By Kathy Mendes
When I first spied the red fox in Yellowstone National Park, we were heading down from Canyon Village to the area around Fishing Bridge and Steamboat Point to try and find a grizzly bear we had seen the day before.
It was late October, and I was in the backseat of our rented SUV, with another photographer driving and a third in the front passenger seat. There was a lot of snow on the road, so we were going slowly and as usual, since I was not driving, I was spotting: looking off into the distance for wolves, bison, coyotes, river otters or any other creatures we could find.
We were driving along the Yellowstone River at a point where the road gently slopes down close to the river.
I noticed the red of the fox against the white snow near the river and excitedly yelled, “Fox! Fox!”
The driver slowed down and stopped and then backed up. Sure enough, it was a red fox with a beautiful, luxuriant, rusty red coat. It looked at us very quickly, but didn’t seem too concerned, so we rolled down the windows and stuck out our three big lenses.
The fox continued to wander through the snow occasionally, stopping to listen with its ears perked up for the faint sounds of small animals under the snow. Now and then, it would stop and put its entire nose into the snow, so all you could see was the top of its head and ears.
After one such plunge, it climbed onto the road, shaking the snow off its nose, appearing disgusted that its prey below the snow had gotten away.
We continued quietly taking photos as we slowly followed the fox along the road. After a bit, it went back down into the snow and started hunting again. It perked up at one point and started trotting excitedly until it stopped and stood totally still, alert and ready to spring into the snow after whatever it had heard or smelled.
There we were waiting breathlessly, fingers on shutter buttons, tensing for the moment it sprang into the air and down into the snow to catch that mouse. But unfortunately, after a minute or two, it relaxed and then trotted off into the forest where we could not follow.
We felt so lucky to have seen such an amazingly beautiful creature in such a wonderful setting. I am in love with Yellowstone!
Kathy Mendes, front right, is a photographer, SCUBA diver and grandma who shares her underwater and topside photos and trip reports of her travels on her website, Diver Maiden.
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