Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Fox in camp!

There is a fox den up on the hillside of Dome mountain at Alex. It hasn’t been used for a few years but we noticed new excavations this year. A motion sensitive camera was set up at the den and sure enough there was footage of a young female Arctic fox … and a brave or foolish Arctic hare!
Arctic fox at her den with Sphynx Island and
Alexandra Fiord in the background.

A foolish or brave Arctic hare at the fox den.
It was not long before we saw the fox making furtive visits to camp. Late one afternoon, when we were out in the field conducting a survivorship survey of seedlings that had been planted in warmed (OTC) and control plots seven years ago, the fox came to check us and our stuff out. She seemed to nuzzle at a big puffy jacket that we used to keep us warm when we were the recorder for the survey and sniffing out some Tupperware lunch containers. We thought she was so cute and it was amazing to see her so close but … when we went back to our stuff we found that she had peed and marked our stuff as her territory! Apparently the marking scent is really strong smelling, like a skunk’s, but my olfactory system seems not to detect the smell at all. The seedlings in the survivorship study are not faring that well in most of the plots, still only producing a couple of leaves each year and almost none have produced flowers. The reason appears to be the willow (Salix arctica) that is growing all over them and the copious leaf and seed litter the willow produces covering the seedlings.
Arctic fox checking out our stuff in the field.
One evening we came back from the field and there was our friendly fox moving around the camp, eating at our compost pile and drinking from the grey water pit. She seemed to have little fear of us and we could get super close to her. At one point there were four of us, cameras out, taking photos of this photogenic fox. Her coat is in such good condition and she has the bushiest of tails. And … while all this excitement was going on there were also walruses in close to shore blowing, swimming and majestically diving like whales … a magical end to a busy day in the field.
Arctic fox in camp at Alexandra Fiord.


  1. Were you there long enough to see if the Fox had cubs?

  2. Oh and did the hare live to tell the tale?

  3. There were no cubs at the den this year. We were rooting for the young lady to find a mate for next year.
    The brave hare was not caught by the fox at the den or at least not that we saw on the motion sensitive camera at the den. There were not many hares around. We saw one in camp a couple of times, one or two on the nearby peak called Dome and three up near Sverdrup Pass.