Nature's Place

Just Doing What They Do

A beautiful sunny day. Down by the river where ordinary people go. I met Margaret, a 75 year old lady who talked a lot. A chatterbox. I gave her some time.

As I turned away from her I saw out of the corner of my eye a Willy Wagtail take an insect in mid-flight. With a twist of the tail and a flick of the wing it was in position to pluck it from the air with ease. A slow flying beetle, probably never saw it coming.

I also saw a Pee Wee trip up in the twig and leaf litter below a bush. I had to laugh at that.

How could a natural creature actually trip up? But they do. And he caught himself and continued in his stride unbroken.

It was early morning and they were both out chasing insects, mostly along the ground.
The wagtail has a number of tactics to startle prey into moving so it can see them. If it doesn’t move there is no visual trigger to action, no contrast in the scene from one moment to the next.

Often it will fan its tail and wag it from side to side, hence the Wagtail, which may have the effect of disturbing some insects.

One of its tactics is to raise its wings rapidly above its head as it hops up in the air, perhaps to startle any resting prey into movement. And for a better view and to use its cloaking shadow to better see in the harsh Australian sunlight.

That would reduce the glare from the ground in front making it easier to see from the shade of its wings.

Then dash up on the fateful creature and gobble it whole.

A menacing prospect for any insect in view of it.
The Pee Wee is a prince who just struts about, confident from its higher vantage point. It is twice the height of the WW.

Perhaps overconfident on occasion. Could that be? Or just prone to the inevitable mistake like the rest of us.

And in this place, near the river, there was seemingly no end to the feast that I rarely saw.
Not far from the river.

I came across something interesting. A near desiccated green tree frog, undamaged as far as I can see. There is a pile of pine needles out back of the house and I looked down as I passed it and noticed this strange looking thing.

It was still drying out since there was fluid still exiting its body, life still exiting its body. Maybe it died of cold or hunger, or both. It has been cold lately and there is very little insect life to be seen around the place, food to a frog.

From its position and posture it would have simply stopped on the pile and not moved again.

Well, every body dies. It’s the way it is.

The picture says it all.
Copyright Reserved / Mark Berkery

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