by Keith Ireland
HAVING spent a lot of time photographing in the bush, I have been asked about snakes on a number of occasions. I have seen snakes but, in the main, they seemed happy to avoid me just as I was happy to see them slither away in another direction.
I try to follow the golden rule of staying perfectly still as in most cases, I'm sure that the snake had seen me before I knew it was there.
Once, I was photographing a swan's nest which was out in above knee deep water. The parent birds were well away further down the lagoon so I decided to see if the eggs were still there and if so, take a couple of photos of them. Wading out into the deeper water with camera in hand, a movement caught my eye. To my great concern, a long brown snake was heading directly towards me. I knew I couldn't move quickly enough to get out of the way so I stood firm, lifted my camera to my shoulder to keep it well above the water and just hoped like mad it would go past.
It may have been the movement with the camera but for some reason, the snake stopped about five or six metres from me. It lifted its head and for what seemed like an eternity, watched me. My heart must have been pounding because I remembered reading somewhere that snakes will sometimes climb up on trees or logs extending up out of the water as a place to rest. I was hoping it wasn't considering me as one of those places.
What a relief it was to see it suddenly look away from me and then head off in that other direction.
Incidently, there were six eggs in the swan's nest, all of which hatched successfully.