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Nature photography in the Aletsch region

At the beginning of the week I was in the Aletsch area for 3 days. Although I wasn't too lucky with the animals living in this alpine landscape, I was still able to take some good pictures.

After a 2 hour journey by train I went directly via Riederalp to the Hohfluh. There I had a wonderful view to the Aletsch Glacier. But the light was too harsh and I saved the location for later.

Countless families and couples were hiking on the mountain ridge and there were no birds to be seen except for a few water pipits. Below the mountain ridge, the Aletsch forest extended. This old pine and larch forest enjoys strict protection and is therefore a retreat for red deer and chamois. Birds inhabit the forest in great numbers as well.

The nutcracker was especially omnipresent in the Aletsch Forest. Again and again these intelligent animals flew along the forest or perched on the top of a tree. On the first day I could not take a picture of the nutcracker though despite many sightings

Concerning sightings of animals, the first day wasrather meagre. For the sunset I hiked back to the previously found spot for the Aletsch Glacier. Unfortunately, there were only a few high veil clouds over the Aletsch Glacier. Nevertheless, I am quite satisfied with this first photo of the trip.

According to the weather forecast, it should've cleared up during the night and so I decided to wait a little while before going to bed. In fact, it did clear up in the night and the milky way showed quite well. So I tried to capture the starry sky with various compositions before I finally went back to the hotel around midnight. I am very satisfied with the resulting photos. But behind the opposite mountain range there was probably a bigger city and the light pollution was unfortunately quite strong. But unfortunately I could not do anything against it.

The next day I got up early again. At about 5 o'clock I started towards the Pro Natura Center on Riederfurka. Hoping to find out where the animals are most likely to be found, I joined the wildlife observation excursion. Beside a few chamois and again a lot of nutcrackers I could hear at least some coal and crested tits. Halfway through the excursion I left the group and walked a little further through the forest, while the rest of the group returned to the centre.

A few minutes later I suddenly found myself standing only a few meters in front of a chamois buck. This one seemed to have seen me late as well, but it showed no fear. Fortunately, I had already unpacked my camera and was able to take a few pictures of the chamois when it walked towards me on the trail and finally solwly went up into the forest.

A little later I was able to take a picture of a nutcracker on a dead tree. The wood was wrapped in lichen all around. This adde quite a lot of interest to the photo and I was more than happy to finally get an image of this species.

On the way back to the hotel I met another chamois again. This one was a bit shyer but I was able to observe it relatively well and for quite a long time. However, this chamois was a bit below the path, so I could not take any good photos as the perspective didn't look natural.

After a good breakfast in the hotel I went back to the Aletsch forest. But apart from some coal and crested tits I could not discover much more. Meanwhile it was getting darker in the sky and I decided to walk up to Riederfurka again for safety. Soon after the rain started and the first thunders could be heard. About 5 minutes too late I arrived already very wet at Riederfurka, where I could sit down under a house roof. After the thunderstorm had passed, I hiked down again into the Aletsch forest. But not many animals showed up.

Almost back in the village I got a few images of a marmot family. But just as I gradually gained the trust of the family, the rain started again and the family disappeared in their den. A thunderstorm forced me to give up waiting and walk back to the village.

In the evening I photographed the opposite side of the valley from Riederalp. Mighty thunderclouds piled up and were illuminated by the setting sun. I was able to take some more good pictures before I went back to the hotel.

Actually, I had hoped that I would be able to photograph a thunderstorm in the night. But the strong thunderstorms came at the wrong places and so I could not take any photos of it.

In the morning there were still some small thunderstorms and so I didn't go back to the Aletsch forest until about 10 o'clock. Except for my first observation of an alpine tit, the day remained relatively unspectacular and at 15 o'clock I took the gondola back to the valley.

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Nicolas Stettler

Weyernweg 27

2560 Nidau

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