This year Spring came early, and then stalled, and then ran ahead. My foxes denned under my deck exactly one week early. Unfortunately, loose-running neighborhood dogs caused them to take the entire brood down the road to a set of culverts under two close-set driveways in my mountain neighborhood. The entire gang, Mama Foxie, Papa, and babysitters, Sadie and Goldie (yearlings who were members of last year’s litter) are at my window every morning. They check out my bird feeders, drink from the hummingbird feeders I put too low, and generally hang around on my back deck, which is pretty safe for them. The babies….frankly, I don’t like Mama’s newest decision: the culverts she decided upon are right on a bend in the road, and the babies sometimes are seen hanging around on the road itself. I don’t like the setting, or the danger. Could the dogs be as bad as that? I suppose they are to a fox. The first day I saw three kits at the culverts, I figured they’d left my deck. But as I got home, I found Sadie had babysitting duties to another three of the kits, who remained. By morning they all were gone, however. I am confused about just how many kits there may be in this current litter. With two babysitters, I suppose there could be as many as three denning sites, with Mama and Papa as the corporate executives of feeding, babysitting, and general overseeing. These animals are truly amazing! I just haven’t had the time during May to ever totally figure out the comings and goings of the fox family.
I’ll admit I will soon have more time to pursue other things (as in hunting for a new job after losing my teaching contract, along with many teachers in Colorado, for next year, or watching wildlife around my mountain.) I wonder if this extra time will help me figure out the impulses of a wild canine’s mind? Unlikely. None-the-less, I am wonderfully enriched by the time I had with the fox family, and I’m glad the adults are still coming around. Now, what to do about those neighborhood dogs?
On photographing wild animals: I am lucky to be able to use one of my best lenses, the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8, VR, ED to photograph the fox babies. My blind is made up of various vantage-point windows in my house. I do tend to run up steps, and back and forth as the kits frolic. It’s not as convenient as it sounds……also, some of the best behaviors are taken ONLY from behind the fixed picture window. Shooting through a window never produces the best results. I’ve tried to be inconspicuous by hiding around the corner of my garage, sitting quietly on a stool, but I’ve never fooled the adult foxes. Mama, being the tamest of the bunch, doesn’t mind my presence, but Sadie and Goldie are much more skittish, and often “tell” the kits to “skidaddle” when I am noticed. I use a tripod with a Wimberley gimbal head on my tripod for good panning control. I do wish I could afford one of the new Nikon cameras with better ISO low light capabilities. My D300 is not as good with low light as I would like, but overall it is a wonderful camera. Sometimes I add a 1.4X or 2X teleconverter to my lens, depending on the light available, since I lose shutter speed with the addition of the teleconverters. Shutter speed is of utmost importance with all the cavorting young animals do. Which is worse? A “grainy” picture with too much digital noise, or a blurry photo due to subject motion? Neither are great, but I’ll go with the noise.
To learn more about my fox family, check out my book, available at wwwBLURB.com or look here for more information about it:
<div style=”text-align:left; width:450px”>http://www.blurb.com/assets/embed.swf?book_id=2330662&locale=en_US<div style=”display:block;”><a href=”http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/2330662?ce=blurb_ew&utm_source=widget” target=”_blank” style=”margin:12px 3px;”>Foxes At My Window by Donna Dannen</a> | <a href=”http://www.blurb.com/landing_pages/bookshow?ce=blurb_ew&utm_source=widget” target=”_blank” style=”margin:12px 3px;”>Make Your Own Book</a></div></div>