Friday 28 December 2007

Dog Days in December

Things have been very quiet on the fox front...while correspondingly lively on the domestic front. I have been too busy baking and shopping to spend much time watching back gardens. But we usually don't see much action in December. This month I saw a fox by daylight only once. Mid-afternoon, about the 15th, a tight coil of amber fur under my neighbour's "palm" tree.

I was surprised to see it, because that is a favouirite spot for summer sunbathing, but on the day in question the weather was very cold. I would have thought it would be warmer underground. Anyway it never moved so I could not make any ID.

That night, and again several nights later, I heard the distinctive triple barking of a fox. Actually, the "triple" is the most distinctive part - otherwise it just sounds like a dog barking but in a slightly gruffer voice. Think of a wuff-wuff-wuff uttered hoarsely, repeated several times.

Several times, too, we have heard a ruction of protest from magpies, the furious chattering they used to greet foxes with. Nothing to see, and they do the same to cats, so not much help there.

Even though they have been careful to stay out of sight, this is peak mating season for foxes. If they mate around New Year, they will have cubs around St Patrick's Day (typical time-frame) and we may see baby foxes at last in late April.

Sometimes courtship is noisy - one may hear screaming or snarling: or one may see furious chases through bushes and gardens. I hope some of our local foxes are doing the necessary, even though they are quiet about it!