During my last outings into the Australian bush (before my city was put in lock down) I was fixated on spotting an echidna. I know they are around where I’m walking because I can see their scratching in the ground where they’ve been using their tiny paws to dig for ants and insect larvae.
I’ve seen them in the wild in the past so I know to look for them moving slowly across grass with their distinct sway and wobble. Their spikes blend in very well with brown and gold grasses in drier environments so if they’re not moving I’m probably not going to see them. I need a combination of focus and luck to see one.
Rather than actively seeking them out I’ve been increasing my chances of encountering one. If I was the type of person to aggressively hunt for them, I’d go out at dawn, go off trails and search longer in areas where I can see they’ve been eating.
But apart from greatly increasing my chances of stepping on a tiger snake, this would lead me to trample on ground where humans aren’t needed or expected and frightening a number of animals, including the echidnas. That would be destructive.
I want nature to have a say when I see my next echidna. I’ll keep a look out during my bushwalks and hope. I now feel like it’s one of those things that will happen when I stop trying so hard.
With a lack of a real echidna, I used a recent practice session to paint the one depicted on our five-cent coin. Despite having these coins in my possession my whole life, I never focussed on it for long. Now I think it’s a bit strange it shows an echidna on its back. I certainly hope I never find one in that position. This rendition is about 18cm wide.