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

May 22, 2011

Eagle-Rassling and Rooster-Netting

M. and went down to the Raptor Center in Pueblo on Saturday for a wildlife-transporters' class on handling raptors.

Here Diana Miller, the Raptor Center director, demonstrates how to handle an eagle. This particular bird has been handled a lot—she is more than forty years old and has been an "education bird" for most of her life after having an injured wing amputated. That does not mean she is completely docile, however!

When it was my turn, in fact, I kept thinking about how close her beak was to my chin and wondering how she felt about men with beards. (OK, apparently.)

The next session involved capture, and since the Raptor Center did not want us chasing their Swainson's hawk or some other exhibit birds around, someone provided two roosters.

In the second photo, you see one of the transport volunteers making her approach with a capture net.

The net is cotton—mesh nets can cause injuries to birds and animals if their feet, wings, or heads become entangled.

The roosters were indignant about being netted, but once released they quickly returned to checking the ground for green plants and bugs.

Speaking of capture, the peregrine falcon that I picked up last August in the Wet Mountain Valley was released there in late April after spending the winter recuperating at the Raptor Center. Unfortunately, M. and I were unable to be present for the release, which was done for a school presentation in Westcliffe, but apparently all went well.

And the foxes from Mission: Wolf are doing well too, the local rehabilitator tells me.

April 10, 2011

Box of Foxes

Rescued fox pup gets a drink of milk. Click to enlarge.
A couple of days ago, someone brought a young red fox pup to the people at Mission: Wolf. An adult fox believed to be the mother had been killed by a car, and the pup was found in a haystack.

One of their volunteers brought it to the rehabilitation facility run by Tom and Cec Sanders in Custer County. (They have a book out.)

Then another pup was found, and to save the wolf people some driving, M. and I agreed to pick it up in Westcliffe and bring it the rest of the way.

It seemed strong and not particularly dehydrated. Now it is sharing a heating pad, blanket, and stuffed animal in a kennel crate with its litter mate: a box of foxes.

Cece always puts stuffed animals in with young live animals. They like to cuddle and crawl under the stuffed ones. (It's kind of like the famous monkey mother experiment, but without the cruelty.)

There might be more fox pups up there somewhere. Either we will get another transportation call, or they will be goners before too long.

Assuming no health problems, the two rescued pups will be released in late summer.

September 11, 2010

June 06, 2010

CSI: Camera Trap Spring

"This is kind of creepy," said M., looking at the forest floor around her.

The ponderosa pine-needle duff was scraped and gouged as though a wrestling match had taken place.

More seriously, my game camera was no longer strapped to the big pine where I had left it. The battery compartment door was over there, the main control-panel cover somewhere else, and the silver C-size batteries gleamed in the underbrush.

Best of all, the camera body itself was in the spring. So was its nylon mounting strap.

Something there is that does not love a camera--other than grumpy movie stars. We reviewed three possible culprits:

1. Bear. The torn-up ground, the muddiness of the camera, a paw print near the spring, and the general destructiveness suggested Ma or Pa Bruin. Plus I had gotten bear pictures at the same spring on May 26.

2. Human. Someone had unbuckled the strap. On the other hand, a hostile human would have likely just taken the camera--or picked up a stone and smashed it to ruin the electronics. Or shot it with a gun.

3. Bigfoot. Just in case we ruled out numbers 1 and 2.

 But hurray for secure digital (SD) cards. At home I pulled the card from the camera, wiped the mud off with alcohol, and downloaded 51 images.

Here are the highlights:

The three foxes were back on the morning of June 2.

(One is drinking from the spring in the shadows at the left edge.)

Just after noon the same day, a bull elk in velvet came to the spring.

Around 10 a.m. on June 3, something knocks the camera askew. Here is the probable culprit.

Two minutes later, someone is back--or had never left.

Then four hours later, around 2:30, the camera captures a shot of a brown ear, a total white-out as though something blocked the lens, and then this bear cub walking away.

A minute later, Mama Bruin comes back. Maybe she is getting annoyed now?

At 3:15 p.m., mama and cub depart. It looks as though the adult bear waded into the spring up to its elbows and then sat in it, since its hindquarters are muddy and there is no other open water nearby.

But wait! Let's smack the camera around some more! This photo was followed by others of the camera pointing 180° from its original position, and up towards the tree tops.

A bear--presumably the same one--came back around 7:35 p.m. In this photo you can see brown fur to the left.

At 7:38 the camera was being knocked around again. (Was this when the bear unbuckled the mounting strap?) For ten more minutes, the passive infrared detector was still being triggered, although the photos were only of tree tops.

And at some point it was "disemboweled," its batteries came out, and it was deposited in the spring. There it lay for three days until we returned for it.

No, it does not seem to work. The case is water-resistant, but there is a limit to that. And the clear plastic disk covering the lens appears to have been bitten.

June 01, 2010

Red Fox and Kits

More photos from Camera Trap Spring. These were taken at the edge of the camera flash, and the resolution is not the best.

Here comes a red fox with some sort of prey—a wood rat?—at 3 a.m. on Sunday, May 23.

Two kits are playing near the spring on Monday, May 24, at 4:20 a.m.

It looks as though Mom (?) is ready to be on her way on Thursday, May 27, at about 2:30 a.m., but someone is chasing her and making a play bow.

August 21, 2009

A Fox in the Morning

About 6: 22 a.m. yesterday this red fox triggered the scout camera up the ridge behind our house.

October 20, 2008

A Bulletin from Camera Trap Spring

I planned to start deer hunting close to home this afternoon, but the weather was not cooperating.

Before the season started, M. and I had hiked over the East Ridge and replaced the batteries in the camera that I had placed a few days earlier at a tiny seep that I call Camera Trap Spring (original, eh?). The first two-day placement had produced no images at all, but there is not much water in that little valley -- something had to show up at the spring.

Today was cool and misty. Just when I was ready to head out for an evening sit at the spring, rain and thunder started. I decided to just hunt/hike over, fetch the camera, and come back.

When I reached the spring, I saw that the camera's (rechargeable) batteries were dead. That could be good, I thought.

Back home, I downloaded the pictures...

An Abert's squirrel. Multiply this image times eight or so. It was one active squirrel.

A pine squirrel had also been visiting the spring. There were multiple shots of it as well.

A gray fox showed up about 9 p.m. Thursday night.

But whoa! Look who stopped by for a drink in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Was this thirsty bull elk the reason that the water level in the seep had dropped? Sneaky guy -- he is hanging around in this patch of deep forest all the time, I bet, and coming out to feed by moonlight.

July 02, 2008

Gray Fox

A gray fox near the house. We never see them hanging around at dusk (and making the dogs crazy) like the red foxes. Sometimes we hear them in the middle of the night, during their winter mating season.

July 01, 2008

Fox versus skunk

My cheapie scout camera picked up an apparent red fox and skunk confrontation a little after nine o'clock Sunday night -- at least, I think that is a skunk tail beyond the fox, who is clearly taking an aggressive pose. (Too bad the date/time text got in the way.)

Since there was no lingering smell on Monday morning when I collected the camera, maybe the skunk did not drop The Big One.

May 13, 2008

The Deer Mouse Surge

Almost every fall I face an attempted migration by deer mice (Peromyscus) into the garage, which connects with the basement and thus the rest of the house.

I don't like them in the house because of (a) the hantavirus risk and (b) the annoyance of hearing mice in the walls when I am trying to go to sleep.

The cats used to take care of any mice who made it into the main house, but M. and I are currently cat-less. And the basement does not connect directly with the upstairs.

So I lay traps. But this year, the traps are catching mice in May. Perhaps connected with this mouse surge, M. and I have seen several dead mice, unmarked by predators, lying around near our house and the guest cabin.

Some quick Web research leads me to think that while the deer mouse population fluctuates in the course of the year, peaking in late summer into fall, year-to-year cycles are not so variable. Other sites, however, suggest a connection to the mast crop--we live surrounded by oak brush, and the number of acorns produced last year was at least average.

Maybe the number of foxes we are seeing around the house is connected to the mice, since they are a major predator. But it could also be because the foxes (at least the red foxes) have gotten used to scavenging sunflower seeds under the bird feeders.

It's a mouse-tery to me.

April 13, 2008

The Fox in the Night

Red fox, April 13, 2008. Photo by Chas S. Clifton

Another picture of a red fox dropping by around midnight, leaving scent trails that fascinate the dogs the following morning.

Coincidentally, Patrick Burns offers a chart on fox size around the world. Maybe I should put a yardstick out with the dog-kibble bait.

February 21, 2008

Gray Foxes

Gray fox. Photo by Chas S. Clifton
Gray Fox. Photo by Chas S. CiftonI thought that we had a few gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) living near the house, but I was not absolutely sure. Now the scout camera has caught one (or two). These are the foxes that climb (leaning) trees.

Red foxes, like these two checking under the bird feeder, seem bolder and more likely to show up in the day time, compared to the gray fox.

I thought that I had had heard gray foxes (samples here), but just in the last 48 hours I got some photographs on the scout camera.

That black tail tip is diagnostic.

The Grey Fox is a fine movie too.

November 13, 2007

Black Rats, Brown Rats, and Prairie Dogs

Patrick Burns offers a long entry on bubonic plague and its history in the United States. National Park Service employees probably should not read this entry unless they are feeling strong.

I never know whether to worry more about plague or about hantavirus. Right now, those foxes might be keeping the deer mouse population low. I have trapped only half a dozen in the garage (which gives entry to the basement)this fall, a low figure compared to some year.

The foxes, meanwhile, are leaving scat all around the house, to the point where you have to look where you step when you go outdoors. They love to come at dusk, when the dogs are penned on the front porch before supper, and taunt them.

It's the price you pay for mouse control.

October 17, 2007

Blog Stew with Mice

¶ My visitor log showed a visitor from the Polo-Ralph Lauren corporate domain googling "western wear for dogs." Is this a fashion forecast? Or are they just dressing up the cow dogs at the ranch outside Ridgway because RL himself is dropping by?

¶ Colorado's top five "feeder birds" -- in other words, species that show up at feeders watched by Project Feeder Watch participants -- are juncos, house finches, flickers, black-capped chickadees, and house (English) sparrows. My prediction is that it looks like a good year for Steller's jays (no. 18) here.

¶ The blogroll now includes a blog from the Secret City of Atomicgrad, Atomic Nerds.

¶ Only four deer mice have given their all for a taste of almond butter in the basement so far this fall. (The basement connects to the garage, the garage connects to the woods.) Maybe, as Patrick Burns points out, the red foxes are helping to deal with the problem.

October 06, 2007

Foxy Photo 2

Pair of red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), Oct. 5, 2007. Photo by Chas S. CliftonThree nights after my earlier fox photo, the scout camera captured this pair.

Mating season is still months away, but given the difference in size, I wonder if this is a bonded pair. But I know little about the pair bond in foxes beyond what I read here--that a male and one or two females may share a territory.

Lewis and Clark were somewhat confused by red foxes in the West. I am not sure why CSU says they are not in southeastern Colorado: I have seen them there, but it was on cropland, not grassland or canyon country.

Actually, if there is one elusive, nocturnal animal that I would like to photograph, it is the ringtail. I think they are here, but not in large numbers.

October 03, 2007

Foxy Photo

Red fox. Photo by Chas S. Clifton 10/3/07Red foxes like to scavenge sunflower seeds under the bird feeders. This one, having snacked, is drinking from a water dish.

I decided to try for a photo. It's not in this guy's class--he gets mountain lions, but I am learning what I can do with my El Cheapo scout camera--beyond taking candid photos of Shelby.

(Here is another blog devoted to scout-camera photography.)

October 01, 2007

Making Up Stories about Animals

She won't go home. She wants to take one more walk by the lake. She wants to finish that novel she started, now that her husband and kids have gone. Even though the summer house is not insulated, and the heating system is not the best, she wants to linger.

She is a broad-tailed hummingbird. Go south, honey. The sugar-water bar is closing. The weather is getting nastier. Isn't Mexico calling?

And then there is Goth Coyote.

I used to wonder why there were not more coyotes around us. Instead, the woods are full of foxes. But this summer Goth Coyote showed up. I call him/her that for his/her howl, which has a particularly haunting rising quaver that makes me think of torn black-lace elbow-length gloves and gobs of eye shadow. Another coyote sings duets, but GC's quaver is unmistakable from the horse pasture or up the Forest Service road.

He/she probably got in trouble at school. The Wet Mountain Tribune would probably concur with this opinion.

May 26, 2007

There is no pax . . .

. . . in the eternal duel of Dog and Fox.

And that duel usually occurs around 2 a.m., when M. and I are soundly sleeping with the bedroom window open.

Evidently the foxes think, "Let's go annoy those dogs." And so they bark (.wav file). It sounds as though they are only about 20 yards away.

And the dogs go berserk, baying at the window, running to the front door ("Let me out! I'll get that fox!").

After fifteen minutes, everyone settles down again--until the next night.

February 28, 2006

Foxy spring

The weather has turned warm, and we're smelling the gentle scent of skunk on the night breeze, so they have come out of their semi-hibernation.

This morning, just before the sun topped the nameless ridge to the east, I saw a copper-colored movement outside. The dogs are inside, I thought, so it could not be Jack, the rust-brown Chesapeake Bay retriever.

It was a fine fluffy red fox, eating sunflower seeds fallen from one of the bird feeders.

I'll know his scat when I see it.

UPDATE: After I typed the above, I was walking to the parking lot and heard the first mourning dove of spring calling from one of the tall pines behind the Chemistry Building.