A Wary Host
I was to spend time with four Fox this day. This was the first. As I drove down the main road, searching for him, he found me. A full 1/4 mile from the car, presumably at the sound of its engine, he materialized from the scrub brush. Spotting me, he fairly sprinted the distance between us. I pulled over immediately, amazed, and fumbled to get my camera kit situated. Every other Fox encounter I have experienced proved that the slightest provocation would send them off into hiding. This must be a mistake, Fox never came to humans. I did not yet know that from his experience a creeping car equaled potential food. I did not yet know that these Fox had been desensitized to human presence and looked to them as a ready source of treats. So it was that by the time I was out of the car and set up, the Fox was 20 yards from me, silently waiting for my next move.
The standoff lasted a few minutes, me shooting pictures, he waiting for a posing fee he would never receive. After a bit, he decided that standing was too laborious and took a seat. Now comfortable, he never took his gaze away until......
Although semi-tame from constant feeding by humans trying to get close, the Fox at Island Beach State Park still retain a wary situational awareness. Any abrupt movement can send them into high alert. Too abrupt a movement will send them back into the woods. It is their last vestige of wild protective impulse.
I am not sure what triggered the sudden diversion from me, but it made for a great opportunity to catch him as his head pivoted.
I packed up shortly thereafter. I was happy, at peace that I had seen and photographer a Fox. Little did I know that it was just the beginning of an epic outing.