At first I thought it was somebody's dog, getting too far away from its owner, taking a few too many liberties with the freedom offered by being in a provincial park. But as it got closer, I realized that it was, in fact, Canis latrans.
My first reaction was delight. Although I often hear the chorus of the coyotes while lying in bed at night, I have only personally encountered them a handful of times, but never this close and never in broad daylight.
It appeared to be standing and waiting for me to approach, so as I got closer, I veered off onto a parallel path that ran alongside the one on which the coyote waited, separated by about 20 feet of grassland. The coyote turned and walked the same direction as me, as I drew near to it, and so we walked along together.
At this point I became a trifle concerned that perhaps it was stalking me, waiting for an opportunity to attack. Suddenly I was glad that I didn't have a Pomeranian tucked into my pocket, and I looked around for a large stick or something. Just in case, just to assert my dominance. Being smack in the middle of the open veld, the best that I could come up with was a handful of dry prairie grasses, or the pin from my lapel poppy.
But then the coyote lost interest in me, its attention diverted by the rustling of rodents in the switchgrass. It began to leap playfully into the tall grasses lining the pathway, a beautifully fluid arc of wild dog, dancing for its breakfast.
But late this afternoon, when it was time to retrieve the urban assault vehicle, I decided against returning through the park, having no desire to test my luck with a cougar or a bear at dusk.
What wildlife have you encountered lately?