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Friday, May 15, 2009

More Young Foxes

I've been out to check on the fox den every days, but usually the family is either out and about or tucked away inside as I hadn't seen them in some time. Yesterday when I went out near sunset, however, I spotted them a little higher up on the hill above their den so I stopped to take a look. I saw two of the original three fox kits I photographed, and here's a comparison of one of them. It's hard to see, but he/she has really grown quite a bit - maybe doubled in size over the last two weeks. That striking coloration on the younger picture has also faded out to a more traditional coloring - it was still just as curious, though:

The father fox has tolerated my presence once before, but this was the first time the mother fox was there at the same time I was. She started walking directly at me, and while some of the local foxes are used to approaching people looking for handouts, I definitely got a "leave us alone" vibe on her advance. I took the hint and just snapped a few photos before hiking on further up the hill, figuring I would just go for a hike on the dunes and enjoy the sunset.

A little further along, however, I came across ANOTHER mother fox with three kits. I spotted them from a few hundred yards away and approached slowly, and as soon as the mom lifted her head I stopped to see what she would do. I was expecting her to "chase" me off as well, but instead she just looked at me for a while as her kits jumped all over her. Finally, she turned and trotted off in the opposite direction, and the vibe I got from her was "Okay, YOU watch them for a while". Taking her departure as permission to hang out, I approached a little closer and spent about a half an hour with these newly discovered young foxes, who were very happy to just go about their business while I observed and took photos.

This fox looks almost coyote-like to me, especially standing in the sunshine on a dune that looks almost desert-like.

The local rabbit population has declined quite a bit, and these fox kits were hanging out in a field covered with former rabbit burrows. They were running in and out of all sorts of different holes, so the burrows appear to have been adapted into a big fox kit playground.

The way this black fox kit was tossing around and chewing on its toy, I thought it had a piece of bark or something to play with. Closer examination of my pictures revealed its actually (at least a part of) some type of prey - probably provided by mom or dad.

I went out hoping to see foxes, but had no idea I'd see seven (two moms and five kits in total) and spend the evening with a newly discovered family!


Warren Baker said...

Stunning fox pics Monika. I thought i'd done well to 'snap a fox' on my patch, but I can see ive alot to learn still!

Hah! The word verification is mankant!

Vickie said...

It is so awesome that you can find these foxes. I'm glad you can read the canine signs. But I never would have expected that second mom to just trot off. Wonderful images!

I'm told that foxes live in 'my' red-shouldered hawk territory and that you can sometimes see their kits playing. Can hardly wait!

Michele Wassell said...

Beautiful photos!! The evening light added so much to them... I can't believe how much the first one has grown...

Heather said...

How sweet-looking those kits are! And how amazing that you were able to spend time with them like that. It must have felt pretty special knowing that mama fox trusted you weren't going to hurt her babies!

Monika said...

Warren - Haha, I'm pretty sure "mankan". I don't know if it has as much to do with the photographer as with the foxes being a bit more human tolerant on the island here. I thought it was interesting to see how different the coloration was on your fox compared to any I see over here!

Vickie - I didn't expect her to leave either, especially after the attitude of the other mother! I hope you get to see some fox kits too, they are so much fun to watch!

Michele - I really really wanted to get some shots in the sunshine since the other time I saw them it was at dusk but overcast. My wish was definitely granted! It is amazing how fast they grow up.

Heather - Most definitely. I didn't want to overstay my welcome so I left them to go about their business after about half an hour, but I was wondering if the mom expected me to stay until she got back!