Wildlife While-U-Wait

Island Fox Pup, Channel Islands

I have spent this past week on Santa Rosa Island, in Channel Islands National Park. My mission?  To capture young Island Fox pups emerging from their den for the first time.  I have spent a lot of time working with these endangered foxes over the past two years, but have never managed to get young pups, which are kept hidden in their dens until they are several months old. 

I located  a den early this week, by observing an adult fox carrying a mouse back into the shrubbery, and I have been staked out there every day since.  And I mean all day, every day. Although Island Foxes are primarily active at night, they sometimes come out during the day, and that’s what I’ve been waiting for.

I got a brief look at this pup on Wednesday when it came out to get a drink of water, but it’s been a lot of time spent waiting  for only a few pictures. (I’m still hoping to capture some social behavior, or play.)

Instead I’m just waiting.  But as is often the case, nature offers happy distractions. As it turns out, I’ve been sitting all day beside a small seasonal stream where there is always a lot of bird activity. I was particularly delighted to discover that a small pool below my stakeout was being used a bath by Allen’s Hummingbirds. I have seen hummers drink before, hovering over the water, but never sit right down in the stuff!  So I have occupied my time between foxes by shooting these glorious birds, and watching them fight over the best swimming hole… Best of all, I’ve discovered that in the soft light of the Channel Island fog, the male’s gorget colors are spectacularly vivid.

Waiting can be tiresome, but who could ask for a better sideshow?

Allen's Hummingbird, Santa Rosa Island

 Nikon D3, 200-400mm lens


    Nice article Kevin. I’m a big fan of the island fox. Sometimes the pups are out and playing around 4 or 5pm and other times you just never see them. Good luck! You are in one of my favorites places in the world.

    Thanks Ian. Yeah, I had them out briefly late one afternoon (definitely the most productive time) but as you say, sometimes they never show. I’ve worked a lot with kit foxes as well, and though they tend to come out in the evening – I’ve seen them playing outside at noon. Go figure… I’ve got a camera trap set up for nights – so far all I’ve gotten are mice pictures!

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