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Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Channel Island Fox and Biodiversity

Across the islands female Channel Island foxes are getting ready to have their pups. 

At first glance, the Channel Islands may appear barren, but a closer look reveals a rich diversity of plants and animals. Many of these species, like the island fox, are endemic and found no where else in the world. 
Join Friends of the Island Fox in a Trip to Santa Cruz Island

What can you see on Santa Cruz Island in just a few hours? 

Island Journal - Santa Cruz Island, March 29, 2012

giant coreopsis
Pat Meyer, Michael Lawshe and I went out to Prisoner's Harbor on Santa Cruz Island to investigate the restoration work on the wetland area. Winter rains came late this year, but the hillsides were in bloom with giant coreopsis (the island's strange species of bush daisy, a favorite food of island deer mice), blue dick, island morning glory, scarlet and bush monkey flower and lemonade berry, which provides important food for birds and island foxes. 

bramble-green hair streak; a new species for us
Western swallowtail, painted lady and several species of blue and hair streak butterflies were busy visiting the flowers. Island fence lizards and a side-blotched lizard were out enjoying the sunshine and snacking on the insects.

Insects were also on the menu for a black phoebe, Say's phoebe and barn swallows flying over the restored wetland. In the willows we even spotted a warbling vireo and the rare island scrub-jay.

In all we noted 25 plant species (many of them island endemics), 33 species of birds (including over 1000 migrating western grebes, an osprey and the Channel Island subspecies of Allen's hummingbird and Bewick's wren). Full Bird List.

Then just before we boarded the boat for home, a group of school children spotted an island fox!

Channel Island fox
This is the first island fox we have seen in part of the island and shows how the population recovery is once again making island foxes plentiful across all of Santa Cruz Island.

bottlenose dolphin with calf
When you add this to the common and bottlenose dolphins, and the migrating gray whales we saw during the crossing, it was a fantastic day! (More on the wetland restoration, later) 
- Keri Dearborn, FIF Education Director

You can spend a day on Santa Cruz Island too! 
FIF Trip to Santa Cruz Island, April 6, 2013.

Across the Channel Islands, female island foxes, like Tani and the one seen at Prisoner's Harbor, are separating themselves from their diverse island world and going into the shelter of their dens to prepare for giving birth. The recent spring rains may help support the island biodiversity that the Channel Island fox needs to survive. We can all hope that new pups will help to continue the recovery of the endangered populations.

Island Journal - Santa Cruz Island 
Visiting Island Foxes on Santa Cruz Island
Restoring Habitat on Santa Cruz Island, 2012 
Island Fox Releases on Santa Cruz Island, 2007