Showing posts with label Fish Docks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fish Docks. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Nose to the Ground (Part 3)

(This is Part 3 of my Saturday morning encounter at Point Reyes -- quick links to Part 1 and Part 2)

I enjoyed the company of the deer for a while longer, before they left for the field on the other side of the road. At this point, I considered packing up and heading to a different trailhead (and perhaps one with a bit less fog), but instead I became interested in the sparrows bouncing about and the beautiful backlit morning dew drops on the grass (subjects of a future post). After being lost in the small-scale pleasure of the dew for maybe 10-15 minutes, I looked up to find that the coyote had returned to the area, and was following the scent trail of the rodents that had pock-marked the ground with their burrows.

Nose to the ground

He was in serious tracking mode, as he rarely lifted his snout from the ground.

What lies in the sparkles?

He gave me a few uneasy glances, but at this time, I was crouching low with my tripod working on some ground-level psuedo-macros and apparently I seemed unthreatening enough that he continued about his business of sniffing for rodents.

An useasy glance

All the while, the fog was in constant flux going between pea-soup and just a light mist, and these shots gave me some of the best light of the morning as the sun almost made it through. As an aside, you can see in this series that it was a wet morning, as his fur looked like he had just been through a shower -- perhaps just some tall grass on the hillside. I was thankful to have a pair of gloves in my pocket, which I've come to realize is a must for morning photography in the Bay Area, almost year-round.

On the scent trail

It was early even for the coyote, who engaged in a big yawn.

Morning yawn

More of my encounter coming tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Uneasy (Part 2)

(Part two of my Saturday morning wildlife encouter -- part one can be found here.)


As I was following the mother and youngster through my lens, their ears went up and they went onto high alert.

On the alert

It was cute how the youngster acted just like the mother -- probably a good sign for its long-term outlook. (As a side note, when they are being very attentive like this, its quite easy to see why they are called mule deer. The ears look almost too big for this little one!)

Ears up

The little one was maybe 10 yards away from Mom, and made a hasty retreat to her side.

Trotting to mom

With their fur puffed out, they made some aggressive stances while staring off into the distance (not at me).

Strength together

I was enjoying their look, and it took a few minutes to dawn on me that I should probably turn around to see what was causing their concern. To my surprise the coyote I spied earlier was cruising through the parking lot area. He hung out between myself and my car while trying to decide what to do, which made the decision easier for me to just stay put and see what was going to unfold.

Uneasy coyote

It seemed like the coyote wanted to get to the field on the other side of the road (perhaps where he just came from), but the mother deer had moved into the way. So instead, the coyote crossed the parking lot a few times while trying to decide what to do. Eventually, the mother gave a short charge and the coyote took off and hid behind the fence before wandering off up the hillside.

Safely behind the fence

The story continues tomorrow with Part 3...

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