Monday 28 April 2008

holding pattern

I haven't posted anything new lately because there hasn't been much to see. During last week's fine weather I spotted Halftail several times sleeping curled up on my neighbour's lawn, in a sunny spot, as foxes love to do. I also saw her crouch to mark with urine and droppings. It is still possible to find a fox almost any day by quietly leaning over the back wall into Jacksons: and there has been considerable digging-out under our shed.

Gloomiest news is that the frogspawn is absolutely all gone from the pond. I'm sorry now that I didn't put netting over it, but the birds love to bathe and's hard to know what's best.

We gaze out at dusk and early morning for good fox sightings, hoping for cubs, but there has been nothing. The year advances and the evenings lengthen, summer will soon be here!

Tuesday 22 April 2008

Ban blood sports

Just a quick link to an organisation that is committed to protecting foxes, as well as other animals, from barbaric practices that are not sporting at all!
I'll post the proper link later.

Thursday 10 April 2008


Over the last week, several times we have seen foxes asleep next door: but just a coiled-up heap of fur, so nothing much to be learned!
Last night, I put food out about 8 o'clock: and by 8.15 Halftail was sliding up the garden to feed, taking it a little way out of sight, then returning for more. I'm glad it's her getting it, because it was well sprinkled with mange drops.

Regular readers will remember how last year I was puzzled by the make-up of a fox family group that were seen here often that Autumn. Yesterday I heard from a friend that a relation of hers in this area has video footage of cubs playing last summer, very close to here. I'd love to see this as it should cast some light on the roles of Tipless, Pointer at al.

This morning at breakfast time, a fox passed through my garden but couldn't see which one. A little later, going down to deposit stuff in compost heap, I noticed a flash of bronze fur in Jackson's: peering over the wall, a smallish fox rose to its feet and moved slowly out of sight.

They certainly are staying very close to the area - there must be cubs!

Thursday 3 April 2008


Yesterday afternoon, Ragtip snoozing on M's lawn. I went down garden and looked across the wall between us. He lifted head and stared coolly back at me, from about 50 feet away, then slowly got up and walked off. I was sorry for disturbing him but justified, as I was tossing in some ends of cake dosed with medicine!

I had a look in older posts from last year to try and see if any of these foxes were on a 2nd year with us. Very hard to say, except that last Autumn's king-of-the-ring, Tipless, is certainly not among those present.

Ragtip may very well be the stocky male that we called Broadhead, has that chunky build, and the tail-tag is now just more ragged and tattered.

Neither of the other foxes matches the descriptions from last year;

Watching TV

New programme on RTE on Tuesday evening - "Living the Wildlife" with Colin Stafford Johnson. The very first animal featured, in the very first episode, was the fox! Just on the edge of Dublin city!

Beautiful photography and some remarkable footage of a tame fox begging for food, and even nosing into Colin's camper van!

The footage of parent foxes with cubs was absolutely classic, just as we have seen them here dozens of times.

I felt pleased to hear even a "proper wildlife expert" admit, like me, that it is extremely difficult to sex a fox by eye alone. And to note the careful, attentive parenting that adults give cubs.

Here is the web address and you can watch the episode by clicking on "watch this episode" in the page.

I'm really looking forward to seeing this programme every Tuesday!

Tuesday 1 April 2008

Captured on camera


Thanks very much to Fee who snapped a fox with her camera-phone; not just any old fox either but one of our group, asleep on a shed roof in a garden which I can clearly see is the one across my back wall which I have called Jackson's in these annals.
Until a few years ago, that was a quiet garden, with a little shed in the corner, which is still there. Now however there is also a swing-cum-climbing-frame, little trikes and the squeals of children at play! What sang-froid that fox was showing, to sleep on the shed roof in broad daylight and to breed very close by!

Unfortunately the resolution of the photo is not sharp enough to reproduce here, and in any case the location is quite clearly identifiable and the occupants might not care for that.

On Monday evening my husband got out his big camera and managed to catch one shot showing both foxes together. it is worth mentioning here that although they were sleeping near each other, then waking one by one, yawning, stretching etc. we did not see these two interact or communicate directly.

Yet some fox couples are very affectionate. I think it was last year that a couple went on billing and cooing and sleeping together for months. Of course they didn't have cubs, so they had more time to spend together!

Will try to post that photo anyway, if we can get the blogger thing to do it.

Mr and Mrs?

Yesterday, late afternoon. I had been watching Halftail in the afternoon, scratching and trying to rest. So scratchy did it look that I ran to supply some bread and honey well sprinkled with mange drops, and containing homoeopathic pills as well.
By half-past six there were two foxes sleeping about 10 feet apart.
One was Halftail, and I had a good stare trying to verify sex. Little to see but there is a lot of fluffed-up, tufty fur around the base of tail, (from all the scratching no doubt) so I could have been mistaken in thinking it was male. No genitalia and no nipples to be seen; but I'm starting to think female.
The other was equally hard to spot; except for tail-tag which was not a nice white half-moon but a pointed,scraggy end. Sleeping near the vixen in March is strongly suggestive of a dog fox. So, who's the little one with the pretty tail? The aunties are often rather shy and retiring.
Sometimes I don't get the relationships in a fox family group sorted out at all!
For now, though, I'm going to assume Halftail, vixen, probably mother: Ragtip, the dad, perhaps formerly Bigboy tho' tail seems wrong. And lastly, Roisin, from her deep red colour and modest size.
Now I must go back and compare these with last year's foxes to see who survived the winter.