Showing posts with label foxes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label foxes. Show all posts

September 06, 2021

Cussed Out by a Gray Fox

Adult gray fox two days ago. Dad?

I went up to "Ringtail Rocks" late Sunday morning to swap the SD cards in the trail cameras up there. Despite the name, I have not had a single ringtail image this year, but I did not start until August. 

Since there were a small bear and a big dog in the last photo set, M. felt she come and carry the bear spray. Plus she is always up for a woods walk.

I had just opened the upper camera when a fox barked from about eight years away and startled me. The oak brush was too thick to let us see it, but barking continued untl we left, the fox circling around to one side but staying concealed. 

It was the middle of a hot day, when you don't expect foxes to be active, but maybe he (?) had a reason, like the kits being nearby. They had appeared on the camera too.

This one definitely lookd young.

This one seems youthful too.

A sort of puppy-like quality.

Mom? Or one of last year's female offspring?

I've been reading more on gray fox famliy dynamics. Males and females do form permanent bonds and raise the young together, sometime accompanied by yearling females. (Young males, I suspect, are strongly discouraged from sticking around.) I have had a number of photos at two locations that involve one adult and two young, but given that the distance apart is only a quarter mile, I might be seeing the same family in two places. I have also located a probable den site that deserves watching next April-May.

Range of the gray fox (Wildlife Science Center).

March 23, 2021

Giving Names to Boulders

I mentioned the ill-fated Bonsai Rock on March 21st — ill-fated from the "bonsai" trees' perspective, pretty much life as usual for a boulder, except for some flaking due to heat.

Pasqueflowers growin on a boulder.
So M. and I have been walking this ridge for some years now, and we have not named too many boulders. There is Hairy Rock (its flat top catches pine needles, giving it a shaggy look), Pasqueflower Rock (they bloom there early, maybe because it warms up early), and Ringtail Rocks, a collection of huge boulders fallen from the rimrock above, including two that formed a sort of lean-to shelter.

No sign of earlier human inhabitants in the shelter though, unless some Middle Archaic hunter dived in there to get out of a thunderstorm. It's pretty cramped. But the buried hunter from a cave just a little farther north was only 5 feet 3 inches tall, said the experts. 

Two days ago, we took a different path and came to a boulder above the "shelter" that I had not examined previously, although I had been setting a scout camera not far from it, picking up ringtails, gray foxes, and occasionally black bears.

 The last of recent snowstorm was melting—and more was coming—so we were taking advantage of a typical warm pre-storm day.

A gray box barking last September. Note the boulder's base at upper right, in shadow.

On top of the boulder, we found the smallest of vernal pools . . .

"Skywater!" M. said, thinking of one of her favorite novels, Melissa Worth Popham's Skywater. (Preview it here.

I looked around and was thinking more in terms of "Fox Shit Rock." Obviously, this is the place to proclaim your superior fox-ness through high-level pooping.

But I think it's going to be Skywater Rock.

November 29, 2019

What Does the Fox Say? Fox Says, "Which Way is North?"

Maybe you have seen a fox diving for rodents under the snow or in tall grass — coyotes do something similar.

"They hear their prey under the snow," you say, and you are right — but there is something more going on, something that I personally never ever would have guessed.

Read all about it: "'You're Invisible, But I'll Eat You Anyway.' Secrets Of Snow-Diving Foxes"

Pop culture reference here. (Hatee-hatee-hatee-ho!)

September 13, 2018

What I Found in the Woods on Wednesday

First there was the jawbone. I went to check the cameras at Ringtail Rocks (more coming from them — you saw the sexy skunks, right?) and there on my usual route was this mandible. The size and shape said "fox" to me, and the Internet tells me that is probably from a red fox, not a gray fox. Both live on that the ridge.

"Digested" grass.

At another time, I was coming down with The Dawg, not taking our usual path, when I saw this large clump of partially digested-looking grasses (compare to pine cones). My first thought was "stomach contents of a deer or elk," but there were major problems with that.

No one has been hunting up there during bow season. Second, if there had been any carcass or gut pile, said Dawg would have smelled it and run like an arrow straight to it, because there is nothing he loves more than Dead Things. That close to our usual path, I would have smelled it too.

So where did these tightly clumped grasses come from? They had a look of nesting material too. Had someone — perhaps someone of the ursine persuasion — dug out a wood rat's nest? I looked around but did not see any such disturbance.

Sorry about the backlighting, but the sun was not yet
over the ridge to the east (behind me).
Aha. The grass was part of a disintegrating squirrel nest, probably Abert squirrels, since they are all over these pine woods. Here's a great read on the relationship between squirrels, fungus, and trees.

The only difference is that 98 percent of our Abert squirrels are the black (melanistic) color phase, not the two-tone variety seen in Arizona and New Mexico.

August 29, 2016

Where Are These Foxes When I Need Them?

It has been a major rodent year, building on 2015. First, the rabbits. For years we hardly saw a rabbit or a rabbit track, and when we did, M. and I would comment on the sighting to each other.

Now I see cottontails frequently in the woods. One hopped across the driveway this morning. Another was under a bird feeder. The greenhouse vents are now protected with chicken wire and some of the more vulnerable vegetable garden beds screened as well.

It's not enough. There are mice as well. Through the summer they invaded the house and garage in platoons; I was live-trapping three or four a night, night after night — and sometimes in the daytime.

These mice I dumped in a brushy gully about 150 yards from the house. (I hope that that was far enough to keep them from coming back.) It's a smorgasbord for foxes! Where are the foxes?

June 29, 2016

The Brave Bunny & the Fox Den That Maybe Wasn't

A branch got in front of the lens!
A few days ago I mentioned some encounters with a red fox and discovery of what I thought was her den.

One thing bothered me a bit: it seemed a little late in the year for small fox kits. The last time that we did a "wildlife taxi" run for a very young kit, it was April. 

But I had also camera-trapped kits out with Mom in mid-June.

But by the third week of June, would they be using the den? On the 24th, the camera snapped this cottontail rabbit in front of the opening. Now that was one brave bunny, or else perhaps the den was empty.

For one last try, I decided to bait the site with some scattered dry dogfood. There was certainly a lot of fox scat in the area—some fox(es) had been bombing favorite trailside rocks, as they do. And it was fresh.

I checked the camera this morning, the 29th. Someone new had arrived, a spotted skunk!

Spotted skunk, Eastern or Western?
There were several photos of it sniffing and posing in front of the boulder, but nothing showed it going in or out of the den. Was it just there for the dog kibble?

I cannot recall ever seeing one here before. They are smaller and more excitable than good ol' Mephitis mephitis, the ubiquitous striped skunk, and they climb trees, sort of.

Sources vary as to what separates Eastern and Western populations. Some say the Continental Divide. On the other hand, this Forest Service document says, "It does occur just east of the Rocky Mountains and into the foothills in Colorado." Foothills, scrub — that's us. So maybe the High Plains are the dividing line. (The species difference is delayed implantation in the Western spotted skunk.)

I also got photos of another neighbor dog and, twenty minutes later during his morning run, our Chesapeake, Fisher. I remember that he tore off running toward the den area, which I was trying to keep him away from. Either he smelled dry kibble at a hundred yards or, more likely, he smelled the other dog's recent presence.

Anyway, no sign of a fox. But I think that I will leave the camera up and see what happens. Maybe there will be another fox-skunk showdown. This one, with a striped skunk, was photographed nearby a few years back.

June 18, 2016

Spot the Fox!

There is a red fox in this picture.
There is a red fox in this picture too, but the slower shutter speed
with infrared flash meant that its image is enlongated and ghost-like.

June 09, 2016

Mama Fox at the Den

As I posted six days ago, M. and I found a fox den up behind our house at the end of May.

I put up a camera, and then we took off on a trip out of state. Today I retrieved the data card. When I get a moment, I will try a different, better camera.

Meanwhile, all I saw was various views of what I assume is Mama Fox — and an interloper.
The little red fox outside her den on June 1st.

It's Zoe, a neighbor's German shepherd. Normally she is behind a fence
about 350 yards away — no distance to a big dog — but on last Friday
morning she was out running loose — her nose led her to the den.

Mama Fox was still out and about the following night.
(The infrared flash makes her eyes glow.)

June 03, 2016

Finding a Fox Den

A blooming cactus from last week, which
has absoutely no connection to this post.
Four days ago I was taking Fisher, the dog, up the little dirt road behind our house — his morning off-leash run in the woods.

A sharp barking came from up the mountainside, and I thought that Melvin, the nearest little dog in the neighborhood, had escaped his yard and was running free.

"No," I realized after a moment, "it's a fox."

Fisher ignored it, but I was curious, so I leashed him and walked up into the area where I had heard the bark. He sniffed the ground a lot.

Two days later, I heard the bark in the same patch of oakbrush, and this time I saw a red fox. She (I am assuming) kept barking until Fisher gave chase.

Typically for him, he gave up after about fifty yards. My old collie-mix dog, Shelby, would have chased that fox until it ran her in a circle and she came back with her tongue hanging out, but he is less predatory.

In fact, after he came back to me, she barked again: "Hey, I'm up here! Chase me!"

Obviously, she had a den nearby.

M. and I came back later that day, and we quickly found a hole dug under a big boulder with fresh fox scat outside.

So I have placed a scout camera there, because if I could get a photo of the kits, that would be a first for me.

April 13, 2016

Swift Fox in an Apishapa Getaway

Our neighbors the wildlife rehabilitators had been caring for this swift fox (Vulpes velox) for months, and in mid-March Colorado Parks & Wildlife decided it could go free along the Apishapa River in the prairie-and-canyon country east of Walsenburg.

Sometimes all you get with wildlife releases is a phone video, as with Fortuna the bear, but this one was done by Jacob Way, a district wildlife manager with more photographic skill, so thanks, Jacob.

For more on swift fox conservation efforts — in other words, trying to forestall a federal "threatened" listing with the complications that would bring — read about Colorado Parks & Wildlife's Swift Fox Conservation Team. You will find information on range, habitat, and so on, including the answer to the vital question, "What's the difference between swift foxes and kit foxes"?

Vulpes velox — is that a cool scientific name or what? As for the river, most people say ah-PISH-pa or ah-PISH-uh-pa. It is supposed to come from a Ute name meaning "stinking (stagnant) water," since its flow usually slows down to almost nothing in after the spring runoff.

February 04, 2015

It Is a Cold, Foggy Day . . .

January 20, 2015, up behind the house.
. . . so I am posting a picture of a gray fox, because I like them.

February 11, 2014

A Red Fox with a Missing Tail

While watching birds out the bedroom window yesterday I saw this fox go by. Obviously something has sheared off part of its tail — a pursuing predator?

It walked to each of the sunflower feeders and checked for fallen seeds, then circled around the house and climbed the hill up into the trees.

The same fox.
I thought it seemed a little stiff in the hips, but was I projecting that, still thinking of the loss last month of Shelby, our arthritic old dog?

We watched it from the kitchen, and M. said something about the hard lives of wild animals.

I wonder if we will see it again.

December 30, 2013

What Does the Fox Take?*

What does the fox take?
See the while ball with part bitten out? I found it a few days ago while scrambling through a brushy, rocky up behind the house, an area that today (after a light snow) is a maze of fox tracks.

And the other balls? Someone carries them two or three hundred yards up from the neighbors' houses, only to decide that they are not edible.

Maybe the fox thinks that they are eggs. Red fox or gray? That I do not know, but I am putting more scout cameras up there.

And the teddy bear? Same story, from the other side of the ridge.

*It just hit me that if I don't use this headline now, it will be spoofing last year's catchphrase, and no one will know what I meant, ring-ding-ding.

August 19, 2013

The Fox and the Sunflower Seeds

Go ahead, make a move. It's your move . . . you talkin' to me?
Mid-afternoon and there is a ruckus from the dogs, who are penned on the veranda. The gray fox is not too impressed by the dogs' threats.
Yeah, I eat them. You got a problem with that?
Aesop, La Fontaine, and others made a story of "The Fox and the Grapes." So what is the moral lesson of "The Fox and the Sunflower Seeds"? (The seeds fall from a bird feeder.)

Here is your cinematic reference for the first caption, in case you forgot.

And don't forget the movie, which is excellent. But you will need a VHS player.

June 22, 2012

Foxy Blog Stew

Red fox checks to see if the dogs are behind the fence.
• Red foxes are native to North America, yet some were introduced from European stock to the Atlantic seaboard. What do genetics say about the result?

• Please press "1" if you can no longer keep your dog.

• Fiighting fire in the 21st century—an operations chief explains strategy on the Little Bear Fire in SE New Mexico (9 min. video). Everything and everyone is a "resource," of course, and "IA" (initial attack) is used as verb. Still a good look at current Forest Service thinking.

June 17, 2012

A Camera-Trapping Trophy, But Blurry

 Continuing the narrative that started here and was continued here.

Some other animals came to the spring in late May, before it dried up.There was this red fox and two kits —the one at left is drinking.
Red fox family in the early dawn.
A wild turkey passed by the camera.
Wild turkey hen
Even a domestic dog —I suspect that it came up by an easier route than we do, from a small horse ranch about half a mile away. To reach the bowl from that ranch is easier than the route we must follow.

Once when I was hunting up there a few years ago, I saw a black-and-white farm collie trotting purposefully down in the direction of that ranch.

This dog missed meeting up with the rattlesnake.
And then there was this one, early in the morning on May 20th. If only it had slowed down a little for a sharper image!

I have always figured that to catch a mountain lion with the scout camera was a sort of Holy Grail. Now I will have to adjust my goal to a good image of a mountain lion — or else Holy Grail #2, which is a ringtail.

June 11, 2012

Gray Fox in Daylight

Click to embiggen.
I get a lot of nocturnal pictures of gray foxes on the scout cameras, but this was a rarer shot—a fox moving through the woods in mid-morning on May 31st.

May 22, 2012

Unexplained Camera Trapping

Bearly there.

Glow-in-the-dark deer.
Fox Mulder pursued by mysterious globes.

The truth is out there.

July 22, 2011

Like a Fox in the Headlights

I mentioned how M. and I recently bought some land adjacent to ours that included a peculiar cabin, of which more later.

The owners made some noises about selling the furniture and appliances separately, but we just sat tight, and in the end they walked away from it all—leaving the beds still made, food in the cupboards (but not in the refrigerator, thank heaven), clothing in the dresser drawers, etc.

Taking some boxes of crackers and granola bars, some abandoned dry dog food, and some peanut butter and honey that we did not want, I decided to put it out in the woods—well away from any dwelling—and set up a camera.

The bears had been in the area—overturned basketball-sized rocks told the tale—so maybe they would find this bonanza.

But it was not the bears who came. Gray foxes got it all.

These photos were taken with the infrared flash, which also puts out red visible light. I like the second photo—the slow shutter makes it look as though one fox is dematerializing. (Click photo for slightly larger view.)

Since gray foxes are adept little omnivores, I expect that they enjoyed the granola bars, etc. and would have then gone on to looking for their next meals. This was a one-time feast that will not be repeated.

July 16, 2011

A Meeting on the Trail

Last Monday, M. and I bought some land adjacent to our home. It came with a sort-of cabin on it. There is a long story behind the purchase, almost twenty years' worth, so let me just say that I wish the cabin were not there—and perhaps some day it will not be.

Now that we own the land, I plan some year-around camera-trapping up there. This was my first sort-of good picture: a mule deer doe meets an immature gray fox on a game trail just before dawn two days ago.