Wildlife and People

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.

Does18Sept13#038E

Mature does, grazing

Buck17Sept13#159E

White-tailed Deer; buck, probably a two-year-old, still in velvet and socializing with other bucks in a bachelor group.

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.

BucksDeer19Sept13#072E

White-tailed Deer: a two-year-old+ buck, yearling buck, fawn and doe.

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.

RedFoxTwo17Sept13#083E

Red Fox searching for Meadow Voles and other prey in a cut hay field

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.

RedFoxTwo17Sept13#097E

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.

RedFoxes17Sept13#107E

Red Foxes fighting in a hay field

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.

Geese26Sept13#116Ec8x10

Canada Geese

Geese26Sept13#140E

Canada Geese

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

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9 thoughts on “Wildlife and People

    • Thanks Donna. regarding favorites, I agree with you and was thrilled to have the rare opportunity to capture foxes unaware and behaving naturally. Also glad you’re using a Jeep blind – another highly effective tool in the arsenal!

  1. There is something mystical about seeing that string of geese flying overhead and hearing the honk. The deer don’t thrill me so much since we had a resident herd for many years and they were extremely destructive. They were also so tame, that it became quite difficult to chase them off. One doe eviscerated a neighbor’s dog, came pretty close to doing the same to our pooch, too.

    • I have the same feeling about geese overhead, esp. this time of year. I think about a lot of things when working on a post and could easily go off on tangents with many of them. In this instance, the tangent would be “urban” wildlife and nuisance animals, including damage, bio-politics and control measures. The geese in the post are probably part of our nonmigratory population, which is a nuisance at the nearby college campus and pond. The deer are part of a herd that winters in and around the village, consuming every palatable landscape plant in sight. A series of public meetings on the problem is ongoing. Deer had a devastating, long-term effect on biodiversity in my home state of PA in the 20th century. I recall scaling steep, inaccessible ravines in search of shrubs and wildflowers that should have been common. Etc., etc.!!! Thanks for weighing in.

    • Thanks Nomad of Woods! That “Red Foxes fighting” photo is a favorite of many of my friends too, more for the scene than the quality of the image. It is unlikely that we’ll ever see, let alone capture, it again! I’m enjoying the excellent nature photos on your blog as well.

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