"A Sand County Almanac"

"THERE ARE SOME WHO CAN LIVE WITHOUT WILD THINGS AND SOME WHO CANNOT."
"FOR US IN THE MINORITY THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE GEESE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TELEVISION.".....Aldo Leopold




"LOOK DEEP INTO NATURE, AND THEN YOU WILL UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING BETTER".....Albert Einstein


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Couple of Firsts at the Second Fox Den

In an earlier post I mentioned a fox den in the Colter Bay campground. That den is widely known by the wildlife photographers who frequent the area and has produced good photography opportunities for a number of years.  The second den that we learned about was several miles south and not far from Jenny Lake. 
This den was special because it contained not only normally colored red fox kits, but also, at least three cross foxes. Cross foxes are red foxes that have a melanistic gene causing them to have unusual coloration. Their fur is often grey instead of red with a dark stripe running from their head down the top of their spine to their tails as well as a similar stripe running horizontally across the shoulders forming a "cross" when viewed from above. I had read about, and seen photos of, these animals but had never actually seen one until I was made aware of this den...

 

The mother, or vixen, had typical coloration for a red fox...



After several visits to photograph the kits at play we still had not seen the male...



 

 
Sometimes there would be as many as twenty photographers present, all hoping to get a shot of the  young foxes that would be different from the ones their peers were getting. Some folks thought the number of people might be keeping the father from making an appearance. Late one evening the male was sighted attempting to bring a freshly killed marmot to the den. He retreated though, and hung around the fringes of cover in the area. When it got a little darker he brought the marmot part way to the den and handed it off to the vixen who brought it to the kits...
 
 
By this hour many people had left, and more were leaving all the time. As darkness fell only Cheryl and I, Lyn StClair, Bianca Branka Thomas and Bernie Scates remained.  Suddenly, unexpectedly, the male approached from behind a building. It walked to within 20 feet of us and climbed upon a stump and seemed to say "well, take your photos. Isn't that what you came for?" I took the following photo at 1/30, f 6.3, ISO H1.0 (12,800 equivalent)...
 
 
The male hung around for several minutes, giving us time to take photos and feel a special connection with an animal so many others had missed seeing.
The other "first" for me happened the next day when I returned to the den site. I got my first look, and photos, of a pine marten...
 
 
This member of the weasel family found the fox den and began raiding it. Taking voles and other prey that the adults were catching to feed the kits...


On this day I photographed him leaving with a foot from the marten that had been brought to the den the evening before...


I may never see another cross fox or pine marten, but I am fairly certain I will never forget seeing these two uncommon creatures and I will remain forever grateful for the experience.

2 comments:

  1. I was there with my husband in mid June and we spent a couple of days watching their antics. I never did get to see the male, but I was happy I got to see what I did see. You got some great pics.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sorry that you missed the male fox. He was never as visible as the female so I think most visitors failed to see him. Thanks for leaving your comment. What state/country are you from?

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