This week’s Find the Animal Friday comes from the Blacktail Plateau region of Yellowstone National Park. On a mid-January day, as the sun started to work down toward the western horizon, I was heading back to my car after checking out conditions of a trail I offer snowshoe tours on. The route had been pretty uneventful, wildlife watching wise, but I was ok with it. I took in views of the Northern Range from vista points atop the plateau, spying a few elk and bison in the distance.
As I looked longingly at Electric Peak to the west, daydreaming of summiting it in a few months, morion on the groomed road caught my eye about a quarter mile away. In less than a second, a coyote emerged from below a ridge, stopped on the path to glance my way, then quickly scurried across, dipping behind another hill. There wasn’t time to take a picture or even react. But I got to have another coyote encounter. I walked on, figuring that if I walked up to where it crossed, I may be able to look on the other side of the hill and catch a glimpse of it in the distance.
Sure enough, when I got to the fresh tracks in the snow, I turned to my left and saw the coyote. It was weaving through deep trenches created by the handful of bison it was approaching. Only one was directly ahead of the coyote and when they were 50ft or less from each other, the coyote stopped. They stared, looking like they were face to face through my cameras view finder. I took dozens of pictures.
Without warning, the coyote darted to the left and I lost sight of it. I continued to snap pictures, but after a few clicks of the shutter, I put my camera away and proceeded to hike the final mile of the route. It wouldn’t be until later that night that I would see that I got a decently unique image of the coyote, mostly obscured from my vision, with a bison looking on.
That is the image I will be sharing for the find the animal Friday this week. This may be tough, but I will give a hint. The coyote couldn’t see me, but it could definitely hear me. If you scan closely, you’ll get a glimpse, the smallest of signs, of the coyote who was previously engaged in a standoff with the bison. If you desire an easier challenge, spot the five bison in this picture.
As always, click on the image for a larger view!