Fantastic Foxes – Part 3

I continued to sit quietly with my back propped against a mossy Beech tree, whilst the vixen cub snoozed.

A short while later a bold rabbit came lolloping through the leaf-strewn wood. I watched it, wondering why on earth it would come so close to the foxes.

The young vixen sat up, ears pricked and eyes bright.

Down the bank she came, her hunting instincts up.

What happened next was very funny.

The cub ran as fast as she could towards the rabbit, but when she was about ten feet from it, she stopped. “What do I do now?” she seemed to wondering. At little more than half its size, she had no hope of catching it!

The rabbit knew this too. It stared rather disdainfully at the cub for a few seconds. Then it stamped a hind foot and was off into the undergrowth. At this the young vixen ran forwards again…

…and started to hunt through the leaves (as though the rabbit had somehow hidden itself in them).

Far safer to play at catching something imaginary than to attempt the real thing!

Eventually she worked her way right round the tree I was leaning against, popping her head out of the far side.

For a moment we looked at eachother. I don’t think she really knew what I was, but she was downwind of me now. Catching my scent, she turned and made her way back the way she had come.

Off up the bank…

…into the safety of her Earth.

And that was the last I saw of her (for that day).

Suddenly I was alone again on the old path through the woods, listening to the Beech trees whispering, my body filled with that uniquely-rich gratitude that comes when nature shares her secrets with us.


Fantastic Foxes – Part 2

I sat for a while with my back propped against the mossy trunk of a large Beech tree. My heart was still thumping from watching the two cubs playing in the sun, when a movement to my left caught my eye.

This is what I saw.

Another cub, moving from left to right, almost in the centre of the picture. Isn’t it amazing how camouflaged they are, given their fur is such bright orange when you see them close-up?

This one was even smaller than the others, a vixen cub. She made her way up one of the many runnels in the bank, paths made smooth by the passage of foxes and badgers over the years, but when she went into the Earth there was a scuffle and a yipping: the boys obviously did not want her to join them.

Seconds later she reappeared, made her way down the bank and found a sunny patch to sit in. If you look hard, you can see her right in the middle of this picture, in profile.

She soon curled up to have a sleep.

All I could see was one of her ears, sticking up the far side of a root.

I was downwind so I knew she could not scent me. Moving as slowly as I could, I shuffled towards her, using the palms of my hands to lift my weight off the ground whilst I inched forward.

Bit by bit I got closer…

And closer…

Until I was only a few feet away.

There was a big smile on my face as I watched this beautiful wild animal, fast asleep, entirely unaware of my presence.

Let’s leave her there for now, dreaming her foxy dreams!

Fantastic Foxes – Part 1

Not far from where I live, a road leads up a steep hill. Beech and Sycamore trees reach over it. I call it “The Cathedral”. Every time I walk or drive down it, excitement tingles in my fingertips.

The Cathedral

Leading off into the woods is an old path. It’s my favourite of the paths nearby, perhaps because I’ve never met another human being on it!

The old path through the woods.

The other day, however, I did meet someone. Or rather several someones.None of them were human, but they all brought a smile to my face.

Here are two of them.

Two young fox cubs, no more than a few weeks old.

As soon as I saw them, I crouched low to the ground. These were no tame town-foxes, but wild things, wary of the wind itself.

Unaware of me, they played together, chasing each other around and having mock-wrestling matches. (You can just make out the second one here, being pounced-on by the first!)

They soon got tired and for a while they rested in the sun.

Then it was time for a bit of foraging…

…finding tasty things in amongst the leaves.

One of them then headed up the bank and lay snoozing in a patch of sunlight.

Here he is again, just waking up!

The other cub pottered off down the old path…

…before returning again for a last hello.

Then they both disappeared into their Earth.

All in all, I had watched them for twenty minutes or more. What a wonderful surprise that was! There was more to come, too, but we’ll save that for next time…

Enjoy your weekend.