Travel photography: USA
Wildlife - Small Game and Macro
October 1, 2016
This year I felt it was finally the time to do a big trip far away from home. On an epic two month long 8000 km road trip I set out to discover and photograph the American southwest. As you can imagine I brought home quite some material that I would like to present on this site over the next months. Due to the sheer amount of content I will split up my experiences into various articles and galleries.
The USA differs from Europe in many ways. The first and probably most striking dissimilarity to any country in Europe is its massive extent. Due to its huge size basically every climate zone and every kind of landscape is present. Especially for photographers this means almost limitless possibilities – if you are willing to drive. Landscape photography was one of the most important reasons I travelled to the states and you can see my results in future articles.
American cities were typically carefully planned from their inception on a previously more or less undeveloped area. This reflects in their typical rectangular layout with streets in the directions of north/south and east/west. While this is very practical and easy to navigate it gives them a quite generic feel. In addition to the fact that they are comparatively young the unique flair of that is typical for European towns is mostly absent. This is also visible in my cityscapes that only make up a small part of my images of this trip. I will also post them in an article further down the line.
Wildlife on the other hand is abundantly present. For me it was amazing how many wild animals can be observed in the US that have gone extinct in most of Europe a long time ago. It just makes a huge difference that people did not have so much time to kill everything that moves (the normal human response to living things) than they had in Europe. The example that amazed me the most is that it is totally normal and frequent to look up to the sky and see large birds of prey while here in Europe any wild bird of prey is a rare and exciting discovery. Wildlife was the other main reason for my trip and that of course reflects in my pictures. I'm planning on releasing three wildlife-related articles in this series.
In this article I'd like to focus on smaller and less spectacular wildlife – to build up some excitement so to say.
While not as magnificent or impressive as larger species, rodents regularly provide some of the cutest pictures you can get.
Pikas are especially well known for their haying behavior. During the summer months the small mammals collect various grasses and weeds and pile them up in the sun for drying. The hay is then taken into the burrow as a food source for the winter months. Pikas do not hibernate and therefore need an ample food supply.
Marmots live in colonies that consist of up to twenty individuals. They are hunted by a wide variety of predators and usually have one individual on the lookout which will whistle loudly to warn its family members.
Especially mule deer and white-tailed deer are very common and can be seen basically everywhere where there is woodland.
This was really not a birding trip to me and I just got some occasional snapshots. There will be some more birds (also in flight) in a later article.
Bighorn sheep are common in mountainous regions of most of the western United States. Especially the rams are characterized by their large horns that can reach a weight of up to 14kg.
Warm climate zones are usually ideal for all kinds of insect life. I had the opportunity to take some macros and got a handful of reasonably good images.
To be continued…
More wildlife images are going to follow in this series, but the next article deals with some typical southwestern landscapes to mix things up a bit.
Thanks for reading!