Wednesday 21 January 2009


A couple of days ago, my husband crossed the path of a fox just on the corner of this road at about 6.30 in the evening, dark of course.
He described this one as medium size and with a distinct 2-inch tag.

Earlier today I stood for some time at my bedroom window, entranced by the seething birdlife on the four feeders. Sparrows, robins, pigeons, collared dove, blue tits, coal tits, greenfinches, 3 male blackbirds, song thrush, vividly coloured chaffinch.
Mental note: birds love pastry!

Just as I watched, next door in Martin's a fine amber fox appeared briefly. I couldn't see the tail or any detail through the bushes and it soon went out of sight behind the golden privet, a traditional lying-up spot, covering the access to Behind-her-shed.

Some few minutes later, it re-emerged and crossed the area of fallen tree in her garden.
I got a reasonable good look: Large amber fox, thickly furred and no wonder with the bitter weather we've been having.

The tail tag was clearly marked, a neat white 2-inch cone. It could have been the one Patrick saw, it is definitely not Grizzle. Looks very healthy, no sign of mange.

After freezer cleaning there were some tidbits put out: last night was some cooked salmon, today some thawed chicken livers, too old for me.

I'm annoyed now to look out and see Cleo the cat feasting on liver!

Thursday 15 January 2009

Resourceful scavengers

First of all, a link:

I was idly internetting and decided to revise my knowledge of foxes a little. This website has plenty of useful information in accessible form. I had a read of the comments on fox feeding since this is a topic that frequently arises.
Do many people feed foxes? Yes, a lot of people do! Some enthusiasts buy meat specially but this is unnecessary. Most kitchen scraps are acceptable, except maybe for some vegetables. Any meat trimmings, ends of cheese, stale sandwiches, fruit, sweet stuff (foxes really have a sweet tooth!)
I often wonder if the traditional caution about giving cooked chicken bones to dogs and cats applies to foxes. My guess is that they eat so much found stuff that a chicken carcass is just a mouthful to them! Still, I go a little carefully just in case.
Commonest question: Are they hungrier now that they can't get food out of wheelie bins?
Answer: NO! There are more foxes around the suburbs now than there were ten years ago, and they look pretty well fed. Bird feeders, cat dishes, compost heaps, mice and rats, worms and insects, dead birds, roadkill, dropped fast food like chips and wrappings with pizza crust, apple cores and ends of bread in the schoolyard, and of course, the offerings of suckers like me and many of my neighbours!
One handy thing about the carrion-eating habits of the fox is that they have a palate for food that is quite "high". So that bit of ham or fish in the fridge that is well past it's use-by date can be put out for foxes and do them no harm. This reduces your waste footprint, too.
I'm afraid the corollary is, if a cherished pet has died and been interred with full military honours in your back garden, it is advisable to put a good solid rock or paving slab on top to avoid exhumations...'nuff said.
In the last week, I've put out: the skin from a side of smoked salmon, fat and gristle trimmed from stewing beef, stale cheese sandwich, scrapings of spaghetti bolognese, two mince pies.
Gone, all gone. Signs of passage under my garden shed too. Barking and yikkering at night.
No actual sightings, but signs clear to read.

Thursday 1 January 2009


Well, this is a nice New Year's omen. I saw Grizzle twice today. First at about noon, walking away from the fox-dish which had been empty anyway. He, or she, leapt lightly over the wall into Martin's, just at the very spot which is the foxes' traditional crossing-point, and just below which lies the body of his fallen comrade. I'm almost afraid to look, even though the dead body is a little way to the left from the landing point.

An hour or so later I saw him again from the bedroom, sitting under Martins' oak-tree, scratching the back of his or her neck. It got up and trotted briskly away into the old den area and did not reappear. I had put food out but the fox did not go back for it - they never do, somehow. As if their daily schedule must be followed in order. Food has been found on two successive days in that spot during the morning, so it will be checked every morning, and that's that.

Description: Grizzle is a large fox. One can be deceived at this time of year by heavy winter pelage, I know: but Grizzle is not very thickly furred, but actually rather gawky looking. A bony, somewhat elderly, look. Fur on back is a good dark reddy-brown, almost conker colour. Tail thinnish but not apparently mangy. Long and with white tip and whitened along the length a bit, hence the name.

Of course we know what Grizzle is up to. At this time of year, every self-respecting fox is looking for a mate and a breeding territory, in either order. Here is a nice couple of overgrown gardens, one of them very secluded, full of cover, food regularly available nearby, and a history of use by foxes. There's underground earths adjoining, comfy lying-up spots, private playing areas, covered runs and escape routes. Jam for the first comer, in fact. Now bring on the talent and let's make whoopee!

And by the way, Happy New Year!