Red Fox (Whitefoot Clan)

April 4, 2013

Last year I photographed a red fox kit with a white patch on its right rear paw. The runt of the litter, I referred to it as Whitefoot the rest of the spring and summer. The little runt and its siblings spent their first year roaming around on the property of my friends Nancy and Kathy, who live nearby. The highlight of Whitefoot’s antics involved an encounter with a baby groundhog one afternoon near the roadside fox den. As the tiny groundhog began crossing the road toward me—I was on the other side of the road from the den—Whitefoot ran out and began harassing the mammalian meteorologist of the future—no disrespect intended toward human meteorologists who predict our weather so aptly. As I photographed the encounter, I began to think I was going to see a little slice of Nature’s brutality but mama fox saved the day by showing up with a mouthful of voles. Whitefoot immediately aborted its mission and ran to greet mama and investigate the meal she had procured.

Fast forward almost a year to last Sunday when I was sitting on the same property, watching this year’s litter of tiny red beauties when I saw an adult approaching. I was well-concealed in my turkey chair hide, covered with camo as usual, but the gorgeous male spotted me right away. It began to bark at me and kept running down the road in what appeared to be an attempt to divert my attention from the den. Finally, it approached the den and as the little kits came out to greet it I noticed that it had a white patch on its foot similar to that of Whitefoot from the previous year. At first I thought it was the same fox, all grown up, but realized after talking to Nancy that is was Whitefoot’s father, which has a similar patch. Nancy also mentioned that the little runt I called Whitefoot, a female, still hangs around although the other foxes from last year’s litter had dispersed. She had also noticed Whitefoot participating in litter activities such as feeding and playing.

DJB_NKP_2012_0534 Whitefoot as a Kit in 2012

I checked with my friend Mike, a wildlife biologist, and he confirmed Nancy’s observations that a fox from a previous litter will sometimes delay its dispersal into new territory and stick around as a “helper” the following year. There is even a scientific term for the behavior but I won’t get into that. Usually, the helper fox is a vixen, such as Whitefoot. I didn’t get any great images of the kits during my visit but I’ll share one if and when I do. In the meantime, please enjoy this week’s image of papa fox. Also, if you would like to see the image from last year of mama fox with the mouthful of voles, go here.

Thanks for looking,

DB

Papa Fox (2013):  Canon 1D Mark IV; Canon 500/4 L IS Lens with 1.4 TC; 1/80 sec @ f/5.6; ISO 400; RAW Capture; Gitzo GT3530LS Tripod with Wimberley II Head; Converted and processed in Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP)

Whitefoot (2012):  Canon 1D Mark IV; Canon 500/4 L IS Lens with 1.4 TC; 1/200 sec @ f/5.6; ISO 400; RAW Capture; Gitzo GT3530LS Tripod with Wimberley II Head; Converted and processed in Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP)

10 comments on “Red Fox (Whitefoot Clan)”

  1. I remember that image of Whitefood (well, I’ve been to see it a few times!), and I remember the mother with the voles, too. It’s nice to see more of the Whitefoot family….thankY you for driving far and wide to get us such lovely images. “Nature Frames” is a great treat for me.

  2. Both photos are just awesome and the story put it all together. Thanks for that.

  3. Great shot of that beautiful Red Fox. I especially enjoyed the shot of Mommy with that mouth full of voles. I would love for them to visit my back yard anytime, and get all the voles they want. I loved the story that accompany the photo’s. I hope you have a good weekend. I am waiting for the sun to appear, here in Huntington Beach today.

    Art

  4. I love the photo and love the story! So glad you were able to hear it bark. Now you have to come and see if you can get a pic of my fox. Congrats on 50!

  5. Loved your story of “Papa Fox” and “Whitefoot.” You are so fortunate to be able to share even a small part of their lives.

    • Thank you Jo Ann. I’m also fortunate to have an audience of Nature lovers like yourself. Take care.


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