Sunday, 7 August 2016

Foxed

I was born and raised in the countryside, so you might think my formative years were awash with wild life in all its forms. In a way it was, I suppose. But knowledge and awareness are not the same as having contact and bearing witness. This is how it was with foxes. I heard them bark late into the night, from the comfort of my bed. I saw evidence of where they’d been, and what they’d left behind. I caught fleeting glimpses of stealthy movers in the surrounding fields, but I never saw one, up close and personal.

Fox by SW

Of course, foxes have been urban dwellers for a long time now. I’ve seen a vixen with her cubs in the car park of a major city hospital. Our daughter had one who was a regular visitor to her city garden, just yards away from six busy lanes of traffic. When I used to take the Thameslink from Wimbledon Chase to Farringdon, another fox family had established itself as something of a landmark. People craned to see them lazing in the sun or, on a wet day, sheltering in the lee of a steel cabinet that housed the gubbins necessary to the efficient operation of the track.

Slick Fox by Immy

I suppose the point I’m making is that you probably stand a greater chance of spotting a fox in the town, than the countryside. In the sixteen and a half years we’ve lived in this deepest rural setting, I’ve only spotted a few. Mostly catching them in the headlights as they trot imperviously across the road ahead. Once in broad daylight, on the lawn of a neighbouring house.

Foxy, the friendly fox.

Early in the 80s, I interviewed a local man who had rescued a fox cub, and kept it as a pet. That would be very controversial now, but I found the visit fascinating. Jack Toms, his wife, and “Foxy”, were all perfectly charming.

8 comments:

  1. We have foxes but only rarely see them. They are the reason our chicken have to stay penned up most of the time.

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    1. Do you have red, grey, or both types of fox in your neck of the woods. Vicki?

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  2. I,ve only ever seen one once & that was at 5am down a dark ginnel in Urban Oldham (rooting thru the bins..er , the fox ,not me!)

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    1. Had to 'Google' ginnel. I like it better than alley.

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  3. I love the fox pictures. We rarely see them here, but often hear them going past in the middle of the night. I think it's wonderful that Jack Toms raised the fox cub and it must have been quite an experience to meet them :-) xx

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    1. It was my first paid piece for the West Country 'Sunday', The Sunday Independent. Jack Toms was great. A very knowledgeable countryman. It was my privilege.

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  4. I live in a 'new' town and foxes are an everyday sight to me. I've got a large back garden, and I see foxes sleeping under the shade of the hedges every now and again in the summer. Who doesn't like 'Basil Brush'? (Apart from the 'Hooray Henries' who enjoy seeing them ripped apart by dogs.)

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    1. I've got a soft spot for foxes Kid. But they do seem to keep their heads down out here in the 'sticks'. Probably for good reason.

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