In the leafy inner ‘burbs of the big city, fewer than 5 miles from Hyde Park Corner, foxes are now commonplace. No longer are they lone scavengers skulking down the road at dawn and dusk and lying low during the day. Now they treat gardens as their own, fences as their walkways, and flowerbeds as their… well, let’s not go there.
We generally see foxes several times a week, singly or a pair sauntering down the street, in transit along the fences, or resting in the sun at the end of our garden.
They are not particularly bothered by us unless we make a noise. At this time of year, their nocturnal yowling can be astonishingly loud – a reminder that these are wild creatures that have made themselves at home in the city – and indeed in our garden – for their mating rituals.
We were abroad for a couple of weeks last month. The day we got back, this fine fox was in our garden. These photos were all taken through the kitchen window. The fox knew perfectly well that I was there, but I couldn’t risk the noise of opening the French windows into the garden for a clear shot.
While we were away, a child from a neighbouring garden must have thrown or hit a ball over the fence. The fox had it by him. I watched for at least 20 minutes as he played with it, patted it, chewed it, chucked it in the air, and rolled over on his back pushing it through the grass with his nose with all 4 legs in the air. He behaved in fact just like a dog. A dog fox.
By coincidence, an article about urban foxes (and fox merchandise) was published in the Guardian online yesterday. It’s a good read, and contains the fact – which I did not know – that foxes are one of the few species that will hold eye contact with a human. You can read the article HERE.
Snowdrops. Tiny harbingers of spring. An eerie barking and screeching in the night – another sure sign, even in West London. It’s been building up over the past couple of weeks. The scrabbling sound as large creatures scale garden fences. The noisy stand-offs, the come-ons, and the face-downs as the vulpine sap rises. Listening at night, I reckon there are 4 foxes involved. I’ve often seen a single animal in the garden lying in a warm patch of sunlight, or sneaking behind the shrubs, or loping down the street in broad daylight. I’ve watched a small cat in our garden stand its ground and then chase away a fox with a clatter over the fence. But until today, I’d never seen a pair comfortably settled on the edge of the lawn.
These photos were all taken through glass. By the time I’d managed to open the French windows (silently, I thought) to get a better shot, they were off. Until tonight, no doubt.
In September I posted about the 7 pregnant Poll Dorset sheep that a young farmer in our village had put in our paddock. I predicted “pastoral scenes, evenly-cropped grass… with pre-Christmas lambs in prospect…”. The sheep were removed for a month or so to let the grass regrow. Yesterday morning there was an unusual sound coming from the field. Rounding the corner of the house we saw a single tiny lamb, 2 days old, mewing rather piteously.
Number 2: the first in its field…
It was soon joined by twin lambs a few days older
Then came the 2 mothers. Then the 5 still-pregnant sheep waddled into the field, all due to lamb within the next 3 weeks. Here’s one of the proud mothers.
The sheep and lambs were numbered so it was easy tell which belonged to which. But whereas the mothers also knew their own lambs, it was taking the lambs a while to cotton on to the numbering system…
Number 2 has still to get the hang of the system…
Number 2 and one of the twins
Pretty lambs all in a row