Saturday, March 24, 2012

Back from the Wilderness

Dad Stands Guard at the Den Entrance
Just came out after 12 days in a very remote part of California, time spent following wild kit foxes. I saw them easily, emerging from their dens in the late afternoon, but photographing them was quite a different matter.  They are easily spooked, and retreat quickly to the safety of their dens.  Last year when I was here, I was able to get a few long-distance shots, but this time I wanted something more intimate. That called for camera traps. These are terrific tools, that have revealed the secret world of many hard-to-find animals. But they also have their limitations - the chief being you don't often have the pleasure of seeing your subject (or controlling the composition) of your photograph.

I figured out quickly that this den was active, and set out a camera trap at mid-day hoping, not only to get shots the following night, but also daytime shots, since these animals often come out and hang around before dark.  That worked perfectly here, as dad Kit Fox stood vigil, for 20 minutes, at the opening of his burrow. This was my favorite of a series of shots, a little fill-flash balancing well with the late-afternoon daylight.

Sometimes, happy mistakes were made. I thought I had found a new fox den, and set up my research motion-sensor camera nearby to see who was living there. This is a basic rig which gets a  simple b&w image, e.g. god for ID, but producing nothing publishable. In this case it revealed an enormous surprise - a badger!  I didn't have time to set up a high-quality camera, but maybe next time...:)  I never saw this handsome fellow, but was pleased to know he was there.


  1. I think the photo of dad at his den will be the double page opening spread of your article on these guys. Great shot.

  2. Thanks for your optimism! I don't know if I have enough for a story yet - but I'm getting there!