Coyotes at Beaver Pond
(Notes from a Illinois Beaver pond)
Gary R. Soper
January it’s a new year and I’m off to the woods, it’s early and we had a wonderful snowfall last night, the trees are thick with the new snow and the woods are a dreamscape cozy and muffled from that soft cold frosting and I can’t help but feel a sense of peace as I slowly make my way to ponds edge to setup my hide and camera. The dim light of the night starts to give way to a false warming glow from the sun still low on the horizon, my elevated senses began to tune into every sound and movement around the ponds snowy, icy edge, the cold air surrounds my clothing and equipment wearing away at the last little bit of heat while making me one with this winter morning. Clumps of the thick snow fall from branch and bough with the slightest puff of wind confusing my senses with this tocsin to movement, I quickly adjust by trying to filter this trickery out while staying alert only to the movement that is darker then snow. After only about an hour I spot my brother the Coyote at a distance slowly and cautiously trekking through the deep snow on the opposite side of the pond, he stops near some fell trees and looks with an intent concentration surveying his path before he continues. With the slightest of movement I focus in with my camera and follow his progress waiting for that optimal moment to press shutter to capture my brother in his natural environment within that split second in time that will be a record to be shared and revisited at anytime.
I watch as the Coyote explores his world and as he stops he gazes up into this winters morning sky before then he turns and disappears up the bank and into the woods. I relax and readjust my equipment and look out across the pond and feel the cold sneak back in as I do a quick preview of the shots I had just taken, and they look good. I captured that ghost but best of all I was the one who was invisible, to blend into this world, to go unnoticed, and to not interfere with, these are the things that make me feel whole as a wildlife photographer. We must realize and never forget that we are part of something very special and it is up to us all to step aside and give a wide birth to the wildlife that is no less important then mankind and also to protect its habitat and to be a voice for the natural world.. I feel privileged to have these moments and they are just moments that come and go so quickly but they will leave a memory and hopefully an image that I will cherish until that day I myself leave the trail and disappear up into the woods forever.
Returning to the frozen pond early the next morning and tucking away into the same snowy spot that hid me the morning before I began my chilly wait. It isn’t long till I see a Coyote right across the pond from me, he slowly comes down to the ponds edge out of the snowy, woody, weedy world of hidden trails and leafless homes, the Coyote walks the ponds edge where the frozen earth meets the ice and then steps into some soft dried grasses where he paws and circles making his bed he finely lays down. I can’t believe my fortune, this is rare and I get a strange feeling of acceptance and peace to be able to witness and to feel a part of something that nature rarely lets us see. I watch through my camera as he cleans and yawns and curls tightly into a fury ball with tired eyes closing he goes to sleep. Truly amazed I am very careful not to make noise or movement as if there is a baby that is sleeping in then next room and I finely get that well earned moment to step back, compose, and reflect, I feel like the protector, the parent, the guardian, and wonder what do Coyotes dream. After about an hour and a half a large murder of Crow fly’s overhead with their nosey squawking caws awaking the little Coyote, lifting his head off his side and through sleepy eyes he looks up following the flight of the large black birds passing by with all of their disturbance that is filling the woods like the alarm clock that fills our dreams with exit signs and thrusts us into a new day, he then stretches his front legs and slowly sets up looking like we all must look in the early hours at the edge of our bed after a nights sleep, finely he stands yawns and stretches into what looks like some kind of a yoga position which he does twice before vanishing into the thicket and the woods to resume his morning on the hidden trails.