“What are you looking for?”
It’s a question I get asked a lot, usually as I’m walking past an outdoor seating area in my rainboots, flashlight and camera in hand. People see me peering between roots, gazing up into the trees, and shuffling my feet through dead leaves. Curious, they ask this simple question, but for me the answer isn’t so easy. Nor is it satisfying for them. I usually answer: “whatever’s there.”
The thing is, I’m not looking for anything. At least, I don’t have a specific target in mind. I’m not so much searching as I am, in technical terms, “pokin around.” I’m not a predator on the hunt, I’m a dog with its nose in the dirt. A cat staring out a window. I’m just flexing my senses, observing my surrounding, and relying on the jungle not to disappoint. Which it usually doesn’t.
That’s not to say some times I don’t have expectations. And there are some times I’m deliberately checking likely spots to see specific animals, even individuals. I’ve had birds return to nests at regular hours, or lizards that pick the same sleep site that they’re practically neighbors. And snakes, well, it’s fair to say I’m never not looking for snakes.
I know to stake out water holes for frogs, or fruit trees for monkeys. There are patterns here once you know what to look for. And you don’t have to go far to find something interesting, not out here. Hell, sometimes people will catch me patrolling the outsides of buildings or garbage bins in the evenings for nocturnal wildlife. And if they ask, my answer is always the same:
I’m looking for whatever’s there.