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Monday, September 10, 2012

Silvery gray

Eric is always reminding me to have my camera ready during our drive home.  I'm often lazy about this, leaving it in the back of the car (out of reach) and have missed many photo opportunities.  

Tonight I listened and was prepared, and figured that was probably enough to jinx us.  We were almost all the way around Bodega Harbor, close to Porto Bodega, when this little guy appeared near the side of the road!  

I often fail to see Gray Foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) that other people have spotted, so I was thrilled to spend a few minutes watching and documenting this one.

Although the picture above was taken near the end of the sequence, when we first noticed the fox it was out in the open.

Note the grizzled appearance (black, gray, and white hairs), the cinnamon color behind the ears and running down the neck, the whitish underparts, and the black-tipped tail.  The species name cinereoargenteus means "silvery gray," an apt description of the dominant color.

Gray foxes are small, ~2.5-3.5 feet long.  The luxurious tail is 10-17 inches long (see below).  Adults range between 6.5-15 pounds. 

In the western United States, Gray Foxes prefer "brushy vegetation in association with rugged, broken terrain" (Fritzell and Haroldson 1982).  Their home range size is ~300 acres.

They eat small mammals (rabbits and rodents), insects (crickets, grasshoppers, beetles), and fruit. 

Gray Foxes are good tree-climbers.  I'm not sure how often that skill is used on Bodega Head, but I have heard of them appearing on the roof of a house in Salmon Creek.

Here's one more shot as the fox sniffed the air.

P.S.  Do you know the Carl Sandburg poem that starts, "The fog comes on little cat feet"?  At Bodega Head, the poem might read, "The fog comes on little fox feet."

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