Nature's Place

Death of a Dragon


In the cold light of the cloud darkened swamp mozzies swarm. I suspect they only swarm where there is a chance of a feed and that’s how they recognised me today, as potential food, by scent or sense of some kind. Hunger drives all in existence, for this or that, for survival. The only effective deterrence I know of is in a spray can, and don’t forget the hat. If there is a hole in the hat and it hasn’t been sprayed a mozzie will find it and inject such an itch, they can be big ones here and they are as persistent as life itself. Instinctively so.

Enough rain has fallen in a few days to flood the forest and surrounding area. This is tropical rainforest/coastal wetland/mangrove swamp terrain after all. Walking in the place is precarious since the wooden boardwalks are also slippy from soaking up the water, slippery as mud. It pays to respect the changed conditions. A shorter stride, planting the foot vertically, more controlled movement keeps the body upright. Or one can always go for an unplanned swim in the creek that is full and fast right now.


I was shooting a golden Dragonfly a few days ago in an area of bush an hour or so before sunset. It was by the water but not on it, a huge dam, and the tracks were only infrequently trodden so the going was good body work, nothing too repetitive, an occasional scramble. The colours of the setting sun were soft and warm and the dragon was available from many angles which I took good advantage of. It was darkening quickly and I was taking what was probably the last of the shots when through my camera I saw the creature disappear in a flash of action too fast to register the detail. I was quick to see outside the cameras frame the dragon I was photographing was actually taken by another dragon, a green one, and I suspected some kind of play or mating. I had never seen a golden Dragon and a green one together before.

I could see my dragon was taken from behind and in the others firm embrace, and when I followed to where they came to rest I was amazed to see the kidnapper eating my dragon head first as he struggled to get free, pawing backwards at the intruders eyes with his long thorny legs. It was a vain effort but an effort nonetheless and after a few minutes the struggle ceased as the head disappeared into the green dragons mouth and belly, to expose the flesh of the torso and all the muscle that makes a Dragon so adept at flying. That’s life. Dragons eat dragons, now I know, if I didn’t before.

At a clearing down by the waters edge the still bright sun was hot and dazzling, leaving blind spots in my vision where I couldn’t help but see the sun’s reflection while looking out for the variety of Dragons that inhabit this area. It is a miniature aerial battleground where many kinds of dragon chase one another in a flashing of wings and deft maneuvering by all concerned. It is a sight to see Dragons flying in tandem being chased by others and chasing too, all in their colours softened and highlighted by the light and against the clear calm reflective water, perfectly synchronous.

The famous dogfights of The Battle of Britain over the English Channel would have been training for what goes on here, poetic aerial ballet.

And the victors fed.

© Mark Berkery ……. Click any picture and click again to enlarge

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Hidden Treasure


To find the nature I haven’t been to before I often just look at the map for the green places. That’s what I have been doing since moving to the Redlands in SE Brisbane. When I find a place worth exploring I usually do it in stages, the obvious paths first, then off the beaten. Every place has its character, an inarticulate quality that is really a matter of perception and I have to be still enough inside to discern it.

Point Halloran is not far from where I live now in Victoria Point. It is a mangrove swamp of a headland jutting out into Moreton Bay. On only one side there are houses and the other is given to nature. The nature side has been made accessible with boardwalks across the wet and with made paths. These walkways and paths cut through a waterway, swamp and forest that border some impassable terrain. People don’t go there and that is its quality, here on the edge of Brisbane is pristine nature.

Few people use these tracks. If you don’t live here you would probably never know about this place. I had to go looking for it to find it. And having found it one thing leads to the other. The walk referred to above is short and easy, and along the way are a few spots that tend to define its character. One is where the boardwalk crosses a metre above a weir for about 30 metres, and is bordered on both sides from a metre or so away by tall plants. On one side is a small runoff lake where birds and flowers grow and on the left is where nature takes full control as the water spreads out into the fields of tall brush, grass and mud where only wild creatures roam. The Dragonflies love it, delighting in their mastery of the air as they perform the Dragon Dance, what Dragons do. There are blues and reds, yellows and greens, and they are wonderful to watch as they play and hunt in the afternoon sun, down this busy canyon through nature.

Another place along the track is where a few large bush rocks have been scattered across an old entrance. The water pools shallow here, crystal clear, and the hot bright Australian sun beats down on the beautifully golden coloured stone where the magnificent sparkling Dragons perch. An easy, restful place, where you have to wait for something to happen. And happen it does, in this place of clarity. Whoever ‘designed’ this place had an affinity for the simple beauty of nature, it has been returned to an expression resembling its original state, and with ease of access.


Having been to this place a few times, enough to get to know it and see the telltale signs of another entry to the huge reserve, I went exploring again.

At the very edge of this civilisation there is a walkway that roughly hugs the contours of the Eprapah creek. It’s a tidal creek and the water is muddy as a mangrove swamp would have it. While exploring along the banks I heard a bubbling on a bend where water enters it, a lovely sound to me, water bubbling over stones that never move. The sound of birds that belong here echoed in the afternoon shadows, and I saw a blue kingfisher dive from its perch and dart into the trees on the other side of the water. Nature is at home here, there is peace here, to be acknowledged.

There were some striking cardinal red berries on a bush and at another place the Dragonflies were many. I was standing on the bank at a bend in the creek where there is a clearing of the normal growth. The bank was twenty foot high and looked down on the opposite bank, which was the beginning of the swamp, about seventy feet away. I was on the eastern side late in the afternoon and the young dragons were feasting on the small flying creatures that only come out in the coolness of the day. There were as many Dragons as I have seen in one place, going this way and that, taking their food on the wing.  Lace wings glistening in the sunlight against the darkness of the opposite banks shadow. A dance of life in the open air above the water in the light of the closing sun, with a certain urgency. Well fed is more likely to survive the night prowlers, and start the day in readiness.

Nature does what is needed as it is needed, now, instinctively. A redness here, a dying there, a flowing of water, flashing of colour, sunshine, a cooling breeze.  And flight, amazing flight. Nature is, there is no was in it, and no future. That’s the peace of it, peace of mind. That’s the sense of it.

© Mark Berkery ……. Click any picture and click again to enlarge

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The Rellie’s


That’s slang in Aus for relatives. In case you didn’t know.

Moving to a new place involves a lot of things but seeing new nature and meeting new creatures, the relatives, is what I am concerned with here. Eprapah, the name of the scout grounds down the road, is apparently old Hebrew meaning bountiful or fruitful. Nature is surely that.

Around the house the most striking change is the Geckos. They came here to Aus in a container from Thailand, so they say, and never looked back. Nature never looks back. They loved the place so much they have populated the entire coastal region of Brisbane, evicting the indigenous Gecko along the way. They do love the light to which the other insects are attracted, instinctively clever fellows, and fast. And they can walk on ceilings upside down, amazing that. These Geckos are not shy, there’s a baby one two foot above my head right now waiting for something to move so it can eat.

They often track across the flyscreen as I look out the window, stacatto gait, going this way and that. Not a lot of colour in these fellows but look at those fingers, two kinds, stickers or grippers and hooks. Intelligence has given them an advantage, as it does in the little niches of survivability.

There is some colour in the woods, a lovely greeny yellow – in the setting sun – trumpet flower, a small wild passionfruit flower, a white flower with pink-purple spots. And a host of others, including the creatures – cicadas, dragonflies, flies, butterflies and company. And an elephant beetle.


There is a flowering bush in the garden, a big red showy one. I had to laugh. I saw this small black bug, a young shield bug maybe, making its way along one of the petals. It had a little yellow dot attached to one foot and I wondered what it might be. Then I noticed the stamen/anthers and thought it must have been feeding. I wanted a picture of it feeding on the yellow stuff so I put it back where I thought it had come from but it was not so. After it climbed out of the pollen jungle it was obvious why this creature would avoid the place like the plague. The pollen? balls stuck to its feet and it could no longer walk in a balanced way. It kept slipping because the pollen was sticking to its soles but sliding on the other surfaces. After a while I took pity on it, the predicament I had got it into, and watered it down to wash away the pollen. Then off it went into the other jungle of nooks and crannies of the deck around the old Queenslander of a house. Not a sign of recognition, or complaint.


On a moonlit summer’s night the breeze comes across the cool water from the islands to wash my face and arms as I walk along the shore. The sound of it in my mind overlapping all others. In my vision grey clouds play around the near full moon as they sail swiftly west. The grass a soft carpet beneath my feet. A simple pleasure it is to be in the sense of nature, my nature.

© Mark Berkery ……. Click any picture and click again to enlarge

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