Close encounter with a red fox

At the cottage a few days ago I had a close encounter with this red fox. From time to time over the years I’ve come across fox kittens torn between fear and curiosity, but never an adult that would give me the time of day. So I was thrilled to have the opportunity to inspect and photograph one so closely.

I was walking along the road behind the cottage on a mild, sunny morning and had just passed a big, sandy area on the side of the road, when I spied her on the top of a low ridge walking through the edge of the deep woods. She paused to watch me. I quickly and quietly began rummaging through my camera bag and switching on the zoom lens to take a picture, and had just successfully mounted it when she turned to disappear into the trees.

She didn’t seem alarmed or hurried, so I tried clicking my teeth to attract her attention. She immediately turned to take a closer look. Then she began edging down the hillside toward me.

Red Fox 1

Partway down, she found a warm place and sat, blinking at me in the sun. At this point I had the best photo op. She was about 8 metres (26 feet) away. She kept looking away to my right and back the way I had come, presumably the way she wanted to go.

Red Fox 3

After half a minute she got up and followed the ridge in that direction. This led into dense undergrowth. She didn’t seem to like it. She seemed to say, “Screw this!” Reversing course, she gave me another close look and began edging down the slope toward me and the road.

Strange behaviour in wild animals can be a sign of rabies. Rabid foxes in particular are noted for approaching and seeking contact with humans.

This animal looked remarkably healthy. She was larger than most foxes I had seen. She seemed more unconcerned than tame. I thought she was most likely healthy, but didn’t want to take any chances.

Down in the road she stood eying me. Now she was no more than 3 m (10 ft) away. She kept looking to one side. I couldn’t tell whether she was curious about my tripod, which I had set beside me, or just wanted to pass me on the road. Maybe I had just passed her den.

Red Fox 4

She was in shadow and I was too shaky to take a really clear picture. But here she gave me a great look at her beautiful coat. Her eyes looked quite red.

Red Fox 5

Finally, she started to approach me. Now I had had enough. I stamped my foot.

The fox kind of shrugged. She returned to her previous plan, trotted up the slope and disappeared into the undergrowth, leaving me trembling with excitement.

At this point on the road, the nearest neighbours are a couple of nature lovers who live all year at the lake. Previously I posted here a photo from their hummingbird haven, which I visited on a walk earlier this year. I suspect they or someone else along the road have made friends with this fox. She regarded me no more warily than a stranger would upon meeting me in the woods. For me it was a once-in-a-lifetime (so far) meeting; and what a beautiful animal!

Later the same day I was splitting firewood beside the shed when a ruffed grouse lighted on the ground not far away. These forest chickens are usually wary, but this individual didn’t seem to care that I was there. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera at hand.

3 thoughts on “Close encounter with a red fox

  1. Incredible photos Van — I envy you the encounter, although I would have been as cautious as you. One of my favourite shows is Midsomer Murders. There’s a sound that happens frequently during night scenes in the show and I recently discovered that it’s a call of the red fox. There’s a video on the site below that shows it — did you happen to hear this sound during your walk?

    1. Gabriella, that’s an excellent link, thanks. I’ve heard the gekkering before, which I knew was foxes, and probably some of the other sounds without knowing what it was. I see foxes a lot along the main road when driving in, but this is the first time I remember seeing one close to the cottage. Not having a dog is probably an advantage.

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