Out of the Den and into my World

The three little kits.

The three little kits.

Lots of animals make an appearance in our little corner of the woods.  We routinely have elk, deer, jackrabbits, Abert squirrels, chipmunks, ground squirrels and even had a porcupine or two.  We have been visited by black bears, coyotes and a mountain lion.

Lately we have been keeping up with our newest neighbors, the fox family.  Now that the kits are out and about, we see them daytime and evening.  I’m sure they are out at night, as well.  The babies have been learning how to climb trees.  There are only two kinds of foxes that climb trees, and these Gray Foxes are one of the two.

Many times a day the crows alert us to the movements of the foxes.  Whether crossing our neighbor’s yard, or moving around in ours, the crows chase the foxes and make quite a racket.  We live on two and a half acres and the farthest corner of our land is almost inaccessible because it is so rocky.  This is where the den is located.  For many years, ground squirrels, skunks, and other tunnel-making animals have lived in this old rock quarry.  At some point last year, these foxes took up residence.

We didn’t notice them until the kits were old enough to be outside of the den, and the whole family began sitting out in the sun for extended periods of time.  Now that we are alerted regularly by the crow alarm, we have been taking time out to sit and watch quietly as they go about their day.

A member of the Crow Alert System on duty.

A member of the Crow Alert System on duty.

In the evening the foxes eyes are wide open.

In the evening the foxes eyes are open wide when they come out of the den.

Frequently they watch us watching them.

Frequently they watch us watching them.

Their actions remind one of cats.

They remind me of cats in some behaviors.

Off on an explore

The adventurous baby is off on an explore.

The crows have been chasing this adult

The crows have been chasing this adult all around the yard. The other adult has climbed a nearby tree.

Foxes move very quickly

He makes a decision and moves quickly.

The adult fox scales a tall Ponderosa effortlessly

Clearly an experienced climber, he scales this tall Ponderosa effortlessly.

He cooly checks to see if we are still watching

He coolly checks to see if we are still watching. In the photo below, you can see the tangled branches about 20 feet above the ground on the right of the tree where he was perched in this photo.

The two adult foxes are in this pine tree.  This old tree has witches brooms of branches from old infestations of dwarf mistletoe. These make great nesting spots for birds.

The two adult foxes are in this pine tree. This old tree has witches brooms of branches from old infestations of dwarf mistletoe. These make great nesting spots for birds. The crow in the nearer tree was silent but clearly concerned.

 

 

Slide Fire Update

A drive through Oak Creek Canyon in northern Arizona this week allowed for a glimpse of conditions since the Slide Fire was extinguished.  Since the beginning of the monsoon season is upon us, worries over the safety of visitors to the canyon in the event of flash flooding has caused many closures.  The camping areas affected by the fire as well as other parking for day use along the canyon are now closed. Thus the photos I post here are all from a moving car, not the best of situations.  However, you can see that if you are looking for fire damage, you will find it, however, most of the beauty that is Oak Creek Canyon remains.

This is the north end of  Slide Rock Park a short time prior to the fire.

This is the north end of Slide Rock Park a short time prior to the fire.

This is the same location currently.

This is the same location currently.

View from bridge at Slide Rock

Heading north, this is the view from Slide Rock Bridge, just below the origin of the fire.

The worst of the burn area, as visible from the road, is where the fire started.  It burned very hot here. Note the discolored ground in the burn area.

Near start of fire Mid burn area First view of burn area above Slide Rock Burn area soil colorAs you drive along the canyon, most of the views to fire damaged areas are blocked by the lush greenery near the creek.

The entrance to Cave Springs Campground

The entrance to Cave Springs Campground

Junipine Resort

Junipine Resort

The fire moved up the steep, rocky hillsides and moved on.

The fire raged up the steep, rocky hillsides and moved on.

As you drive along the switchbacks out of the canyon, you pass some burned areas where fire was stopped right at the road.

As you drive along the switchbacks out of the canyon, you pass some burned areas where fire was stopped right at the road.

You can see from the many signs and banners in Flagstaff, how appreciated the efforts of firefighters were. The question currently on the minds of locals is how much damage could occur due to runoff from the anticipated summer monsoons.  Oak Creek has many fans awaiting the answer, and thinking ahead to their next trip.