One of the things I love most about fieldwork is that you come to know your field site and its inhabitants really well. I have very fond memories of working as a field assistant in Florida and seeing the resident water snake (Nerodia fasciata pictiventris) and cottonmouths (Agkistrodon piscivorus) almost every day. I even saw one of the water snake’s babies next to her shortly after she gave birth, and we had a touching moment my last day in the field. So far there are two resident spiders near one of my favorite spots in the forest, a 7-legged huntsman spider (Neosparassus sp.) who is currently still quite shy with me and a giant orb-weaver (Eriophora transmarina).
Many moments go unphotographed, so I’ll share a brief encounter from just a couple of hours ago tonight. I turned off my head torch to take a break, and as my eyes adjusted to the moonlit forest I heard an animal charging towards me. I turned on my light, and realizing it was some sort of dog, I said “hey” firmly. The dog stopped abruptly about three meters in front of me, then immediately turned and ran off into the forest. In retrospect, it was likely a dingo! … and it probably thought I was an injured waterfowl as I moved through the bushland in the darkness. At that moment, my first concern was about the gravid frillneck lizard I had with me, and my second worry was that a pack of dogs might join the first one. My third worry was that tonight was a full moon and maybe it was a werewolf. Hopefully I will have more encounters with the dingos soon and manage to snap a quick photo.
Photographed in situ