Spitting nails

I’ve been trying to capture presentable images of the coyotes living at White Rock Lake.

There are many of these creatures here, a veritable horde of them that stalk the night and howl both at the moon and at the sound of sirens.

Just a few weeks ago I stepped out on my patio after nightfall and heard a police siren far in the distance.  In response to that song, at least two coyotes no more than ten paces away broke into song, their howls filling the suburb and sending chills down my spine in wonder and amazement.

Yet coyotes tend to be nocturnal, not diurnal, so photography is difficult as it must take place in darkness and it must take place on the coyotes’ terms.

My results thus far have been less than admirable: reflective eyes dancing amidst trees, bits of fluff flash-exposed to the camera, and unrecognizable forms moving through forest and brush that might as well be the neighbor’s dog let loose from its leash.

But today as I walked about the lake, I dove into the woodlands surrounding the Sunset Bay floodplain—ticks be damned!  (And ticks I did find, by the way…  LOTS of them.)

Upon entering a thicket where bowers surrounded me, I slowed my already careful approach as I knew the natural cover most likely hid a menagerie of wonderful creatures.

A particularly large bower stretched ten feet/three meters away from me, its closest point resting at my feet.  I stood at its lengthy end without being able to see what lurked beneath it.

Slowly—Oh so slowly!—I stepped around the thick barrier of leaves and branches.

Closer than three feet/one meter from the beast, an adult coyote suddenly leaped to life from beneath its perfect camouflage.  I saw nothing but bouncing tail as it rushed further into dense cover.

I followed, already mad at myself for not seeing it before, already scolding myself for missing the perfect opportunity to snap at least one picture of this marvelous beast as it lay silently in its daylight bed.

The next view of it came with heavy brush filling every step between us.  The canine was nothing more than a shadowy movement seen in whispers betwixt branches and leaves.

I could see it only because I knew what gave life to browns shifting amongst browns.  The camera, on the other hand, saw nothing.

And I can’t blame it for its failing.

The coyote orbited with smart accuracy, always remaining opposite me with a hefty divider of tree and bush rising before us.

Eventually I left in the spirit of not wanting to aggravate.

When I returned home—and after I removed all the hitchhiking ticks who had taken advantage of the opportunity—I flogged myself for the barbaric failure that defined my day.

2 thoughts on “Spitting nails”

  1. So you turned away and shook your head. Why aggravate? I agree. It was a Kodak moment, Jason, a snapshot you can share only with your words that are good enough! I think I would have been a bit frightened at first… Great story.

  2. Wildlife doesn’t exactly pose for us and I m fully able to understand your frustration. But don’t give up. Keep doing what you are doing and there will be that one lucky moment when a coyote will stand and pose for you and you can capture its majestic looks from every angle.

    My wildlife images don’t exactly show the many failed attempts in photographing them, but believe me there’s a story behind every success shot.

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