I love finding the unexpected.

At a workshop at Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico a couple of weeks ago, we were photographing wildflowers on a mountainside when our Vermejo guide, James, waived at me and pointed down into a small gully nearby. I looked up and heard him excitedly whisper “coyote pups!” I quickly switched out my macro lens for my big 200-400 lens and we started walking quietly back in the direction of the pups.

There were four that we could count, bouncing around in the grass and on boulders, probably a short distance from their den. Mama was not to be seen, though we figured she was probably watching us from the nearby aspen groves. We slowly worked our way up to them, but not so close as to disturb them.

Did I mention that they were cute? As in “OMG, they are so fluffy and curious!” cute.

Coyote pups at play on rock, Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico, USA.

Coyote pups at play on rock, Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico, USA. Canon 7DII. 896mm. ISO 1000. f/7.1 @ 1/1600 second. (I should have probably turned by ISO down, but guess I got caught up in the excitement).

The fourth one in the image below is in the shadows. Despite our silent pleas, all four never got up onto the rock at the same time. (I know I am greedy, but I can’t help it).

Coyote pups on rock near den, Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico, USA.

Coyote pups on rock near den, Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico, USA. Canon 7DII. 896mm. ISO 1000. f/11 @ 1/640 second.

One little pup had the best time playing with a stick, and two siblings finally looked up and saw us.

Coyote pups at play with stick, Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico, USA.

Coyote pups at play with stick, Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico, USA. Canon 7DII. 1200mm. ISO 1000. f/10 @ 1/1000 second.

They were rather curious about us, but not too scared. They soon went back to playing before eventually disappearing into the grasses. We did not want to get any closer or chase them at that point, since it might stress them or cause the mother to abandon that den.

Coyote pups on rock near den, Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico, USA.

Coyote pups on rock near den, Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico, USA. Canon 7DII. 896mm. ISO 1000. f/11 @ 1/800 second.

It was so cool to watch, and I am still excited thinking about it. I got a handful of photos I really like, and an experience I will always remember!

I am leading another workshop at Vermejo in August – more info here!