4:00 A.M. Thursday found Billie Cromwell and I traveling to the central district of Shenandoah National Park for a morning of wildlife photography. It was a balmy 14 degrees Fahrenheit in the valley, but the wind was blowing on top of the Blue Ridge Mountains with a wind chill factor of well below zero.
We were primarily looking for large whitetail bucks that had not yet shed their antlers and we encountered one by the roadside somewhat south of Skyland, which is one of the developed areas in the park.
Soon we arrived at the Big Meadows Complex. It would be a shocking experience if one had never visited SNP on a brutally cold winter day, but I had been there several times before and knew what to expect. We only saw two other civilian vehicles that morning. One was another photographer and the other was an elderly gentleman driving the top of the mountain. Of course there was a ranger on duty and there were some maintenance workers traveling about. All of the facilities except for a small restroom were closed.
The Camp store is a bustling place most of the year, but today the crowds of summer were gone and it was deserted.
It is rare to have close photo opportunities of these animals in SNP, so at first we photographed him from the vehicle, but eventually we decided to get out in hopes of getting him in a better background and to our surprise he approached us. It soon was obvious that he expected us to give him food, which we did not do as it is a violation of park regulations, but it was clear that he was used to getting handouts from humans. After a few attempts at approaching us, he seemed to realize that we were not a potential food source, so he went back into the woods along the drive.
Eastern Coyote: 100-400mm at 400mm ISO 500 1/60 sec. f5.6For more Camera Critters photos click Here.
Like so many wildlife shots, the buck and the coyote were taken under low light conditions, which required the higher ISO settings.