Face to face

Something that someone said the other day reminded me of a close encounter that I enjoyed immensely, in Australia, almost exactly four years ago.  It’s been haunting me ever since, and the only way I can ease the pressure of the memory is to share it with you.  I was traveling with a friend and colleague from Melbourne to Canberra.  Here is an excerpt from my journal:

By the time we reached the town of Cann River, we had come some 500 km since leaving Melbourne, and we turned north.  Several immense thunderheads were building, but none were in our immediate vicinity or quite in our path.  Still, there was a good chance that we’d have a nice sunset, so we were trying to keep going.  While I was studying the sky eagerly, Steve suddenly hit the brakes and cried, “Echidna!” and he backed up hastily about 50 yards.  He’d spotted the little fellow (actually a pretty good-sized one) moving through the eucalyptus litter a few feet off the side of the road; luckily, they move very slowly, so that we were able to get truly up close and personal.  As soon as it saw us moving toward it at close range, it curled up into its classic defensive ball, but when we made no further threatening moves, it soon uncurled and resumed its slow pace, permitting me to catch it with its little face exposed.  Tempting as it was to try to pick it up, I did not,  for they are solid creatures and fairly heavy for their size, and the quills are extremely sharp, though they do not easily detach, as do those of the porcupine. 

I lay on my stomach and got right down to its level and, after I’d made a few portrait shots, Steve followed suit with his little camera, and I made one more of him in the same position that I’d adopted earlier.  And then we drove on happily with the sun setting behind us.


About krikitarts

Welcome to Krikit Arts! I'm a veterinarian; photographer; finger-style guitarist, composer, instructor, and singer/songwriter; fisherman; and fly-tyer. Please enjoy--and please respect my full rights to all photos on this Website!
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25 Responses to Face to face

  1. Frank Wallace says:

    What an unusual critter. I had never heard of it before.

    • krikitarts says:

      It is indeed unusual–and totally fascinating, as are most of the Australian critters. It’s a marsupial, so the young develop in a pouch, and I hope the spines don’t develop until after the young leave the pouch!

  2. Helen says:

    You run into them every so often. In Canberra, I found two of them, and it may have been they were about to start breeding. I like the pictures of the sunset too.

    • krikitarts says:

      Hello, Helen, and thank you for letting me know that you like my new post. Echidnas breeding–now there’s a process worthy of some contemplation. It must be a very delicate, prickly business, with a lot of patience and cooperation, as are most good things in life. Where do you live? Do you have a website? Nice to meet you!

  3. Awww, he’s so cute and what an amazing experience :).

    • krikitarts says:

      They really are cute, aren’t they? They look so much like hedgehogs and porcupines, but there’s no relation whatsoever. What a phenomenal diversity of life we have been blessed with. There’s no end to the wonder and the fascination. Happy thought, indeed!

  4. kerryl29 says:

    Great images and a terrific story!

    • krikitarts says:

      Thanks very much, Kerry–great to hear from you again. It’s strange, and wonderful, how a word or a phrase can reawaken a memory like this. I’m sure you will have many great flashbacks from your fabulous westen landscape adventures–I’ve loved following them!

  5. A close encounter of the spikey kind…..great little creature and great shots. You learn something new everyday – thanks

  6. Meanderer says:

    What a great shot of a fascinating little creature. I hadn’t heard of them before either. I like its colour markings.

  7. Victoria says:

    Lovely images, reminds me of home LOL

  8. niki says:

    What a lovely little creature ! I like the colors…beautiful and fascinating. I also love the last picture with the tree in the sunset…well done!

    • krikitarts says:

      The eucalypts really are beautiful trees, graceful and elegant, and make wonderful foregrounds for sky studies. And there are something like 111 (or was it 150?) species.

  9. seekraz says:

    What an opportunity to get a shot of such an uncommon creature…and what beautiful sunset photos…. Well-done, Gary. :)

  10. krikitarts says:

    I love the critters of Australia. It seems that the more you look into them, the stranger they get. As for sunsets, they’re sort of like puppies and kittens: No two are ever quite the same, and I never get tired of them.

  11. Adrian Lewis says:

    Fascinating creature! Adrian

  12. krikitarts says:

    Yes, it certainly is. It’s like it’s put together out of mis-matching parts.

  13. cynnermack says:

    Oh how I love this story! Beautiful place; one that I would love to visit one day! Great sunset images and I your “spiny” friend is so cute :-)

    • krikitarts says:

      Australia offers amazing opportunities around every corner. My favorite part, if I had to pick one, is Tasmania, and I should really plan a dedicated series. But there are so many variations, it’s hard to pick only a few. And, yes, my brief acquaintance with my “spiny friend” is one I will always treasure.

  14. Just a fantastic shot of this beautiful creature! Wow, I would love to have that image as my screen saver. Really just a perfect shot!

  15. Winnie says:

    Echidna…such a thoughtful face, I wonder what’s on his/her mind. I, too, love a colorful sky.

    • krikitarts says:

      The foremost thought was almost certainly puzzlement as to what in the world this large creature was doing, prostrating himself so close to it and directly in its chosen path to get to wherever it was going when we spotted it. And yes, that was a wonderful sunset, a fitting end to a very adventuresome and rewarding day.

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