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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