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Alan7140

Echidna

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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:

wam7EK3.jpg

(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.

wBtkpmS.jpg

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.

N7IuLXh.jpg

6sgQBhO.jpg

MOvnOUX.jpg

To cap things off she left the scene by heading straight for my boot, and then walking straight over it without even pausing.

mxqbv7L.jpg

Ui3Oizl.jpg

XRSociD.jpg

Best day for me for a while, despite the initial aggravation of the logging.


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That's a great post, Alan! I've never even herd of these creatures before, but glad to have made its acquaintance. :) 

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Thanks, guys. This little one really did make my day - for a totally wild animal nowhere near regular human habitation it was surprisingly unfussed by my presence.

 

One of Australia's unique and ancient evolutionary lines, the echidna is a monotreme which lays its fertilised egg directly into a pouch where the puggle hatches and then not so much suckles but licks up milk on the mother's 'milk patches' for want of a better way of describing the milk excretion areas that substitute for more advanced mammals' nipples.

 

Descended from a common aquatic ancestor to our other unique monotreme (the platypus) it has no mouth as such but a tongue to syphon ants out of their nests via its nostrils...... ick.

 

They really are almost impossible to photograph easily in the wild - I did get led a merry chase through some very thick undergrowth following this one, unbelieving all the while how it really didn't seem to mind being stalked by this paparazzi. Its excursion over my boot was next to unbelievable luck (and a great way to indicate scale). :)

 

X-T1, 50-140/2.8, mostly shot wide open as it was very dark in the ferny undergrowth into which it led me.

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Nice work Alan - thanks for posting this rare and delightful sequence.

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Your persistence has paid off. You took good advantage of the opportunity. 

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There is nothing worse than a brilliant image of a fuzzy concept. - Ansel Adams

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Excellent and informative!  Thanks for sharing your experience!

Edited by merlin
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Fuji X-T2 (2), 16/1.4, 23/1.4, 56/1.2, 90/2, 18-55; X30

http://merlinemrysphoto.com

blog.evening-sun.com

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Awesome experience, thanks for sharing it!

I particularly like the last 2 before it went over your boot

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Regards,

Armando

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Thanks for the comments. :)

 

Armando, those two are my favourites as well - given that there's no way I could move even a millimetre as it walked into frame so I didn't have much choice in framing the shots - I would have loved to have got another more front-on as well but it would have gone to ground in a tight ball at the slightest movement so close to it. Thankfully their hearing isn't the best and the Fuji is quiet enough for it not to have heard the shutter during five I managed at this distance, these two being the best it managed to frame itself in. :)

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great shooting Alan - very fortunate to get that close. Wonderful creature and one of Mrs Mongo's favourites.

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This encounter is so cute. What a life form. There is certainly good in this world. Thank you for letting us share!

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Regenerate green infrastructure. Let Biodiversity rule!

I blog at: http://klimafarm.com/

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I want one to hang out in my yard, cute.

If you have an ant or termite problem - well, you won't with one or two of these around. Trouble is they have tough, sharp claws disproportionate in size to their bodies (you can see one very out of focus clawed foot being planted on my boot in one of the shots above) with which they can tear into the hardest termite mound - or anything that ants inhabit - so having one around could do more damage than said termites.

 

They're not much good to stroke or pet, either, and their intelligence level is at best primordial. :D

 

The bones of the matter:

Echidna_skeleton.jpg

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    • By Alan7140
      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.
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