2018 was a whirlwind. Meetings. Pitches. Travel. Learning to do audio on YouTube. Turning our apartment into a wall-to-wall Post-it note storyboard. You see, we’re trying to create the first prototype of Nature Labs by fall 2019 and, as a result, we had fewer days in the field than ever before. Yet 2018 was good to us. We made our time in the Rocky Mountains count like never before, narrowing our search to specific individuals and landscapes we’ve come to know well while working to create the stories that will underpin Nature Labs.
In order of date, please enjoy a behind the scenes look at the making of Nature Labs and what became our top wildlife encounters from 2018.
Dog fox on a mission
Want to know a great way to shed ten pounds in one day? Spend it trying to get ahead of a fox, without disturbing it’s natural habits and while trying to capture it on camera with extremely heavy gear. Oh, and throw in a massive snow storm for fun. This is the story of our dawn to dusk encounter with a dog (male) fox.
We knew that this fox recently moved into an area that hadn’t seen one of its kind in many years and we spent several weeks in November trying to tell its story. But for the first week, our search mostly came up empty. A combination of bad luck and bad weather made learning this animal’s pattern almost impossible.
But as is so often the case with wildlife observation, our luck turned one morning when we arrived on the scene to find fresh snow blanketing the landscape. Why did that matter? Well, all of a sudden we had a window into where the fox had been and what meadows it had yet to hunt. We knew immediately where to wait and, shortly after our stake-out began, the fox appeared.
It was quick to consume its first vole of the day. A little too quick. But our frustration didn’t last long. We were slowly able to earn the trust of the fox, with the dog allowing us to respectfully follow along on his hunting route, one that led to the demise of 24 more unfortunate voles. Yes, you read that correctly: we witnessed one fox consume 25 voles in a ten hour stretch. And we documented him sleeping, yawning, playing, stretching, drinking… It was simply amazing.
There was one incredible endnote. When we arrived the next day, we found more snow and new fox tracks. As we followed, we discovered he walked nearly 25 kilometres back to where he had arrived from a few weeks prior. The vole killing spree was the fox stocking up for the long trek ahead – he had the foresight to build up his energy reserves for the journey. Remarkable.
And why did the fox cross the valley? To find a mate, of course. Did he succeed? We’ll let you in a few months.
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