“More Waiting: A Southern California Update” by Charles Wood

It has been over a year since I entered my coyotes’ field to take pictures of birds.  At that time I believe there were three or four coyotes regularly in that field.  Two I have come to know as Mom and Dad.  The other one or two I haven’t seen this year and presume them to have been their offspring.  Last summer I didn’t come across the coyotes very often.  A couple times I noticed one coyote sneaking up on my foraging dog.  I shouted the coyote off and leashed my dog.  Another time my dog and I ambled out of the brush onto a dirt road.  My dog alerted and I looked up and saw three or four coyotes resting quietly by a large puddle on the dirt road.  They looked as we would have looked at strangers who had abruptly stumbled upon us while ensconced in a relaxing, private conversation.  Each coyote’s head was turned and frozen for a moment, looking at us with surprised concern.  Before they all darted off into the brush, one slowly stood up first and then paused as if to say “Well then, we’ll be leaving now.”  Dad’s muzzle wasn’t scarred last year when at the end of summer when he finally chased me and my dog out of his field.  In late spring 2010 I returned with the birds.

2010’s most memorable moment was viewing puppies in early June.  Soon thereafter I saw seven puppies together though now I seem to be seeing only two youngsters with Mom and Dad.  They meet around dusk at the same place in their field and if I’m lucky I see them before dark.  That particular place is, as I now think back over the last year, the place where I was most likely to come across coyotes.  It is not far from, and on the way to the place I go in and out of their field.  I would pass that area in leaving about the time that light became too dim for photography, their time.

Mom now has her winter coat, the coat that will keep her warm until January or so when she again comes into season.  Monday Mom was with a youngster, pictured together and separately.  They stayed within easy reach of each other.  They saw me before I saw them, that is, at least Mom did.  Mom was sitting and watching when the youngster’s movements caught my eye.  Mom wasn’t moving so I didn’t see her, though the camera did.  At times I don’t see Mom even when she is moving.  Twice this month she has surprised me, once at the bridge and once along the river.  Each time she seemed to be instantly there.  She marked, scratched dirt, mock charged and withdrew.  There was a time when only Dad so messaged me.  Since they now both do, I leave their area before it gets too dark.  Earlier this summer, sun still out, three times Dad sneaked up behind me and got way too close before I saw him.  Neither Mom nor Dad is getting used to or comfortable around me.

I did return to an area to the immediate north-west of their field.  There, on September 3, I was surprised when a young coyote poked out from the brush into the clearing in which I was standing.  It turned and fled, my dog having barked and charged.  A couple days later, at the spot I had been standing, lay coyote scat, small coyote scat that appeared to be a couple days old.  Good job!

Posting written by Charles Wood. Visit Charles Wood’s website for these and more coyote photos: Charles Wood. His work is copyrighted and may only be used with his explicit permission.

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