Rather a short but eventful morning in Yellowstone. I raced east to find out the latest on the Lamars and was happy to discover that they were resting well, upon large boulders, with fat bellies. A carcass hidden in the thick trees. I noticed Little T head down for seconds while the others slept – she never is shy about eating – a coyote sneak out the other side and a few birds flying back and forth. Satisfying but boring and time to go home.
Heading west I noticed a few elk at high alert and saw a golden canid watching them. Turned out to be my little yote, a pup I am sure. The elk ran off and the coyote sat there a while before heading towards the road. I pulled over to watch and soon noticed that it was chewing on a small scull, which looked to be a bison calf. There was a carcass way back, in thick trees and areas where an intelligent person would not wander knowing such things, and I am wondering if perhaps a cow died, either in child birth or old age. The scull was very small and the teeth did not seem completely formed.
The coyote wandered off, presumably in the direction of the carcass, and I decided to take a walk, not in the direction of the carcass. Some ravens must have had a cache close by because they sure scolded me about some things.
One of my favorite things to do when the snow is frozen and I can walk on top is to wander to places that are forbidding at any other time of year, due to fallen logs and tall sagebrush. And, walking on snow is sort of like walking on water, and so I just went dreaming of the things I might see. Three Clark’s nutcrackers and Jay – not very exciting. Fresh fox prints but no fox.
I headed back towards the car, just wandering. One would think that not much was going on in the park because I seemed to be the main attraction, with everyone stopping to see what Deby had. Deby had nothing but that didn’t stop them from watching. Perhaps that is how the animals feel.
The coyote was only feet from me when I noticed it – the same one as earlier. Surprised the heck out of me to see it again, so far from the first sighting. The little bugger seemed to be too curious and I couldn’t decide if it was expecting food or wondering how I tasted. I have never felt threatened by a coyote, fox or wolf in the park, but can not help but wonder – wouldn’t they see anything living as possible food? I am not going to take any chances and so tried my best to shoo it away from me. The little song dog would move off and I would take a few pictures and soon it would be heading my way again. Perhaps the camera was a curious thing. Finally, I just moved quickly, not enough to frighten the animal, but enough for it to decide it was time to leave. Not that it left all that fast, stopping many times to look back.
In all my time in Yellowstone I have never had such a wonderful photo op with a coyote – oh, there have been some very nice pics here and there, but this was special. Part of me wished I’d let it stay closer for some real close-ups – many of these images are cropped to some degree or another – and taken advantage of being out in the back country. The other part of me would really hate to see the animal become more comfortable with humans – that and trying to respect the rules made me choose to limit my contact. As they say in Yellowstone, the good guys/gals trying to follow the rules never win. Not in photos but they do in conscience. But, these shots aren’t bad.
A short (in by noon) day in Yellowstone but a good one.