Silver Phase Red fox on San Juan Island

Here is a relatively short video I took of one of the foxes I saw on San Juan Island.  The sighting occured in the South Beach area (close to the American Camp).  

I was curious about the red fox population on San Juan Island.  I've heard about them and seen pictures and videos other people posted of them, most notably a friend of mine share some pictures with me of some pictures one of her friends got of the foxes:

Yeah. after visiting the American Camp area myself yesterday, I can definitely conclude that the area is definitely a great place to see red foxes in the wild.  It should be worth noting that the fox I got a video of was not the only fox I saw.  Over the course of the day, I saw at least 8 different foxes in the area, mostly silver phase red foxes (the greyish black looking ones with the black tails), though I did see some of the more traditional red foxes too (the ones with the redish orange coats).  This was definitely different from when I visited the island back in April and went to a wedding at Roche Harbor.  That time, it was mostly overcast and rainy and I didn't see any foxes (though I didn't visit the American Camp area either that time).  Yesterday I did alot more.  After visiting the Friday Harbor area a bit, I explored the island, walked around at Roche Harbor and eventually made it to the American Camp area.  At first I didn't see any foxes, but when I got lunch in town at the Kung Fu pizza place one of the ladies working there told me that the South Beach area is a really good place to see foxes, so I took her advice and walked around that area.

So what I did is that I got out of the car, brought binoculars with me along with my windows phone and sure enough I started hiking along one of the trails leading up to the American Camp settlement along with the visitor center and sure enough as I looked into the field with my binoculars I saw the foxes (though you can also see rabbits and deer in the field too).  Most of them were on the prowl roaming the field (probably hunting mice and rabbits) and you can easily watch them with binoculars.  Most were fairly good distance away, though I did enounter a few of them pretty close too.
The foxes I saw mainly come in 2 forms: the silver phased red fox (like this guy below):

And the more traditional red fox (like this guy below):

The most common ones I saw were the silver foxes, though I did see some of the regular red foxes too (the ones with the orange / red coats).

My only regret on the trip is that I forgot to bring my digital camera with me.  Meant to bring it with me and had packed it but accidently left it at home, otherwise I may have gotten some better pictures and video of the foxes (especially the fox I saw near the end of my trip that I got on video, probably could have zoomed in on him and got a closer shot with a digital camera, but hey that is something for me to remember on future trips there).

Notes and observations about watching red foxes at San Juan Island
- If you are visiting San Juan Island and want to see some foxes, your best bet for having some sightings is in the American Camp area near the southern tip of the island (where you get all of the prarie and grasslands).  Sure you may encounter foxes elsewhere on the island (even Roche Harbor at the northern end of the island supposedly gets foxes sometimes too, at least according to a store clerk I talked to back in April), but they are much easier to spot near the southern end of the island (in the prarie area). Would probably have to spend more time on the island to get a more accurate grasp of the foxes there (probably a good camping trip would help) but your best bet for seeing foxes is along the southern end of the island (American Camp / Cattle Point vincinity).
- Bring binoculars and be sure to go on a day when it is sunny.  Easier to walk the trails there too on sunny days.  Some foxes can be spotted in the distance in the field and it is easier to spot them with binoculars.  You can usually recognize the foxes when you see their white tipped tails.
- The foxes are smaller than you would expect and can blend in the tall grass there.
- Interestingly, while most foxes can be spotted in the distance, some can "pop up" almost right next to you.  I remember at least 2 instances where I encountered a fox up close (less than 50 yards away).   You can be walking along the trail or road in the field and all of the sudden you will see a fox come out right by you and you won't know that the fox is there till you see it and it sees you.  Usually when this happens, the fox will look at you and run off (though if you have quick enough reflexes, you might be able to snap a photo before it runs off).  The fact that they can pop up at any moment as you hike around the prarie definitely keeps you on your toes as you never know where you might encounter a fox.  On the postive note, the foxes there seem to be pretty harmless and aren't likely to attack you unless if you corner them (usually they will run off when they see you or at least keep their distance).  Some will hang around and watch you though (like the one I got a video of).
- The foxes can come out in broad daylight too.  I got to to the American Camp area around 2ish and didn't leave till after 5 and they were already out and about in the field.
- Be sure to bring a good digial camera or at least one that can zoom in on things as the foxes can be tricky to get photos or video of.  I was stuck with my windows phone camera and although it can zoom in a little bit, it is not as good as a good digital camera.  Probably could have gotten better photos myself if I had my digital camera with me.
- You are better off going on foot and roaming the trials for be best chances of seeing the foxes as opposed to driving on the roads.
- While the foxes can seem intimidating at first (may startle you if you are not familiar with them, especially ones that "pop up" real close), they seem to be pretty harmless.  Usually they keep their distance and even if they do come close they usually run away as soon as they see you (happened to me twice where I came across a fox pretty close up and it looked at me and ran off).  There are signs that basically warn people not to feed them or get too close to them, but they are definitely more likely to run away from you than attack you so they are pretty safe to view in my opinion.  The only 2 ways they can become aggressive is if 1) you corner them or 2) feeding them even when warned not to (habituated foxes).  Other than that be sure to enjoy "the show" when you come across some foxes in the field.

By the way, it would be interesting to see if any of the foxes ever wander into Friday Harbor (the main town of San Juan Island).  Well that is all for now.  Other animals I saw includes: deer, rabbits, a camel (there is a farm along the road to Roche Harbor where you can see a live camel), some seals, and possibly some minke whales (definitely saw some animals swimming around in the Puget Sound along the ferry).  San Juan Island (especially near American Camp) is definitely one of the the better places to see red foxes in the wild compared to other parts of the state (moreso than Mount Rainer in My opinion) and can be a good place to go to see some.

Have you ever been to San Juan Island?  Feel free to share your experiences below