A Winter Visitor

Dear Readers, after seeing four foxes in the cemetery on Saturday, it should have come as no surprise to see a crepuscular visitor in the garden. This little one was hoovering up the bird food that the starlings had spilt. I have a strong suspicion that she’s a vixen, though I couldn’t have told you how I know – maybe something about her manner. She was more watchful than the dog foxes usually are. Plus, there’s something delicate about her face.

I have, I confess, been throwing out a single handful of dried dog food for the foxes. They usually pass through the garden at one point or another during the evening, and I’m sure they’d find something to eat, but in winter, when the pickings are poorer and when many of the females will be pregnant it seems kind to give them at least something. Some of my neighbours would disagree, I know. The foxes can be loud, and destructive, and can leave delightful offerings of torn up KFC packaging and black, curly droppings. However, not so long ago all of this area was woodland, and before that it was common land. If we are serious about getting on with the other inhabitants of this planet, a little tolerance is surely called for. We have taken away so much, destroyed so much habitat and made it so difficult for everything else that lives around us that giving a little back feels like the least we can do.

Plus, I rather love the foxes. I love their cheekiness, their opportunism, their intelligence and their sheer physical beauty. Life in the city is hard for foxes – most will live for less than a year. I have lost count of how many I have seen run down, or poisoned. Mange kills many. They are our neighbours, but we aren’t always very neighbourly. But for me, seeing them in the garden feels like a privilege, a little taste of the wildness that we have lost in our domesticated lives. They always make my heart beat a little faster.

10 thoughts on “A Winter Visitor

  1. Fran & Bobby Freelove

    We totally agree with you, we’ve taken far too much of their natural habitat, and of course they’re going to be opportunists if there’s a half eaten takeaway lying about, we’re forever picking up the containers on our walks, it worries us the animals chewing through them.
    Our mother absolutely loved foxes so we take after her, ours get fed, and quite frankly we don’t care less if people disagree, we love watching the cameras and seeing their antics, Bass even took one of the cameras off to play with, it took ages to find it. Long may they keep coming into our gardens.

    1. Bug Woman Post author

      A few years ago a boot turned up in my back garden. I realised that it had been put out for the dustmen by a house just up the road, so I took it back. The next day there were two boots in the garden !

  2. Alexandra Rook

    I agree; I love them too, so bold & beautiful. We have several dens under a vast woodpile in our communal gardens in NW11. They do raid the bins, but I don’t begrudge them: it’s the stupid humans that overfill the bins because they are too damn lazy to reuse, reduce, recycle that I abhor.

  3. sllgatsby

    What a beautiful face she has. I just read this quote from Virginia Woolf this morning. Not, I confess, a favorite of mine for fiction, but her letters and diaries are nice.

    On January 26, yhe day after her birthday, she wrote:

    “I am 48: we have been at Rodmell — a wet, windy day again; but on my birthday we walked among the downs, like the folded wings of grey birds; and saw first one fox, very long with his brush stretched; then a second, which had been barking, for the sun was hot over us; it leapt lightly over a fence and entered the furze — a very rare sight. How many foxes are there in England?

    A great many more than there are now, I expect, but they certainly are adaptable survivors.

  4. Sharon Pearse

    My husband came home the other day telling me he’d seen a fox descend the steps from our local station and wander off. Whether it had merely been on the platform, or had arrived by train . . . He’d even whipped his phone out to photograph the evidence!


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