There are places in the coastal wetland forest near Wooyung in NSW that have special significance, apparent to the small creatures at least. When I take the time to look it’s not difficult to see why they are special from a purely utilitarian point of view. One such place is where a track cuts through the dunes to the beach. It rises the dune somewhat, cuts into it towards the top and falls down to the beach and the open ocean and sky with low bushes and small trees to either side fanning out and thinning as it resolves to the sandy beach.
A large dragonfly patrols and protects the open space of the track on the forest side of the dunes where the wind dies down after coming in fast through the cutting, carrying with it the forms that are food to the dragonfly. The cutting acts like a funnel to the wind off the sea and anything on it. The dragonfly clearly recognises this advantage, in its own terms. It makes sense to be where there is greatest chance of survival though there are dangers to go with the apparent bounty, being open to the elements, flying sand and things, and predatious birds for instance.
The obvious significance is in the abundance of food carried on the wind and corralled to a narrow passage that ends in a death zone. The wind rises up the dunes and then over the low forest canopy and dumps anything riding it just over the dunes as the track descends to the forest floor, where the dragon waits. Anything riding this swift wind has a good chance of dying here.
Whatever gets past the dominant dragonfly then has to run the gauntlet of the defined space of the track, defined by thick long grass, bushes and dense forest. The track cuts directly inland from the dunes through the forest and along the first hundred metres or so there are more flying predators posted at intervals, each with its own territory that it too guards aggressively, aggression being death to any traveller that gets caught and can’t win out.
Patrolling this stretch of track were more dragonflies, robber flies and a few other large flies I can’t name but did get a few good shots of one, a zebra fly maybe. It had its own territory that it oversaw from various favoured vantage points. It would come to rest on one for a while only to take off again after something of the right size and speed flying within hunting range of it.
I noticed it could see something coming as it took to the air just before the traveller passed a foot or so above its perch. Up it rose as poetic as any man’s word, singing its hunting song, a buzzzing sound to my ear. Trailing the unwary traveller with unwavering tenacity as it dodged this way and that, with singular intent, kill to live.
Some travellers made it into the bush where there is enough cover to presume an easy escape, for now. One way or the other life goes on. Without taking the life of the others the living wouldn’t be. Death, the other side of this, intrinsic, essential to it all. Integrated.
This, inside, is a place of life, wild life. Beauty, wonder, intelligence. It’s a matter of perception and acknowledgement.
© Mark Berkery ……. Click any picture and click again to enlarge