Sunday, February 10, 2013

Red Fox, lazing in the sun

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of heading NNE to the wildlands of the Mohican region with Bruce Miller and Peter King. We had a few objectives in mind: investigating a report of a Barn Owl that had just come to light, seeing the now famous Evening Grosbeak flock, and searching for a Northern Shrike that has occasionally been seen along the route that we would be taking.
We scored on the owl and grosbeaks - more, perhaps, to follow on those. But as is often the case when spending time afield, something cool and totally unexpected pops into view. This is such a story; a tale of a foxily serendipitous find.
The boys and I had made our rounds, relishing the spectacle of a ghostly Barn Owl in its dimly lit haunts, and marveling over a flock of noisy and gluttonous Evening Grosbeaks. We had just circled about the area where the aforementioned Northern Shrike had been seen, but no luck on the butcherbird, although a consolatory Rough-legged Hawk put on a show. Well, two out of three ain't bad.
We were on our way to the Mohican State Park lodge for lunch, and the driver - me - had just hung a left into the lodge's long entrance road, when STOP - BACK, BACK, BACK!!! roared Peter, blustering and choking out his words. I knew some new game was afoot, although I wasn't sure what. A quick jab of the transmission into reverse and a stab of the throttle, and I saw what had caught his eye. A gorgeous Red Fox, lazing right out in the open, on the edge of the lawn!

Dopey with the warmth of the sun's rays and the promise of a soon to arrive spring, the fox barely regarded his new-found admirers. In short order, big telephoto lenses were bristling from the car's windows, and scads of images were fired off, burst-mode style.

As sharp of ear as they are of eye, the distant clicks of cameras finally made the fox beam on on us, wondering no doubt as to who the fools were that were interrupting its sleepy reverie. We certainly did not want to bother this glorious animal, but a stunning photo-op with a wild Red Fox is as rare as hen's teeth, and we couldn't help ourselves.

Finally the animal stood, shook off the dust, and turned to give us a baleful glare. It still sports the full luxuriance of its thick winter pelage - just have a look at that magnificent tail!

The fox slowly sauntered into the adjacent woods, turning to take another look at the paparazzi. My hunch is that it has a den very nearby, and when the weather is sunny regularly loafs on the grassy bank. Even though the temperature was decidedly cool, we had not a half-hour before commented on how nice the sun's warm rays felt. Apparently this fox felt the same, prompting his bask.

Sure enough, when we departed the lodge an hour or so later and motored back by this spot, our foxy friend was back, sprawled out on the lawn as before. Should you find yourself entering the lodge at Mohican, and it is a bright day, check the lawn behind the entrance sign and perhaps you'll also see this handsome beast.

If you would like to read more about Red Foxes, HERE IS an article that I wrote about them a while back.


Andrew Lane Gibson said...

Amazing photos and what luck, Jim! I've had my fair share of fox sightings but nothing like this, color me jealous! A number of years ago I can remember my dad and I hiking through our family farm's old wood lot and happened upon a couple red fox kits wrestling around outside their den along the dirt banks of the stream. The mother was nowhere to be seen but they just played and played until they final caught on to our presence and curiously starred back before scurrying into their den. I can't imagine how anyone would want to trap and skin these critters. They are far too cute and fascinating to harm!

Lori Sorth said...

FANTASTIC! Gorgeous animal! Thanks for sharing these awesome pictures.

Weedpicker Cheryl said...

Great photos, Jim.

This summer there was also a fox family with kits routinely showing off near the Mohican Covered Bridge.

Mohican is full of wonderful sights!

Cheryl Harner
Greater Mohican Audubon Society

Jim McCormac said...

Thanks for your comments! I suspect that we won't be the last to see this fox, and I hope he puts on a show for attendees at next weekend's OOS owl symposium at Mohican.

Lilac Haven said...

Beautiful. I once had the opportunity to photograph a red fox and I still relish that moment.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed the photos. When I'm at Mohican next maybe I'll get lucky and see it too.


Sharkbytes said...

Wonderful! Mine is still in winter survival mode. No lounging around yet. I saw mine on the 12th

Anonymous said...

Jim, as you suspected, I did see the fox on the road to the Mohican Lodge during the OOS Owl Symposium. It was in the grass right next to the road but by the time I turned around and got back to it it was walking away into the woods. I took several pictures but because of the trees and a snow squall they didn't turn out nearly as nice as yours. I'll never forget the image of that beautiful Red Fox walking through the fresh falling snow. Ed

Jim McCormac said...

Excellent - glad you caught up with the fox, Ed! I guess a few other people also saw it during the symposium.

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