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7 Sights On My Wildlife Photography Bucket List

October 6, 2016

Photographing the White Sands Monument in New Mexico

 

7 continents, each with its own distinct myriad of animals - and each offering a truly unique experience for the wildlife photographer. How do you begin to chose from these experiences, when it is impossible to see them all? Here are my top 7 sights which I'd like to photograph in my lifetime, compiled for your enjoyment and my benefit.


1. Sea Turtles Hatching, Mexico 


Ever since I saw a David Attenborough sequence about turtle hatchlings making their first perilous journey to the sea, I have wanted to document this incredible annual event. It happens in many countries around the world, but the Mexican Ridley Sea Turtles excite me in particular because of the various obstacles that the turtles face on their sandy route. Vicious dogs, hungry vultures and territorial fiddler crabs are just some of the foes. The dangers don't stop either when they reach the sea, with crashing waves, seabirds and sharks all providing a challenge to their survival. 

 

2. Red Crowned Cranes Dancing, Japan


It might be a cliche, but then again there's a good reason why this winter spectacle is a photographer's cliche. Elegant dancers among the snowstorms of Hokkaido, the cranes - alongside Japan's famous macaques and sea eagles - are one of the most photographed animals in the Eastern world. The sight appeals to my minimalist style of photography - clean black and white with a paintbrush streak of a red crown, and open compositions filled with dusty snow. It's simple, emotive and magical. 

 

3. Rhinoceros Hornbills Nesting, Borneo


When I saw this photograph by Tim Laman at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition in 2001, it transported me to another world - an unspoilt wilderness in the canopies. The Rhinoceros Hornbill is now one of my favourite birds and which I long to photograph in the Bornean jungle. 

 

4. Elephant Seals Fighting, Baja California


I was lucky enough to watch Elephant Seals fighting in Big Sur, California, when I was 10 years old. It's still one of my favourite wildlife-watching memories. It was so visceral - the confusing stench of sea salt and blood, combined with the guttural roar of the seals against the waves, made for an amazing sensory experience. I'd love to go back with a camera and record the battle. 

 

5. Monarch Butterfly Migration, Mexico


Number 1 on my bucket list, so it gets two photos. The whole life story of the Monarch Butterfly is awesome. In their millions, these butterflies undertake an unthinkable migration from Canada, across the United States, down to Mexico. They all gather at El Rosario biosphere reserve, where they spend the winter in deep torpor, huddling together for warmth and clinging onto huge trees with their stainglass wings fanned open. During the winter, they face many perils, from ice which freezes over them, to avian and simian predators. When spring arrives, they erupt from the trees in an explosion of orange wings and feed along the river banks before starting their long migration back north. 

 

6. Bowerbird Displays, North Queensland


Bowerbirds are true artists of nature, building elaborate wigwams (or bowers) far larger than themselves. These are not nests but 'galleries' - places where they display objects, selected by colour, to impress females. This Satin Bowerbird only collects blue items, here feathers, bottle caps and drink straws. Other species combine colours and textures in their bowers, creating a visual masterpiece. 

 

7. Scarlet Ibis Formations, Trinidad


Bird flocks are always a good challenge as they usually fly in interesting formations. The Scarlet Ibis is one bird which does this with style, painting streaks of deep red across the blue skies of Trinidad. I can see so many ways of photographing them - such as with a long exposure capturing the intense red clouds in motion, or freezing them with strobes as they come in to their night roost. 

 

What are your top encounters? Comment below!

 

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