While I live in Suburbia, there are some trails and farmlands
nearby that make for enjoyable walks and misc. nature viewing.
One night, my wife Wendy took my oldest son Dirk
to the library and called us on her Cell Phone, saying she had seen
a large bird in a Cottonwood Tree nest that is nearby. So 7-year old
Kyle and I decided to walk over to check it out. I grabbed my
Canon 40D with the 55-250 telephoto lens ... while Kyle carried the tripod which
he decided was a "bazooka"
and proceeded to shoot everything in sight!
So we get to the Cottonwood tree and there is no bird in the nest.
We look from various angles but zippo - must have flown away.
I suggest to Kyle that we bushwhack to the next grove of trees because
a few days earlier, my Mom had noticed a nest with a bird nearby.
We walk over there and once again, we are skunked - no birds.
Heck, there's hardly anything flying around and I'm kinda bummed, since it
is 6:40PM and the light is beautiful from the setting sun ...
and then ...
I catch a fleeting glimpse of something moving through the brush ahead
And when I follow it over the top of a rise, guess who is keeping an eye on me!
Mr. Coyote is REALLY keeping an eye on me - actual pixels from picture above
So he then continues on his way - but keeps looking back - I let him set the pace
About to cross an access road to a dead-end cul-de-sac that is undeveloped
I decide it's best to holler and let the family on bikes know about the coyote, even if it spooks him
After all, they do have pretty darn sharp teeth!
He's been heading North, but circles to the East which provides better light - thanks Mr. Coyote!
I've been letting the Coyote set the pace throughout - so while the zoom lens (plus cropping the image) make it appear that I'm fairly close, I'm actually about a 100 yards away the entire time. The coyote is now circling so I hold my position as he passes to the East of me - pretty much a perfect location for the light of the setting sun. Plus there is some sort of electrical transformer in the the field that gives me a couple of feet of vertical boost and provides a great vantage point.
Great timing ... because it's about to get a bit more interesting!
Coyote sees dinner - I can hear the Prairie Dogs yipping and then darting down their holes
At this point, the Coyote is moving East and South of my elevated position, so he's getting farther away. I figure the "show" is over - which Kyle & I both enjoyed watching ... and we can't wait to tell Wendy & Dirk who will be quite jealous that we got to see a Coyote ... plus I should have some decent pictures of him trotting along in the nice evening light. I see the Coyote making a move closer to the fence ... and then notice a blur of motion from the left on the farmland side.
I quickly zoom out the camera as we have company!
Despite being outnumbered, the Coyote continues underneath the fence ... into the dog's territory!
And seems mighty casual about the two rapidly approaching dogs
The Yellow Lab closes in as the German Shepard stays back and just watches - he never jumps in
The Lab keeps his speed up, but doesn't look like a clean "hit" here
The Lab goes flying by ... as both him and the Coyote try to regain their footing
Fuzziness here caused by camera shake - it's all happening FAST and was over in three seconds!
Coyote makes a leap to skedaddle at the Lab circles back around
Note spring in Coyote's legs as he is about to accelerate ... or take a poop! ;-)
The Yellow Lab continues his "assault" in the Dog versus Coyote Battle
Coyote high-tailin' it outa there!
The chase is on since the Coyote is still on the Farmland side of the fence
German Shepard continues to watch the action - again, never gets involved
Coyote goes back underneath fence and the Lab has successfully defended the farmland!
Is the Yellow Lab marking his turf by taking a "Victory Pee" here?!?
Then both dogs keep a watch out for Mr. Coyote - the German Sherpard is a cross-breed
No Prairie Dog dinner tonight - (perhaps snake or duck) - was kinda sad to see him walk away
Kyle was "covering" for me by watching my back ... with the tripod bazooka!
We occasionally see foxes (sometimes even in
our backyard), but Coyote's are
much rarer, and usually just a fleeting viewing at a distance. We did have a
very close-up encounter with larger canines at the
Mission Wolf sanctuary.
My wife is really into animals (she works at an Adventure Travel company),
so Kyle and I spent the time walking back to the house discussion how we
would surprise her - "Mom, we never saw the bird in the nest, but
can you look at the pictures to see if we looked at the right place ..."
When our family is on longer car drives (especially in the mountains), Wendy
encourages the kids to look for animals. As an incentive, she offers
'em $10 if they see a Bear, $10 if they see a Mountain Lion, and
$100 if they are fighting. She hasn't had to pay up for this yet ... but
Kyle thinks that seeing a Dog and Coyote duke it out is worth something,
especially since we have pictures of it! ;-)
Photography Notes: As noted, my son Kyle had the
tripod bazooka, but all of these pictures were handheld
as we were moving and things were happening fast.
Aperture priority of F/8.0 with ISO800 which resulted in shutter speeds
between 1/400 and 1/1000 second;
yes, a little faster might have been nice,
but I wasn't expecting this type of action.
One shot Focus was used with center point only. Almost all of these
pictures were taken at the full telephoto of the 55-250 lens ... which coupled with the
Canon 40D 1.6x crop factor, means a 35mm equivalent of 400mm ... and I
wish I had more reach since as noted I was about a hundred yards away.
Sunset on April 22nd, 2008 in Lafayette, Colorado was at 7:47PM MDT
although you lose the light earlier than that due to the mountains.
The first picture was taken at 6:41 and the biking family shows
up two minutes later. At 6:45, the Coyote starts to his circling to the East,
and at 6:49:24, the "Dog versus Coyote" sequence starts
which is all over in (really) three seconds!
UPDATE: I went back the following night and there
actually was a huge bird in the nest ... turns out
to be a
Colorado Red Tailed Hawk
Plus I saw the Coyote again ... a longgg way off ... with their mate