Nature's Place

New Year?

Not for this little fellow. Probably because he was shot on Xmas day, and it was raining. It is still 2012,yes??? Had to check.

P1060875 - Mark Berkery

What’s this obsession with the marking of time, easter, birthdays, holidays, xmas and now new year? Or is it just a distraction from time, psychological time.

P1060901 - Mark Berkery

Is it just a political and economic opportunity? Or has that just usurped the natural people’s celebration of the passing of the seasons. Because make no mistake, the pollies and business-men only have their own best interests at heart – with the occasional exception, there’s always an exception to make the rule.

Anyway, given the obscenity and sentimentality of modern celebrations I give them a miss. I would rather be writing this, or shooting pix in the field or garden, but certainly not getting inebriated with so-called friends who are gone tomorrow when the headaches set in.

P1060921 - Mark Berkery

Inebriated on my own, now that may be, and everything else out of mind? Feet up and watching a no ads TV program or movie of a night. :)

And now and again going and having a look at what the new night may have brought, moths, spiders, and all …

P1060927 - Mark Berkery

Anyway, I trust you still enjoy the pix, and sometimes the words that go with them.

P1070012 - Mark Berkery

All the best …

Mark Berkery ……. Click any picture to enlarge in a new tab – best in FireFox

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Maternal Instinct

P1060146 - Mark Berkery

The bee hotel referred to in the last post is actually a maternity ward. There are now eight or nine holes filled by the Orange Tailed Bees with eggs and what they need when they hatch. I have also seen the bees dig out the holes after an Ichneumon wasp has visited and taken advantage, by laying her eggs in or on the bee’s eggs.

P1060141 - Mark Berkery

I suppose they are more a resin bee as they line and seal the nests with resin collected from somewhere nearby. Then they finish off with a layer of earth so the hole doesn’t look much different from the surrounding wood. They are very particular about this finishing process and it is the only time to get a shot of them, when they are in the open and fully focused on the nest. And until they finish a nest site they usually sleep in the hole and can be seen pulsing in the night light of a good torch.

P1060532 - Mark Berkery

It is still very early in the year for bees and wasps so I expect there will be ample opportunity to observe the comings and goings about the bee’s ‘holed log’ hotel. And they are not the only bees to take up nesting there but the others are just too fast and small so far, to get any pix.

P1060122 - Mark Berkery

Another curious structure has begun to appear at small holes around the house, and on another log of different wood that I also drilled for nesting creatures. It’s a wasp’s nest to which there is a mud tunnel for an entrance which the wasp takes much time to build. After the wasp is done the tunnel disappears and the hole is plugged with mud.

P1060731 - Mark Berkery

All just going about their business, except for the ubiquitous ants who go about everybody else’s business, it seems – raiding smaller bee’s nests, at a cost. So I make it that the ants can’t have everything by hanging the nests from a rope or chain and make it impassable without wings.

P1060429 - Mark Berkery

Such is living in this little piece of urban jungle.

Mark Berkery ……. Click any picture to enlarge in a new tab – best in FireFox

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Bugs Galore …

This one went to sleep in the Sunflower, no better place to wake up first for an early start to the day.

This one went to sleep in the Sunflower, no better place to wake up first for an early start to the day.

… or, how to attract bugs to your garden so you don’t have to go hunting and can’t say you can’t find any to shoot – with the camera of course … :) You don’t have to be a gardener, sense will do, just don’t think too much.

Bugs need all the same things we do, so it shouldn’t be difficult finding any once the basics are provided – by you and the available but often unknown, unpredictable or hidden nature. These days, after so many years of insecticide and habitat destruction, ignorance of the simple fact of things, nature can do with a little help from friends – people who have some respect for the little things without the need of reward other than the nature itself. That’s the idea anyway.

This one came in the house one night and I caught it when it landed, put it on a Sunflower and got a few shots - no idea what it is, Sawfly maybe ...

This one came in the house one night and I caught it when it landed, put it on a Sunflower and got a few shots – no idea what it is, Sawfly maybe …

Where to start? Put yourself in the creature’s shoes and look at what you need for the basics. They are no different to us, just smaller and it’s a jungle to them, or a desert, but wild and savage either way. We’ve got a piece of earth, no matter how small or barren it is, and depending on what is most obviously absent I would start with that. If it’s shelter that’s missing provide some, in the form of plants and old tree trunks if there are any handy, or anything that will provide shelter from the elements will do, even bricks or just bits and pieces.

Plants need water and so do bugs, so water is necessary, watering the plants and an open and available source which can be as simple as a bucket you keep filled – bird’s love it too – will serve many creatures as long as there is ramp access of some kind, like a stick or other stable buoyant object/s for them to drink and gather from.

Got a good watering as I do the daily rounds, didn't seem to mind much ...

Got a good watering as I do the daily rounds, didn’t seem to mind much …

For food a compost heap of only vegetable matter is a great production ground. Keep it moist and shaded and it will be a centre of life in the garden even if it’s not obviously so. Don’t be too discrimination, the spiders and plant bugs have to have their day, and the garden will eventually find its own equilibrium. Save any plants you can and be generous to the garden and its needs – and it will be generous in return. That’s the way it works, diligence is always rewarded, and you don’t have to be an expert though there’s nothing stopping you if that’s what you want in order to know and understand more.

Flies, love the compost heap. Also attract predators, another form of life in the wild little nature.

Flies, love the compost heap. Also attract predators, another form of life in the wild little nature.

Shelter is essential if the other basics are in place. If there’s nowhere to sleep or rest the bugs won’t stay for long – would you? So the plants are shelter to some bugs, the compost is that to others, you can have a heap of wood in another spot, and then there is the mimicry of specifics such as for bees that I have.

I have an old cut log that I drilled varying sized holes in for all the flying creatures that might take up residence. I had it up for months before any bee took an interest, and then wasps and other flying creatures came along and many holes are now occupied by the next generation.

If I am attending enough I may even see some of these babes emerging.

If you have wings and are the right size, and like holes, this is the place for you - see the bee approaching bottom left ...

If you have wings and are the right size, and like holes, this is the place for you – see the bee approaching bottom left …

One thing the little nature doesn’t need is philosophy, or teaching of any kind. They are instinctively intelligent and don’t need to dwell on anything outside the moment so they are as content as can be, no problem.

One thing I have to watch out for is the Ichneumon Wasp, she parasitises the others nests and that won’t do. So I discourage them, in my way. Just as I discourage parasites of another kind, the human kind …

Mantis, keeps the hungry Grasshoppers in check, naturally ...

Mantis, keeps the hungry Grasshoppers in check, naturally …

Other predators are also attracted to the garden if you give it enough time.

Mark Berkery ……. Click any picture to enlarge in a new tab – best in FireFox

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