Run Fox Run

Flying fox - 2013 © Christopher Martin

On the weekend I was out early combing the prairies west of Cochrane, Alberta for wildlife.  The clouds were heavy from rain overnight and had only started to thin out at dawn.  I was driving northward along a hillside gravel road when I saw a couple of ravens explode out of a tree on the edge of the ditch just ahead of me.  Watching them fly in haphazard circles it seemed something had stirred them up.  In a break between a few of the trees, I caught a flash of something racing through the field away from the birds.  I was going 40 km/h when I looked at the speedometer and this creature was pulling away from me.  I sped up and realized I was alongside a Red Fox.  It was about a 100 metres from the fence dividing the field and was absolutely flying.

Full tilt - 2013 © Christopher Martin

For the few hundred metres that we traveled in parallel, we were going at 50 km/h.  Its stride was incredible – fast, powerful and efficient.  The back and tail were straight as an arrow and the legs were a blur as it hurtled along.  I have never witnessed an animal move so fast on the ground (I can’t imagine watching a Cheetah!)  My camera was in the passenger seat and my window was already down so I had to try to photograph this sublime athlete in motion.  There were three openings between the trees over the distance we covered together.  The last one had a small rise that the fox disappeared behind and the first one yielded six out of focus shots.  But, the middle gap was a little bigger and I was able to focus and capture three good frames.

Speeding across the prairie - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Before a fourth break in the trees, the fox veered downhill directly west across the green field.  This last image with it close came as I was slowing down and it was turning away.

Fox trot - 2013 © Christopher Martin

I stopped to watch it bound away.  That’s when I noticed that the ravens had been chasing the fox since they flushed out of their tree.  Probably it had come too close to their nest and the birds wanted to make sure it did not come back.  They banked with the fox when it turned and followed along across the field.  About a kilometre down they stopped the chase, circled higher for a minute and then glided back towards their tree.  When the chase ended the fox checked up beside a creek, grabbed a quick drink and then stared in my direction for a minute.

Ravens and a fox - 2013 © Christopher Martin

For its part, I don’t know if the fox grabbed an egg or a chick before being chased off but it seemed to have a contented look on its face to me.  With the remnants of a winter coat still wet from the rain and the rich colour on the face and flanks, I think this fox was a magnificent animal.  It was an amazing encounter that I could not have dared to imagine.

A rest for the fox - 2013 © Christopher Martin

19 responses

  1. Pingback: Hawks on the Prairie | Christopher Martin Photography

  2. Pingback: A grizzly bear grazing and running in Kananaskis | Christopher Martin Photography

  3. elmediat

    Amazing sequence. I have passed on link to family & friends.

    June 14, 2013 at 11:57 am

  4. Some great shots mate!

    June 14, 2013 at 5:33 am

  5. Just magnificent … I’ve never seen anything quite like this.

    June 12, 2013 at 1:42 pm

  6. Amazing photos. Thanks.

    June 12, 2013 at 9:01 am

  7. Outstanding captures – well done!

    June 12, 2013 at 7:20 am

  8. Reblogged this on pawnrwt and commented:
    :guardsman:

    June 12, 2013 at 3:24 am

  9. That fox is flying.
    Glad he isn’t chasing me. I’d lose.

    June 11, 2013 at 9:39 pm

  10. Judi Martin

    Wonderful photography. I. Would have loved to be riding shotgun and watching you accomplish this amazing feat…hope your week isn’t too hectic and there is a positive end result.

    Sent from my iPhone

    June 11, 2013 at 8:00 pm

  11. Great adventure. You did well to get those shots while driving!!

    June 11, 2013 at 7:13 pm

  12. So exciting, running full-out! Great captures, and colour.

    June 11, 2013 at 3:42 pm

  13. Excellent captures, Christopher.

    June 11, 2013 at 12:02 pm

  14. Fabulous action shots, Christopher and great story.

    June 11, 2013 at 9:35 am

  15. What an amazing event! I have never seen more interesting photos of a fox. Congratulations on documenting this story with beautiful photos!

    June 11, 2013 at 7:11 am

  16. Mona

    Great shot taken… Good work CHRISTOPHER.

    June 11, 2013 at 5:56 am

  17. Amazing photos!

    June 11, 2013 at 5:41 am

  18. I am in Awe, Christopher. Lucky you I would say – but I reckon you had the skills and experiences to make these wonderful captions .. wow.. “I lift my hat” 😀

    June 11, 2013 at 5:26 am

  19. Vicki (from Victoria A Photography)

    What a great experience (and even better that you managed to capture the action in photos).

    June 11, 2013 at 4:49 am

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