Monday, November 28, 2011

To Catch a Fox

In a recent stop to ask if I could take some downed trees for firewood, the homeowner mentioned there is a fox den or two under a nearby railway bridge.  As much as I like getting free firewood (we heat our entire house completely with a wood stove), that got more of my attention!  I"m not sure about this time of year for getting good shots, but I'm hoping to get a few hours on a Saturday soon to find the den(s), check them out and see if there are signs of activity there.  I'm also hoping the den isn't too far under the bridge abutment or it won't be very bright  for pictures.

I did a bit of searching on the net to see if there were any tips to glean on photographing foxes. Here's the list of tips I found so far to keep in mind when attempting to photograph:
  1. Situate yourself where you're downwind, but also with the sun position in mind - generally behind you at best, but not beyond the subject unless you're creating some interesting effects.
  2. When fox pups are born, morning and evening are when the adults are usually gone hunting.
  3. Wear inconspicuous clothing.  Camouflage is good, but not necessary.  Don't wear bright clothing.
  4. An interesting tip from one photographer:  sway on a windy day to blend into the other moving grasses, etc.  Not sure about that one...
  5. More to come???
....Well, it is now one week after having started this post.  And I was able to head out to the supposed fox den location.  My in-laws were over and my father-in-law was game to head out there with my three boys in tow as its only about a 5 minute drive from our place.  The joke for the rest of the night with the boys was to
trick Mom on how many tracks they had found.  Fittingly, they were using a neat booklet they had just made the week before with Mrs. K (a lady who has helped Holly out with a science course for the two oldest of our boys as we home school) with animal tracks in it.  The list ended up including fox, raccoon, dog, bird, mice, train, and human - us!

We did find at least one den and lots of signs of digging in both embankments of the railway overpass, and another of which it was hard to tell if it went deep enough to be a real den or just a good size hole dug.  The soil here is very soft sandy and it must make for easy excavating.  As mentioned, we did see fox tracks so we know they've been around somewhat recently.  Being protected under the bridge from rain though, we couldn't say how recent the tracks were as they won't disappear easily.

Here are some shots of what I hope to make a return visit to some day.

Fox den

Fox tracks amongst delicate mice or vole tracks.

Fox den with a little trail heading out around the embankment.
It heads straight towards the tree.

Another fox den where you can see the claw marks
from digging in the soft sand.

Andrew and Jordan share or old digital camera where picture taking is limited to a small digital eyepiece as
the LCD screen doesn't work any more.  They both enjoy taking shots with it from time to time.  This time Andrew was quite into trying to capture the animal tracks and trying to compose his shots.  Here is the budding photographer and one of his shots of some rather large raccoon tracks.  You did a great job Andrew.

Andrew following in his dad's tracks.
(sorry, I couldn't resist that one!)
Raccoon tracks.  Picture taken by my son Andrew.

We spoke with another neighbour who confirmed that there definitely are fox there, but not as obvious a presence this past year.  He assured me that they're around year round, so I'll see what future Saturdays or Sundays will allow for in trying to catch a glimpse of them this fall or winter.  But this is certainly on my list for the spring when hopefully they'll still be there raise some young!

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