Find and Photograph an Australian Echidnea

Photographing Australian wildlife is fraught with many interesting problems. Most of our wildlife lives in the bush, an environment that is either burnt to the ground or overgrown to the point of strangulation. Australia also has land covered in tree-stumps from over-zealous farmers who try to live on lands where water accumulates only where plants grow the tallest and strongest.

Yet every so often an opportunity presents itself that must be taken before it disappears. Occasionally animals stick a nose out of the thicket, take a wander into the open and seek out food and water. It’s these moments that are seldom seen nor captured on film. Read on to discover my good fortune.

Macro Zoom

A few months back I was photographing upon Kangaroo Island whilst my wife and mother-in-law were removing frames of bee’s from hives. I had my 70-300mm Canon Zoom lens attached so that I could keep out of sting-range, yet close enough to capture the hairs on the bee’s hind leg.

With the truck alongside filled with spare empty frames and all the necessary paraphernalia (including a fire extinguisher, the all important tool when photographing in the Australian bush), my bag of lens was close at hand. I was glad of this after what happened next…

Elly the Australian Echidnea chose that moment to clamber out of her well-hidden home and waddle her way up between the wooded area. The tall trees acted as both a wind-break and a fortress. The fallen trees, both axed and natural-felled were the walls of her fortress. They also supplied the supplements to her diet that she cherished most. Her long nose holds a nose that spits into the cracked areas of the wood, seeking ants and bugs upon which to feast.

Her hunger filled, she opted to step out into the open and clambered over a large log, exposing herself to anyone watching. Thinking she was alone, she didn’t look left toward the giant white-metal wall (the door of the truck), so she just continued on her way.

“Oh my, look, an Echidnea!”, yelled my wife. I’d been photographing the distant horizon beyond the bee-workers, observing how a large gum tree looks great against a blue sky. I’d switched to my 50mm wide angle for the landscape shots, so had to quickly run around to the passenger rear door of the truck to change lens’. Thinking I wouldn’t get close enough, I opted for my 70-300mm Canon ZoomMy wife’s older model doesn’t have IS). I’m so glad I chose to buy this lens, it gives better image control on both windy days and moving targets. (But I’d sure like the Sigma 50-500mm!)

Jumping a rusty wire-fence, I landed in the twigs of a dry-underbrush. Before I could blink, the echidnea had rolled tight into a ball, its spikes high into the air to protect from attackers. I didn’t want to disturb the beautiful animal, but I did want some shots of it’s face, so I decided to bide my time.

Positioning myself as quietly as humanly possible (I bet the echidnea has formidable hearing), I found myself sitting in an ideal location. The Echnidea was encircled by fallen logs that v-shaped into an area that would be difficult to escape. Sitting with my knees close to my chin, my zoom lens sat high and stable. Aiming at the back of the valley of fallen wood, I sat very quietly.

Within a minute, the ball of brown spikes began to move, unravelling its spiral. It’s four-legs revealed, a snout emerged long and black. Very quickly it resumed hunting food in the thicket, yet always sniffing the wind around, presumably seeking the location of the noise-maker.

Keeping quite still, I shot a round of binary-film to capture the details of that cute little face. To be honest, these first few shots were my best – because I swear it heard the click-click of my Canon EOS 400D as it shot each frame. No matter.

Echidnea

A foot slipped in the brush, and I crushed a dozen twigs beneath my left foot. Holding my breathe, I watched the echidnea’s next move. It sat without curling up, but its nose was high in the air determining the direction of the noise. Happy when it did not repeat, it resumed activities. Snuffling around the ground, digging up the twigs, it was surely finding delicious delights in the foliage.

Eventually I had to move. Pins and needles were shooting up my left leg from sitting in the one position for over fifteen minutes. Thankfully my colleagues were very quiet in their bee-keeping, so they were not disturbing me at all. As I stood to regain feeling, yes, more thicket broke under foot … causing the Echnidea to move a little faster away.

Somehow my idea came into fruition. It moved into the corner of the larger logs, entrapped by the bottle-neck. I moved in slowly, forever aiming my lens at her. She reached the end of the valley, realising its mistake and turning around, the nose exposed … click click click click. I was almost smiling at my good fortune. Yet again she heard the sounds of my camera and my feet, so turned and dug deep.

Echidnea

So now I decided to take a few shots in my signature style. Ignoring the possibility of what the echidnea might do to my ankles, I stood right along side her, but behind the safety of a mallee-tree and photographed her back. Draped with deadwood her bright orange spikes were distinct against light-brown organic landscape. Wild-wheat grew everywhere that deadwood would let it. When combined together, the echidnea spikes are a welcome contrast.

Linked within the text above are photographs of landscapes and echidnea’s, all upon my flickr gallery. Below are two shots that I liked so much I have made them available to purchase as cards, laminations and frames.


Print-Size: Medium (457mm x 305mm) \ Frame: Black \ Matte : Bright White \ Frame-stye: Box \ Price : AU$143.00 .


Print-Size: Medium (457mm x 305mm) \ Frame: Black \ Matte : Bright White \ Frame-stye: Box \ Price : AU$143.00 .

Extra

Found whilst researching for this article: The Most Popular and Favourite DSLR Lenses

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