Dear Readers, as you know I’ve been hard at work on my CELTA qualification for the past month. I’m delighted to say that the course is now finished, and I should hear whether I’ve passed or not early next week (though I think they would have told me if I was in any danger of failing). However, for the past month my fox watching time has been severely limited – my friend B has been medicating and feeding the foxes as usual, and I’ve been popping in at the weekend to see how they’re doing.
On an early visit I was distressed to see that the dog fox appeared to have been in a fight – he had bite marks on his haunches, and seemed a little subdued, though he was moving without obvious signs of pain. It’s a time of year when families are breaking up and young foxes are looking for new territories, but the wounds could also have been caused by a close encounter with a dog. Although people are supposed to keep their animals on a lead in the cemetery, it’s surprising how many just folk just let their dogs run all over the graves, as if the place was just a big park rather than the last resting place of over a million souls.
The adolescent cubs were just as gangly and curious as ever, though, and the mange problem seemed to be better. So, although I was concerned about the dog fox, there was little either B or I could do. He certainly wasn’t going to sit around while we dressed his wounds.
On a later visit, things were looking much better.
I caught a glimpse of the dog fox running past with a dead bird in his mouth – it was about blackbird-sized. I always underestimate how omnivorous these animals are: I also saw one nibbling on the blackberries that are just emerging. B reported that she hadn’t seen them so often at the feeding site, so this is another indication that it’s summertime, and the living is (relatively) easy. I was pleased to see that the bites (you can’t really see them in the photo above) are pretty much healed.
Another of this year’s cubs is still hanging around – cubs, especially vixens, don’t necessarily disperse until the winter really gets going, and the breeding season starts again. The siblings are often very rowdy though, and judging by the yelps and squeals coming from my garden at night, they are beginning to get rather irritated with one another.
The dog fox reappeared after finishing off his avian appetiser, and he and the cub stared at me for a while, as if trying to work out why I was standing there with my camera. What I was doing, it later transpired, was being a feeding source for the biting flies that hang around the feeding site – there were four bites on a single vein on my foot and another great lump on my ankle by the end of the evening. That’ll teach me not to wear socks on my fox expeditions.
My admiration for the foxes grows and grows – they are tough, adaptable, intelligent and enigmatic. No wonder they are the most widespread predator in the world (apart from us, of course). Their success is down to the way that they can make the best of almost any situation. I’m glad that I’ll have a bit more time now to get back to the cemetery and see how they are all doing. I’ve missed them, and the little community of humans who gather there, a lot.