We have been experiencing some rather hot weather recently and this has kept wildlife activity to a minimum. I decided to head out a little earlier than usual this morning hoping that I might increase my odds of spotting some animals before the sun started to heat things up. My bet payed off when a fox came trotting towards me on the trail I was on. She was very focused and didn't seem to even notice me until she was right in front of me, when she came to an abrupt stop to see what I was all about. The fox had an impressive number of voles (Red-backed voles likely) in her mouth, I counted seven in the photo. I'm sure her kits will be very happy when she returns to the den. From my observations of coyotes catching ground squirrels, the technique used is to catch the prey then set them in a pile to be more readily collected at the end of the hunt.  The prey can then be stuffed into the mouth and carried off to safety. 

A little later on my hike I encountered a Golden-mantle Ground Squirrel perched on a boulder. This little fella had a mouthful as well, but had the advantage of being able to pack the food items into his cheek pouches. This got me wondering why fox and other carnivores never evolved to have pockets of some sort to carry stuff. Marsupials have a pouch to carry their developing young but not what I was thinking of. Anyway, I thought it was interesting how the two species I just happened to see this morning had different solutions to the same problem. Here is the cheeky Ground Squirrel.