New on the fox front

I wonder if a fox’s sense of humor is like a dog’s. This makes me think it is.

poop in a cup

This is what I think is fox poop deposited in what looks like the plastic top of a soft drink cup from a convenience store. It looks like the fox did it on purpose. I guess this kind of behavior is not uncommon, at least for our foxes. We see this kind of poop all over the mountain, including on our driveway. It’s finger sized, dark and full of seeds. It looks like what I have seen foxes leave on our driveway in the past.

Although we see the droppings regularly, we don’t see the foxes like we used to. I don’t think I’ve actually seen a fox since they left the immediate vicinity during the road resurfacing nearby, last fall.

You may remember the female fox with a bad front leg. I was pleased to hear from our petsitter after we came home from Savannah at the end of June that she had seen a fox with a severe limp. I assumed it had not made it; after all, how likely is it that a three-legged fox could survive in the wild for an extended period of time? Apparently either it’s not as severe a handicap as it seems, or this fox is particularly resourceful. Either way, it’s encouraging.

A few updates

I have mentioned that the longleaf pine I transplanted in the grass-stage was growing into the bottlebrush stage, but that earlier post might have included at least a little wishful thinking at the time. Now, though, it’s pretty clear that it really is moving towards the bottlebrush stage. The clump of needles is pushing upward, slowly but steadily, and the little trunk is finally visible. I had also mentioned that one side of the little tree was showing some dead needles, which I blamed on Zeke using it for a rest stop. I think that’s what caused it, but I think he just hurried along a process that was going to take place sooner or later. The longleaf will shed its needles as it grows upward. There is now a little mat of dead needles beneath the tree, a miniature version of the thick layer typical of longleaf pine stands. This development is very gratifying to me.

Here you can see the lengthening trunk along with the dying needles (Zeke’s work), and the beginning of a mat of dead needles.

new bottle brush

A second development is encouraging in a way, but kind of disappointing as well. I have mentioned how foxes used to visit our driveway to eat food that Leah puts out for the outside cats. The foxes disappeared when some road work was taking place near where I think their den was, and not long after that one was shot by a neighbor who mistook it for a coyote. We didn’t see fox signs for a long time, but in the last couple of months we have been finding what looked like fox poop in the driveway. We were also finding cat food trays licked clean. Then a few nights ago as we returned home we saw a fox run out of the yard. That confirmed our suspicion that at least one fox has returned. It’s not the limping fox; I assume she didn’t make it, but it is almost certainly one of her kits.

I’m glad that at least one fox has survived. On the other hand, I wish it wasn’t eating cat food and pooping in the driveway. But I guess the one comes with the other.

A third recent development involves our thinking about moving. We have reached the conclusion that we need to sell, but we haven’t decided what comes after. I had been talking and doing some minimal research into the northeastern Georgia mountains or some places in the North Carolina mountains. I mentioned our potential plans to a neighbor who happens to be a real estate broker, and he suggested that we look at some property just down the road from us. I tried to walk it a few days ago, looking for a reasonable building site. I found at least one, but it was almost impossible to determine exactly where it was relative to the lot lines. I was using a GPS unit, but for some reason the location uncertainty was too large for it to be much use. But my initial look was encouraging.

This property has some real advantages for us. It would allow us to stay in familiar territory, which is important for Leah if not for me. We could at least start construction before selling our current house, and it would be very convenient to build a house within walking distance of home. We could probably do pretty much all the site preparation, well, septic system, driveway and such, maybe even footing and foundation prior to needing the proceeds from selling our current house. At that point we could probably live in our travel trailer on site long enough to see the new house completed.

I plan to walk the property some more, probably with long string as well as a GPS, to see just what building would involve. If it looks good, we’ll probably make an offer. The biggest problem is that the asking price is far more than we want to spend, given what we intend our move to accomplish. If we can’t reach an agreement, we’ll be back to looking again.

Snakes on a road

I saw this little garter snake Thursday morning as the dogs and I came back up Fouche Gap Road from our walk.


I was happy to see this one still alive, because I had just seen one like it a few feet away that had been run over by a car. This one seemed content to stay at the side of the road, so I didn’t disturb it, if you ignore leaning down to get the picture. The snake stuck out its tongue at me.

A few days earlier as I was driving down the mountain I found a beautiful black racer lying in the middle of the road. I put on my emergency blinkers and stopped to try to get it to move off the road. It was about three feet long and very thin. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to get a picture because I had stopped at a curve and couldn’t linger.

The snake reared its head as I approached. I nudged its tail, but it didn’t want to move. I kept nudging it until it finally got the message and raced off into the woods.

People around here tend to run over snakes when they see them, whether they are venomous or not. That makes cool mornings and sunlit asphalt a dangerous combination. So far I haven’t found either the garter snake or the black racer dead on the road, so maybe they’ll make it.


Turtle twice seen

We seldom see turtles up here on the mountain, but last week I had two sightings, and I am pretty sure it was the same turtle. That’s the first time I have been able to identify the same turtle on two separate occasions.

Here he (she? I didn’t check) is on Fouche Gap Road.

turtle thursday


Lucy’s snout is in the picture for size reference (I guess I need another reference so you can tell how big she is; not big.) This turtle was facing the edge of the road, so I wasn’t too worried about leaving it where I found it.

Two days later we found a turtle at the same place, but heading into the road.

turtle saturday

I don’t know for sure that it was the same turtle. Here’s a somewhat closer shot.

saturday turtle 2

There is some glare on the shell, but it seems to me that the patterns on shell are the same on both occasions, so I assume it is the same turtle. I took this picture with my iPhone, so it won’t bear any more enlargement.

This section of the road is just past and on the inside of a fairly sharp curve, so it would be a dangerous place for a turtle to spend much time. I moved it just off the pavement and faced it away from the road. Of course if the turtle knew where it wanted to go, that might not have done much good.

Now that I know where to look, I’ll check this area Monday when I take that path for the dogs’ walk.

First hummingbirds

The first hummingbirds have shown up here on the mountain. We realized it when one flew into the sliding glass door in our living room about three days ago. We heard a thump and then saw the bird fly away.

Time to put up the feeder.

Several have started feeding. Based on what I’ve read, they are probably the males, who have arrived to stake out their territory. This shot, taken through the glass, shows two. The one you can actually see is a male.


We have always mixed our own hummingbird nectar. Everything we read said use one part sugar to four parts water, but at this site, they say that the one-to-four mix has about the same amount of sugar as the lowest concentration in certain flowers that hummingbirds feed on. They say using a higher concentration, even up to one-to-one, encourages the birds to come to your feeder. The concentration can be lowered gradually to the one-to-four mix.

The site has some more interesting facts about hummingbirds, as well as some advice for ways to  rescue a hummingbird trapped in a garage. I’m going to keep that in mind if another hummer ends up trapped in our garage.