Regular readers of my blog will know that my suburban garden is as much a wildlife refuge as I can make it. Deep hedges, areas of long grass and weeds for cover and insects (well that’s what I tell the wife anyway), 2 ponds and birdfeeds spread around. I also put out food for my crepuscular and noctural visitors in the form of peanuts and odd scraps. I make no apology for this, it gives the animals a small boost to start the night and allows me to watch and share in their adventures and, if lucky, a few photographs to remember those moments.
Despite the ridiculous press that urban / suburban foxes sometimes receive (I’m not saying incidents don’t happen but put it in perspective against dog attacks and the mess some of the owners leave) I have always found the local foxes to be very wary indeed. In fact my visiting badgers were much happier to ignore me and carry on than the foxes were.
Last year that somewhat changed when, on rising for an early photo session start, I saw a trio of bouncy fox cubs rolling around the garden at 4.30 am. My original blog is HERE. At the end of the article you can see the proud mum and maybe notice that white spot just visible on her front left leg. From those 3 cubs I know that one certainly didn’t survive. This year I’ve found that one of the females definitely survived.
The mum is still a regular visitor and I grabbed a snap back on the 21st March. Again see the white spot on her leg.
This vixen visits every night and it was clear to see she had young somewhere as her teats were clearly visible –
I guess I’m a sucker for a chance at more photos of cubs and made sure she had something to take them every evening. Soon she was joined by one of last year’s females and again, it was VERY obvious that there are young to feed very close by –
It’s been a pleasure watching these two in the evenings. They don’t often show up at the same time and I’m wondering if they were raising the same family. I’m trying to find out if the daughter could possibly come into milk to support a litter that her mother gave birth to. They both visit, collect food (sometimes stopping to eat themselves) and head off in the same direction each time. I have an inkling where they may be denned but as these are all mature gardens it’s difficult to know for sure. One thing that is clear, my immediate neighbour who has no time or care at all for wildlife has completely stripped his garden of all cover and the majority of the mature trees. Where I’m guessing the cubs played last year is now a no go area with no cover at all. I guess some people just want a tidy but lifeless garden. Shame.
The two girls have been busy back and forth each eveing and I’ve been fortunate to be able to try and get photos that normally would be out of the question. They are not bothered by the cameras at all and are happy for me to be rolling around on my conservatory floor while I attempt to get portraits or shots of them eating, drinking, scratching and..well…anything of interest….
The young vixen (one year old) even comes and has a look to see where her food is. I often find her sitting on the back doorstep or curled up around 10 feet away. I should point out that i do NOT and WILL NOT hand feed even though she probably could be encouraged. I want to give her an extra chance but I don’t want her to get into trouble by approaching other humans, especially those that believe foxes are somehow a threat to them. When I touch the door handle she will back off to a sensible distance….
So despite seeing last year’s cubs on April 28th, as I write this I have yet to see hide nor hair of this years young. I have a sneaky suspicion they are still around as food is still being taken in the right direction but both vixens are not showing much in the way of milk so I’m guessing they are weaned (at around 6 weeks old). However, not all has been happy in the fox camp. Both vixens suddenly developed limps as did a dog fox that I occasionally see. Very weird. My suspicious mind was wondering if some of my less wildlife friendly neighbours has caused this but I honestly can’t tell. I’m now thinking that maybe they have had a falling out with the badgers as the older vixen disappeared for a week to 10 days and when she re-appeared she had clearly been in a serious fight. She has lost her good looks with a serious injury above her left eye which is affecting her jaw also. She is lucky to have not lost the eye. I’m not going to post any images of this as it looks quite distressing. The good news is that she is otherwise fit and healthy, still has vision in both eyes and is capable of feeding herself and her offspring.
At the same time, the younger vixen (who we refer to as “daughter”) is not recovering. She has a really sore front paw which, when I took some photographs of it, I can see is infected. I’ll be off to the vets this week to see If I can get anything for her as it’s now been weeks with this issue.
For now I’ll leave you with a couple of images of them at their best. Fingers crossed that the cubs will be coming to our little refuge sometime soon.
Hope you enjoyed the images.