the water he started jumping backward as if up was down and down was up. After spinning in the wheel as they did I’d be surprised if they survive.

I checked around the tank last night and I found one of the travellers. He was exhausted, barely enough energy to climb the last few inches of the climb I found him on. So I gave him a hand up. May see him again.
Not only are the common tree frog abundant now but different species have been showing up at irregular intervals. The latest is the Dainty Green Tree frog.

The ones pictured are just over an inch long, each a different individual found at separate places over the same night, and I haven’t seen them since.

Other species showing up recently are the Peron’s Tree Frog and another with a dark green skin and a dark red eye; I don’t know its name. I might post it here soon.

Frogs have been showing up in waves and I suspect they are coming out of the Billinudgel NR as they mature and need to push on to new grounds for the winter. It’s half a kilometre to the nearest entrance – quite a distance for these small creatures to travel.

Waves, everything comes in waves.
It is delightful to have these visitors appear in my back garden, on the Passion fruit vine and the rescued stag fern. Finding homes among the bricks and stone and in the shed.

A simple pleasure to me.
Copyright Reserved / Mark Berkery

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