Today I was just setting up my kit in the hide, everything from the previous two seasons falling back into routine, when I glanced out the window and saw a red fox not 2 m away! This was at first light, roughly 7am, so my attempt to quietly wrestle my camera out of the bag and take a photo was less ninja than I was hoping for and the fox took off. I did manage to grab this blurry photo of his rear-end as he darted into the bushes though:
While our research is obviously on the seals, we have had an interest in the foxes at this site for sometime now after a previous PhD student from our group, Dr. Ross Culloch, spotted one on his night-vision videos (see: Culloch, et al. 2012. Observations from Video Footage of Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) Activity Within a Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus) Breeding Colony on the UK Mainland. Aquatic Mammals 38(1), 81-85.). Not many grey seal colonies are on the mainland and thus won’t have exposure to foxes or other terrestrial carnivores. What interactions the two species have at our site we don’t know, but it could be fairly interesting to look into!
In more seal-related news, it was the first day of observations and of the 5 males I had in my study site, 2 were returners! Pearl and Truffula were both seen in 2011 and 2012 so it is great to see them both back again. Amy H. got underway with her project on the females and learned that sound recording kit and wind don’t always get along but is starting to build up her own catalog of females. She’ll explain a bit more about her work later.
Tonight we battened down the hatches as the ‘storm of the decade’ is headed towards England. Shouldn’t be too bad on the East coast but we are still happy to be cozy and warm in our cottage tonight instead of outside!