This was my first year to enter NANPA (North America Nature Photography Association) photo contest and was honored to get all 10 of my entries in the semi-finals and two photos making the top 250.
Here is my first one with a coyote intimidating a field rat at Anahuac NWR in Texas, which was taken in Dec 2018. After pulling up behind a group of vehicles taking his photo, he reversed course and came my way. Saw him “mousing” and he came up with a field rat and brought him out in the road right in front of my car. He initially played with him like a dog plays with a toy.
I tried to take photos out my car window but gave up as he was right in front of my car and didn’t want to get out and spook him. After watching him for a while, slowly opened up my door and stood between my car and my door taking photos.
Right before devouring breakfast, he stood over the rat and bared his teeth which was very intimidating.
Almost full frame shot with only cropping a little off of the bottom to remove the yellow stripe in the road. 1/640 sec @ F5.6, ISO 6400, evaluative metering, 700mm
Taken with Canon 1DX, Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X III teleconverter, handheld
To cap off my coyote encounter at Yellowstone, the coyote almost face-planted while nearing the top of the hill. The snow must have gotten deeper or the hill was steeper causing him to almost fall into the snow. He was able to maintain his laser focus on what he was looking at and didn’t miss a beat.
Minor cropping off of the left side of the frame on these head shots.
Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm lens, handheld while sitting in a snowbank.
Manual mode, 1/1600 sec @ F8, ISO 400
Our second coyote encounter on Day 1 at Yellowstone was incredible. One of our workshop leaders spotted a coyote crossing the river at a distance. We got out of the snow coach and walked down the road to try to get a better view of him. He got up on the bank and made his way to our right in the snow, catching some food along the way.
Three of us went with Jared further upstream and waited for him to come to us. While sitting in a snowbank, got some cool shots of the coyote working his way along a small winding creek at the bottom of our hill. Was very happy to get those shots and expected him to continue along his way at the base of this hill.
All of a sudden, he took off and ran/jumped up the hill directly towards us. Luckily didn’t have my tripod or would have missed some of the shots as I had to lean back and to my left to shoot as a small tree got in the way.
He bounded up the hill while glancing from left to right with making direct eye contact with me several times. He would blast up out of the snow, which created a cool ring of snow around him. As he got closer, began to wonder if he was going to run right into me so I briefly lifted my head up to see how close that he was getting and he veered off to my left, leaving me with some full frame shots as he went by.
He kept going up the hill while almost face-planting into the snow allowing for a couple of cool head shots. At the top of the hill, he looked back at us and then went down the road like nothing happened. He left us with the thought “What just happened and did we capture it?” Downloading my photos revealed that I got 37 out of 40 photos in the sequence in focus when he ran up the hill in about 75 seconds. Have a 12 frames/sec camera really paid off.
I keep having these once-in-a-lifetime photography experiences in Yellowstone, which will ensure that I keep going back. Thanks again Jared and Doug. One of my favorite Yellowstone encounters ever.
All photos were taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II lens, handheld
Manual mode, 1/1600 sec @ F8, ISO 400, 500mm
Just got back from another trip to Yellowstone with Jared Lloyd and Doug Gardner. This was my third year in a row but had to grab a cancellation spot to make it. Was another awesome trip with meeting some great people and critters.
Although the park was somewhat slow for animal activity based on the last couple of years, we had some outstanding photo opportunities. The area finally got some snow right before we arrived. Coldest temperature was –22 deg F but much warmer than that for most days.
My first trip with Jared was the year of the fox, last year was the year of the wolves and this trip was the year of the coyote with some great bighorns thrown in.
This day 1 encounter featured a coyote that went mousing fairly close to us. He was successful and moved on. Thought that we were lucky to see this until the next coyote sighting, which was off the charts spectacular. More on that later.
Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II
Manual exposure, 1/2000 sec @ F4, ISO 1000, spot metering off of the snow + 2 stops
Had a most excellent adventure with a coyote yesterday at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. I arrived at Anahuac around 6:30 a.m. and headed to Frozen Point to try to find the short-eared owl. With the cloudy conditions, it was very dark before sunrise and couldn’t spot any activity.
Drove back towards Shoveler’s Pond and saw a couple of trucks tracking something along the canal. Found my buddy Doug in full camo pointing out where a coyote was working the opposite bank of the canal. Luckily, he started coming back towards us and we started shooting away. He eventually got back to the main road and I backed my car up and followed him for a short distance until he started hunting in the grass along site the road. It was very cool to see him jump up and down like a mousing fox.
Got a couple of decent head shots and he then came up with his prey, a field rat. He brought it out on the road and ended up playing with it like a puppy would play with a toy right in front of my car. Tried to take photos of him out my car window but my car wasn’t in the best position with my side mirror kept getting in my way and it was challenging to shoot over it. Didn’t want to spook him by opening my car door initially. Stopped taking still photos a couple of times and took video with my iPhone. I’ll post one of those later. Eventually opened my door to get an unobstructed view of him.
Parents always tell their kids not to play with their food, but this coyote was a master at it. He would pick up the rat and throw it around and then try to intimidate it by baring its teeth as he stood above it. He eventually ate the rat and then started staring at something to my right, which ended up being Doug laying down near the right side of my car. He slowly started to stalk Doug and then Doug showed up next to me.
Here is one of my favorite shots. Don’t worry Doug, I would have repositioned myself to get the shot if he wanted to play with you.
With the low light, had to use full open aperture and sacrificed depth of field to get the shot. Initially was using ISO 6400 but backed off to 3200 for this photo.
1/125 sec @ F 5.6, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, + 2/3 exposure compensation, aperture priority, 700mm
Got up at 4:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, like usual, and checked the weather. Looked cloudy on radar but I don’t trust the weatherman. Went outside and looked up. Stupid weatherman was right, for once, at least in my neck of the woods. Decided to go out and shoot anyway since the radar looked similar to Sat morning which turned out to have some sun. Decided to head South this time to Bolivar as I haven’t been there is a few weeks. Not a good sign at the ferry with some flags blowing in a stiff wind. Got to the beach and saw that the waves were fairly high and decided that it was going to be a bust for bird shooting. Had someone following me driving on the beach so I decided to turn off and let them by. Headed down the beach again and saw what I thought was a dog taking garbage out of one of the garbage cans near the fence. Quickly realized that it was a Coyote. Pulled up fairly close with my bright lights on and watched him. Then decided that I should try to get a picture even though it was pitch black out with only my headlights for illumination. Said what the heck and then remembered that my camera was in the trunk. Decided to back up and drove backwards down the beach for a ways and then got out and grabbed my camera. Headed back towards him and he was luckily still there. Cranked the ISO up to 3200 and tried to get some shots after opening up my door and shooting between the door and the car. He apparently couldn’t see me with my headlights in his eyes. Got very slow shutter speeds. Moved the ISO up to 6400 and got off a few more shots before he ran away.
It was very cool to see a Coyote that close. Just wish that it would have been after sunrise but I’m sure that he wouldn’t have stuck around like he did. Took this shot at ISO 3200 and 1/25 sec shutter speed. No noise reduction on this shot. Not a sharp picture by any means but decent enough for me to remember what happened. He had lots of garbage at his feet that I cloned out. I had seen animal tracks at Bolivar before and often wondered if there were any Coyotes around. Guess there are. Continued down the beach to the parking area, turned the car around and headed back to the ferry. No birds for me at Bolivar that day but a cool encounter with a Coyote made the trip worth it.