My focus becomes so swallowed up by living, breathing detail - whiskers, feathers, eyes, scales, form, movement, behaviour - that I miss out on the bigger picture.
The environment in which an animal lives is the canvas upon which its very life is painted into, and observing this relationship can offer as much beauty as the best art gallery.
Yesterday's journey around the shores of Lake Somerset, a 52km long artificial swelling of the Stanley River, allowed me to ponder this bond between wild animals and their surroundings further.
My eyes were drawn to contrasts, such as the way in which this waterbird sits juxtaposed against a towering Hoop Pine (Araucaria cunninghamii) forest in the background.
|Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)|
"Fish Out of Water"
Or here, where a Darter (Anhinga melanogaster) sits on a solar-powered boating beacon. Take away the 20th century technology and the hazy grey hills in the distance could be straight out of a Colonial-era painting from 200 years ago.
|"Ancient and New"|
Some sights made me smile. I found a clever Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys) using a waterside bush as though it were a beach umbrella on this scorching hot day.
Other views produced feelings of melancholy. We have altered the environment to such a significant degree that our wildlife persists in an isolated, precarious state. One cleared forest or one severe drought can change everything.
|Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus)|
We humans like to consider ourselves highly-evolved, but there are masters of the air that make a mockery of even our finest of aircraft, let alone our cumbersome bodies.
|Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus)|
"Master of Air"
Such superior beings take up their rightful place on a throne of sorts, projecting high up into the element they have bested, all while looking down on lesser creations below.
Just when I had become complacent with the imagery of lone birds against symbolic landscapes, a new sight confronted me.
|"A Numbers Game"|
Many hundreds of Little Black Cormorants (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris) are flocking together on the Stanley River right now and this was just one snapshot of one section. The black 'island' jutting into the river bend is actually a tightly-packed flock of these birds. They are likely to be seeking refuge here from other drought-stricken districts, and to me it is symbolic of the active relationship that they have with the environment. Tough times have hit the countryside, but these Cormorants will react to and 'fight back' against the circumstances they have been placed into.
Where the environment is concerned, there is always an interplay between cause-and-effect happening. This is something which one animal in particular - us! - would do well to remember, lest we spoil the bigger picture once and for all.