A Bad Day to be a Shoveler

Greetings everyone. I am currently under the influence of my new deep tissue foot massager I just purchased with my 2nd place finish gift certificate (link here). As a result, I cannot be held accountable for the contents of this post because quite frankly, this feels quite yummy and might just dose off from time to time. Honestly, this thing is awesome! My main hope is it will help relieve some heel pain I’ve been dealing with since the Steamboat Race. A fellow runner at work recommended it so figured I’d give it a go00…zzzzzzzz … Sorry, dozed a bit.

Today we are back at the Henderson Nevada Bird Viewing Preserve, but this time our primary subject doesn’t come with feathers or a beak. Turns out we were greeted with another resident in the area, one we were admittedly not expecting in the least.

Surprise! This Coyote crept up on us mid-morning while we were heading out to an observation platform built on one of the Henderson ponds. We were checking out some birds hanging out on one side of the raised walkway oblivious to the fact this natural born killer was stalking us from the other side. The color palette of this creature blended perfectly into the surroundings and if it wouldn’t have moved slightly I would have likely never seen it. Before the Beast could draw a bead on it (and thanks to taking the time to excitedly explain my find to Linda), the Coyote slinked back into the brush. Curious we started tracking it from the platform where it eventually popped into view again having traversed directly under it. Probably less than 20 yards away, it turned back at us – standing its ground against our unappreciated intrusion.

As you can tell, it seemed truly pissed off! A quick look around confirmed we were the only ones out in preserve at the time which gets you to wondering if you were “take out” that day. This was going to be a little difficult if that was the intent because it didn’t appear to be “packing” – as in there wasn’t any other pack mates in the vicinity and it wasn’t sporting a holster we could see. In my excitement I failed to really take in the composition of the shot. 5 feet to the left would have helped the shots tremendously – note to self, composition, composition composition. This Coyote would walk a few feet, look back at us, walk a few feet, look back at us, veer off in a different direction, look back, return to the original direction and look back. This was getting pretty weird. Eventually it found its way behind a thick brush concealing most of what it was doing. All we could tell was that it was digging in the ground. A few minutes later it revealed its motivation.

Hit the jump to reveal the mystery

It feared the real “take out” food was in jeopardy. I absolutely loved the look of the subject in the above shot and absolutely hate the fact that I let that near brush obscure the bottom portion of the shot. I would have quickly chosen it for this year’s photo competitions had I not blown it…. wait wait zzzzzz awe .. man, this thing is awesome. Sorry, back on topic.

It is a little difficult to tell from this angle, but with the help of the Beast the less fortunate was a Northern Shoveler. The duck must have wandered to far out of the pond and fell victim to a hungry tummy. From there the Coyote wandered in and out of the bushes until we eventually lost it. Quite the interesting experience. Usually we see them minding their own business out in the woods or on rare occasions crossing in front of us late at night on the country roads. This was literally interacting and reacting with us.

Eventually, we directed out attention back to the observation deck and the various birds enjoying the morning swim. On our way back to an adjacent pond something caught my eye up on a bank that made its way to a maintenance road (up about 30 feet or so). Again, it wasn’t clear at first what it was thanks in part to its excellent camo.  The Beast eventually showed me what it was.  That very same Coyote was again digging in the brush and dirt but this time it was depositing the Shoveler. Clever creature. It had walked in the exact opposite direct when were watching it. Once we left it must have circled back so we wouldn’t see the new hiding spot. That would have worked had we not taken the opposite direction ourselves to get to the other pond.

I watched it (and photographed of course) for a little while longer until I was greeted by the most pissed off Coyote face I’ve EVER seen. It was definitely unhappy the new site had been discovered.

Every time I look at this shot I remember what I felt like looking at it through the viewfinder. Truth be told, As a Wolf enthusiast, I am not a big fan of Coyotes. They are actually food competitors to the Wolf, lack the social structure and breeding patterns of the Wolf (which means their population is uncontrolled) and most of all .. have a bad tendency to try to bait your pets out here in the country.. our poodles do not appreciate that at all! Granted Wolves might be tempted to do the same were they living out here with us.. but they don’t so until they make their way down here from Minnesota and somehow get on our bad side, we’re still pro-Wolf. The good news for this Coyote is we were visitors to its home and there just to take pictures. So the Coyote was free to go on its merry way…

.. and we were free to go ours. No harm, no foul other than the Coyote likely had a slight panic we were there to take its hard earned food. Oh, I should probably point out as well, that this is the first Coyote I’ve ever seen with ears that large. I tried looking it up on Wikipedia to see if there as a subspecies difference from the ones we see around here. Wikipedia was not that helpful (in fact, their link of the subspecies didn’t work), but they did have a graph of the different regions for the Coyote. Guessing this one is of type Canis Lestes based on the region map, but possibly Canis Mearnsi. Difficult to tell especially with the variety of samples brought up from a Google Image Search on each of those names.

That’s all folks, I need to get back to enjoying my massage. Hope you enjoyed this quick break from birds .. trust me, we have plenty more of those posts on the way!

5 thoughts on “A Bad Day to be a Shoveler”

  1. Wow, that’s one mean-looking coyote! I’ve never seen one this mean. He looks like he’s sneering at you in the second photo. I agree, that one photo would have been great if it hadn’t been for that bush.

    He also does look different from the ones around here–darker for sure, and less scrawny. The profile of its head in the first shot is also different than I recall. I wouldn’t mess with him.

    Thanks for the post. I’ve never been worried about coyotes, until now…



  2. I know that wolf coloring is dependent on their food quality – since Alphas get the good organs, you can distinguish them pretty easily from the others by the darker coloring on the face. Not sure if that carries through to the Coyote or not – if so, this one has had some good eats!

    Lucky for you, you can blast these vermin whenever you want – oddly enough I think they require you to use a high powered rifle to do it – not sure why but a around here a dead Coyote is a good Coyote – Kerby and Rizzi second that rule!

    sorry to turn your world upside down hehehe


  3. That’s it–Awesome!! Flipping between the two photos, it even appears that the coyote is looking at Linda. Definitely worthy of entry in the competitive arena!



  4. Ouch! I’ll admit that was a good shot and was not intentionally left out – appears it was placed in the wrong folder – the Vegas LAND gallery and not the wildlife gallery – so clearly not my fault. Just seems a loooong way off, probably not taken with an 8 pound glass under heavy wind conditions but still a nice shot.. heck, might even win Best Picure with it hehehehe


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