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.