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.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Johnson Jumping Spiders Dance, Sing and Mimic

A Johnson jumping spider enjoys the late afternoon sun shining on its mushroom cap doorstep
 as it crunches on a earwig.  
The Johnson jumping spider got the most votes and will be featured on the 2016 Dipper Ranch walnut label.  This particular spider must be a male because its entire abdomen is covered in red felt whereas the female of this species has a black band down the middle.

Male jumping spiders dance and sing to get the attraction of a female jumping spider.  If she likes the performance, they mate. If she doesn't like it, she might eat him.