Swift Fox
Vulpes velox
The Swift Fox (Vulpes velox) has sometimes been described as the ghost of the short-grass prairies. It is a rare and declining species over most of its range and it is apparently seldom observed and even more seldom photographed. The species digs burrows in the prairie and is active mainly at night. In early June, 2007, I was visiting the Pawnee National Grasslands in Weld Co., Colorado. Early one morning I was driving along one of the dirt roads through these grasslands trying to ease up on a singing Chestnut-collared Longspur, when motion in the grass about 150 feet away caught my attention. I saw a small fox trot a few feet then vanish down a hole. I decided to just stay parked and hope the fox would emerge from the hole down which I had seen it go. After a few moments I saw movement a little further down the road, and not near the burrow. Another (or the same, having come out another hole?) fox slowly walked up the embankment of the dirt road, turned to look at me and trotted slowly about 40 feet then went down the original hole. During this brief encounter I was able to take a number of images of the fox before it vanished. This was the first Swift Fox I had ever seen and I was delighted to be able to get some nice shots of this elusive animal. These shots were taken with a Canon EOS 1D Mark III and EF 600mm F/4 L IS lens and 2X extender.