Weekend Algonquin Rendezvous – Mammals

In addition to seeing many great birds at Algonquin Provincial Park last weekend, my group was treated to a handful of fantastic mammal sightings. This was the first Pine Marten I’ve ever seen and it gave us quite the display. Within seconds of us spotting it, it nearly nabbed a Red Squirrel. After the squirrel got away, the marten treated us to a display of tree climbing gymnasts.

I think it should be noted however, that all of the mammals in my photos came out into the open because of previous incidents where park visitors have fed them (note: no one in my group fed any of the animals below). While it may be tempting to leave out some food in order to see these fabulous creatures, being fed is often to their detriment (and yours, as you will be fined). Feeding can cause human/wildlife conflicts, increase the chances of the animal being hit by a car, and can harm the health of the creature. I’m grateful that I got to see fox, marten, deer, and squirrels last weekend, but I really do prefer spotting my wildlife far from the influence of humans where I know that the animals’ safety is not at risk.

Fox Update

Feisty Mr. Fox that I wrote about earlier in June has officially been confirmed to be a father!  Shortly after I wrote my last post, researchers started to see activity near the den as the pups became old enough to venture out for the first time.  I have wandered past the den on a couple of occasions and seen four different pups.  I’m told that there is a fifth pup who seems pretty shy.  If it took us a couple weeks to make acquaintance with the fifth pup, who knows, maybe there is a sixth.

 

fox 1

Fox pup one.

Fox pup one is the most blond of the group.  It was curious about my presence, but still rather timid.

fox 2

Fox pup two.

Fox pup two seems pretty confident compared to the other pups.  Fox pup one and two get their looks from Mr. Fox.

fox 3

Fox pup three.

Fox pup three is the lighter of the two dark pups.  Fox pup two and three’s appearance is more similar to the mother, who is brown with a black face mask.

fox 4

Fox pup four.

Fox pup four is the darkest of the pups I’ve seen.

I look forward to watching the pups grow up!

Foxes of Daring Lake

One of the greatest things about spending my summers at Daring Lake is the various wildlife I enjoy everyday.   There is no shortage of animals to keep us company up here in the north.  Perhaps one of the sightings I most enjoy belongs to the family of Red Foxes that den on the esker(glacially formed ridges of stratified gravel and sands) that runs behind Research Valley (the large valley where most of our research sites are located).  These foxes have seemingly adapted to the constant invasion of researchers hiking through their territory and successfully raised a litter of kits in 2013.  Hopefully we will see kits again this summer!

So far this June I have made sightings of both the female and male fox coming and going from the den.  The female has a beautiful rusty brown coat, with a black face and a bright white tail-tip.  The male is a lovely mottled orange.  I was quite lucky to come across the male casually watching over his territory the other evening as I was making my way back to camp.  He seemed unmoved by my presence, so I stopped for couple minutes to take a few pictures.

 

Since I first learned of Daring Lake, I have been most excited at the prospect of seeing one of the most secretive and fierce animals in the north, the wolverine!  It didn’t happen for me last year, but I went into this field season with high hopes.  A few days ago I was working at one my research sites when Mr. Fox came jogging past me.  I was surprised that he approached me so closely.  He seemed distracted and not at all fazed be my nearness.  Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera on me, so I watched him for a few minutes before heading back to work.  No more than 5 minutes later I heard a call on my radio from our camp manager that a wolverine had just run by him.  Determined to not miss this opportunity, I ran across the hummocks and heath to find our camp manager and locate the wolverine.   In the distance I could make out a blond creature bounding with ease across the tundra.  But most surprisingly, the wolverine was being pursued closely by the fox!  I never thought my first wolverine sighting would be so dramatic! I watched the pair effortlessly navigate a small wetland before running up the still snowy esker slope and disappear over top of the ridge.  I managed to get a picture of the pair, albeit a blurry one.  The whole affair definitely made my afternoon more exciting.

The chase!

The chase!