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15 November 2020
The entire Lifestyle Wimmera Edition 6 is available online. READ IT HERE!
By Dean Lawson
From the initial engagement, when the protagonist launched a surprise attack, the aerial dogfight evolved into a dramatic display of flying skill and strategy.
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Diving out of the sun, an initial attacking run generated a sudden panic that seemed to consume the sky as startled targets scattered and dived for cover.
Despite being caught unaware for a brief moment, one of the defender’s response was just as dramatic as he gathered composure, strengthened resolve and immediately went on the counter-attack.
What happened next was a series of high-speed sharp-angled turns, tricky manoeuvres, dives, weaves and climbs as each adversary, gripped in an intense battle, attempted to gain a winning advantage.
The attacker obviously outgunned his target in size and firepower but his opponent fought back intensely, refusing to give an inch until a reinforcing squadron arrived. Eventually there was a stalemate as opposing forces withdrew to fight another day.
Such was the drama that unfolded in a humble Wimmera back-yard, where the prize on offer for the victor wasn’t command of a country or continent – but a nectar-rich gum tree that had come into heavy flower.
The assault from the aggressive wattle bird on a plucky family of New Holland honeyeaters occurred time after time, day after day, in what was an impressive display of nature.
For many of us, periods of isolation and lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic have helped rekindle our observation skills – reopened our eyes to the everyday life around us that we often take for granted.
It is amazing what happens when all the work commitments and luxuries of modern life get turned upside down and we need to keep ourselves entertained without necessarily the company of others. Our televisions, digital games, music and even books can all start to get a bit tired and we feel a powerful urge to venture outside and switch into ‘observation and experience’ mode.
The ‘experience’ might involve simply getting hands dirty in the garden, the ‘observation’ is something else altogether.
It’s about zeroing in on the hoverfly buzzing above a flower, a praying mantis using its rare insect skills to move its head independently to follow your every move, a pair of rosellas checking out a prospective nesting sight, a spider sweeping across its web to capture an unsuspecting moth, or blue-tongued lizard emerging from the rose garden.
This power of curious observation is instinctive in young children and somewhere along the path of ‘growing up’ many of us inadvertently distance ourselves from its natural magnetism.
The Weekly Advertiser graphic designer and amateur photographer Kelly Laird is an example of someone who, apart from being naturally interested in wildlife, has occasionally found herself becoming consumed in what makes the birds, animals, bugs, plants and flowers of where she lives tick.
She has used isolation and limited opportunities to travel any great distance to use her camera to capture what is naturally happening around her.
The result is a growing and stunning collection of ‘back-yard’ wildlife features or moments that when put into perspective represent an amazing snapshot of the ‘other’ life in the Wimmera.
Kelly said the Wimmera was rich in life.
“We are very lucky to live in a beautiful part of the world that is filled with such amazing flora and fauna,” she said.
“I am not an expert in either of those things – or photography – but definitely appreciate discovering something new and wonderful every time I go out with my camera – across to the Grampians, Mt Arapiles, the lovely Wimmera River at Dimboola – even in my own back yard.
“Taking photos of wildlife is relaxing and it involves exercise. Bonus!
“I might only get one good picture out of 100 every time I go out, but that’s what makes it worth it.”