An outing to the forest today was killed by logging operations closing the road I had intended to travel, but fortune smiled anyway as, while unsuccessfully seeking a bypass I stumbled on this little creature.
Anyone who has crossed paths with an echidna will usually see them from a moving car at about this distance:
(beats me how people manage to run them over - they're not so fast or big that you can't easily drive around them...)
If they manage to stalk one, they will find it generally half dug-in to softer ground presenting just a very spiny ball as soon as the echidna's very sensitive nose detectors pick up any vibration from movement.
I'm going out on a limb in saying this was a female, and given the time of year she was likely still carrying this season's puggle in her pouch, because no matter the noise I made when approaching her she only assumed the defensive position for a minute at most before resuming her voracious search for food - that being the other reason I assume she was carrying a young one still suckling in the pouch.
I have tried on numerous occasions to photograph echidnas in the wild, but never have I got one that allowed me so close as to get shots like these without firmly burying that little face and pointy nose/mouth well into the ground.
To cap things off she left the scene by heading straight for my boot, and then walking straight over it without even pausing.
Best day for me for a while, despite the initial aggravation of the logging.