The trip to daycare is never dull...okay, most of the time it's pretty dull. Birk and Bjorn stay pretty quiet as long as I have the radio tuned to WNCB Christian hit radio and keep tossing fishy crackers, granola bar bits, or whatever edible thing I find in the Subaru's crevices into the back seat.
But today, we didn't get more than a mile from home when I saw a mammal in a hayfield. It was a long ways out, but at first glance I thought it was a Coyote. But it looked too bulky. I had taken Bridget's car this morning and so I didn't have my camera along (Rule #1 of wildlife photography: ALWAYS have your camera in your car!). Fortunately Bridget did have her binoculars under the car seat and I was able to get a good look at the mystery animal. I put them up to my eyes and found myself staring into the distinctive face of a Timber Wolf!
So I told the boys to "hang on!" and back we raced to the house. I nabbed my camera and tripod and sped back. The wolf wasn't there! I scanned the field cursing my lack of preparation when I spotted him, closer to the road now. He was laying down and gnawing on a deer carcass. I imagine he was able to kill the deer last night and just lingered on feasting until morning (it was past 8:30 am by now). I was filming in plain view but he gave me few glances.
Wolves can only be confused with Coyotes under the worst conditions or at very long distance. Wolves are much bulkier, longer-legged, and lope with a loose-jointed gait. Their head is blockier and they often show white rings around the eyes. Wolves also lack the extensive red of some Coyotes and may be very white or very black (Coyotes don't show this pelage variation).
I walked another 50 feet closer. He seemed undaunted but finally got up and without effort snapped a deer leg off to take with him (the original "take out" meal). He loped across the field and stopped near the tree line to take one last look at the man who interrupted his meal.
Back at the car, the troops were doing fine after about 20 minutes left to entertain themselves (I was always within sight of the car). I managed to find a bag with some mini rice cakes with chocolate drizzle, and these served as a fine treat for a very patient 3-year old and very tolerant 17-month old.
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