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Coyote Encounter


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Yesterday while looking for migrating songbirds and raptors at Santee National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina, I had a medium-range photographic encounter with a Coyote. It was in a large field maintained for Geese and Sandhill Cranes (and Pipits, Horned Larks, etc. as side beneficiaries).

I was able to carefully close the distance in half without spooking the Coyote, which was sort of surprising. Hunters and farmers pretty much shoot them on sight around here, so Coyotes are wary of humans.

It was working the edge of a short grass area and a recently semi-plowed field. Ignoring the abundant grasshoppers that kept bouncing around in its path, the Coyote snuffled along, pausing occasionally when it smelled or heard something. It scratched and dug from time to time, and pounced a few times. Three times it caught some sort of small mammal and ate it in a flash. Prey items did not seem to have tails but seemed too small to be Voles.

It might have been focusing on rodents and not grasshoppers due to pups to help feed. That might also explain the daytime foraging out in the open, when Coyotes are mostly nocturnal in these parts. This was the longest - about 10-12 minutes - that I have observed a coyote foraging actively.

I had a fairly short lens - 300 mm f/4 IS Canon - and the heat waves were starting to show, so forgive the image quality.

Sniffing around:

Getting into position:


Scarfing its prey:

Looking for the next meal:

Edited by offshorebirder
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Very cool! Love these guys. Good luck to this coyote and hope she manages to raise her pups successfully.

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Very cool sighting, and nice pictures. As you say, a good coyote encounter on foot must be hard to achieve with how frequentley they're hunted!

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  • 4 years later...

This past weekend, in exactly the same location, I saw a family of four Coyotes - two adults and two juveniles.  They were hunting voles in the same manner.  I saw them catch + eat a couple, but didn't get a photo since they were so quick to gobble them down.   About the best was this first photo with the adult female still smacking her lips.






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