I went to sleep last night thinking about foxes. Not surprising really, as I had just been reading about them. When we first came to live here there were a lot more foxes about than there are now. Often you would see them trotting across the back field; on their way to some destination unknown to us.
|moon and fox by carrie akroyd|
They are creatures of the night, but if you are lucky you may come across one in the early morning on its way home after a nights hunting. This happened to me once; we came face to face down the lane; we made eye contact; I stood very still, then he turned and nonchalantly wandered off into a field, with just a curious backward glance. Wildlife encounters never fail to thrill.
The thing that started this chain of thought is 'common ground by rob cowen'; a beautifully written book; part memoir; part natural history observations; part novel - I am loving every minute of it.
Unfortunately, I have never been able to capture a fox on camera, (the photos I have shown are borrowed from the book 'The Great British Year'.)
"The smell was there when I returned at dusk to carry on plotting the next side of the perimeter, the edge-land's northern boundary. Turning right at the viaduct, I took a rough track leading east along the edge of the meadow's curtain of trees and down into the wood.
Despite the onset of night, I followed the Nidd downstream, guided by the weak circle of a head torch, past drowned trees and along a muddy edge. The water tricked and teased, appearing still, not even a ripple giving away movement. I noticed a branch and a plastic cider bottle held in its surface overtaking me.
The sudden presence of the fox was just as bewildering. Its scent, strong and sharp as cut lemons, crowded, pressed and pushed me, as though the animal was dancing between my legs, mocking my cumbersome, slithering progress. At moments I was sure it must be right behind or beside me, but each time I turned, my beam only emphasised the wood's emptiness, silvering briefly the bars of beech and oak and bristling the banks.
[...] The fox manifests as I kneel there trying to catch my breath and work out where I am. I begin to right myself when a tree's shadow morphs into an ebony silhouette, a shape from another realm trotting, head raised, along the treeline, fifteen, maybe twenty metres away.
It is large, full-grown and winter-pelted, with a thick tail that it drags semi-submerged through the scrub like a rudder, scenting in its wake. Seconds pass and I realise I am holding my breath, immersed in the smell, the stillness, the sheer immediacy of it all; I'm willing it to drag me under, entranced by its indifference." ( extract from Common Ground)The town fox seems to have replaced the country fox; maybe they are still out there but have just become wary of showing themselves when they have been persecuted for so long - who can blame them!