Four coyotes

I missed a great photograph yesterday.

Hiking solo near sunset along the Shaw Butte Trail in North Mountain Park, literally in the middle of one of the largest cities on earth, I was greeted by a sudden chorus of howls and yips.  I looked to the right to a small butte.  About halfway up I saw something that didn’t match the brush.  That something was light brown.  And it moved.

I yanked the binoculars from my backpack and homed in on the spot.  To my amazement there were four coyotes in plain sight, bunched tightly together on a ledge.  Three were in that classic “howling at the moon” position, heads uplifted to the darkening sky.  The fourth seemed to be looking in my direction, though I can not swear to it.  It was brushy up there and I caught the hint of a small cave off to the right.  I jotted down the time.  It was 5:20, about 35 minutes before official sunset.

In the dying sun, their furry coats were outlined in a yellowish-green, and I dug deeper into my pack to pull out a camera.  I was sure the shot of a lifetime was only seconds away.  But . . . .

The problem was this.  I was inept.  I tried to zoom in on the four, but kept losing them on the digital screen.  I finally located a landmark, a saguaro near the ledge and then another saguaro nearby.  It took about a minute to do this and when finally I had the spot nailed, they were gone.  Only the tops of two small heads with pointy ears could be seen.  I assumed they were cubs lying on the ground.

I heard the pack again at 5:48 and again at 6:08 and 6:12 before leaving the park.  I can only hope there will be a next time.


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