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Published: March 24th 2019
It's been a hot summer... severe drought in Eastern Australia...record temperatures preventing us venturing West to support drought-torn economies...air-con humming constantly...violent hail and lightning storms flooding occasional relief.
I venture into my Aussie backyard...Berowra Valley National Park...gotta be careful some hiker not report me 'cos I'm creeping through the bush with a camera...up to no good I'd warrant would be the report.
I move like a cat...step by step...flash of movement...stop...head still...eyes darting...sniffing the molten air...smile...extending my telescopic monopod...adjusting my zoom lens...straining for focus...on macro.
A hoverfly zips past then doubles back...hovering in front of my face...zooming away...resting on a twig...my lens up real tight... streaming sweat stinging my eyes...brain screaming for respite...mopping my brow...biting my lip...trying my hardest to not have this critter frightened into flight.
Sun biting my neck...a flash of blue native bee or chrome green wasp...a little fella eyeing me from behind a leaf...another hiding...another flying...two others connecting to mate...to engage in insect sex.
But is there no privacy in these intimate moments?
Heavy breathing...sweating...head coming forward...hiding behind an intrusive lens.
How did I get myself in this position?
For hours peering into bushes...for hours creeping about...the drumming of
cicadas deafening in the scalding heat.
The ultimate turn on.
Returning each time...big red smile on my face.
Sometimes I just want to get into the bush ‘cos it clears my mind…trees whispering…birds trilling or squarking…lizards rustling in the fallen leaves…rocks with memories of eternity.
This time it was maybe ‘cos I felt inspired…camera ready…the enlightening Mini-Beasts Evening in the Bushcare Cottage still ringing in my ears…the rare chrome bright blue ant wasp or bluebottle having slipped from my tissued fingers…burrowing into the brush.
I diverge from the track…lyrebirds rooting…the elusive perfect photo of white fanned feathers yet again obscured from reach.
Then I saw it.
A tiny flash of purple…a diamond shaped 1 cm shriveled flower …on a stalk from a brown furry bud sheath or spathe…a dark blue tongue-like dribble also poking out.
I thought it was a bush orchid…David Hughes our Bushcare trainer having said to look out for them as they are about…visited the plant daily for the next few weeks…intrigued by its reticence…determined to not miss it in bloom…excited at how it turned out.
I think it is a Patersonia Longifolia…a sub-species
of Purple Flag or Native Iris.
But I could only find one on the internet with triple flower heads like this one…each about 6 cm across.
Plenty of pics of single three petal Purple Flags on the internet…but pics of triple-headed blooms? Not so!
On Armistice Day Centenary…11 November 2018…six triple-headed three petal blooms burst forth at first light.
And by dusk the bugle of The Last Post…ashes to ashes…dust to dust…the blooms waved for the last time…shrivelled up and were gone.
Heading daily into the bush in the off-chance a plant may flower is a first for this dancer...but the bush has been my backyard all my life so I reckon its OK.
Knew every track and cave from our place in Lindfield to the Lane Cove River when I was a kid...used to swim in the river back then...wouldn't do it now as too polluted...hope there's something else to make my foray worthwhile.
Hoverfly hanging then darting about...lands on the end of a Casuarina (she-oak) needle...hard to focus...it's 10mm tiny...steady...steady...gotcha...rustle in the leaves distracting me.
A 30mm orange and black hornet wrestling a spider bigger than
Shield Bug peeking at Soldier Beetles going for it
it...sees me creeping closer...rears up with a "back off fella"
which I do...grabs the spider...dragging it...following it as you do..dragging it 25 metres through rough terrain...under bushes over logs..trying to get a clear shot but it's more determined than me...down its hole.
I've got to master this macro caper...so hard to get in focus...what other critter is hanging about?
I'm not a twitcher...haven't got the patience...can't train birds to pose on request...can't wait for an off-chance...or can I?
Didn't I get the clear lyre bird pic after two months of trying?.
Am I crazy to even consider?
It's gotta be even harder to train insects!
Then like a vivid dawn my perspective changed.
Changed... 'cos I met Nigel. Nigel
A skinny tiny critter 10mm long and 2mm wide climbing a pigeon grass stalk...stops...turns...heads onto the stalk seed head...hiding from me...then arrives at the summit...looks at me then surveying the view from way up there..snap snap.
Check my playback focus and smiles all round.
This guy is so tiny but character all over his face...eyes popping...antenna waving...looking a million dollars in his resplendent suit.
Can't see his detail with the naked eye...but macro in focus...Nigel
He is a little fella
is a wow wow wow.
I'm discovering the mini-beast kingdom...invertebrates...a world of wonders...colours, bizarre shapes & tiny faces with expressions that blow my mind...arthropods and insects.
Opening my eyes to a world of bugs I cannot otherwise see...wasps, flies, grasshoppers, beetles, spiders...the smaller the better.
So now I go into the bush...my Aussie backyard...camera and monopod...tissues to wipe my sweaty brow...stalking and still...searching for a flash of colour...a buzz.. a tiny movement.
And if there was a crowd I know they'd be loving it...'cos its mating season for dragonflies and beetles ...even the hover flies are having sex in flight.
But there's only me and them in my Aussie backyard.
Returning each evening...red smile on my face.
Relax & Enjoy,
Dancing Dave P.S. Most of the critters are tiny, tiny and the detail in many macro pics is enlarged further as with the naked eye you cannot see detail. If you click on a pic to further enlarge you may be surprised at what you will then see.
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