An American Porcupine, Erethizon dorsatum, in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.
An American Porcupine – finally, I got a decent photo of a porcupine. It’s funny, we envision wildlife photography as a pursuit of the exotic. Wildlife photographers spend hours, days, weeks, months and years trying to capture those charismatic megafauna; the wolves, the bears, wolverines, eagles and owls and such. Yet we overlook the common; the raven, the squirrel, and, yes, the porcupine.
I’d wanted, for a long time, to make a decent photo of a porcupine, but never had much luck with it. Well, not so much as luck, but I didn’t really put the time into that specific pursuit. I hoped I’d make a good porcupine photo someday, but didn’t spend my time in places where I was likely to see one. Mostly I’d see them in passing, while I was doing something else, like skiing or snowshoeing, or driving down the road. And inevitably, when I’d see a porcupine, I’d miss the opportunity for one reason or another.
Or, I’d catch a photo, but the porcupine spends so much of his time sitting in the thick of trees, surrounded by very un-photogenic branches and tree limbs; so I’d get photos that, well, bluntly, sucked.
This photo I took on a spring trip I did up the Nizina River valley, near the toe of the Nizina Glacier. The porcupine had ventured out on to the broad open riverbed, feeding on fresh shoots of the poplar tree saplings that about in that dry, rocky ground. I was able to position myself in a place I thought he’d wander towards, and with a bit of good fortune smiling my way, he did just that. Cute little fella!