It’ll be no surprise to anyone that follows my blog or is familiar with my “work” that I have foxes visit the garden every night. I’ve never actually known where they den and can only assume that they are in one of the many mature gardens that surround us. I have seen young foxes before but none that I could ever describe as a cub. All that changed at the end of April.
Rising at just before 5am to go out with the camera I took the obligatory glance out of the back window and to my surprise there were 3 bouncing little fox cubs fighting and playing in the garden. I just had to wake my wife to also come and watch. it was way too dark to try and get any kind of photos so we just enjoyed the moment. Roll on a couple of evenings later and once again they were out. it was almost dusk with little light but I managed to get a couple of shots –
Considering how low the light was I was lucky to get anything at all, they barely stop moving and as I hadn’t planned ahead and got my flash units in place I was restricted to very slow shutter images and high ISO. The image above is 1/25s at F4 and ISO 3200, not bad for a D300.
You can clearly see how young these are and I’d estimate around 5 weeks old based on information i’ve since looked up online. I would also assume that as they won’t stray too far from the safety of the den at this age that they are denned just through our dense hedge in the neighbours garden. Such an opportunity just can’t be passed up so over the next couple of nights I spent hours laid out on my conservatory floor with the lens pointing out of the door to try and capture some of their antics.
For those interested in the technical info behind the shots – the following are taken with a Nikon D300 with a 70-200 f2.8 VRII lens and a 1.4 converter and are lit by two SB600 flashes triggered remotely by Pocket Wizard Plus X units.
It was difficult to stop myself giggling at their antics and at times I couldn’t believe I was watching this from the comfort of my own home!
Having such a privileged view of the goings on let me see scenarios and situations that I’ve never seen before. Firstly was the cubs obsession with the blanket weed that I had removed from my pond. I pile this up next to the pond to let any insects that happen to be caught in the weed a chance to get back in the pond (although I’m very careful when removing it). Weirdly the cubs loved this stuff and I’d find it strewn around the garden in the morning. On this night I saw that at times they would actually eat it too.
More worringly I wondered what would happen when the envitable meet up with my other regular nightly visitors, the badgers, occurred. I have twice witnessed the vixen chasing the badgers off away from the cubs (after hearing noise from indoors, not while getting images) and it reaffirms the danger that mothers will risk to protect their young. It wouldn’t be good news for the fox if the badger stood its ground and fought back. This scenario will be playing out across the country as it’s not unusual for foxes to actually den within an area of the badgers sett.
The youngsters certainly knew to keep their distance –
Occasionally I was also lucky enough to spot the cubs in the garden in the middle of the day which triggered a mad scramble for the camera and a stealthy creep to the conservatory door and wincing as I opened the door and it squeaked. I needn’t have worried as the cubs were quite oblivious to my presence and more more interested in soaking up the sun.
You’d be forgiven for thinking I’ve been doing nothing else but photographing the cubs and that’s not too far from the truth. I have been out elsewhere and have added new images to the latest images gallery. Hope you’ve enjoyed the images as much as I’ve enjoyed taking them!