I woke around 4:00 AM sweating in the August heat with a sense of foreboding regarding the latest pandemic reports. A full moon hung overhead, something I anticipate with fondness in the Ortiz Mountains… light to photograph with. I took a camera outdoors. I captured a new datura blossom in the moonlight.
For reasons not understood, I was reminded that “lunacy” stems from “luna” and associates madness with full moons. The moon wasn’t bright, but pale, nearly monochromatic; the air was heavy and still. I reflected fleetingly on my mortality. The night was silent.
Then in near darkness by a cove of junipers I saw movement.
I could discern two coyotes. It had become unusual to see more than one coyote at once. Summer is time of pup care, shared by both parents and adult offspring sequestered in hidden dens. Then I saw three, and then four distinct coyote forms. Within moments there were six.
A warm and tentative breeze wafted over me; I was downwind from the coyotes.
For the past year I observed a resident family of three, parents and an adolescent female I watched grow into adulthood. Periodically other adults would appear only to be driven off by the established male with the notched ears.
There were three pups with the family in the pre-dawn light, perhaps their first foray out of the den.
It was impossible to photograph the gathering in the darkness. The pups were skittish and soon departed with their father.
Then, a new adult male arrived and exhibited aggressive behavior. The established male returned and I thought I would witness I fight. It didn’t happen, just snarling dominance displays.
As light seeped in I was able to get some photos, although it was a challenge in the dim dawn conditions.
One pup returned and huddled next to his or her mother.
The new male continued to posture.
And then the group parted, the new male shifting into his fluid Coyote Lope, neither fast nor slow, bobbing down the arroyo while the family hesitated ten seconds, then ambled off in the opposite direction.
I wonder what the future holds…what sort of drama is unfolding with the new male, are there more pups, and when might I glimpse these creatures again?
The first ravens arrived and the day began.