With each successive storm, it appears fewer and fewer people venture out to hike the trails at Great Meadows. However, since Wednesday's storm there had been a couple of skiers and snow-shoers who had blazed a path.
It was a very quiet morning. There weren't many birds. The kiosk's last entry was from 1/28. The water by the bridge was 1/2 way frozen over & the marsh wrens were no longer there.
With not a lot to see, I focused on details. The frost on the branches. Plants buried in snow. Noticing how the weathered snow is starting to get more crystalline, icy and crunchy.
As I walked out towards the observation platform, you could see tell tale signs from the coyotes. There were the weaving tracks across the snow and a place where one started to dig for something. What was interesting is that the frozen snow was starting to bear their weight, with most of the foot prints just in the most recent dusting of snow.
Out by the observation deck, the trail begins to narrow significantly as most people didn't continue on past there. Stopping to rest, I started scanning the impoundments for anything interesting. At first, it was dead still. But then on the far side of the upper impoundment I noticed something in the distance. At first I thought it was just one of the duck boxes, but I broke out the binoculars to get a clearer look. Then it moved. That was no duck box, it was a coyote. Continuing to scan the horizon, I noticed another, and then a third coyote.
Of course, wouldn't you know that today, I decided to travel light. My 50-500mm lens was resting comfortably at home. The distance was a bit far for my 70-300mm even with the 1.4 extender. But since these were the first coyotes that I've seen outside of captivity, I took some shots for posterity. It seemed like they have acute hearing. They stopped to look at me whenever my shutter clicked. They appeared somewhat bothered, but seemed more interested in foraging for food.
If I wasn't able to get a career shot, I might as well observe them more closely. So I hiked back to the tower, to use the telescope, to get a better view. (I should have brought my shovel, but I kicked snow off of most of the stairs.) One of the coyotes wandered off, while the other two wandered around hunting. One spent quite a bit of time in the reeds, near the woods, while the other wandered across the middle of the upper impoundment. I was able to watch them for probably 45 minutes to an hour.
Up in the tower, they didn't seem so bothered by my camera. I was able to use the telescope as a monopod to brace my camera. One of the coyotes, wandered closer, so I was able to get these shots. They are still extreme crops, but still worth sharing.
Just as I was packing up to head home, the Massachusetts Fish & Wildlife folks arrived. They were there to maintain the duck boxes they couldn't get to in the fall because they were too tall, too muddy, etc. They check each box, note if it had been used, clean it out, put in fresh sawdust, and made any repairs / replacements as appropriate. They loaded up three sleds full of stuff and dragged it off into the marsh to begin their work. (I always wondered how the duck boxes got there.)