Up close with Berkeley’s wildlife at Tilden Regional Park

A coyote on Nov. 21, 2011, around 4pm at the field on the north (Tilden) side of Lomas Cantadas. All photos: Elaine Miller Bond

Photographer Elaine Miller Bond didn’t have far to go to take these beautiful photographs of a coyote and a red-shouldered hawk. They were shot right here in Tilden Regional Park late last year. Read her descriptions of the encounters:

My eyes went straight to this coyote, crouching low in the grass, when I drove my usual road home. I pulled my car onto the shoulder, and surprisingly, the coyote seemed unfazed. It took leaping bounds; it dug with its paws; it waved its tail side to side as it stuck its snout down a hole — part puppylike, much bigger part: predator. The coyote pounced again, pressing its forepaws to the ground, and then threw its head back.

When it turned back my way, I saw that it was gnawing on a burrowing rodent, which a scientist later told me was a species of vole. For a photographer who spent months documenting the lives of prairie dogs (another burrowing rodent), I delighted in this visit to other side of the grass.

Unfazed by being photographed, the coyote took leaping bounds across the field

The coyote with its prey: a burrowing rodent, most likely a vole

A red-shouldered hawk on November 23, 2011, around 5pm on Grizzly Peak near the parking of the Tilden Steam Trains

The red-shouldered hawk flew up Grizzly Park, over my car, then alighted atop a pole across the street (Grizzly Peak) from the parking of the Tilden Steam Trains. I shot these photographs from inside the railing of the parking lot, which, with the surrounding vegetation, served as a natural bird blind.

I could have stepped closer to the hawk, into the shoulder of the road, but I avoid making animals react. And, in my experience, hawks seem especially camera shy. (I imagine that they like to be the ones looking down upon us, not vice versa.) The bird took flight once again, a photographer’s dream if she can catch the shot.

After seeming to pose for the photographer, the hawk took flight

A view from Tilden Regional Park where both the coyote and hawk were spotted

Elaine Miller Bond is the photographer for the upcoming book: “The Utah Prairie Dog” by Theodore Manno and John L. Hoogland (University of Utah Press, for 2013), and author of “Dream Affimals (Affirmations + Animals): Inspiration to Fulfill Your Wildest Dreams” (Sunstone Press, targeted for later this year).

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  • SCaputo

    Wonderful photographs.  We go to Tilden often and I’ll keep my eyes open for all the wildlife possibilities.

  • E. Rosner

    Stunning images!  Thanks so much for sharing these.

  • Beautiful shots! 

  • MG

    I saw what looks like it could have been the same coyote on an early morning run along Inspiration Trail back in the fall (September/Oct).  It appeared so big to me that I had to convince myself it wasn’t a wolf.  I wish I had had my camera!

  • Sue Tomasello

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos.  Nice to see nature so close to us!!! 

  • leilah

    Wonderful story, beautiful photographs!  I live in W. Berkeley, and was stunned to see (what I believe was) a peregrine falcon alighting on the 8- or 9-ft chain-link fence around the small park on Tenth @ Allston.  It sat there for 4-6 minutes, totally unfazed by my 95-lb Rottie chasing a ball to within 15-20 feet below him.  It was only when I approached to within 75-80 feet or so (trying to get a better cell phone pic) that he took off, drawing one of a nearby pair of crows in pursuit (nearby nest?).  The 300-ft chase and swoops and swirls for another 200-250 feet were thrilling to watch!  Quite an amazing environment, this Berkeley!

  • Aloha Bears

    What outstanding wildlife photos — along with charming, informative commentary! I’ve often seen coyotes in Tilden, but never up so “close.” Thank you!

  • Anon

    Another sign that coyotes must be fairly numerous in the East Bay hills is the frequency with which they become road kill crossing San Pablo Dam Road below and to the east of the Inspiration Point trail.  I would say at least every other month.  If you ride your bike there, you will spot them from time to time.

  • N Haller

    Fantastic photos!

  • zoya

    Nice posting! Must say great shots of wildlife its very difficult to capture such moments of them.