The Crows were raising cane on Sunday, it sounded as if there was a great disturbance in the force. These guys are noisy as it is without something bugging them. At first, I imagined death in the family or a fledgling that had fallen out of the nest. Hopping on my scooter I went down the Levee to take a look, there they were at the top of a swamp willow loud and obnoxious. Returning to the house just as I sat down a Great Horned Owl took to flight from a branch just overhead, a perfect example of looking and not seeing. The Crows were squawking at the big predator that would not leave them alone, it’s hard to understand what was going on. After the Owl was out of the picture all was quiet on the Levee, the Crows may not have been happy but they were quiet at least.
About the same time, Skunkpuppy was agitated as well, I thought it was because of the Crows being so noisy. She gets worked up if any wild animal has the gall to be on her domain, Peacocks, Squirrels, Rabbits it doesn’t matter to her all she knows is they can’t stay there. Suddenly she took off as a rocket stopped only by the closed gate, I’m a little smarter than to leave her to her own designs. A streak of rust-colored fur shot along the fence line, I didn’t see the bushy tail but I’m 80% certain it was a Red Fox. This is the first one I’ve seen on this side of the river although their sign is everywhere, they are an elusive animal. The lot next to me is a Rabbit nursery, the furry long-eared bunnies are everywhere. I imagine the Fox lives over there, or a least is merely looking for a meal.
The Fox I saw earlier was a Kit Fox, they are much smaller than their larger cousin the Grey or Red ones. Seeing it across the river he climbed up on the rocks and was casually taking a look around, it was one of those times I wished my camera was set up. The Kits are a bit more numerous making their sightings more common.
A neighbor had a bushel of apples outside the door on the deck, for a week when she woke up there would be the core of one that had been eaten overnight. She tried to catch the culprit and found it hard to believe someone would come to their door take an apple and sit down to eat it in the middle of the night. Finally, one early morning, when she looked out the window there, sat a Kit Fox eating an apple, the apples were brought inside and the mystery ended.
I suspect the saga is not resolved, Skunkpuppy is a bit frantic this evening last night she was awake all night standing guard on her window seat on the third floor. She is desperate to go outside tonight, I believe the Fox is out and about. Taking a spotlight I shined it in the empty space next door thinking the predator was chasing the Rabbits as all the canines on the Island do. No such luck I did not see it, but I suspect strongly he is there someplace.
Symptoms of his presence are everywhere, tracks, scat, and disappearing Bunnies and that is the reason I first suspected one was lurking around. With the usual Coyotes on the Levee after dark, the smaller cousin has to be cautious as Coyotes dine on the smaller Fox. A blog I wrote two years ago was about the invasion of Rabbits we were (and it continues) experiencing. Some people were complaining about the rapidly multiplying Bunnies, it seems as if they have a litter every few weeks. The population explosion attracted the predators, the Great Horned Owl and various Hawks have always been around as the Coyotes, but the introduction of new prey has drawn more in. A litter was born about a month ago, there were 5 little ones, little bunnies are undeniably cute, and apparently fairly easy to catch. Today there is one baby Rabbit and is the reason I thought a Fox has joined our small community.
I have no interest in doing anything about the newcomer, he has a right to be as much as the rest of the predators, and truthfully I’d rather have one around versus more Coyotes. The larger Canines hunt larger game which places the local domestic pets in peril, although the diet of an urban Coyote consists of just 8% cats mostly feral. Foxes, on the other hand, don’t prey on dogs and are known to co-exist with cats, their preferred diet consists mostly of small mammals (mice, rats), birds, and various fruits.
There is no livestock on our property unless my worm farm counts as some vermaculturist refer to the colonies as “head”, common terminology when Ranchers talk about cattle. Worms are on the bottom of the food chain living their entire one-year lifespan never seeing a human. Mice are predators of worms as are moles, rats, and raccoons, for a worm farmer the mice are the most threatening. They fatten up on them which in turn slow them down making capturing the little rodents easier for the Wiley Fox. Chickens are notorious as being prey for them as well and the Rancher across the road has from the looks of it 500 of the ground scratchers. Every once in while rapid gunfire can be heard from that far back corner of his front 20 acres. Some nights at dusk the birds make a deafening amount of noise so loudly people come outside to see what is going on.
When I first heard the commotion I assumed they had a mink problem as there was a huge farm in the center of the Island that raised thousands of them. As with other production animals some escape and become wild, I have seen several of them. They are actually just more prey for the predators so I pay them no mind. But after seeing that Fox yesterday I have a change of mind, it’s most likely a Fox invading the coops, that may be why he now has three Emus. I’m sure the big birds will chase the Fox away during the day however their night vision is poor, I’m not sure if they will protect the flock after dark.
There we have it, most likely a Fox is on the prowl driving Skunkpuppy insane and controlling the rabbit population, a full grown one is too big for them to handle. Over the past two years since the Rabbits swam across from a small island that flooded the dynamics of the slough has changed, such is life for all of us living on the edge of open spaces.
Jacques Lebec Natural Self Reliance