Fantastic Mr. Fox

At the Bottom of the Garden

Although Emma and I enjoy going on the hunt to find wildlife, sometimes wildlife just comes to us. In a previous blog post we shared our experience of finding a green woodpecker at the bottom of the garden and then a later experience meeting his family (see here and here). Our attention was captured by their calls which set us off down the garden to investigate.  For the fox, the same was true.


What Does the Fox Say?

As a child, I would often hear from my bedroom window haunting sounds echoing through the night. We now spend a lot of our time working at night out in the field and have become accustomed to this strange and ghostly cry. The sound is, of course, the call of a red fox.

Early one morning after hearing these calls all night, I reached for the long lens and was surprised to see a beautiful red fox sitting slap bang in the middle of a field staring straight back at me.

Vulpes vulpes [RED FOX] Kewstoke, England 28-07-2018 Zoomology (10).jpgClick to zoom in


Getting the Fox Shot

With our house high on a hill and our bedroom window looking out over the same fields below our garden, we had a good vantage point to keep watch. Every available morning and evening we kept a look out and regularly saw not one but three foxes. One seemed to be the vixen and generally vanished as soon as I opened the back door, but two young foxes (presumable her rapidly growing cubs) were a little less wary of my presence. In saying that, they always spotted me and darted for the dense hedgerow before I could get the portrait I wanted.

Over a few evenings of trying, I was able to get closer and closer.

Click to zoom in

One evening, we noticed the two young foxes sleeping out in the open. With camera in hand I ventured out. I kept low and crept closer, using the tall grass and hedgerow as cover.

One of the cubs suddenly noticed me and made a dash for the far wooded area leaving the second fox behind.

Vulpes vulpes [RED FOX] Kewstoke, England 11-07-2018 Zoomology (3).jpgClick to zoom in

Despite being confused as to why his/her sibling had upped and left, the remaining cub yawned and settled back down.

Vulpes vulpes [RED FOX] Kewstoke, England 11-07-2018 Zoomology (1)

Eventually, its ears twitched and its nose shot up. The cub knew something wasn’t quite right. It sat up and stared at me. I was probably 10-15 metres away. For some time I watched hidden behind my giant lens. It was great to see the expressions change on the little one’s face as slight confusion and bafflement turned to complete surprise. Within a instant of realising what I was, he/she hot-tailed it after that sibling.

Vulpes vulpes [RED FOX] Kewstoke, England 11-07-2018 ZoomologyClick to zoom in

Vulpes vulpes [RED FOX] Kewstoke, England 11-07-2018 Zoomology (2).jpg


A Few Fox Facts

Where are they found?
  • Red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are native to Britain
  • They are the largest of the true foxes and the most widespread
  • Forty-six subspecies are currently recognised
  • These subspecies can be divided in the large northern foxes, and the small southern foxes of Asia and North Africa
What are they called?
  • Female foxes are known as vixens, males are known as dog foxes and young are known as kits, cubs or pups
  • A group of foxes is known as a skulk or a leash
When are they active?
  • Foxes are mostly active at dusk and throughout the night
What do they eat?
  • Red foxes are omnivores as well as scavengers and eat almost anything ranging from insects, earthworms, fruit and berries, birds, small mammals, carrion and scraps left by humans

Click to zoom in

Where do they live?
  • Red foxes live in a den or an ‘earth’ (an burrow underground) especially during breeding season
  • Outside the breeding season, most red foxes prefer to live in densely vegetated areas out in the open, although they may use burrows to escape bad weather
  • They either establish a stable home range within a particular area, or are itinerant (travel from place to place) with no fixed home
  • They use their urine to mark these territories
What are their breeding habits?
  • Foxes are often found in small groups which can consist of a mated pair and their young
  • The young of the mated pair may remain with their parents to assist in caring for new kits
  • The mating season is between December and February
Why don’t some people like foxes?
  • Red foxes are very adaptable and have actually expanded their range alongside humans – urban foxes are now a common sight
  • Partly because of this some people feel strongly that foxes are pests
  • To avoid negative interactions with foxes councils advice:
    • Lock up small outdoor pets, such as rabbits and guinea pigs
    • Pick up fallen fruit
    • Secure your household waste in wheelie bins
    • Block areas under garden shed, garages etc in which foxes can form dens
    • Have suitable fences and housing for poultry

To be honest, Emma and I would absolutely LOVE it if the foxes moved in!

Click to zoom in


Fantastic Mr. Fox and Friends

If you love foxes as much as we do, you may recognise some of these children’s stories: Roald Dahl’s ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ and Beatrix Potter’s ‘The Tale of Mr. Tod’. Another one of our favourites is Collin Dann’s ‘Animals of Farthing Wood’ series which you see below.

Do you have any other favourite foxes? Let us know in the comments below!


References and Further Reading

British Wildlife Centre , Fox – https://www.britishwildlifecentre.co.uk/planyourvisit/animals/fox.html
(Retrieved 05 August, 2018)

Fox Project Website, Foxy facts for children – http://foxproject.org.uk/foxy-facts-for-children/
(Retrieved 05 August, 2018)

International Fund for Animal Welfare, Foxes in the UK – https://www.ifaw.org/united-kingdom/our-work/foxes/fox-facts-uk
(Retrieved 05 August, 2018)

RSPB Website, Fox – https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/other-garden-wildlife/mammals/fox/#kzIDTBpBMVTihuzt.99
(Retrieved 05 August, 2018)

Sounds Website, Vilpes vulpes – https://sounds.bl.uk/Environment/British-wildlife-recordings/022M-W1CDR0001493-0900V0#_
(Retrieved 05 August, 2018)

Wikipedia Website, Red Fox – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_fox
(Retrieved 05 August, 2018)

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Pam says:

    What a beauty! Lucky you! I like Dr. Seuss “Fox in Socks”. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Zoomology says:

      Hi Pam. Of course, Dr. Seuss! No socks on this fox sadly 😛 . I guess it gives me something to aim for next time.

      -Tom

      Liked by 1 person

  2. shazza says:

    Wow what wonderful pictures. Its a long time since I have seen a fox where I live ( a country town , but not far from fields) though I have seen them on the banks of the Thames in Fullham, London at dusk, whilst visiting friends. I love foxy stories. How about The Fox and the Hound. Also Basil Brush. Boom Boom!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Zoomology says:

      Hey Shazza,

      Thanks :D. Only on a few occasions have we been lucky enough to see them out in the day, and this was probably the closest I have ever manage to get. Most of our encounters are glimpses of bushy tails at
      night leaving the road and into hedgerow as we drive about looking for bats with our work.

      I loved ‘The Fox and the Hound’ as a kid :). I wonder if ‘Basil Brush’ still has a TV program?

      -Tom

      Liked by 1 person

      1. shazza says:

        I remember having a Basil Brush Bubble Bath. 🙂
        Enjoy further fox encounters.

        Like

  3. naturebackin says:

    Lovely pics of handsome creatures. I love the intensity of its expression in the close encounter – must have been pretty intense for you too. So sad that the more adaptable creatures tend to be the most persecuted by us humans.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Zoomology says:

      Hey Carol,

      It was pretty intense to get that close without being noticed. I think a lot of it was luck, but I was definitely on top ‘sneak mode’.

      We recently visited Nepal and got to meet some of Kathmandu’s local macaques. It seemed to be a similar type scenario in which there is a fine line between love and hate. (Scavenging and being aggressive towards tourists as a result of people feeding them etc.)

      I find it hard to believe that the blood sport of fox hunting is still something that happens here (even with some legislation attempting to protect their supposed ‘welfare’).

      It was a difficult one, trying to photograph them without bringing too much attention to their whereabouts. I could have easily, unintentionally, had them shot by the farmer. I have decided to leave them be now to mitigate such outcomes. Just watching from the bedroom window from now on.

      -Tom

      Liked by 1 person

      1. naturebackin says:

        Thanks Tom. I understand all you say. It is a tough world out there. Wild animals are all too often and so undeservably and unwittingly on the front line.

        Like

  4. What a lovely, unexpected encounter. I am so glad you were able to capture a few photos before they ran off, and so glad I got to see them.
    Best,
    Tanja

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Zoomology says:

    Hi Tanja,

    It was a lovely encounter. I am hoping to be more onto it next year and catch the new born cubs coming out of their den.

    -Tom

    Like

  6. Sanna says:

    As usual, it’s so nice to read your blog and learn from it! You have captured some amazing photos 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Zoomology says:

      Thank you very much, Sanna!

      -Tom

      Like

  7. Amy Archer says:

    Spooky lil fellas 😉 Loving the photos though, great work! Love your dedication to getting the perfect shot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Zoomology says:

      Hey Amy!

      Tom got a fab shot, didn’t he? ❤ Its cute, wee face makes me so happy that I've got it as all my devices wallpapers. 😛

      -Emma

      Like

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