Nature's Place

From the Wild

Tagged with: ,

Stalking the Dragon

To successfully stalk and capture anything it is necessary to know something about its behaviour, its habits or predispositions. To know anything about a Dragonfly’s ways I observe – the best I can without the distraction of unnecessary thought.

A relaxation of the eyes, a pulling back inside, is also necessary since they usually move too fast and unpredictably to actually track against the often cluttered and matching coloured backgrounds they move in. At least where I find them, in the coastal wetland forest of Billinudgel NR.

There are a few locations I know now where the Dragonfly favours hunting and basking in the sun. At different times of the day they can be found at one place or another. It’s not entirely predictable when they have so many suitable places to be. The time of day also seems to determine how active or relaxed they are, not unlike people.

At one of these places I was quietly and slowly approaching a perched Dragon when off into the darkness of the bush he went. It helps that they have a habit of favouring a perch but when there are many suitable perches the habit disappears. They do that. Land, sit a few seconds or minutes – as long as it takes for me to get in position, then off to another spot, near or far. It tests me for any wanting, trying or disappointment.

As soon as the Dragon took off though a robust looking butterfly landed in almost the exact same spot – in the forest. You couldn’t ask for it. I got a few good shots of it before it too took flight, but before it did another bigger butterfly landed just a few inches in front of it.

It stopped just long enough for me to focus and shoot twice. And both shots came out ok. As I said, you couldn’t ask for it.


Back to Dragons though. None of these creatures stand still for long when the sun is high, that’s feeding time and they seem to spend it high in the air – as high as twenty feet that I’ve seen – about as high as the treetops – feeding height? It’s also mating time. And basking time. But when isn’t? Night time?

Seemingly they only stop to rest and sense what’s around them, or be, being a dragonfly.

Somehow I just can’t see them thinking; ‘Jeez, that bird nearly got me that time, gotta be more careful crossing that creek in future.’ – or – ‘Damn, missed it, what am I going to eat now, if I’m hungry I’ll be weak and distracted and might fly into a web or tree, or something – could be fatal – I don’t want to die!’ Or thinking anything at all!

I’d say experience is directly imprinted on their psyche, no conscious evaluation, no reflection – spontaneous absorption and integration according to an unknowable – to the thinker – intelligence. Certainly no complicating emotional or mental consideration – no suffering. In my observation.


Sometimes the small creatures just don’t mind me, an increasingly large and strange object in their view, getting closer – as close as five to twenty inches a lot of the time due to the lenses I use.

The impact of my appearance is minimised by me lowering myself closer to the ground the closer I get to the creature, so I don’t necessarily appear to get much bigger and loom over them and so perhaps threaten them. Bowing to them you could say, bowing to their sensibilities.

I have often observed the Dragon preening itself with the two most forward legs or arms that it has tucked up most of the time against the back of its huge eyes. Have you ever seen how clean a Dragon keeps the back of its head? Pristine clean behind the ears! Almost. And the robotically rapid turn of the head as potential prey passes by just too fast for it to do anything about. Magnificent creatures.

In flight they often glide after a quick flutter of the wings, especially if there is a breeze to support them – conserving energy. And they are quick to chase one another, the bigger ones have their own territory which they guard very effectively. The smaller ones have to tussle over it, but briefly – no harm done – none I can see.


Photographing small creatures can be a real effort at times. Once they have been tracked to their favoured places, which isn’t always possible, the real work begins. They just don’t pose that often in the wild, where I mostly shoot. So it is necessary to get in position for the angle of shot and stealthily – with minimum noise and discernible movement or presence – approach them, sometimes directly, sometimes roundabouts.

It’s not unlike a game of hide and seek, except insects are much smaller than anything I ever had to find when I played that. Often the only clue to their position is a slight movement in the corner of my eye, rarely a sound. Or it’s a game of patience – absence of impatience really – being easy inside and just seeing what is there. It’s a surrender of anything inside that disturbs or intrudes on the actual purpose – being where I am. Photo’s are secondary, always, that’s the perception.


Once I get to know my equipment, and keep it ready and clean – inside and out, then it’s just a matter of being. Being within the fact of things. Like how the camera functions, fast or slow, low light or not, set for the situation or not.

And how the body functions – the body is equipment too – steady hand or not, lie with the ants or strain the back, go into the mud and mozzies after the shot, or not – Not often!

Eventually, the integration of knowing and being becomes an intuition. A fluidity of action or observation – action in itself.


In the end it really is just a matter of being where I am and seeing what is there – here. The only question is can I do it? Get the shot without disturbance – to body or mind – the creatures and mine.

I tend to focus on the sensation inside as the situation allows, and return to it rather than think useless thoughts. And focus on the sense, the fact of things ‘outside’. When I’m ‘in’ action I’m being that. Then no disturbance arises, or at least doesn’t get ‘in’.


‘‘ ’I’ am not here, this is only another appearance in your sense that will soon pass without incident.” – describes the message being transmitted, if there is one.

Most of the time, now I know more or less where to look, the Dragons present themselves or they don’t – and that’s it – more or less.

And where there is least disturbance, of mind, there is the most pleasing result. With mind-ing out of the way creativity is free to work and stalking is a pleasure.

As long as the body is up to it.


And if ever I come to dream to ‘know’ it all, wake me Life – surely, from my vain slumber.
Copyright Reserved / Mark Berkery

Tagged with: ,

Out and About

When I go into the garage and the swallows are there, as soon as they see me one gives a small whistling sound as it dives from the nest and in a smooth and graceful arc exits through the open door at the other end. Beautiful to watch. The other one now remains at the nest, perhaps there are eggs there now. I have heard swallows, they could be swifts or martins, will return year after year to a successful nest site. They are welcome as long as I am here.

It is a pleasure to watch the pair of them circling the space at the front of the house, swooping and dodging, talking as they go. Every now and then I surprise them by the front door next to the open door of the garage. A quick whistle and they’re away into the air. Strong, streamlined, fast and accurate hunters. Beautiful nature. I am pleased they are living next to me.


A big fly got in to the house with the cat, the big buzzing kind of fly. I can’t have such creatures living and laying in the house and I can’t leave the door open for it to exit since more, or something else, would probably enter. After following it around for a while I was able to swat it down and it lay there unconscious for long enough for me to shoot it, with the camera. Then it started moving again, got up on its feet and wandered in circles for a few seconds. I put it outside before it started flying again. Tough little fellows.


The Damselfly is smaller than the Dragonfly. Accordingly it appears to patrol a smaller territory. It doesn’t seem to have a favoured perch but easily moves to and from the available vantage points.

I watched one today as it moved around and saw it chase a few possibilities from one particular perch. I was quick enough of eye to see at least two small moths rise from the grass below the occupied perch and pass within reach of the Damsel. But the damsel was not quick or relentless enough to catch them. Realising, perhaps, it was a waste of valuable energy.

It returned to this perch four or five times, probably because the opportunities for feeding presented themselves here and not somewhere else. And then it was away to another perch, an opportunist rather than a hunter like the Dragonfly


The Bugs Are Back in strength. At the light outside that I have on to attract them away from the lights of the house they are spinning around. Orbiting the light as the planets orbit the sun. I’m not going out to see what they are yet. I know there will be mozzies and probably other delightful creatures – when I get close enough with the camera.

The little black biters are swarming in the Billinudgel NR. Midges I think they are. They have a very sharp bite, or whatever it is. It has been suggested they are actually inserting an egg or some such beneath the surface of the skin that some days later hatches and causes a terrible itch.

They are too small to see if it is so but some days later there is a terrible itch. It’s an odd thing but the itching seems to reach a crescendo when I go back into the bush, as if the newly hatched can tell when they are home and it’s time to jump ship.

The mozzies are back too with the warmer weather and the abundant wet of the nearby forest, but they’re not a problem yet. As long as I stay out of the darker places it’s ok. They don’t go out on the trails before the sun gets low either. So, from an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset it is relatively mozzie free. As long as the sun shines.


I was driving to the shop and I saw a python crossing the road in broad daylight. It was about five foot long. I stopped to get a closer look and it was unmoved by my presence. Unhurried, quietly, gracefully making its way up the hillside and into the trees. Seeking its way through the foliage, reaching out from a sturdy branch to the wisps of new growth that looked too flexible to give the long heavy snake any traction. A crossing requiring consummate balance, a clearly focused presence.


When I was taking pictures in the NR the other day, standing waiting for the Dragonfly to land, I felt something on my leg. I looked immediately – such things can’t be ignored when there are so many creatures with mechanical and chemical weaponry – and invasive reproductive systems. It was a jumping ant with its long and threatening jaws or mandibles – long pointy defensive and offensive tools at the front of the head.

I haven’t been bitten by one yet but have been told it is painful. This one was carrying a packet of something yellow which, when cropped, looks like a tiny caterpillar. This jumping ant wasn’t doing any jumping. In fact it was having great difficulty navigating over the hairs on my leg – its struggles getting it nowhere fast. So I knocked it off, back to traversable territory.


Another fly got into the house, and got whacked like the first one. This one got up again too.

Instinctive life, it just never gives up.
Copyright Reserved / Mark Berkery

Tagged with: ,


At first this post may seem off theme for my site but someone recently mentioned to me an article he was writing on ridding the world of tyrants. This post was inspired by that – amongst other things.

It is an analogy of how difficult living can be at times. And of the untold and often untellable story of those in the trenches and the cockpits of daily living doing their best to get through, and of those that get through. The ordinary people doing it right and getting back up after the inevitable fall.

We all have a tyrant in us. Some more than others. And in different forms of expression but always first through thought and emotion. Nobody can deny it.

If the world is ever to be rid of tyrants it has to start where I find it first, in the tyranny of emotion and thinking, in me – whoever I may be.

This post is for those that recognise it, as is this site, so read it to the end if you will.


FBTSOMP, it’s the acronym for ‘flying by the seat of my pants’. It’s a euphemism for how close to the ground pilots sometimes had to fly in order to see anything – maybe even feel it, on the seat of their pants. It probably comes from the First World War – the second one too, when there was no radar or none reliable. Often the pilots of crippled English fighter planes from the famous dogfights (aerial battles) with the Germans over the English Channel, especially in the historic Battle of Britain, were trying to find their way home to land.

No radar, the plane was probably damaged from battle and that infamous English fog effectively blinded the pilot. With the occasional encouragement from a distant radio operator – if the radio was still working, and maybe some chance sighting of a landmark in a break in the fog, the pilots often made it home.

Then, when they were fit enough – or even when they weren’t – out they went again. More often than not to die in battle. And the pilots were not only British, they were from all over the world. They didn’t feel heroic or noble, they knew fear until the moment of engagement with the enemy, and exhaustion. They knew loss, suffering of another kind. And no doubt they were always glad to get back home, those that did.

I have seen the movies and I don’t think it was all propaganda. The war was thrust upon the British people by a tyrant with a will to conquer his neighbours, who had at his command a far superior, ready and highly disciplined military machine. And though many battles were lost I believe the British were able to endure because they were ‘right’.

The time was right. The cause was right. And the right man to lead was available for the duration. I was never a student of history but Winston Churchill made some great speeches. One in particular comes to mind. “We shall fight on the beaches..We shall never surrender”. Inspiring stuff.



Walking down a track today through a stand of paperbark trees rising out of a field of reeds, I came to an opening in the woods where a creek ran through. The creek was broad and shallow and the reeds that grew from it were much smaller than in the surrounding field.

Standing there in the shadow of a tree, looking out into the bright sunlit glade that formed about the creek, I could see the shiny threads of silk left by the spiders at the tops of the tall reeds to either side waving freely in the breeze. There was much traffic up to head height, much too-ing and fro-ing of various small flying insects, this way and that at different speeds, patterns and shades of colour. Indications of a certain character.

The occasional dry leaves falling from the treetops, twisting, spiralling, tumbling, flopping and plumb straight down. A large Dragonfly entered my view at speed and so easily took one of these fallings on the wing then, in an instant, released it as he flew, finding nothing of sustenance there. And on his way he went.

I watched him patrolling the clear space above the creek of reeds, to and fro, hovering here and there. Only six feet from me I saw him skim the calm surface of the clear water and leave a wake in it where he took a sup, or a bite.

Then I saw a second Dragonfly enter the stage and join the first in a high speed aerial duet that was dazzling to the eye. It lasted a few seconds before they gracefully parted to go about their solitary Dragonfly business.

A wonderful place. Inside.
Copyright Reserved / Mark Berkery

Tagged with: ,