on the hunt

Intro to Wildlife Photography

By now I’m sure you have realized I don’t have many wildlife photos. Come to think of it I’m not sure if I have posted any animal pictures except one of a 17 year old sleeping Shiba Inu.

Not exactly wildlife.image

But if you have played along and read any of my posts you will already know I have never claimed to be a professional anything. All I claim to be is desert.

Oh I have tons of blurry nonsense. A grey blur I will happily tell you is a bunny. My blurry Javelina shots I took from way too far away. Yes, I have them. And because the reality is my odds so far have not been good with getting any quality shots when it comes to our furry friends, I’m going to show them to you. If you squint it sorta helps.


I don’t have a high powered camera. I use my iPad. Yes EVERY picture I have taken and everything I have posted has come from my iPad. When I started this blog a lot of the excitement and motivation came from the up close experience I get with the cactus and nature when I am outside in the yard. I want to be able to share all of this natural beauty with anyone who is interested. For those who can not ever get to the desert I want to share in a more personal up close way.image

The cactus are great at holding still while my amazing piece of technology that is an iPad does the focusing for me. I have some awesome pictures. I do and I am proud. It’s still my views and angles for sure but for a person like me who has little back ground with technology the iPad has made my life easy.

I stay with easy when it comes to most things computer related. I don’t want a bigger camera. I think there are plenty of amazing photographers out there who can take pictures of animals so crisp and clear it doesn’t even seem possible. They are rock stars. Anyone who has taken a picture of a living creature will tell you huge amounts of patience is required. Wild life in extreme heat that are the same color as their surroundings and can move as fast as lightning? You go with your big lens.

I think in my defense it’s pretty hard trying to capture images of Wile E Coyote ( Super Genius) and the roadrunner on my iPad while I am outside working in the yard.

This is me:

Wait…stop!… I see something moving!…let me take off my gloves and set down my lopers…grab my iPad and pray it hasn’t gotten too hot from being outside with me… turn it on… wait…where did the bunny go…?

Ok, so take my blurry shots with a good story and use some imagination!

Also in my defense, none of these creatures want to sit and pose for me. If I move when I’m INSIDE the house bunnies will scatter! Forget me trying to open the door to get closer when they are being cute. Quail? Forget it. They are on to me and just run faster hurrying their adorable fluffy babies along to get away from crazy me. I am just dumb enough to semi chase half inch fluffy baby quail to try to get a picture on an iPad. Go ahead and picture it.IMG_0371 (1)

The other night I am outside on the patio with a close friend who was in from out of town. It was her first visit here to our little house on the hill in Gold Canyon but she is not new to the desert. Armed with a camera and lens the length of my arm, she came already knowing the views here are pretty awesome and ready with high power.

So we sat staring off at the beauty that is the Superstition Mountain, laughing, catching up and just relaxing. It’s about 7:30 so it’s prime animal watching time. Even though it’s still over 100 degrees outside there we sit happily in the shade.

Then it happens! She spots a coyote! Just trotting along the way they do. It’s in the high traffic zone, the wash that is the acreage next to our driveway. We see the Javelinas over there quite often. Jack rabbit bounce through there all day long. Because we are up on a hill it gives us a great vantage point. The wash is not flat and I’m not sure just how deep some of the gullys go. I’m not about to go wandering through there to find out either and that is going to be about the only way I’m going to get a clear photo with my iPad.

Enjoy the blurry.

So there we are already excited for one coyote when a second coyote can be seen just a few yards back trotting as well! Coyote trot. I don’t know how else to say it. I’m sure they run and lay down that’s not what I mean. Any time I have ever seen a coyote they are not running or walking its always this trot. It’s a trot with attitude. Coyote have no shortage of swagger that’s for sure.

With this distance and trotting I have no chance of getting any usable photos. But honestly don’t really care because I had been blessed to get a recording of them howling just a few nights earlier. I will take that chilling sound over a blurry photo.


The mesquite trees are dropping pods everywhere. The bunnies and rabbits eat these. Last night I look over and under one of the trees two rabbits are eating. They are cute. One looks like a young jack rabbit with the longer legs and black on the ears. But I am inside the house so I already know I’m not going any closer to get a better shot or angle. Not with those ears! They KNOW I’m watching but the pods are too tasty to leave. I grab my iPad anyways. You never know. Then I see there are now three rabbits. Oh fun! Wait! Is that four rabbits? They are multiplying before my eyes but I can’t get a decent photo of it to save my life! NO seriously? FIVE of them now!?  So cute hopping around. Can I get at least ONE decent photo of this cuteness?image

The vultures are not quite sure what to make of me yet. I’m outside a lot. I’m on the ground a lot. And if I am taking pictures of a plastic yellow cowboy I am almost definitely lying face down on the rocks and dirt. A vulture took a couple of fly bys the other day. Good lower circling to see if I was road kill or what. A Turkey Vultures sense of smell is keen so I did feel better knowing that it had to come closer to investigate me because I was lying there, not my odor that had drawn its attention. I rolled over in hopes of photographing this big hovering bird but then it realized I was alive. I swear I saw a look of disappointment! It just turned its wing and glided off.

I got nothing. Blur.

Javelinas are unique. This is not a wild hog or boar though it looks like one, I guess. It is a collard peccary. I am told it is related to a hippo. I’m giving you a great description right now huh? I can’t. This one you will have to look up. Javelina. I will dedicate a whole post to them later.image

There is a small family  who wander through our property, climb into planters and eat their way through cactus. The first night they came for an up close visit was terrifying.

It’s the middle of the night, we have been in our new house just a few weeks if that. We put up temporary fencing out the back so our oldest dog Jethro could go pee at night without the risk of rolling down a hill into cactus. Nothing major just the roll out kind of fencing. This isn’t for security and we hadn’t made the commitment as to where and how and if fencing 2.5 acres of desert was needed. We can’t just leave the door open at night for him because around here who knows what will find it’s way inside.

This night my dog Cotton is acting strange. I’m getting the nose poke repeatedly and now it’s with a whimper. This is not normal. I’m half asleep and think he just needs to pee really bad so I open the sliding door turning on no lights. Cotton bolts out like he has been shot from a cannon and I hear growling barking snorting grunting mayhem erupt! My brain is now wide awake and aware that I have at least one startled Javelina on the other side of the flimsiest fencing possible with a white ball of unstable but well meaning fluff coming straight for it! I wear contacts so I see basically as blurry as most of my photos but can make out the shape of a Javelina running away and down our front hill.

IMG_1294Not too many days later my husband is in the living room and yells to me to come. Uh, the Javelina family is in our front planter! It’s still light out! There are three of them. Obviously mom, dad and child. I grab my phone and snap pictures. I’m not blogging at this point and have no idea how much trouble I would later have trying to get these blurry but close pictures on to my site. It’s just cool and scary and exciting. These are not animals you walk up to safely and snap photos of. This house and property sit in line with a natural wash. It is their home. My planter will never get to have flowers. The Javelina uprooted a whole cactus, flowers wouldn’t make it a day.image

So for my Intro to Wildlife Photography I give myself a C -. I think that’s fair. I don’t deserve an F. I haven’t failed. I continue daily to try. The effort and want is there. I believe the skill is too. I don’t deserve an A because of my trying or my effort though either. I don’t believe in that. I don’t believe we all get a trophy at the end just because we showed up. Like I said earlier there are photographers out there who have pictures of individual strands of hair on a wolf four hundred feet away. They get the A.

I gave myself a C – knowing that I will get better. It’s a start. And you know what? It’s a really fun start.image


The other morning I’m sitting on the couch just barely awake. Coffee is just starting to brew. It’s still dark. Then I hear the first howl. Its coyote. I run for my ipad and tear out the door hoping to catch the next howl if there was even going to be one. I hold the ipad above my head in the direction I think its coming from. Pure darkness is all the camera picks up. I hit record just in time to hear the second chorus. Then silence. I got it. I hit play and it sends shivers up my spine. Those howls just came from outside my home!

Gratitude barely covers it.

I’m shaking delighted.  Come on people! I’m not some professional Nat Geo photog following coyotes. No I’m the crazy with the wagon remember? (A Green Wagon)  I’m the one a disappointed vulture circled the other day when it saw me laying out in the rocks photographing a yellow plastic cowboy!  Seriously, you could see it fly off with attitude when I moved signaling I was still alive!

Yeah that me just recorded wild coyotes!

I can’t tell you how grateful I was that this audio of coyotes could be played for anyone who clicks! Just download. I could share something so cool with a click. It’s that easy.

It’s a choice. I could choose to not share. I could keep it for myself. Listen over again alone when I wanted to hear those chilling howls. Mine. All mine. But to me even as I typed those words it felt awful. Not share this? How could I not? If I have more than enough to go around why wouldn’t I share?

So I do. So I will. For any and all who want. Coyote howls are cool.