Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fox in the dunes

I took Gordon out for a stroll on the dunes late this afternoon. The dunes are a great place to do this as the dog can roam pretty much at will without me worrying about losing him. I knew there were fox up here and one time we chased a raccoon over a hill, but I haven't seen much activity lately.

Very quickly we cam across sign of fox. Their foot prints dotted the sand. Soon we came across scat and then bones.

It wasn't long before we found a den. It was old and part of it had already caved in. When we walked around to the other side, it looked like something had been digging the hole back out. Gordon decided to stick his head in and check things out. he wasn't too interested, so we milled around a bit and moved on.

I figured that would be all we would see of fox. We don't have groundhog in this part of the country so any dens that fox have here, they have to dig themselves. This last hole was shallow and short, about what I would expect.

Then we found another den. This one was high up on a dune. We clambered up to check it out. as Gordon poked around, we stepped through another dig underneath the first. The two seemed to be connected. Maybe the fox were digging a lot deeper than I thought.

Obviously, no one was home in this one.

Soon, the amount of fox tracks increased. They were everywhere.
More scat.

More bones.

And here, a fresh hole. I could smell the musk of something inside, and Gordon was on his toes.

Gordon is new to the going to ground thing. He will tentatively poke his nose here and there to explore, but it has never gotten much further than that.

He was interested in this hole. He poked his nose in, then pushed past his chest. I could hear a soft wuf, wuf, coming from inside the den. I knew that Gordon is basically a wimp and wouldn't engage with anything in the hole, and I was curious what would happen.

The musky smell of fox grew stronger. Gordon put paws to sand and started digging his way further into the sette.

He wiggled and pushed. He would take a break and mark the plants outside the hole, then dig further in. Eventually, his back legs disappeared. He seemed to step up, over a ledge in the burrow, then was gone. I waited.

That was the hardest part, waiting.

Then he wiggled his way back out, butt first. He took a break, panting in the heat. Marked, then went right back in.

He worked the hole for close to 45 minutes. I don't know if he ever saw the fox inside. We didn't find a back door, so it had to be in there. I think it was a good experience. More than I could hope for actually.

We finally moved on and found an old fox carcass (mummy) close to the den. It looked like a young one, but I can't be sure.

It was time to go and we meandered back to the care. On the way, we came across another den. This one was large and seemed to also be active.

That made for at least two, maybe four fox dens in an area of about three acres. Interesting.

We'll come back to play here again.

I'm curious to see how Gordon's interest in fox developes.


Tovar said...

What a neat find, Doug!

Doug said...

It was a really good experience for the dog. I'm heading up to Maryland to try him on some groundhog this week.