One of the memorable encounters during my trip to Hokkaido, Japan, in February, was this meeting with a beautiful red fox. The experts tell us that there are two sub-species of the Japanese Red Fox one being the Hokkaido Red Fox. During our travels, we observed several of these foxes as they wandered through open snowfields looking for prey or marking their territory. A number of these sightings were at a distance, however in this case we observed one as it walked nearby a road we were driving along. This fox was probably 50 to 60 metres from the road and walking through scrub appearing and then disappearing again as it walked between trees and behind snow mounds. Our driver was aware that there was a carpark a short distance ahead and that it may provide a good vantage point if the animal continued on in the same direction. We parked and waited but the fox didn’t show. Disappointed, we decided to drive on.
A couple of hundred metres further along the road, I caught a glimpse of something between the trees as we drove. Having initially evaded us, it had returned to its intended path and continued on. I immediately alerted our driver that the fox was now walking nearby our vehicle and was only 10 to 15 metres off the edge of the road. We stopped a short distance ahead and managed to clamber out of the vehicle without tripping over each other or startling our subject. Moments later he sauntered by us and paused in a small clearing.
I had the camera with the 500mm lens attached and already had my exposure values set for the prevailing light conditions. I was willing the animal to look up at the camera, I might even have whispered to it to do so, the things we do! For a brief moment, the fox did exactly that, put its head up in the air, its ears forward and looked straight down the lens barrel. I managed to get the shot handheld. As quickly as the moment had occurred, it ended, the fox putting its nose back to the snow and wandering off between trees and out of sight again. A quick look at the camera’s LCD display confirmed the shot, perfectly exposed, nicely composed and sharp, I was elated. We would encounter foxes again before the end of our trip, but this was the best moment. ~KD.
This image is part of the Winter in Japan gallery. ~KD