Coyote on a Grassy Hillside

Bay Area, California, USA

This is a photograph of a coyote wondering the grassy hillsides of the Santa Cruz Mountains. I captured it in the early morning hours while exploring some trails up along Skyline Drive in the Bay Area, California. Typically, I head up to this area during sunset hours due to the direction of the sun. However, this was my second or third time making the trip during the early morning hours.

After waking up a few hours before sunrise, I grabbed my photography gear, jumped in the car, and drove up to Skyline Drive. The plan was to do some landscape photography as the sun was rising. The view to the East overlooks the many cities along the peninsula, with the San Francisco Bay and another mountain range off in the distance. The lights of the city are still lit up, twinkling in the valley below.

Early Morning in the Santa Cruz Mountains

The early morning hours on these trails is quite tranquil. On my trips so far, the air has been cool, crisp, and clear. Visibility has been quite good as well. The trails are decently far from the more urban areas of the San Francisco Peninsula, meaning the distractions of the city are reduced as well (noise, etc.). Though, these effects are not completely removed as the cities along the peninsula are still fairly close, at the base of the mountain range. Light pollution, for example, is reduced but certainly still present.

And of course, wildlife is out during these early morning hours. Despite having only made the trip two or three times, I had run across a coyote on two of the trips. Each time it was just a single coyote, and I was able to take some photographs each time. I have seen deer each trip. Smaller creatures such as rabbits are also quite frequent. There are some hawks that fly around the area as well. Nothing too out of the ordinary so far.

Capturing the Photograph

I had begun to slowly work my way back towards my car. Slowing down to look around at nature every few hundred feet tends to drag out the return trip. It was while meandering back that I happened to come across this particular coyote.

The coyote was alone and quite interested in some deer on a nearby hill side. The deer were wondering around, eating grass. It looked like a small family, with one buck, one doe, and a couple smaller deer. Lucky for me, the coyote's interest in the deer kept it around long enough for me to switch to my telephoto lens and capture a few shots. The focal length was 550 mm, so I was not as close to the coyote as the final photograph might suggest.

The coyote was in an area close to several trails. By this time the sun was up, and a few more people had started showing up along those trails. As such, the coyote was becoming increasingly distracted by people. Eventually the coyote ran off, leaving the deer alone.

Running across wildlife like this is actually one of the reasons that I decided to purchase a telephoto lens. Though, there are some other reasons related to landscape photography as well. While I mainly do landscape photography, I wanted to have a lens with a bit more reach for times like this. As it just so happens, I had the telephoto lens with me when I stumbled upon this coyote.

The Bay Area, Northern California

The area around the San Francisco Bay, is commonly referred to as the "San Francisco Bay Area," or just the "Bay Area" for short. This includes San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Silicon Valley, Mountain View, Berkeley, Napa, and many other notable locations. There really is no clear definition of the Bay Area, with different people defining different boundaries. I have heard a few different definitions myself while living here.