Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

March 15, 2011

Fox on a Stick (actually in a tree)

Gray Fox in tree

Gray Fox in tree

Although most of my photography these days centers on birds I’m totally addicted to all animals and nature subjects. So I made a special trip to one of my favorite central Arizona places, Boyce Thompson Arboretum, when I was alerted that a Gray Fox was being seen each morning on a main limb of a large tree near the lower parking lot.

I had seen a Gray Fox (presumably the same one) while assisting with the bird walk on March 3, but I wasn’t carrying any camera at the time and couldn’t get a shot of the fox as it climbed the ridge. I never expected to see it again and definitely not to get a chance to take any photos of it.

According to Mammals of North America (Bowers, Bowers & Kaufman) the Gray Fox is “the only North American wild dog that regularly climbs trees.” It was a real treat to actually see a fox in a tree looking as comfortable there as a house cat would be.

Gray Fox in tree

Gray Fox in tree

I was there just after dawn to improve my chances of finding the fox. There wasn’t a lot of light at that time, especially with the canopy of leaves. I needed the 2x converter on my 300/2.8 to get enough optical “reach” so I could see the fox over a large branch sticking out in front and to be far enough back to keep from spooking the fox. At my normal setting of ISO 400 with the lens/converter combo wide open at f/5.6 my shutter speed was a “blazing” 1/13th second! I framed carefully, checked my focus, and locked down all movements on the bal head and sidekick. The full frame image (the second in this post) isn’t as sharp as I’m accustomed to getting but rather good for such a slow shutter speed.

For the image at the top of this post I increased the ISO to 640 (a value I rarely use due ti concerns over noise in the image) and also dialed in -2/3rds ev compensation to increase my shutter speed to 1/30th second at f/5.6. I also moved a bit to my right to get more greenery behind the fox, and I’ve cropped the image to 70% of full frame to tighten up the composition a bit.



  1. I’m thrilled for you that you found this guy Rich, and your images are excellent for the conditions you described.

    Comment by Chuck Gangas — March 16, 2011 @ 6:38 am

  2. Neat photos of interesting behavior. Loved your title too! I once had a Springer Spaniel who liked to climb trees.

    Comment by rondudley — March 16, 2011 @ 7:55 am

  3. Wonderful find and nice job with the images in the low light conditions. I would of never thought to look up a tree for a fox. Very interesting.

    Comment by Jim Hackley — April 4, 2011 @ 1:54 pm

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