Monday, November 2, 2009

Leading up to the encounter (Part 1)

(As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a great wildlife encounter on Saturday morning, and I'm planning to tell the story through a series of posts this week -- I hope you enjoy them.)

I knew I wanted to get out this Saturday morning to take advantage of the last late sunrise for a while, and since it had been a few weeks since I’d been to Point Reyes, that seemed like the place to be. You never know what to expect in this gorgeous park, and it very rarely disappoints (as long as you are open to seeing something other than what you planned). I felt like trying a new locale and after consulting one of my favorite guide books (Birding Northern California by John Kemper) and doing some searches in google and on Flickr, I settled on going all the way out to the point of Point Reyes to the Fish Docks area near Chimney Rock. My hope was to find some owls, which I did see one thanks to a very friendly visitor who was there even before I was – but the real joy of this trip was an unexpected encounter with a beautiful coyote.

My experience with coyotes is most typically seeing one out the car window as it sprints away from view. Very rarely do I ever get to watch one for more than a few moments, and even more infrequent are encounters while on foot, which has always been at quite a distance. (As an aside, one of my favorite experiences was a sunrise hike at Limantour Spit while I was serenaded with coyote howls for about 20 minutes. It's a beautiful sound, but also a tad unnerving.) My experience on this morning started as they normally do, where I saw one hunting alongside the road as I approached the trailhead parking lot. This was before the sun had come over the horizon, and in very heavy fog, so while I tried a few shots from out the window, none of them worked. However, I did get to watch the typical pouncing of their hunting behavior, and I even saw him snack on a good sized breakfast. But after he finished eating, he slipped away into the fog.

So I continued on to the parking lot, got my gear out and found a lovely mother mule deer and her youngster who had camped out near the bathrooms under a few bushes. I got to watch as they started their day with a few stretches and some grazing on the dew covered greens near the parking lot.

Mother mule deer:
Mother mule deer

Her youngster:
Good morning, fawn

Grazing together:
Grazing together

It seemed like every individual blade of grass and small stick was covered with dew, which adds a nice sparkle to the shots.
Youngster's breakfast

Searching for that perfect bite of breakfast

Delicious dew


  1. Excellent work, Pat. I look forward to keeping track of your explorations.

  2. Thanks, John! I always enjoy following yours as well!