Fox Watch! Part Seven - Update
I realized that I haven't updated these pages since August. This is mainly because I'm using my blog to post regular bulletins and sightings. That said, there have been some interesting observations over the past few months, and so this page will serve as a brief update.
The fox cub stopped showing up in mid to late August. Increasingly he'd been driven away by the adult fox. As far as I know this is normal behaviour, as the young males are forced to seek new territory before the winter breeding season. 'Blondie' as we called him, put in a brief appearance on 15th September. It was a wet night, and he was somewhat jumpy. It was only when I processed the photos later that evening that I noticed he was carrying a small injury on his side.
We left scraps of food at the rear of the garden to see if we could tempt him back for a check-up, but sad to report he didn't put in another appearance.
September 21st: we had our first proper sighting of a new fox. No photos yet.
September 22nd: The dog fox enjoyed the long autumn evening in the garden. I caught some of the visit on video.
October: the new fox (a vixen) began to show up more regularly, including daytime visits. Still very shy, but occasionally accompanied by the dog fox. Still no photos of her.
Meanwhile the dog fox continued to visit openly and regularly. His coat had fully recovered from the very poor condition of the early part of the year, but in October I noticed that he had a small injury towards the upper end of the tail. You can just make it out on this photo. Although it hasn't affected his general condition, he tended to nibble at it and in later photos you can see the loss of upper tail fur quite clearly.
November: More sightings, but still no decent photos of the vixen. There's a report of one of her daytime visits on the blog together with a photo of the dog fox caching food in our leaf mould bin.
Generally, the dog fox showed up nightly, providing some excellent photo opportunities. This shot was taken on November 5th. He seemed unconcerned by fireworks, but nothing was going off too close to us.
His visits were less regular towards the end of the month, though it could simply have been that they were late at night. It was certainly more difficult to get sightings in wet weather. He also seems to dislike strong winds, perhaps because it makes hearing more difficult. I've noticed that the foxes are all extremely aware of sounds, and are much more nervous when the wind is high.
December: I finally managed to take some photos of the shy vixen, several of which are on my December 7th blog entry. The dog fox was much less visible during December, our suspicion being that he was preparing for the mating season and likely to be following another vixen. He did appear occasionally, and this photo from December 8th shows the loss of upper tail hair mentioned above.
The rest of the month was very quiet. We could hear foxes at night, with their distinctive calls as the mating season got underway. We also got nightly glimpses of the new fox, which we think is a young vixen.
I finally managed to get a halfway decent photo of her on the penultimate night of the year. We're calling her 'Kinky' due to the odd kink at the end of her tail.