Wednesday, February 20, 2013

At the end of every trail...

What: Brian came downstairs yipping about a red fox in the parking lot. A minute later Meryl came down equally excited. We threw on our shoes and headed out into the beautiful snow. We picked up the tracks circling along the edge of cedars then along the powerline substation by UVM Facilities office and Centennial Field. In the photo below the fox demonstrates a near perfect direct register trot. In this gait the animal's rear foot lands exactly where the front foot landed. The 3rd, 5th, and 7th prints appear wider where the animal slips from the direct register just slightly. The front foot, which is larger (as with all canines) and appears under the imprint of the rear foot, is offset to the right, where the fox was probably looking to the right (up the road to East Ave).

We came to a very very small crack in the fence that it had scooted under. Weirdest thing is to think how that little opening got there, as it seemed deliberate. Could the foxes have worked up the fence over time? It'd be tough for even a human to bend that fence. The fence is other wise in perfect shape and it's on the side that doesn't have any traffic so it's hard to imagine it accidentally getting formed. Regardless, it makes for a nice escape hatch (as when being pursued by a pair of humans).

On the east end of the substation, there's another gap in the fence that the fox slithered through before making its way down the rocks towards the dumpster. See if you can spot the fox in the image below. Brian and I watched the fox for a bit tugging away at the ground before slowly stalking up on it. 

As we got closer, it looked like it was trying to get under the plow. When we got about 35' away we scared the fox off and were able to investigate what it was investigating. We found a dead squirrel tangled in a pile of trash (smelled really really bad). The fox ran around the fence and hid under the building you can see in the above image.

Where: UVM Facilities/Centennial Field

Other notes: As we approached another fox of equal size got spooked and headed over to the south where the mulch piles are. The weirdest thing was that the fox was white. Or rather, it seemed like a darker colored fox that had its coat covered in snow. Brian and I were both covered in snow after being out about 30 minutes, so not unlikely, but still seemed weird - albino foxes in CW?

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