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Late yesterday afternoon the sun peeked out of the clouds, just before the it dipped below the treetops. I waffled on taking a walk with the camera. It was getting dark. It was chilly. I had things I should be doing.
But I went. Because I hadn’t taken a walk in like, forever.
And I discovered something new . . .
I was standing still, very still, watching a pair of robins feasting on fall berries, when I heard the sound of water moving. As if something was swimming. I tiptoed between the crunchy leaves until I had a clear view through the bushes and gasped.
I’d found muskrat’s getting their den ready for winter. Right. Off. Shore.
I watched the pair for forty minutes or more, swimming out into the lake a few feet, then coming back to the hut to drop things on top of it.
I wish the light had been better.
When I pushed down on the camera button, it sound like Cli . . . . . ick.
There were two of them, Muskrat Susie and Muskrat Sam perhaps? (Okay, that dates me just a little bit)
You can bet I’ll be going lakeside again tomorrow. This time, I’ll go a little earlier AND bring my monopod to stabilize the camera in low light.
I want to catch some sharp clear pictures of these two before they winter up.
And since I’m about to embark on Cooper’s third adventure, the research wouldn’t hurt either.
Over my Writer’s Camp ‘n Schmooze weekend, two of my friends, Cindy and Mona, went kayaking in the early morning hours to watch the sunrise. They asked me to go too, but I was sooooo tired from juggling teaching, writing and camp, I decided to get the extra couple hours of sleep instead.
After seeing their photos and hearing about how they’d seen the fall loons . . . well, I’ve been regretting that decision ever since.
So when my friend Linda arrived for the weekend, I asked, “Want to see a sunrise tomorrow?”
Of course she said yes . . .
But there was no sunrise. The fog was thick. It danced across the water toward us, around us. It clung to everything . . .
It made it hard to take photos of the ducks and geese, which have begun to gather for their trip south.
We followed the sound of the loons mournful cry to find them.
My how they’ve changed!
Loons molt in September, changing from their brilliant black and white colors to a gray, not unlike a juveniles. After they fly to their winter home, they’ll molt again, this time becoming flightless for a time until their new feathers grow in and they return north.
We watched them for awhile . . . fishing and preening. Then we continued down toward the state park.
Right on the park’s shoreline, we saw a duck-like bird we didn’t recognize. Five of them. Diving, coming back up with little minnows, chasing each other.
It turns out it’s a common grebe! I believe these are all females. They were interesting to watch. A new birding find!
As we headed for home, the fog lifted and the sun came out.
It was going to be a glorious day . . .
but we’d already seen the best part of it.
Whew, it’s been awhile since I posted, but Cooper’s second adventure needed to be written in spite of a busy campground and school starting. Every spare minute went to his and Packrat’s story. I’m happy to report it’s done.
Okay, it’s not totally done. The first draft is done. Before I dig into the many revisions to come, and while it’s being read by a keen eye for feedback, I finally got a chance to take my camera on the trails.
I’d been itching to go since I’d had a wildlife tip from one of my young campers, “Where were you all day, Tami!” he’d said, early Sunday morning. “It was RIGHT THERE!”
The blue heron he was talking about wasn’t quite “right there” by the time I got lakeside. I followed the trail, in hopes of seeing something, anything. But then I stumbled upon him wading silently amongst the lily pads . . .
I quickly crouched down to hide behind a small bush. He’d seen me though, and we stayed still, staring at each other for at least ten minutes. Him measuring me. Me willing him to stay put long enough to take a couple pictures.
Stay, he did.
He even started preening, feather by feather.
I took over two hundred photos of this gorgeous juvenile heron.
When I had enough, I thanked him quietly. Then we both left.
I hope I meet him again sometime.
Look who’s been out and about!
This pic was taken with the trail camera on the 13th of this month.
And here, he’s wandered into our backyard for a little shut eye the next morning. I can’t help but wonder if his den is full of cubs and he was looking for a quiet place . . .
He stayed for quite awhile and made me late to work! Hubby took over with the camera after I left.
I can’t wait to see what the trail camera picks up this week!
By: Cathy Morrison,
Here's a big cat. This is from "Animalogy", written by Marianne Berkes, illustrated by me, published by Sylvan Dell Publishing.
Hey! How you doin’?
The eaglet eyes the oriole . . . .
This week’s pic is from sunny Florida . ..
This osprey was quite happy with his lunch of fish . . .
Everywhere we go this week, we see osprey nests. Dave and I both agree there’s more than ever before. Several people have stopped to ask me if they’re eagles (I think it’s the camera, that makes them do this) and I have to explain they are not. I may not be well versed in birding, but I do know an eagle when I see one!
The picture book writer in me sees so very many storyline possibilities in this photo!
It was taken under the Sanibel Causeway, near sunset, while Dave and Ben were fishing. Dolphins swam just a couple hundred yards away.
While I was away in Florida, my eagles were busy!
Here’s a photo of their nest on February 7th.
And here is the nest this week!!What a difference!
So I’m pretty confident that our eagles will be using this nest this spring! And with these 40 degree temps, I bet I’ll be taking pictures of a nesting eagle very shortly.
The big question is, will there be one eaglet . . . two . . . or another rare triplet set?
Time will tell, my friends. Time will tell.
(For those of you who are new to my blog, I have triplet pictures from last year!
Just click here to follow their story
When I went back down to the lake on Saturday, the eagles were back to fluffing their nest. There’s been at least one adult on or in the nest all weekend.
What I love about their new nest location, is how they now have branches to sit on over it, which gives me so many different poses to shoot! In prior years, they’d either hang out on the edge of the nest, which became a bit crowded when the little ones were born, or they flew off to another tree.
Hopping down into the nest
Climbing down into the nest
I’m thinking I’ll be getting some gorgeous family photos this year.
When I left on Sunday, one of the adult eagles had settled into the nest. I’m fairly certain the eggs have been laid or were just about to be.
Wish them luck!
The trail camera snapped a couple great photos of the fox . . .
I’m going to try to use a higher resolution on it next week to get clearer photos.
This cutie looks very healthy, doesn’t he? With all the spring-time love in the air, I can’t help but wonder if we’ll get lucky and see some cubs. It seems that March is the cubbing season, and the female relies on the male to bring her food. This might be why I’ve only been seeing one fox in each photo.
In April, the cubs venture out for the first time. So I believe I’ll leave the trail camera right where it is for the next few months, just in case. I’ll keep you posted on any new news!
Grabbing my largest camera lens, the tripod and an extra battery, I plodded down to the lake this morning. I was bound and determined to get photos ~ good photos~ ~ of the baby, or babies. I still wasn't positive of how many there were. Campers had reported two, but I hadn't managed to see it for myself yet. And ~ well ~ I really needed proof before I could announce it officially on the campground blog.
When I arrived, I found quite a few campers with their binoculars trained on the nest. Yet none could claim to have seen two.
For at least fifteen minutes, I only got glimpses of the one baby
The other campers and I talked about how one baby will sometimes (shudder) eat the other . . . or they get dehydrated and die . . . or one pushes the other out of the nest. "I guess we're down to one," I said.
But then, this next photo gave me hope . . .
And then the second baby made an appearance!
Whew! I was getting a little nervous there.
Now, if I could just locate those loons! The pair were seen together yesterday, which is not a good sign as far as their nesting goes. Usually, one parent stays on the eggs at all times, and usually they're on them by now. Still, the ice went out late this year, so perhaps there's still time . . .
The Book of New Zealand Records and Firsts by Stephen Barnett (Scholastic)
On the front cover the book promises Biggest, Fastest, Most Unusual and More - and you certainly get that. First we find out which Kiwis have set records for the fastest, deepest and longest. We meet adventurer Shaun Quincey who rowed the fastest across the Tasman, 17-year-old Elliot Nicholls who broke the world record for the fastest texting whilst blindfolded, then two young lads who dove the deepest depths, the boat that set a new world record for the fastest time around the world in a powerboat, and the tap dancer who danced 610 taps a minute, and lots more. Next, we see the biggest and most such as the world record chocolate bar, the world's record price for a bird's feather, the largest wasp nest recorded in New Zealand, the man who learnt more than 58 languages, the biggest ball of tape, the most expensive tiny piece of paper, the biggest children's sporting event in the world, and the cricketer who set the world record for the greatest number of tennis balls caught in one minute. Thirdly, we're treated to some of the most unusual records (didn't we just have some of those). Like the Twisty Twinz who climbed into a perspex box and set a new world record, the seven-legged lamb, and the World's steepest street (in Dunedin). Lastly, are the New Zealand firsts such as the pigeon post, the coach who took jogging to the world, the adventurer who climbed the highest mountain, the bungy jumpers and more. Great reading for kids who like their facts. Ideal for Middle, Senior Primary and Intermediate-aged classrooms.
RRP $17.00 ISBN: 978-1-77543-031-5
The Small Blacks Annual by Peter Harold (Penguin)
Printed on glossy paper in A4 size and 96 pages long we have another rugby book for kids. This time the focus is not on the All-blacks but rather the kiwi kids aged 5-12 who play rugby. There's loads of photographs of kids playing rugby, stories, articles about famous rugby players, activities, interesting facts such as why do we get stitch and how do we get rid of it, tips on rugby skills, recipes, quizzes, jokes, Maori vocabulary, cartoons, poetry, songs, and news articles - phew! A lot is packed in for rugby fans to saviour. For ages 8-12 year olds who are rugby mad.
RRP $19.99, ISBN: 978-0-1433-0657-3The Big Book of New Zealand Wildlife
by Dave Gunson (New Holland)
The Big Book of New Zealand Wildlife is a comprehensive collection of birds, animals, insects, fish, plants and fungi in one single volume. If it looks familiar - yes, it is a compilation of all the 'All About' series books produced in encyclopaedia format. You'll find over 400 species of New Zealand natives brought to life with colourful illustrations and interesting facts. Designed to be easily accessible for 7-14 year olds. An excellent reference bo
Some lovely paintings of birds from a set of books from 1806 by by François Levaillant and Jacques Barraband. (via BibliOdyssey: Birds of Paradise)
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When Jenny Stubbs, Festival Coordinator Extraordinaire, told me I had a slot to launch ”All in the Woods” I was ecstatic! It was my first book to be published in the UK and a launch venue at the Ipswich Festival of Children’s Literature, Woodlands, was almost too good to be true. Jenny facilitated a link to Aleesa Darlison who agreed to MC. BRILLIANT! What could go wrong?
The Ipswich Festival is always an exciting event! It is held at Woodlands, a stunning, heritage listed venue set amongst rural fields, magnificent trees and rolling hills – what a setting for a launch! The lead up to the day, Tuesday, 13th September 2011, was a real buzz! Then the unthinkable happened… The weekend before, my throat started to get that irritating little scratch and that niggly cough that sometime precedes worse. Sunday night it started to hit! Laryngitis!
Friends, good friends can be the saving of such worst case scenarios. I spoke (whilst I still had a voice) to Tara Hale, who designed the promo poster, would she be Guest Artist “Pink” the possum [cousin of "Ink" the animal hero of my book]. Next I contacted Nooroa Te Hira, he has worked as a tour guide so I knew he would ace a reading of my book. Then I rang Christian Bocquee and asked would he help with nitty grittys like directing teachers and students to seats, distributing prizes and being event photographer! Bless them, they all ‘volunteered’ unstintingly!
Result? Fun, fun, fun! We had a ball, the book launch was a total success! The author having to use copious amounts of sign language but, hey, she has 5 kids so she speaks the lingo with hands and fingers!
You can see some of the fun in the gallery below. [Sadly, Pink, being a nocturnal creature, was shy of the camera flash and hid!]
And the book, which was illustrated by wonderful watercolourist Linda Gunn? It had been a truly international effort – written by an Aussie, illustrated by an American and published by a Brit! The icing on the cake was a nomination for the OPSO Award!
Here is a recent review by Kathy Schneider!
Where can you get it? Here!
0 Comments on How not to do a Book Launch?! as of 2/3/2012 4:20:00 AM
Well, luck takes many forms this week! First it came as a four leaf clover–discovered next to some poison ivy, …
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Well, luck takes many forms this week! First it came as a four leaf clover–discovered next to some poison ivy, …
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Jennifer Keats Curtis
No. Pages: 32 Ages: 6 to 9
Back Cover: A baby squirrel that has fallen out of his nest suddenly interrupts a spring game of catch. Knowing what to do, the two boys demonstrate how to handle the furry mammal properly and what to do when they find the squirrel’s sibling. Placing them safely in a box, the two boys retreat to the house so as to not to scare the mother away while she recovers her babies.
Matt and Andy are outside in the backyard tossing a football. Matt catches the spiraling ball and Andy yells for him to toss the ball back, but never finishes his sentence. Andy looks down to see a small squirrel climbing the leg of his jeans. Soon, the squirrel, obviously a baby, is tucking in under Andy’s chin, safe and warm.
Matt tells his friend he’ll be back and when he returns, he is carrying a box with old t-shirts on the bottom. He carefully takes the baby squirrel off Andy’s shoulder and places it inside the box. The two boys look for any other babies, and then the tree with the damaged nest. After placing the box at the base of this tree, the boys went inside and eagerly watched what happened next.
Squirrel Rescue is a nice primer on backyard wildlife care. Jennifer Keats Curtis has written several wildlife books for children, including one on owls (Baby Owls Rescue) and another about baby turtles (Turtles in My Sandbox). She has become an expert on writing about wildlife for children.
Baby squirrels falling out of their tree nest is common. Recently, a baby squirrel, now named Violet, fell out of her nest and broke an arm. Matt and Andy do a great job taking care of the two baby squirrels they found. I thought it was interesting that human scent does not prevent the mother squirrel from rescuing her babies, as some animals do.
The illustrations look incredibly life-like. The first time I read the book, I thought the boys and the backgrounds were photographs with illustrated squirrels. The next two times I read this, I came to realize that the entire book is illustrated. Laura Jacques is an award-wining illustrator and it is easy to understand why after seeing what she did for Squirrel Rescue. I think the illustrations are incredibly life-like.
I like Squirrel Rescue because of the interesting story. I did not know the mother squirrel carries her babies. Two young boys stop what they are doing to rescue one baby squirrel and have the foresight to look for other babies. I like that they not only helped the mom find her babies, but they were interested enough to hang out for at least two hours to watch her rebuild and then reunite. Matt and Andy receive an education that can’t be bought. Plus, the boys knew they had stumbled into something important. How many of us would have done what they did?
Squirrel Rescue will appeal to boys and girls in the lower grades, especially if they are doing a report or simply love animals. Kids wanting to know more about the animals in their own yard can start with Squirrel Rescue. There are not many neighborhoods without some type of squirrel. If your child’s school library is in need of good wildlife books, get it Squirrel Rescue. Every child can benefit from reading this book. This adult did.
**Ms. Curtis donates a portion of the proceeds from Squirrel Rescue to Chris’ Squirrels & More, a wildlife rehabilitator who help the author on this book.
Author: Jennifer Keats Curtis website
Illustrator: Laura Jacques website
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing website
Number of Pages:
**Chris' Squirrels and More website
Filed under: 4stars
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Do you love animals, and want to help wildlife? Meet Victoria Campbell a rehabilitator from Wild Things Sanctuary featured in Animal Helpers: Wildlife Rehabilitators. Victoria shares her dedication and the rewards of working with natures amazing creatures.
Name: Victoria Campbell
Name of organization/clinic: Wild Things Sanctuary
State: New York
Specialty/special areas of experience: Mammals, baby animals
Years as rehabilitator/volunteer: 6
Busiest time of year: April-September (especially May-July)
Number of hours you work per week during your busy season: up to 140!
Number of volunteers in clinic: Varies. At the moment, I have 3.
Why did you become a rehabilitator/volunteer: I became a wildlife rehabilitator because I feel a great empathy for the wild animals who do not have owners to look after them and who can get very badly sick and injured and orphaned: they need help too! Also, most patients are in trouble because of human related causes (e.g., cars, pets, construction), and I felt that it was part of my duty as a human to give back to these animals who need help.
Most rewarding aspect of rehabilitation: Having an animal learn to trust me and building an understanding between me and the patient. And it’s pretty fun nurturing the baby animals as well!
As a rehabilitator, what is the most common question you are asked? How did you get those scratches? What’s the biggest animal/worst bite you’ve ever had? When do you sleep? How do you know all this stuff?
Favorite animal story: Too many to think of! Pretty amazing releasing an animal and seeing it run off smiling…or when a pregnant mama gives birth at Wild Things!
What advice would you offer to children considering a career in wildlife rehabilitation: Learn as much about animals as you can and see whether there are any places where you can volunteer and learn more about wildlife rehabilitation. Wildlife rehabilitators need to know about animal behavior, veterinary care, animal husbandry, and even skills like cooking and carpentry: there is lots to learn! Also, make sure you have a support system of people who can help you: it is hard work! And reach out to others who are interested and/or who are wildlife rehabilitators as often you learn the most from other rehabilitators and their work. Finally, know that sometimes you need to love the animals enough to make difficult decisions; wildlife rehabilitation is great but it can be very sad too.
Visit http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com/ beginning October 1st Read Animal Helpers: Wildlife Rehabilitators for FREE all month.
As we continue to feature wildlife rehabilitators this month on the Sylvan Dell blog, this week we meet Kim Johnson from The Drift Inn Wildlife Sanctuary. She shares with us the trials and tribulations of rescuing wild animals.
Texan Kim Johnson often works with her veterinarian husband and a tiny volunteer group at her Drift Inn Wildlife Sanctuary in Driftwood to care for a wide variety of mammals, including raccoons, squirrels, deer, fox, skunks, even bobcats. “Every year is different and I never know exactly what to expect” says Kim, one of a small handful of licensed rehabilitators in her state, “During Hurricane Ike, 200 squirrels were delivered to my front door.”
Despite her hectic schedule caring for wild animals, many of them babies, for 14-18 hours a day, seven days a week, Kim never seems to lose her sense of humor. “If it’s native and it lives in Texas, it’s been in my house, and maybe even if it’s not native,” she quips.
In many of the pictures that Kim submitted for possible use in Animal Helpers, she is wearing a big smile and very heavy welder’s gloves. The grin is, of course, because Kim loves her job. The gloves are because she is smart and seasoned. After 33 years as a rehabilitator, Kim is keenly aware that those gloves are mandatory equipment for handling fuzzy babies that have big paws, sharp teeth, and claws.
Name: Kim Johnson
Name of organization/clinic: The Drift Inn Wildlife Sanctuary
Specialty/special areas of experience: Mammals, raptors
Years as rehabilitator/volunteer: 33 years
Busiest time of year: May-July
Number of hours you work per week during your busy season: 18+ hours a day 7 days a week
Number of volunteers in clinic: 4
Why did you become a rehabilitator/volunteer: For the love of nature and animals
Most rewarding aspect of rehabilitation: Release days and seeing an animal we thought would not pull through survive and be released!
As a rehabilitator, what is the most common question you are asked? If I touched it, will the mother come back?
Having cared for wildlife for so long, Kim cheerfully tells wonderful stories about the creatures that have come through her clinic, such as: A 7-week-old bobcat came to us on Christmas Day. He was cute as a button, cute in the “I have claws and teeth and know how to use them” kind of way. For some reason, people still think that all little wild animals drink cow’s milk. (Unless they arecows, they do not do well on cow’s milk.) After getting his weight up, this bobcat soon started to fit right in with the rest of the crew. He ate mice in nanoseconds, soon was jumping up on everything and getting more mischievous by the day! Seven weeks later, it was time to move him to a larger facility. This bobcat had grown four times the size he was when we got him. He was ready to mingle with his own kind. We transferred him to a much larger facility outside of San Antonio where there are 12 other bobcats. He will be released onto a 1,000 plus acre refuge. We will miss him; but, as with all of our animals, we feel blessed to have them and to be able to give them the care they need for the time we do.
Favorite animal story: We got a call that an adult raccoon had his head stuck for the entire night and half of the day in a bird feeder in a tree. As I got there sure enough, he had wedged himself to where he could rest on the edge of the feeder as he contemplated his problems. I told the lady that I could save the coon but not the feeder. She suggested that they have a warning for purchasers of said bird feeder that it could also capture raccoons. I got on a ladder and proceeded to unscrew the feeder and remove it from the tree. So far so good. I quickly realized that the coon was not coming out of the feeder without a chisel or saw and some serious drugs (for the coon of course). I decided to put said coon and feeder in the back of the SUV and take him the eight miles down the road to the house where Dr. Johnson (Ray) could tranquilize him and we could then figure out how to release the raccoon from his feeder. Halfway home, I have visions of the coon releasing himself from the feeder and kicking my tail in the car all the way home. Luckily, for both of us he was quite stuck and we made it home. Ray was almost laughing too hard to sedate the bugger but we got it done and although he never completely passed out, he was docile enough to unscrew the rest of the feeder and chisel the wood from around his neck without so much as a scratch on him! He looked at us and groggily ran off without so much as a thank you.
What advice would you offer to children considering a career in wildlife rehabilitation?
Become a veterinarian who specializes in wildlife. There are few out there and more are needed!
Remember Animal Helpers: Wildlife Rehabilitators is FREE for the month of October at www.sylvandellpublishing.com, or Read it on your iPad, by downloading the free app Fun eReader in iTunes and entering the code: 2WZ637 in the red box on the App Registration page.
Since Cooper and Packrat as sooooo into nature, I’ve decided to begin posting a Nature Pic every Tuesday. Some will be past favorites . . . some will be new.
This Tuesday’s picture is of our 2012 Eagle Triplets. The oldest is on the verge of flying . . .
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Dear Readers, you are not . . .
I repeat, NOT . . .
going to believe the amazing, awesome experience I had wandering the property today. Honestly, I couldn’t have put it all together better myself.
I have to say that this was supposed to be a quick walk to the lake to give Cookie some exercise. Down and back, I’d told myself, as I’d planned to work all afternoon on tweaking my school visit presentation. It needs to be done so I can practice on a 7th grade English class Tuesday.
It didn’t get done. And here’s why . . .
I headed down the usual lakeside path to check on my eagles. When I first trained the camera on the nest, I sighed in disappointment. No eagles.
Then, I saw movement on the ice, and there, halfway across the lake was the eagle feasting on a fish.
I wonder if he stole it, or it was a gift from, one of the ice fisherman on the lake.
He flew off, but I found him perched along the edge of the golf course.
I tried to wait for him to return. But the wind was whipping down the lake across the ice, and the wind chill was ferocious. My fingers were so cold, they hurt inside my mittens. I decided I’d been lucky enough with the camera for one day. I called to Cookie, “Home”!
She started down the second half of the trail, then turned to look at me hopefully.
“No!” I called sternly, nodding up the camp road. “Straight home.”
She took one last look at the trail, sighed, and followed like the good girl she is.
When I reached the house, I let her in, then decided what the heck, I should get the trail camera photo card. “Put the coffee on, please,” I called to hubby. “I’ll be right back.”
I’d set up the trail camera behind the house, which is lower and more wooded than the campground’s marked path. “Warmer too,” I thought, letting my fingers out of the mittens. I took my time, looking around for any signs of the owl or pileated woodpecker. I found the trail camera still trained on the den of what I think might be a fischer, collected the camera card and put a new one in.
Those of you who read my blog, but not my Facebook page, wouldn’t know that late last week I found what I think is an owl perch. The base of the tree is littered with 1 inch long, smooth, oval shaped pellets. I figured, why not swing by it, and take the long way home?
Alas, no owls were roosting there, or anywhere I could see. I remembered the coffee waiting for me, and headed for home.
Just as I stepped out of the woods and into the circle of campsites, I heard crazy chickadee calls. Lots of them. Right off the back of site 126. I tried to see what was going on, having remembered reading that owls and other large birds of prey are often harassed by smaller birds, when he flew! A large, silent, gray swoop between the trees up toward the main road of the campground.
I followed slowly, cringing with every crunch of my boots in the snow. I searched the trees, not daring to hope . . .
And then I saw it . . .
Isn’t he gorgeous!!
I met David at the house door with a huge grin! I couldn’t believe my luck! I must have taken forty pictures!
As we sipped coffee and I told David of my travels, I popped the trail camera card into my laptop. To my surprise, this is what I found . . .
Here’s the den I’ve been watching. I think it’s home to a fisher . . . or that’s what past photos, (not very clear because the camera was further away) have indicated.
Obviously, this fox is interested in the den too! There’s six photos total of him around the hole, but not going in. I think he’s stalking whatever lives there. I’ve left the camera in place, and time will tell.
I feel so fortunate to be able to wander my property and study great animals, such as these. I will never take it for granted . . .