Gray Fox Report: November 2022

Two Recent Excerpts from the Gray Fox Log

Submitted by William C. Leikam
President, CEO & Co-founder
Urban Wildlife Research Project
A 501 C (3) Nonprofit Corporation
wcleikam@gmail.com

Let our work lift this planet from its present illness. WCL – 9/10/2022

I’ve never done this before, but I thought that it might be of some interest to see how I document the behavior of the gray foxes and other wildlife at the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve. In this way you can see my interaction with the gray foxes and raccoons. Herein are two days’ worth of notes. Over this past 13 years of such documentation, I have produced well over two million words.

Monday, November 28, 2022:

Park 5:55, 43°, clear, calm, dark, Embarcadero Way parking

This morning while walking back into the channel, Laimos was there at the head of the trail near the ditch. He dashed over to the retaining wall, jumped up onto it, looked down and came back into the channel, crossed and vanished into the brush. Unusual behavior. I went on to cameras #12 and #13. When I returned, Laimos was at marker #22. He trotted ahead of me over to marker #20. He turned in on the apron and there he sat watching/listening as I came along. I passed by. He followed all the way over to marker #17. There he went back into the brush and I never saw him again this morning.

No Big Eyes this AM.

Back in the clearing, I expected that the raccoon Pesky might be there. (She usually meets me near camera #7.) As I came up on camera #7, Pesky was there looking out from under the fallen eucalyptus. At first, I assumed that this was Little Pesky, but on second take, after watching it for a while, I saw that she didn’t scratch like Little Pesky does and so this was Big Pesky. She just sat there for a minute or two, then emerged a little, stood, looked me over and then settled back down until I waved and gave her my goodbye and left.

From the Files

Gray fox @ camera #14, @ 2:32 AM

Gray fox @ camera #11, @ 2:28 AM, 5:26 AM

Gray fox @ camera #4, @ 10:54 PM, 2:26 AM

Gray fox @ camera #2, @ 10:53 PM, 2:25 AM

Red fox @ camera #9, @ 6:20 AM

PM – TASKS

Move camera #14 along Pond Rd. – Made an attempt to move it, but the dead coyote bush that I chose would not take the threads of the mount. I put it back on the tree that it came from across from the Date Palm Tree.

Defog cameras #3 and #14 – Defogged both cameras

I moved camera #3 closer to the road and pointed toward the main gate.

No foxes came forth this evening, although when I put the camera back in its original spot, I looked down the channel and one of the foxes was out near marker #17. It was most likely Big Eyes as she is the fox that most often frequents sunning herself there. Most of the time the foxes either smell or hear me but the cold wind was in my face so she likely didn’t hear nor smell me some 400 plus feet along the overflow channel.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022:

Park 5:55, 40°, clear, calm, dark, Embarcadero Way parking.

Today, was the day of the beaver. The press, all nine news outlets, has jumped onto this story after the San Jose Mercury article about my documentation of the beaver pair in Matadero Creek hit the news. KRON Channel 4 TV is going to be doing a story on this. Amy Larson will be conducting the interview.

This morning:

As I passed the den area along Pond Road, no foxes emerged. I walked on. Around the first turn in the road, I jotted down a couple notes, and as I put my note pad into my pocket I turned slightly and there on the road behind me stood Laimos. He must have come up from the brush just there and not from his usual den area back down the road maybe 200 feet distant. I knew that he’d not come from there because I had shone my light back along the road several times. I briefly chattered at him, took a couple photos, watched him sitting there at roadside and so since he wasn’t doing anything notable, I walked on to camera #14. He did not follow.

I was down near marker #17, when I looked back down the channel and there came Laimos. At about marker #15, he went off into the weeds, but then came back out onto the channel. He didn’t come close before he stopped and sat. I said, “Come on, Laimos. Come on.” He continued sitting. It was then that I saw that he held one paw off the concrete. I wondered whether it might be due to the near freezing temperature of the channel.

I continued to the ditch. There pawprints about an hour, hour and a half old crossed toward marker #18 and camera #4. Laimos did not follow. I took care of all the cameras in the area and upon returning from camera #12 ahead a fox came trotting toward me. We met at marker #20 on the side-apron. Turned out to be Big Eyes when I had expected Laimos. She followed all the way over to marker #17 where she sat up at the break between the brush and the grassy field. I waited and watched. She sat and watched me.

I continued to the big clearing. There I checked out camera #6 which had no files. I stood behind camera #7 when I looked off to my right. There coming up from the brush was the female gray fox Big Eyes. She sat on the fallen tree, back toward the end. I wanted a photo of her back in there but couldn’t get her sitting in a clear area as she always put a curtain between us. I looked back and under the fallen tree. There was a raccoon back under there. Big Pesky slowly came toward me, her chin on the ground. Big Eyes would have nothing of this raccoon. She moved back further away and finally she turned and left altogether.

PM – TASKS

Batteries camera #9

Cut weeds on left camera #2

Check camera #1 Time Stamp

Shift camera #12 slightly left.

Batteries in camera #9 were left as is. Did a two-minute load test and it remained in the 70% range.

Cut weeds in front of camera #2.

Camera #1’s time stamp was off by 24 hours. I reset from AM to PM. I moved the camera slightly left.

Shifted camera #12 slightly left.

Section II

Update for the Urban Wildlife Research Project

We’ve made a new discovery and documented the first beavers to occupy Matadero Creek in 160 years. Palo Alto Weekly https://www.paloaltoonline.com/print/story/2022/11/04/the-beaver-is-back and the San Jose Mercury News https://www.mercurynews.com/2022/11/27/the-re-beavering-of-the-bay-area/

A new video documentary titled The Foxes, My Professors, about my work with the foxes and produced at Stanford University can be watched here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16bByDVEuKI&ab_channel=UrbanWildlifeResearchProject

Bill’s new book The Road to Fox Hollow has been released and can be found at Barnes & Noble Booksellers and directly from the publisher Di Angelo Publications at https://www.diangelopublications.com/books/the-road-to-fox-hollow. This is your best deal.

Dr. Marc Bekoff has an interview with Bill and that can be accessed at The Social and Emotional Lives of Urban Gray Foxes .

Bay Nature Magazine – “How to be a Fox” The article about Bill and his ethological approach to his study of the gray fox is online here: https://baynature.org/article/how-to-be-a-fox/ Many are calling this a major article in the wildlife press.

BE SURE TO check out our YouTube Channel for some incredible wildlife videos at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5ujc7p8dU1-O5AbPAWz2_Q and our Facebook page.  

See Discipline Raccoon Style here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdZbMGlkzEk

Undoubtedly the best Radio interview ever – KALW (PBS program Crosscurrents) – by Sofie Kodner during December 2020 – Broadcast 1/11/2021 5:00 PM. Check it out here https://www.kalw.org/post/bay-area-wildlife-habitats-are-disappearing-fox-guy-has-plan

You can access Bill’s PowerPoint presentation Corridors & Connections: Sustaining the Health of All Wildlife presented during the October 24th P-22 Urban Wildlife Festival here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dh4MQL1D1Cc

NEW – To find out more about us, search Urban Wildlife Research Project, UWRP, gray foxes, wildlife connection, linkages, corridors, and several documentaries including the video clips.

Gray Foxes General Health

These two foxes appear to be in good health.

Total Numbers of Gray Foxes in the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve: As of this date, we have two adult gray foxes living in the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve.

Section III: Gray Fox, Baylands Goals

Within the permit that allows the Urban Wildlife Research Project to conduct its study of the behavior of the gray fox at the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve, the objectives covered area:

  • Monitoring of urban gray fox Denning sites in Palo Alto Baylands.

This is being accomplished during the period when the gray foxes use a den site. It is one of the prime locations for gathering most of the behavioral data of the litter and for adults alike.

  • Assessment of status and population trends of Baylands urban gray foxes

Since January 2019 a pair of resident gray foxes have claimed territory at the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve.

  • Identification of habitat features that promote the presence of urban gray foxes

After considering this and talking with people who know how to restore habitats, we need to assess what kinds of plants, including the Alkaline Salt Bush, would grow best along the edge of the saltwater channel and alongside the marsh. We need to grow a permanent habitat that contains the corridors and plant it as soon as possible. We’ll keep an eye on this as this is a critical link between the southern region of the Baylands and the northern region.

  • Assessment of reproductive success and identification of factors that promote successful reproduction

Open up the pinch-point along Matadero Creek by developing thickets that link one area to another, instead of the present “islands”.

  • Identification and assessment of possible dispersal travel routes.

Presently there can only be guesses as to dispersal travel routes. We intend to make this important question much more concrete when we attain our collaring/take/capture permit from the Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Sincerely,
Bill Leikam – The Fox Guy
CEO & President,
Urban Wildlife Research Project
A Nonprofit 501 C3
UrbanWildlifeResearchProject.com