Friday, January 27, 2012

Gray Fox

While sitting in the cab of a plow truck and talking with my friend Dan Woodrow, who plows my driveway, we spotted a fairly large animal on the edge of my lawn.

Dan hollered, “Raccoon.” But this critter was long and slender and lacked a raccoon’s markings. At first, I took it for a small coyote, but that wasn’t right either. Then it struck me. We were watching a gray fox. I had seen its tracks a bit earlier, but had forgotten that.

The fox was digging in the snow, which prompted me to recall throwing some lamb scraps out several days earlier.

Despite having spent a lifetime in the woods, I have seen only a few gray foxes. So this sighting was a real big deal to me, and one I am happy to report.

Other than the gray fox, I’ve had red squirrels around, which should surprise no one. And surprisingly, two gray squirrels have taken up residence at my place, something I mentioned in an earlier blog.

Tracks in the snow, however, with the exception of the fox and squirrels, are sadly lacking in variety. Hare tracks are absent, which indicates that these animals are even scarcer than they were last year, which is really saying something.

But despite the dearth of interesting mammals and a pitiful, small number of songbirds, I have high hopes. In only a few weeks, I’m sure things will change. Nothing in nature remains the same for very long. So as the constellation Orion gives way to Leo, and days lengthen and the sun grows higher, big changes are in the offing.

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