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Monday, December 19, 2011

The speedy and graceful coyote

Although I try to start each day with a sunrise ride with K, our rides have recently been pretty short because her 3-toed paw gets sore on the uneven hard snow. But, we always stop for photos at sunrise.
After I ride with K, I usually head out for a ride that takes me further afield from our house, following packed trails or 4WD roads.
It's odd - I have certain rides that I do only in the wintertime. One of them gives me beautiful views of a reservoir. Usually, when the sky is clear, the mountains are visible where the clouds are in the photo below.
I also visit a creek that drains from the reservoir, enjoying gazing at the ice formations around the rocks.
I did this ride the other day, and, as I returned home, I passed an expansive meadow with one of my favorite views in the area.
I always scan the meadow for animals because they're easy to see against the white slate of snow. The other day, I spotted a coyote just after I took this photo. He started running away from me, over toward the mountains. You can see, in the foreground, a fenceline that parallels a dirt road. I pedaled up to the road, thinking that the coyote had taken refuge in a boulder pile or clump of trees.

But, no, there he was, bounding through the deep snow and moving fast. As I pedaled along the dirt road, he ran parallel to the road, going faster than I was. I thought that I was freaking him out, so I stopped. He continued his sprint. The snow was deep with a tough crust that he broke through with every bound. Given the tough conditions, he finally decided to sail over the 3-4' fence onto the dirt road. He continued his fluid gallop in the middle of the road.

As I watched, a car appeared heading toward him. With amazing ease, he sailed back over the fence into the meadow. He then continued to sprint parallel to the road. The people in the car didn't even see him. After the car passed, he leaped the fence on one side of the road, sprinted across the road, and then leaped the fence on the other side of the road. In the blink of an eye, he disappeared into the forest. I stood there in awe. What an absolutely amazing athlete he is!

To give you a sense of scale, here is a view of about half of the meadow, with a snowshoer in the left center of the photo. The snowshoer took about 20 minutes to traverse the meadow while it took the coyote less than 2 minutes.
The wild canine was moving so fast that I didn't get any photos. However, I recently had a coyote visit one of my wildlife cameras. He started by sniffing a place at the base of a Ponderosa Pine tree where many animals have marked.
Then, he noticed the soft red light on my infrared camera.
As he got closer to it, he freaked out and sprinted away.
He stayed away for only a few seconds before peeking at the camera again.
He then proceeded to reexamine the scentpost, acting as if the camera wasn't there. I was relieved to see how quickly he relaxed because I like to capture natural behavior rather than animals who are terrified by my camera.


  1. Gotta love 'yotes.

    Any critters that're vilified by folks are the ones I tend root for (probably the same reason why I like Rattlesnakes so much :) ).

    Also...that last camera trap pic is perfect: warily sneaking in from the side, much like we'd expect a 'yote to do.

  2. I always feel so fresh of heart after reading and seeing the pictures in your posts.

    Bert's My Vickie

  3. Oh KB
    Your winter world is spectacular.
    Thank you for sharing the specialness that can only be seen in the winter!
    Oh to be so free as that coyote, able to leap and run so fast!

  4. What a sight that must have been. I realized I was holding my breath just reading about it. I love how well the animals are equipped to handle the deep snow and harsh winters.

    We get a glimpse of the occasional coyote here, but lose them quickly as they bound into the woods. We have a three-legged one that we have seen for three years now. He seems otherwise healthy and we have no idea how he lost the leg.

  5. I'm grinning over that last peek a boo picture of the coyote! About a month ago, we had picked up my sister to go see a movie. We're always watching for deer because of the rut, but to our surprise, a coyote ran right out in front of the van. I was amazed by his speed. We were on a busy highway and we did hit him, but it must have been a glancing blow before he went under the van. We looked for him on both sides of the road for a while, but could never find a trace of him. I don't think I could have believed how fast they are if I hadn't seen it for myself (along with nearly having a heart attack)!

  6. I'm smilin' ear to ear. And I have long ears so the smile is BIG. :)

  7. your posts are always calming and refreshing...nice
    Benny & Lily

  8. We still can't get over how blue da sky is where you live, just beOOtiful. :)

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae

  9. Oh, I love that last shot! The expression on his face is priceless ;~)

  10. You live in my dream world! Coyotes fascinate me and I love to spy them here, although the ones I see here are lanky and sickly looking in comparison. When I looked at these pics I could feel the cold, crisp air fill my lungs like I was standing right there!

  11. Beautiful animals, and how lucky you are to witness the athletic abilities of the coyote running along the road!

    I've been following along with your health news and am crossing my fingers that you get to the bottom of things soon. You have such a strong spirit - you're intent on living life to the fullest and not worrying about what's coming in the future - and I know that spirit will undoubtedly help to keep you healthy!

  12. Coyotes! Do these guys howl at night? I enjoyed looking at your super photos.
    Thanks for your message about the deer. From the descriptions and pictures I think it is a Roe deer because of the body shape and white rump! (British Deer Society)
    Here is an overview to the six different types of species found in Britain – what do you think?

    I had a look at the deer in Colorado and found this list! (wow - you have the lot!)


  13. When we were in Tennessee we hear coyotes howling back up on the 'mountain' and it was amazing to hear. We have them in this part of Virginia, but not around here--We have the fox instead. I'm told it's either one or the other. But again, your pictures are just breathtaking and your words, along with your keen eye and camera continue to leave me in awe!!

  14. So beautiful. Even the bike looks like a work of art.

  15. Love the shot of the reservoir.

  16. Wow, that's an amazing story about the coyote. I can almost see the scene in my head. The best part is that he knew to hop the fence to avoid the car and then to hop back over when the car had passed.

    Your pal, Pip

  17. I have long loved the Trickster but I don't have to live with him or his deeds, either. Just enjoy his spirit!

    Jo in MN

  18. The most fun part of this post was seeing the coyote return and ignore the camera. I've had that happen a few times when I'm stalking wildlife. If you wait long enough, and they are interested enough in whatever they were doing when you interupted, they will return! And usually put on a show!

  19. I left you an award on my blog if you want it.

  20. Hi Y'all,

    Love the photo of the coyote peeking back at the camera...almost looks like he's smiling. ;)

    Y'all come back now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog


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