Monday, May 14, 2012

Mountain babies

Canada goose family
This weekend was the time for some of the new mountain babies to appear, or at least for me to find them.
First, the goose babies: Each time I left the mountain this week I saw the Canada goslings. Once I saw six, the next time I saw seven and thought I’d missed seeing one, and then I saw six again and wondered if one had perished. Wrong on both counts.

On Sunday I saw two sets of parents, one with six babies and the other with seven babies. It was only when I saw them strolling side by side that I realized there are actually a total of 13 babies in two separate families.

The second baby is a not a good photo, because the baby is scared to death. The poor thing has its head as hidden as it can make it, so all you can see is its tiny, furry little body. Have you guessed what it is? It’s a red fox kit who has a very stupid vixen for a mother.

Why is the mother stupid? Because of where she has chosen the den for this baby.

But I’m getting a bit ahead of my story so let’s go back to the beginning. This morning as I was walking Dog, I kept hearing the foxes bark. One was obviously nearby, the other somewhat further away. I was worried that the pair was getting ready to make an assault on my chickens.

Red fox kit

So I decided to walk Dog towards the closer of the barkers, thinking to scare it away, and thus hopefully distracting it from an attack on the chickens. Following the sound took me out along the edge of the smallest ski slope. The barking was originating from perhaps halfway up the slope, and it was quite persistent and frequent. And then Dog got interested in something nearby.
First, a little more background to this story. Roundtop places 55-gallon drums with the bottoms cut out around the water pipes that bring water up the mountain for snowmaking. In winter, they attach what looks like small airplane motors on wheels and that have a trailing rubber hose to each water connections. In non-skiing months, the airplane motors on wheels are stored elsewhere but the barrels remain, probably because it’s easier not to move them but also because it keeps those who mow the slopes from running over the water lines.
Typically, there’s a metal barrel underground that’s buried up to the rim and a blue plastic barrel atop the metal one that’s above the ground. Well, momma fox managed to move the blue plastic barrel just enough so that she can jump down in there, and that’s her den for this little fox kit. The site is dangerous for the kit for several reasons, not the least of which is that it’s raining today and I would expect water to collect down there. For another, although momma fox can get in and out of her den, I doubt baby fox is yet big enough to jump out, so it can’t escape from the den if it needs to. The baby is fairly good-sized, though, so I’m not sure momma fox can carry it out of there, either.

When my dad was a teenager he had a fox as a pet, and though I was momentarily tempted by that thought, I let this baby where it was. I might check the spot again tonight just to make sure it’s not filling up with water. If need be, perhaps I could put something down in there to at least let the baby climb out. I don’t need any more foxes around, but I think the little one should at least have a better chance at life than this.

1 comment:

Scott said...

Go for a look after the rain, Carolyn; now you've got me curious. The vixen's reasoning process is questionable.