Monday, January 23, 2017

Fox Pups in Trees

Gray fox pup climbing a plum tree   
Every kitchen sink needs a view of nature. My kitchen sink looks out over a birdbath, the orchard, and the skirt of Lupine Hill. In June while doing dishes, I heard a familiar plop outside and reprimanded myself for not harvesting the plums sooner. The fruit trees in the orchard are so old, they only bloom in earnest once or twice a decade. Last spring was one of those lucky years when the fifty-something plum tree cloaked its gnarled branches with bright blossoms and buzzing insects for a few pink days. Before I could climb the slope in summer and set the heavy ladder between its tangle of unpruned branches, the fruits were darkening to purple and dropping.

As I rinsed a mug, I noticed a single branch in the plum tree shaking wildly. Something fuzzy and gray was moving down its length. A sharp snout poked out of the green leaves and pulled down a plum. It was a gray fox pup 8 feet up in the tree. The backside of the tree was shaking with another fox pup and no adult fox was in sight.  What other animal can go from nursing and clumsy puppy battles to climbing trees in less than a month? The fox pups were bigger and more agile than our first views of them stumbling around the garage in May, but I never imagined them jumping up and climbing trees so soon.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Fox Pup Screen Saver

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Friday, December 23, 2016

Fox Pup in the Garage


I know gray foxes live at the Dipper Ranch because they show up on the wildlife cameras and leave me presents on the kitchen stoop. When I return home at night, I slow for the curve in the Dipper driveway where the view opens up to the deep canyon of Peters Creek, and if the moon is up, forested ridges shimmer all the way to Monterey Bay. Sometimes a smudge of motion catches my attention against the glare of the gravel driveway. It's the bushy tail of a gray fox on nightly patrol. Or even a pair of foxes, the smaller one loping behind the first, until they are just at the edge of the headlight illumination where they turn sharp faces to challenge the car to follow their floating tails under the barbwire fence and down a steep hillside.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Fox Tails

Alarm signal?   
With such long tails, gray foxes undoubtably use them to communicate aggression, submission and other messages to each other.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

On the Mound


The gray fox pups spent a lot of time on this mound just outside the den entrance.

Fox Pups in the Barn

A gray fox pup peeks out from under a barn door, an improvised den entrance.   
A family of gray foxes moved into the old barn on the Dipper Ranch in June. For a month, we watched the fox pups tumble, pounce and lounge about the farmyard day and night just steps away from our kitchen door.

The fox family packed down a dirt runway under the barn door - just like the entrance to an earthen underground den. From reading Random Truth's accounts of San Joaquin kit foxesI knew many family interactions would occur at the den entrance. We set up wildlife cameras in front of the barn and over the summer we accumulated thousands of photos and videos of the fox pups. First a head would peek out from underneath the big red door, then a small body and fuzzy tail. Soon another pup would wriggle out and playtime would begin. Lots of running, biting, clumsy tackles, and tail pulling.