Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Carrizo Plain Triple Play

In 2013 I had the pleasure of joining the CA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife and the Cam Trap Codger on a mini project to set cam traps on natal dens of San Joaquin kit foxes on the Carrizo Plain.

But 2013 was a drought year in CA, and the kit fox pair only had one pup.

So, since this El Nino-ish season had reasonable rain on the Plain, we thought we'd try again.

And this time we tripled our fun: a mom, dad, and 3 pups.

Here's a sampling from the set, starting with 5 nights in late March...

san joaquin kit foxes
Dad SJ kit fox next to the natal den

san joaquin kit foxes
Taking a break - while he can

san joaquin kit foxes
Pups coming out of the den to greet dad

san joaquin kit foxes

You'll note there's a bit more green on the ground this round.

A sign of the better season. Unfortunately, much of it is non-native filaree (Erodium cicutarium). However, much like cattle, the local kangaroo rats and pocket mice, including the endangered Giant Kangaroo Rat, Dipodomys ingens, like to eat filaree. And their populations do well when the filaree does well. Which benefits the kit foxes and other rodent-dependent predators.

san joaquin kit foxes
Mom SJ kit fox dropping off 5 k-rats she brought back for the puppies

That's mom with the radio tracking collar. She's part of a broader study to understand their movements in the area. And that's 5 k-rats at her feet the pup is going after. Nicely done, mom!

san joaquin kit foxes
Dad under tail attack

san joaquin kit foxes
Junior explorers - "follow me!"

san joaquin kit foxes

san joaquin kit foxes

san joaquin kit foxes

san joaquin kit foxes
"Ow, ow, ow - you're so fierce and vicious…"

san joaquin kit foxes

san joaquin kit foxes
Puppy hide-and-seek? 

Notice how the puppies are more using their ears than their eyes to track and look for each other...

san joaquin kit foxes

san joaquin kit foxes

san joaquin kit foxes

san joaquin kit foxes

san joaquin kit foxes
Dad attack!

san joaquin kit foxes

Nothing cuter than scampering puppy butts.

san joaquin kit foxes
Dad with a mouthful for the puppies

Next up: Morning w/ Mom - the 3 kit fox puppies hanging out in the morning sun with their ma.

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