Category Archives: Foxes

A collection of foxes

Starting the Year with a Fox

January has generally been a fairly quiet month for our garden foxes. It’s the time of year when they are busy breeding and establishing dens in preparation for their new cubs (expected March/April, though they can be earlier). The previous season’s cubs will often have been driven away from their birth territory, and even those who remain tend to establish new, more cautious habits. Watching them becomes tricky (and has often required hours of standing out in the cold for little more than a fleeting glimpse).

That’s why the appearance of Wolfy over the past few weeks has been such a welcome surprise. He was one of the 2018 cubs. A small, grey/black young fox with a cheeky temperament but always something of an outsider from the main group.

fox cub

Wolfy at about 12 weeks old, taken back in May 2018

Over the past few weeks he has started showing up again (after a gap of a couple of months), and slowly I am regaining his confidence. At first he would retreat to the cover at the rear of garden at the slightest movement or sound. Slowly though, he has let me creep closer. 10 metres…8…6…5… And last night he was comfortable enough to explore the flower beds just alongside me (maybe 2 or 3 metres gap between us).

fox on steps

Stepping down into the garden

fox

Pausing among the plants

fox

Watching me watching him

fox

He even posed for a classic portrait shot.

Pretty, the vixen, has only been by once or twice in the past few weeks, but I suspect she has other things on her mind. She’s coming up to two years’ old so this is a prime time for her to have her first litter. With luck she will find a den nearby. And with more luck we’ll have a whole new family of foxes in 2019.

Finally, just a note on the website. I’ve made a number of small adjustments the most obvious of which is the ‘cookie bar’ at the bottom of the page, but the very sharp-eyed may have noticed some small stylistic changes as well. These are simply to keep the design template ‘current’.

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 1DX Mark II and EF 70-200mm f/4.0L IS II USM lens.

Also posted in fox cub, Wildlife Tagged |

A few recent shots…

I’ve somewhat lost the thread of blogging regularly, but I have still been out with the camera and have picked up a few interesting images on the way. This is therefore something of an eclectic collection of recent photos that I quite like. I will include some fox updates as well.

The most recent photos were yesterday when I spent an hour or so at Falmer pond. It was very quiet on the bird front, but I did find a nice spot where a couple of rats were playing by the water’s edge. They tend to keep to the runs just under the lip of the edge of the pond, so for much of the time they are hidden from view. I got this shot, which is one of my favourites from yesterday from across a corner of the pond.

rat

Rat perched on a tree root running underneath the overhanging lip of Falmer Pond.

I also quite like this one of one of the rats swimming. The pond is a complete mess at the moment… leaves cluttering it among the blue-green algae and generally looking grubby. But that’s fine for Rattus norvegicus.

rat

Rat swimming in Falmer Pond

This next shot was also taken at Falmer, at the tail end of October on a day where the low sun was creating some beautiful autumn colour. It’s a simple shot, but it took an age for anything to swim across the reflected colour and add a little details. So many thanks to this little moorhen for taking up the baton.

moorhen on golden pond

Moorhen on Falmer Pond as the sun is setting

I’m now going back a full month to October 9th, when I stumbled across a race meeting at Brighton Racecourse (otherwise known as Sheepcote Valley (the track runs across a public access area). It was a lovely sunny day, and I had plenty of time to work out what I wanted to do. As well as plenty of hard ‘racing’ shots I also played around with long-shutter panning shots as the riders cantered up to the starting boxes.

race horse

This is Barrsbrook cantering to the start of the 3.30 race, ridden by Hector Crouch. He finished 2nd.

The horse is Junoesque cantering to the start of the 3.30 race, ridden by Charile Bennett. It finished 4th.

horse race

Some hard racing action

horse racing

The 3.30 race. Horse 6 is Military Madame ridden by David Probert. It finished 11th.

Now to the foxes… As I think I have previously mentioned, the young foxes have crept away as autumn and winter set in. This happens every year, though sometimes one youngster will be allowed to stay close to their birth territory. Last year it was Pretty, who has remained a constant visitor for 18 months or so. She is now the only regular fox we see, though there are others lurking. A couple of nights ago we noticed she had an injured ear. She wasn’t too concerned and injuries are very much a part of the fox’s life. Hopefully it will clear up quickly. It’s possible she has been in a fight over territory, but it is very difficult to keep track of vulpine social organisation. Anyway, the wound is fairly obvious in this shot.

fox with wounded ear

Pretty, with wound to her right ear (left of image). Taken on 7/11/18.

Prior to that she has been on really good form, and back at the beginning of November posed beautifully at the top of our 5 foot garden hedge. It has been some time since she has done this, and the trigger may have been a small cat who sometimes visits the garden.

fox on the top of garden hedge

Pretty sitting pretty atop an 5 foot high hedge

With the other foxes keeping their distance Pretty has been the mainstay of the Fox of the Day page. I try to keep that fairly varied (at least in the style of photo), but at this time of the year it can be difficult so I was delighted when a different fox appeared last night. I have caught glimpses of it before, but it’s very shy and usually has scuttled away before I have any chance of taking a picture. Last night the balance of food or flight played into my hands and so here is the newest fox in the garden.

fox at night

Unidentified shy fox

To bring this right up to date, here’s one more photo of Pretty from which it appears her right ear is healing up nicely. This was taken a few minutes ago in a howling wind and lashing rain. She was fine about the weather but I wasn’t going to stay outside for too long.

fox in the rain

Pretty in the rain. Her wounded ear appears to be improving.

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 1DX Mark II and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM or EF 70-200mm f/4.0L IS II USM lens.

Also posted in horse, rats, Wildlife Tagged , , , , |

Castle Hill Kestrel and a fox update

We are fortunate to be on the doorstep of the Castle Hill Nature Reserve, which sits on the edge of the South Downs. It’s mainly grass chalkland and in the summer is ablaze with butterflies. It is also home to a number of rare orchids.

Castle Hill view

View across Castle Hill

I visited on Saturday, and had barely gone a few paces before I spotted a kestrel out hunting. That was good enough for me. It was tracking back and forth, hovering and swooping, and occasionally picking up a morsel to eat. I stayed and watched.

kestrel

Kestrel at Castle Hill

kestrel

Kestrel at Castle Hill

Typically kestrels will predate small rodents, but if they are not available they have a particular fancy for crickets. You can see one grasped in her talons in this shot taken as she flew away.

kestrel with cricket

Kestrel with cricket

As for the foxes, we are now approaching the time of year where they sort out their winter territory. Mid-September and everything changes. The younger foxes are ‘encouraged’ away from their home patch and forced to become fully independent. There will also be changes in the adult population as they seek out the best territory for breeding. As we move into winter they will also be seeking mates. The first obvious sings are that they change their habits. We are seeing less of the young foxes in the evening, but Pretty (a fully mature adult vixen) has been slightly more evident in the past couple of weeks. Their nightly arrival times are now later, and interestingly they are also becoming more cautious. Apart form a brief glimpse of Long Nose and Pretty in the early hours of Saturday morning, the only other visit this weekend was by Scamp, on Sunday afternoon.

two foxes

Long Nose (foreground) and Pretty Vixen visit in the early hours of Saturday morning

fox in long grass

Scamp relaxing in the garden on Sunday afternoon

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 1DX Mark II and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, apart from the shot of Long Nose and Pretty taken with the EF 70-200mm f/4.0L IS II USM lens.

Also posted in Bird of Prey, Birds, Kestrel, Wildlife Tagged , |