Tuesday 30 June 2009

Little charmer!

We have been watching the fox family, and feeding them. Although I always leave food on a plastic dish beside my frog-pond, others are less careful: My neighbour's garden is a wilderness of shredded packaging. In fact, another neighbour, also elderly, is away on holidays and I am watering her houseplants. Her back lawn is also covered with rubbish, including a shopping bag spilling out onions and potatoes. How do foxes know when a garden is unvisited?
Yesterday P and I stood at our bedroom window looking at the vixen and one of the cubs: comfortably couched quite near us, playfully nuzzling and nipping, grooming, open-mouthing and generally the picture of relaxed affection. The mother has quite bad mange so the drops I add to her food have not helped much if at all. I can only let Nature take its course - the possible interventions are all complicated, uncertain and possibly counterproductive.
Today I went down the garden and stood up on my grass-clippings pile to squint over the wall into Martin's. out from the shrubbery on my right trotted the smallest of the cubs, quite oblivious of me: I was downwind of him, above him, but only about 10 feet away!
S/he paused and cocked her head, pointing perfectly like any retriever, poised on three paws, the fourth daintily lifted. Then she scampered back into the bushes, entirely unworried and unhurried.
I have seen this little charmer before: the cub family consists of a Large (Sandy) two Mediums, (nameless) and a Smallest, this little sweetheart here. Many fox families that we have seen over the years follow this pattern: the littlest one is often one of the survivors, because the shyest and most cautious!
It is impossible to sex fox cubs by eye alone but I'm guessing female, fairly randomly I admit, just because she seems so delicate and feminine i.e. small! I hereby christen her Charmer!