Colorado Report: Red Fox with Supper

July 1, 2015

I just got back from a short trip to Colorado to photograph mountain wildlife such as American pika and yellow-bellied marmots. When I arrived at the vacation cabin of my friends, Alan and Carol Bell, they informed me that they had spotted a family of red foxes on the property a day earlier. I joked that I had just driven 16 hours, over two days, to see and photograph mountain critters, and they were already enticing me with a common Missouri species! Common or not, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to photograph a red fox so later that evening I found myself in the old turkey chair, but this time surrounded by sage brush instead of oak trees, waiting for a splash of red to materialize before me.

After three hours of staring at the vicinity of the burrows that Alan and I had found, it was getting close to the 7:00 p.m. supper we had planned so I gave up for the evening. I returned to the cabin to find Alan waiting for a report and advised him that I hadn’t seen anything other than magpies and a little songbird that I later identified as a green-tailed towhee. Disappointed, we sat down for one of Carol’s excellent meals and enjoyed the view out the front of the cabin. Just as I finished slathering my baked potato with butter and sour cream, the splash of red I’d been waiting for appeared through the window in the form of two fox kits playing under the bird feeder. Drat!

The next morning, Alan and Carol had to go to town so I headed out to hike a trail along the Blue River, which runs right behind their cabin which is north of Dillon. Normally, I would have run into a bunch of trout anglers because the reach of stream I was on was on public land, but the it was torrential due to recent rains so I had the trail to myself. It was a wonderful first morning because I didn’t have to climb too much while my lungs adjusted to the thin mountain air. I didn’t photograph much that first morning and I’ll admit that I missed an easy shot of a cute little pine squirrel, or chickaree, on a moss-covered log.

Later that day, Alan and I planned to take a short mountain hike but the weather was looking ominous. We decided to stay at the cabin, and planned a 4:00 a.m. departure for a long hike the next morning. This opened the door for another shot at the foxes. I was in the turkey chair by 4:45 p.m. staring into space, yet again, hoping to see that splash of red. Several hours later, at 8:05 p.m., just as the sun was bathing the prairie in red, an adult fox emerged before me from its underground lair. Yes!

The gorgeous mammal, which appeared to be the mama fox, surveyed its territory and looked my way with some curiosity but never showed much concern about the anomaly within her home range. A few minutes later, she proceeded to an area about 75 meters away and disappeared behind the prairie scrub. It wasn’t long before she returned to my location with a kill. I wasn’t sure what the mama fox had captured — some kind of squirrel I assumed — but later I showed the image to a friend at Colorado DNR and he said it looked like a baby marmot.

I watched as the mama carried her catch off to a new location, I assume where her kits were staying, and then she went back to the same spot as before and returned with more prey, as shown in the next image.

 

DJB_ACB_2015_1091

Mama fox returns with a second mouthful of prey. I’m not sure if the mama had cached the critters overnight or she was just raiding a den of the unfortunate critters. Either way, the kits would be well fed that evening!

 

DJB_ACB_2015_1071

Mama fox taking a look in my location at the perfect moment of the “golden hour.” Her transition from winter to summer coat only made her more beautiful, in my eyes, and I couldn’t believe how long her tail was, as compared to all of the red foxes I’d photographed here in Missouri.

 

Danny_Brown_Red_Fox (7)

My last view of the Colorado red fox as the sun faded behind a mountain over my shoulder. You can only imagine how I felt as I made this image. I think I’m ready to move to Colorado!

On my next report, I’ll take you on a trip high in the mountains in search of the American pika. It was quite an adventure.

Thanks for looking,

DB

Gallery of Images:  Here

Email:  NatureFrames@Rocketmail.Com

8 comments on “Colorado Report: Red Fox with Supper”

  1. Incredible capture, esp. when I think of the odds of having absolutely everything good come together in a single frame!

    • Thanks Nick — always great to hear from someone who understands the situation. Much appreciated.

  2. That top photo might just be one of my favourites of your photos. Gorgeous.

  3. Great shots… come to those who are patient.

    • Thanks Nancy. Lots of four to five our sits in the turkey chair on this trip. I’m doing the same every morning now as I try for an interesting Missouri creature. I’ll keep you posted.

  4. These are absolutely incredible, Danny. And the detailed story makes them even better. Thanks.


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