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February 2011: Fox pup near Racine, Wisconsin

From the Photographer

Bonnie DeLap 

I am relatively new to nature photography. But when I received a group email asking if anyone was interested in a fox shoot, I jumped at the chance.

I have immense respect for photographers who wait hours in all weather and times of day to catch a clear shot of some of our Earth's most wondrous creatures. I fancied that waking up at 4:00 a.m. in the morning to get to our secret location by 5:30 a.m. would surely qualify me as a nature photographer for the first time.

Our leader made us agree to NOT give up the location to anyone and he did not even tell us where it was until we were on our way. The biggest worry was the effects of a mass of humanity besieging the fox family and their habitat.

That being said, I think I can pulge that a small group of us went off in hopes of getting shots of a fox family known to live in the Racine area along the lake. Our guide shared that the mother and father foxes usually came home around dawn with a bit of food for the pups. The pups wake up shortly after to feed.

However, it was getting later in the year and the pups were sleeping in longer. So we waited along the dark chilly shore by the rocks, taking note of the suspect ground holes and would-be fox dens. We waited at a distance.

And finally when it was no longer dark, nor chilly, and almost 10 a.m., the mother came home along the lake bluff but disappeared promptly into the rocks. Yes, I was thinking, "I could have been in bed for 3 hours and made it for the first sighting," but one never knows.

The first juvenile fox (seen in the image) emerged about 30 minutes later right from one of the targeted holes. Another appeared down by the water but darted back into the rocks below. Obviously their den tunneled in and along the waterfront with many entrances and exits. Sitting at the hole, this red fox stretched after a long night of slumber, waking up its body for another day of activity.

I hope to go back sometime again and see how the juvenile has grown. But foxes are known to move their dens regularly. Chances are, when I return they may have gone on to their next home, making this image a unique moment in time.

I took this photo with a Canon 5D. The lens used was a L series 70-200 F2.8 lens at an aperture of F5.0, shutter speed of 1/650th, with an ISO of 200.

Bonnie DeLap lives in Brookfield, Wisconsin, and works at both the Milwaukee Veterans Hospital and Marquette University in the Exercise Science field. She serves as program director of the Unlimited Vision Photo Club in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and is a member of both the Photographic Society of America (PSA) and the Coalition of Photographic Artists (CoPA) in Milwaukee.

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