The past few weeks have been quite an adventure for me! In mid April I set out to photograph covered bridges and old barns in the countryside. With the mild winter and early onset of spring, the foliage and grasses were already lush and the bright green creates a wonderful contrast for the often red or white structures. While photographing one particular old dilapidated barn I heard some rustling in the tall grass around the side of the building. I expected a squirrel, bird, or even possibly a groundhog to come out. Well much to my surprise a little red fox kit came trotting out! Oh my goodness I cannot even begin to explain the feeling of surprise and awe I had. As the fox rounded the corner it walked by the entrance of the barn and stepped into a perfect beam of sunlight. In that moment the fox was illuminated in the golden light of the setting sun. It was also in that moment that it finally noticed me and froze mid-trot. I managed a photograph before it backed away clearly confused by what I was.
That single moment of finding the red fox kit, the sheer luck of such a thing, made quite an impact on me. I wandered the fields and forest nearby and in time I found the den of the foxes. There were five beautiful young kits. The main den actually happened to be right off of a dirt road which T’s with a main road. By parking in a ditch off the dirt road, I was able to use my car as a “blind.” A blind is a tool that photographers (and hunters) use to hide from wildlife so as not to disturb them. Usually a blind is a tent or small wooden structure that you cover with branches or camouflage and hide inside. The photographer uses small openings in the blind to view and photograph the subject. This method allows you to get up close and witness the natural behavior and expressions of a wild creature. Well fortunately for me, the fox kits were well accustomed to cars driving by the main road. As long as I was quiet and did not make sudden movements I could park fairly close to the den and photograph them.
I revisited the den many times the past few weeks and would spend the day observing and photographing the foxes. Usually I would stay in my car as a blind but the foxes grow fast. With every day that passed they would venture farther from the den and spend less time out in the open playing and more time digging their own dens and practicing hunting. I started sitting on the rocks in the field so that I could see the den and the nearby forest. Accustomed to my presence by then, the foxes would behave as if I was not there as long as I kept my distance and kept still. I was able to observe them sunbathing on the rocks, running through the tall grasses, stalking each other, squabbling over small critters they had caught, scratching fleas, and lots of naps. I admit I have a bit of a mothering feeling about these little kits.
What once was a troop of five kits that stuck together as they learned about the world outside their den are quickly becoming five young adult foxes. One fox is a loner and likes to stay in the section of forest that creeps up the side of the mountain. The other four have paired off. One pair prefers to patrol the old pastures while the second pair has, for now, chosen the barn and nearby field as their home. It is the latter pair that I am able to photograph still, although the others do make an occasional appearance.
I still continue to visit the foxes regularly and will always remember the first moment that a flash of red fur came trotting into my life.
Thank you for reading and best wishes,