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.