Sunday, April 23, 2006

Red Fox Family

This is a photo of our first red fox in the cemetery, that I took about 5 years ago. Early morning I had spotted the fox walking across some grave tiers so I jumped out of my truck , with my camera, trying to get a shot of him or her. We will call it him for simplicity. This shot of him is the sum total results of my stalking Mr. Fox for about 20 minutes. In this photo I thought I was going to get close enough for a good photo with my Pentax with a 200mm telephoto lens. I had isolated him between the road and a series of stones and proceeded to sneak up. This is the result as he came around the stone and that is his head, in the middle of the picture, watching me. This photo is the result of the telephoto and my enlarging the photo and cropping it down. 100 feet is as close as he would let me get. I just gave up at this time as it seems that I had been out foxed. About 3 weeks later I got a photograph of part of his family. They had taken up residence, under an old tree stump in the middle of our cemetery. The terrain is fairly steep so they were safe. There were actually 7 kits but three died over the summer. Usually when we approached from the road below, everyone would scatter off to mom who was often in the den' all except the little guy on the right. He wasn’t scared of us at all.

They all grew up, over the course of the summer with the little guy taking the lead and leaving with dad for hunting lessons. The other three stayed in the den. One evening I had the opportunity to watch Mom, Dad and the little guy all come back from a hunting trip. The others had stayed back in the den. Mom was on one little mound of dirt and about 50’ away Dad was on another. The little guy was spending his time trying to climb the mound that Dad was on and as he got to the top and attacked, Dad knocked him off again. They did this 5 or 6 times, then they came off their mounds and continued on to their den. The little guy would run a few feet ahead, fall down and paw at them with his front paws, trying to get some action going but there were no takers as it was getting dark and time to get the little guy home.

We all watched this group for the rest of the summer and finally in late August they started to break apart and go in different directions, which is the way fox families work. Two came back, in a couple of weeks and hung with us for a while. Fox talk to each other by a high- pitched howl that sounds a bit like a small child wailing and it is a bit unnerving at night. Our cemetery neighbors don’t like the night sounds as in August they all have windows open getting any breeze that is out there. I know they don’t like it because they tell me so and sometimes they call the Police. It seems that the sounds are two fox calling each other or at least locating the others general direction. These two were a little bit insecure as they talked to each other even during the day. It was a hot summer day and one had decided to take a nap in a open temporary storage vault while the other one patrolled outside sleeping in the nearby Hosta plants. Two of us came upon the scene and just sat down and watched the drama. We were about 25 feet away and that was way to close, for the security guard outside, as he got up to challenge us but we didn’t move so he started howling. After about 5 minutes we heard a return from the fox inside and shortly after that fox emerged and the two headed off in a safer direction to sleep or hunt. Sometime, not long after, they disappeared for good. Fox need a bigger forest, than we have to offer, to operate in and The Berkshires were only a mile or so away.
A Red Fox is back in our cemetery. I talked about him in another posting this past week and we are all sure hoping that he is out hunting for a den full around here somewhere.


Lucy Stern said...

I wonder if they will come back again later?

keewee said...

Fabulous fox story.

Ted said...

It could be that the fox we have right now is from that origional group. My understanding of their habits is that at the end of the summer they break camp and all go off in different directions.