Thursday, 25 February 2010

Dog Fox is Hungry

It has rained all day. A wide band of rain has settled over Southern England. Surface water is gathering on the fields and ditches in the lanes are full to the brim. Just after midday, the Dog Fox arrived outside our window.

He and the Vixen live in underground earths on the edge of the heath and they visit the fields and village gardens every evening as dusk falls. They feed on small mammals, insects, worms and any berries or fruit that they can find. Two summers ago, our young plum tree was stripped of fruit one night. We found fox cub droppings underneath and all the plum stones, which the foxes had cleverly spat out.

This has been a long, hard winter for birds and mammals in the Forest. The braver Dog Fox has begun to visit gardens during daylight hours. There was a plentiful supply of grain beneath our bird table today, so this made a good light lunch for a hungry animal.

Our two Border Collie dogs go frantic if they see the foxes outside in "their" garden. They will leap and bark at the window, with tails wagging. The fox usually looks at them disdainfully and carries on eating. Dog will chase fox if they meet in the garden, but it seems as much in a spirit of play as a real conflict over territory.

Today, the cat watched from the warm, dry sitting room as Dog Fox fed outside.

My camera flash reflected on fox retinas. Dog Fox was not trying to look fierce. I just caught him with his mouth open!

Fluffed up with cold and bedraggled from the rain, the fox carried on with his meal, watched by a silent Ginger One, until little of the grain was left. I kept the dogs away while he ate in peace.


ChrisJ said...

Such a shame. I feel very sorry for the wild animals that haven't had enough to eat this winter. Too often to feed them regularly and with special tidbits just brings other problems along. It's the same with our ground squirrels who multiply by leaps and bounds. My mother had foxes living at the very back of the garden and we could watch the cubs playing on the lawn.

Bovey Belle said...

Is this the youngster we saw in the summer, or his daddy? He looks pretty cold and hungry, that's for sure, especially to be foraging in broad daylight and content to eat bird seed! Perhaps a chicken carcase will find its way to the compost heap soon . . .

rachel said...

He looks healthy though. My son is currently feeding/medicating (with RSPCA advice) a pitiful urban fox with terrible mange - the challenge is to find food in which to hide the meds that won't be devoured by squirrels and cats.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Lovely post and photos. We lost a sheep. It had died in the hedge bottom and the farmer had missed seeing it. He found it a week later, surrounded by fox footprints and eaten to just a carcase. I felt glad that in this awful weather a family of foxes had had a good square meal for a day or two.

Kath said...

Wow! we often see foxes in our garden, come in from the over grown orchards behind the house. They never come as close at that tho (might be something to do with our 2 lurchers!). I am very impressed that your cat seems so chilled about the visitor!

Dartford Warbler said...

Kath - they just walk past each other in the garden!

Weaver - good to hear that the sheep helped to keep the wild creatures alive.

BB - Yes, I think this fox may be the young dog fox who you saw in the summer. The old dog fox is longer, thinner and less bold. Come to think of it, I haven`t seen him for several months.

Greentwinsmummy said...

What lovely photos once again.Its been a long hard winter hasnt it,for man & beast

Morning's Minion said...

The Native Americans spoke of these late winter months as the time of "the hunger moon" when stores of food for humans and animals alike had run short.
How eagerly the first "greens" were awaited.
I feel badly for the feral cats in our neighborhood, but to feed them, as already mentioned above, contributes to other problems.
The "survival of the fittest" is a hard rule.