Using the truck as a blind, a friend and I settled in along a secondary road to watch and photograph wildlife. The road is residential, unofficially defining the edge of a village. From our roadside vantage point we could see a large hay field surrounded by small, swampy wetlands, thickets and a golf course. Diverse, fragmented habitats like these, common around populated areas, function as sanctuaries for wildlife and condition wildlife to tolerate human activity.
This post features three species that were photographed during a half dozen trips to this and a similar, nearby site in mid-September: White-tailed Deer, Red Foxes and Canada Geese. All have adapted amazingly well to people and thrive in human-modified environments, to the point of becoming serious nuisances.
During the last hour of daylight, 15 or 20 deer move into the field to graze. The larger, older bucks are the last to show and, predictably, are within camera range when it is too dark to shoot.
These two bucks just finished several minutes of light sparring, heads down and antlers locked. The small yearling on the right eventually retreated, acknowledging the superiority of the larger, more mature buck.
This Red Fox is “mousing” in a cut hay field a few minutes drive from the field in the previous photos. The term mousing refers to the cat-like feeding behavior of stalking and pouncing on any of several species of small mammals. In this habitat the most abundant prey species is the Meadow Vole, a stubby, short-tailed vegetarian about the size of a mouse.
The late evening sun was brutal during this shoot. While trying my best to see the fox in the blinding light, my friend said a second fox had appeared from the other side of the field. It moused for a few minutes, then trotted toward the first fox.
When they were within a few feet of one another, a brief fight ensued. Although their teeth were bared and growling was audible from a hundreds away, there was more smoke than fire. Afterwards, they stood side by side, then trotted away. The landowner, who regularly sees up to three foxes in this area, claims they are a family group. If so, the photo suggests a squabble between a parent and one of the offspring.
My final trip to the hay field was the least productive for mammals, but I had the pleasure of watching 50 grazing geese grow to a flock of over 150 in an hour’s time.
Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.