Nature's Place

Karingal …

*Click on the pictures for a proper look …

is an old scout camp not far from me, with a few dams in interesting terrain, wooded and hilly.

They sure do pick the best spots for their camps. There’s always some trails to ramble and water to sustain the nature.

Though it’s the end of summer, into autumn here already, there’s still a few creatures to be found where conditions permit.

This bug was alone on a leaf by the dam, a youngster by the look of it, with buds for wings. It will probably molt a few times yet.

We molt too, don’t we. By leaving the past behind so the new can be. If we’re lucky.

© Mark Berkery ……. Click on those pictures for a closer look

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Emergence …

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Then it quickly found it’s legs and ran up the tree towards the light, away from the shadow of my lens, born again again.

Walking the edge of the water treatment plant, that borders the local wilds, I saw a strange – even to these experienced eyes – thing.

I couldn’t make it out at first, it looked so oddly shaped, but after a few shots – so I could see closer – it became apparent it was a form of Shield-bug, in the midst of a rarely observed transition.

They outgrow their shell, exoskeleton actually, and periodically have to moult – usually there is a split along the back through which the new form pushes out. A very dangerous time for them, being immobile for the duration and soft, vulnerable – to some degree held back by the tight fit of the old skin.

Springtime is here again and small creatures are emerging everywhere. At first in smaller size, visible by their increasing numbers. With spiders hatching in the hundreds, a feasting of expendable form, everything is living off something else.

A cascade of life and death begins, by which another emergence takes place, those relative few that live to maturity, who make up the cast of earthy characters.

… and I’ll probably get a few pictures of this burgeoning operatic show.

© Mark Berkery ……. Click on those pictures for a closer look
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Canon 70D – Pany FZ50 + G1

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Couldn’t resist …

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A bug from my travels down the local byways.

Just thought I’d post a few samples of each camera, since I’m checking it anyway – in other places.

The same species bug, different individuals at different times. So it’s not really a controlled comparison, just what looks and feels best, for me. Because I’ve had my eye on changing cameras, for improvement of image quality.

I find the old FZ50 the easiest cam to operate, I can do it one handed most of the time and if I drop it I have another in the bag. :-) All shots from this cam are Auto Focus via the (A)rticulating LCD and through an achromat at around 4 to 5″ working distance. Keeper rate is the best at around 90%.

The Pany G1 has an Oly 50/f2 macro lens and same achromat as the others. Focus is manual via the (A) LCD – took some getting used to and isn’t always practical when subject is dark or reflection on LCD is too distracting. Keeper rate is around 30/40%

The 70D hasn’t been set up for macro lighting properly here. Shots by this are AF via the (A) LCD. I find this cam too heavy and can’t hold it steady for long enough – feels awkward. The keeper rate suffers accordingly. It’s a fine camera for everything but macro, for me.

All are JPG’s out of the cam and are post processed in exactly the same way, denoised and sharpened using the same settings.

It’s all entertainment really, not scientific.

They all have their qualities.

Everything is right.

And in its place.

© Mark Berkery ……. Click the pix for a closer look
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A Wave of Wasps

One recent day I noticed all these Ichneumon wasps about. They were flying around checking dark spots on the wood and anything upright. I have seen them before doing this, once, and what happened was the wasp turned round and lowered her pointed end into the darkness and ‘I suppose’ laid an egg, having found something in the darkness to lay it on.

They can smell or otherwise sense with the tip of their tail, very useful that, to a wasp. And it’s not really a tail, it’s an ovipositor, or egg depositor down which she delivers her eggs to a suitable place for growth and development – survival.

That’s what they do when laying time comes, the egg is laid on another creatures laying, such as a grub, and lives and grows on that. Nature doing what it doe, one thing living off another.

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Humans do it too, but they’ve gone mad and feed off each other now. Those movies about people going mad with a rage virus are a metaphor for the truth that seems hidden from most. It’s been happening ever since self reflection caused instinct to warp into emotional self interest.

The way we are. It takes every moments effort to keep that emotion from taking control, as it has with most people. But there’s nothing else worthwhile doing, so …

Into the breach, and see what comes my way …

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

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A Jewel of Harlequins

On the white flowered Hibiscus in the nearby bush is a small herd of bugs, Harlequins they are called, don’t know why – possibly for the distinctive symmetrical markings on the ‘face’. These ones are real beauties; they go through many different colours in their little lives, blues, greens and reds. And there are times when they can be found with developing wings that make them look like something from a futuristic car show, and very elegant.

Anyway, these last days they are this wonderful blue with hues and patches of green and red and iridescent, overlaid on a very purposeful looking form. A very attractive little jewel of the forest.

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You have to know where to find them as they don’t appear on all Hibiscus plants, only a few I know of. And then you have to know how to handle them, with care of course. But they also respond to a kind of attention so it’s possible to get a few shots without disturbing them unduly.

And when they are done sitting I put then back exactly where I find them. This one is on my stick, the one I use for stabilising the camera at times is also good for shooting on.

I am usually in the nature just for a walk these days as the little people are shy or just not around after the drastic weather of the last year, and health permitting – other bugs I am catching are from visiting children, no fun at all, the bugs caught this way.

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It’s a simple pleasure of mine, this walking and seeing or sensing. To see the colours and form, the movement and the life in it all.

And then I go home, to tend the wildy garden I have encouraged and nurtured.

Just for a while now.

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

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Dry Time

The long year of rain that washed the bugs away has been followed by a long season of dry, and few bugs are emerging that I can find, not even the Ticks. I had anticipated something of the sort with my gardening work, lots of seeds sown and plants watered with a compost area for bugs to eat and congregate in. The Possum likes the fruit as well. So it’s not all void of creatures to enjoy, albeit tiny creatures mostly.

Even so, everywhere I go there are maturing well fed spiders. It looks like food a plenty but could be a survival strategy, get a net up to catch what you can while there is any catching to be done. But we’ll see how things unfold.

What is coming can be predicted in the big picture, more or less, but the details are unknowable in their timing and context. That wonderful unknown.

There is nothing wrong with there being so few bugs, it’s just different. Last year they were so plentiful at the same times there are few or none this year.

The weather is very different this year, wetter, colder, windier and dryer at different times. And still nature is what it is behind, unmade, of a greater power than man, waving in time.

The one grace of existence, the unmade shining through.

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And here are a couple pix anyway. What a little wonder. And no sign of hunger.  :)

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

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Petals of Pearl

I’ve been seeding the garden with all sorts for a year or so, not knowing what may grow, and every now and then a little wonder appears through the overgrowth. This one has been budding for about a week and finally opened yesterday, some – half of the petals anyway. And today it opened up completely to the spring sunshine.

It’s a little beauty and I’ve been working it to see what happens, image-wise. That’s one of the things I love about nature and photography, I never know exactly how a shot is going to picture – there’s the shot and then there’s the picture produced. And I don’t want to know.

A wonderfully creative way to spend a few minutes, or hours, in sense. To see what a flower looks like and is. The creases and shadows on the white that give it its texture, the shape of the petals that give them their magical quality. And the yellow, heart of the flower, giving up to the prince of light – the Sun.

Yellow face I’ll call it, in a halo of pearly white.

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It doesn’t have to ‘make’ sense, only to be it.

Whatever that means.

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

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Ready or Not …

… Keep your place or you’ll be caught! It was a game we played as kids, hide and seek if I remember right. And I went on playing it for decades after, in one form or another.

Now I don’t play any more, because I’m not so inclined, and you’ll have to go back and close your eyes to count some more. That’s what the seeker used to do, count up to a number and shout out – Ready or Not …

Have you ever seen any bugs play this game? Of course it’s not the same, they don’t count, not like us anyway. But they do play, why not. Why would a living creature, however small, be excluded from play.

Just look at the design, the colours. So much ingenuity and no play, absurd. And when they are in action it can plainly be seen they enjoy life.

That’s what I see, it’s the way it is, until it is some other way.

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

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Snake in the Grass

I was out walking through the tall dry grass one recent sunny day and was about to put my foot down when I caught a sense of something out of place – made me stop dead.

A shape that only one creature I know makes, a long and perfect double S. It was obviously a snake from the go but the oddest thing is it didn’t move when I nearly trod on it.

I stopped mid-stride and pulled back slowly and tested with my stick, an indispensable tool. When I was satisfied it wasn’t going to strike I got closer for a rare look at a snake in the wild.

It still didn’t move and I saw its eye was glazing over, a little milky, a sign of death long over. Inspecting it closely from head to ‘foot’ I could see what happened, why it died on this spot.

Its tail was wrapped in a dried out stalk of the long grass that grows here. The grass and tail were intertwined the way you see snakes mating on tv, sometimes, and it looked like the snake was trying to pull away.

But instead of untwining as snakes can, this one tried to pull straight off the grass and the grass cut into its tail, down to the bone, tighter and tighter the more the snake struggled.

And that’s how it died, struggling to live. Held firmly to the spot by a thread of grass wound tight around its tail.

Strange that the snake would have been caught so easily but that’s nature, you can’t take nature for granted.

It was a perfect death anyway. And a perfect life.

Who’s to say otherwise?

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