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by OntPhoto on Sun May 24, 2020 5:12 am
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I have photographed many foxes over the years but seldom do I get to see them actually hunting.  And when I do, I never see this behaviour.  Fox catches a chipmunk right in front of me and it's held between its teeth for some time before it drops it. Chipmunk makes a run for it and the fox grabs it again.  Drops it and grabs it.  This repeats a number of times including the tossing of the chipmunk into the air.  Finally, the inevitable happens and the fox brings the chipmunk back to the kits. 

I've watched other foxes catch voles and field mice and trying to recall, but the kill is relatively quick.  Not prolonged like in this case.  I suppose there is some play involved like when a cat plays with a mouse before it kills it.  I'm wondering if this activity serves a purpose other than play like getting the chipmunk all plumped up with adrenaline and that affects the meat?

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by Ron Day on Sun May 24, 2020 7:59 pm
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There is an article on this behavior here. Scroll down to the section on “Playing With Your Food.”
 

by OntPhoto on Sun May 24, 2020 9:41 pm
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Ron Day wrote:
There is an article on this behavior here. Scroll down to the section on “Playing With Your Food.”

Thanks Ron.  That was an interesting article shedding some light on this behaviour.  The smaller the prey the more play.  I have never seen this before until this week. 

You won't believe it but deja-vu today.  We watched a fox chase a chipmunk around and around a stone.  The chipmunk must have gone around 15 times and the fox sometimes waits for it to make the turn.  We couldn't believe it!  The chipmunk finally escaped the torture by climbing up a tree.  However, it may be doomed because apparently it had a sizeable wound.  

Prior to this a fox chased a black squirrel up the side of a tree trunk.  The squirrel stayed motionless long after the fox had trotted away.  We were not sure if the fox is under-going a coat change or had mange.  Mange has other symptoms so wil be looking out for it.  Likely just a winter to summer coat change based on this article. 
https://forfoxsakewildlife.com/2018/12/31/mange-vs-shedding-in-foxes/

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by Ed Cordes on Wed May 27, 2020 8:35 am
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Really interesting discussion on behavior - also great image. Can't he;p but feel sorry for the little chippie.
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by OntPhoto on Sat May 30, 2020 4:18 pm
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Ed Cordes wrote:
Really interesting discussion on behavior - also great image.  Can't he;p but feel sorry for the little chippie.

 Thanks Ed.  I know how you feel about the chipmunk.  I hope they have big broods because quite a few have been taken at that location.  Their boldness play into the hands of predators. 

The chipmunk in the first photo did not make it.  The second one did survive by making it up a tree.  Another photog blew up her photo of the chipmunk up the tree and saw the chipmunk only had some ruffled fur.  She thought it was a wound at first.
 

by Ron Niebrugge on Thu Jun 25, 2020 1:52 pm
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Interesting. I watched one do that with a vole last year for the first time. I felt bad for the poor vole.
 

by Kari Post on Thu Jun 25, 2020 2:22 pm
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Super interesting! Thanks for sharing. :)
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by OntPhoto on Sat Jun 27, 2020 10:36 am
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Ron Niebrugge wrote:
Interesting.  I watched one do that with a vole last year for the first time.  I felt bad for the poor vole.

There must be a reason for that behaviour but I don't know what it is.  I mean, house cats can play with a mouse as they would with a ball of yarn or a string.  Seeing a small critter up close must trigger something in these animals where it would make them want to play with a potential meal.  I'm just thankful to have the opportunity to observe the different behaviours in person. 
 

by OntPhoto on Sat Jun 27, 2020 10:38 am
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Kari Post wrote:
Super interesting! Thanks for sharing. :)


Thanks Kari.  Haven't seen you here in awhile now.  
 

by Eduardo on Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:50 am
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Interesting article.  Cleo, a terrier/lab mutt i had, used to do the 4 leg pounce as she hunted for mice. In her case, it was never a food activity, it was all about the play thing. She would take the "captured'  mouse by the fail, flip it, let it run and pounce again...till the mouse was unable to run. She would then start with the 4 leg pounce to get another one. Age slowed her down a bit. Methinks it had to do with the terrier, more so than the labrador DNA and youthfulness. ;-)
 

by OntPhoto on Sat Jul 25, 2020 12:19 pm
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Eduardo wrote:
Interesting article.  Cleo, a terrier/lab mutt i had, used to do the 4 leg pounce as she hunted for mice. In her case, it was never a food activity, it was all about the play thing. She would take the "captured'  mouse by the fail, flip it, let it run and pounce again...till the mouse was unable to run. She would then start with the 4 leg pounce to get another one. Age slowed her down a bit. Methinks it had to do with the terrier, more so than the labrador DNA and youthfulness. ;-)


Interesting and thanks for sharing Eduardo.  There must be studies done on this type of behaviour already. I mean, they figured out in what direction a fox needs to be facing to successfully pounce on a prey item.  There's probably a whole science to it.  One fellow photographer observed an adult fox bringing back a rabbit back to the kits.  She said the rabbit was still moving (legs maybe). Adult handed the rabbit over to one of the juveniles which then killed it and cached it away. 

We have something to look forward to this late winter as the foxes likely will mate in the same area.  Foxes against a snowy landscape.  sames foxes but with fuller fur and a wintry setting.  Then spring will arrive and this time we hope to see the kits when they first emerge from the den (more likely if the winter was mild and not much snow leading to a drier spring).  The kits have darker fur (making them look almost black) and blue eyes.  The eyes change to brown soon after. 

So, lots of things to look forward to late 2020 and early 2021 including the next expected irruption of great gray owls (along with it, boreal and hawk owls).  The way 2020 is going maybe this will be the year the every-4-year-cycle decides to be the and-once-in-awhile-every-5-years.  
 

by OntPhoto on Sun Aug 09, 2020 1:53 pm
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I am not a morning person by nature but for some reason I was wide awake today at 6am.  Extremely rare.  This is a whole different photography topic, are you an early morning person or like many others I know, we don't get going until very late morning. 

Grabbed a quickie breakfast and headed out to check on some foxes, something I've been meaning to do for a couple of months now.  I'm usually out searching for them late in the day which is becoming a much rarer sighting in August.  Dances with Foxes.  7D MK2. 70-200 2.8L IS III and 1.4x III.
 

by OntPhoto on Sat Sep 05, 2020 8:56 pm
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Hope everyone is enjoying the last legs of the summer.  I know, fall officially comes in 2 1/2 weeks.  Time flies, especially this year. We are enjoying the long Labour Day weekend up here in Canada and I think it is the same in the USA.

No matter where you are, hope your day went better than this ring-billed gull. 7D MK2 and 70-200 2.8L IS III at ISO 4,000.  Best thing that happened to me was dropping the original 70-200 2.8L non-IS onto asphalt because it gave me the excuse to get the IS version III.  Handheld.  BTW, the original non-IS lens still works fine but I rarely touch it now. 

Last one.  Canadian Thanksgiving Day weekend.
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