Friday, 12 March 2010

Fantastic Mr Fox!

Garden Birds At The Feeder

Since my last post we have had a mixed bag of weather with more falls of snow. Chaffinches, Titmice, Robins and Blackbirds flocked to the bird-table and the feeders to get as much sustenance as possible to survive this fierce Winter.

Garden Birds

However, though we still have overnight temperatures of below zero, today we experienced the warmth of the sun. Since the beginning of the month I have been serenaded by a beautiful Song Thrush. As if by magic, Spring is slowly creeping up on us.

Two Blue Tits On The Weathervane

As well as the flocks of pigeons I spoke about last month, hundreds of crows began to join them in the field adjacent to Barleycorn.

Crows At Barleycorn

The noise they made was deafening and they arrived in such quantities that I was reminded of the Hitchcock film called The Birds.

Crows In The Snowstorm

I decided to take footage of them all and you can watch their antics in the little video at the foot of this post.

Foxy's Footprints In The snow

One night I laid out bacon rind on the bird-table to give the early birds a good feed the next morning. Low and behold, I noticed there had been a fox. It was so cold he would have come to scavenge for anything he could find to keep out the cold. Some nights are better than others, in terms of food for a fox, so, given the opportunity, a fox will take what he can find.

Foxy Eating Cat Food

I am well aware that many people regard foxes as vermin and that they are shot by many farmers, who then complain that their fields are overrun with rabbits, moles, mice and rats, which the fox eats. But it's my belief that every creature has its place in the web of life.

Foxy Eating Fish

I decided to enjoy the brief visit of Fantastic Mr Fox and give him some sustenance to keep out the Winter chills. Each night I waited, camera in hand, for the magical hour when he appeared. I admired his beautiful chestnut coat, the black behind his ears, his magnificent brush and the twinkle in his eyes as he gorged himself on his delicious supper.

Foxy On The Table

He never stayed long. Many of my photos turned out blurry, due, in part, to his constant movement. But, I was mesmerised by him and looked forward to his antics each night. Foxes are omnivorous, feeding on small birds, mammals, insects, berries and the odd chicken or three, if they get lucky. It is possible to rear chickens successfully, for many people do, in spite of foxes living in their neighbourhoods.

Foxy In The Night

Though foxes are known to farmers as raiders of their poultry, they do help the farmer by destroying many rodents. However, there are also lots of myths generated about foxes in order to justify killing them, and these persist, despite evidence to the contrary, and, so, the attitude to foxes remains polarised.

Foxy On The Chair

Foxes have always lived in the countryside. But, due to more and more housing development, their natural territory is being eaten up, so much so, that many foxes now live in cities, which, previously, had been their habitats. I don't understand the visceral hatred some people harbour towards foxes. My parents were farming people, and their parents before them, and they lived in peace with all the wildife around them and successfully reared chickens and lambs.

Foxy's Brush

As far as I know nobody has ever caught a disease from a fox. Neither do they attack humans. If anything, they tend to give us a wide berth. I can understand farmers not liking a fox if it affects their livelihood, but as far as I'm concerned, if farming is your business, you should be able to house your animals suitably so that foxes can't get in. As wild animals they will act instinctively and can't be blamed for what they do. I enjoyed my spot of fox-watching because I think foxes are beautiful creatures, to be admired for surviving... in spite of Mankind...and I also feel privileged to have shared Fantastic Mr Fox's company on his nocturnal visits to Barleycorn.

The music accompanying Birds Over Barleycorn video is Hot Ice taken from my CD of A Mid-Summer Night's Dream. The accompaniment to Fantastic Mr Fox video is another track, called Strange Snow from the same CD. Turn up the volume and enjoy a spot of bird and fox-watching!


Michelle said...

I've run across the "anti-fox attitude" many times, directed at many different wild animals, and it always makes me sad. Not unlike prejudice against people groups, it is ignorance channeled to justify mistreatment.

Robert Brenchley said...

I haven't seen a fox for a while, but I used to get them on my plot regularly. Sometimes they'd walk right past me. They never did any harm, and I'm sure I've had more rats since mange killed them off.

A wildlife gardener said...

* A warm welcome back, Michelle, and thanks for your input. I agree with your last comment very much :)

We love foxes, we love foxes!

A wildlife gardener said...

* Lovely to meet you, Robert...a warm welcome to our little corner of paradise :)

I agree that rodents increase when foxes are exterminated, or die out naturally :)

Michelle said...

Never fear, I ALWAYS visit your lovely corner of paradise - I just don't always comment. (Shame on me, I know, as I love comments as much as any blogger!)

A wildlife gardener said...

* Thanks so much, Michelle. I appreciate your visits and comments very much :)

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Hi Wildie, always so glad to see a new post! Foxes do indeed want nothing to do with humans, and i can't say I blame them. I've seen a fox along the edge of my property that borders a nature area ONCE in the 8 years I've lived here, and was honored at the sight. I agree all of nature's animals have a place, and I find foxes fascinating. Great photos. I also love the weathervane!

candycane said...

so beautiful! this makes me so happy. i used to live in an area with lots of little creatures and i fed them all - skunks, possums, squirrels. i miss them. now i just feed the hummingbirds on one windowsill and doves & finches in the other. i enjoy your blog immensely!

Sorrow said...

Oh I love your footage of mr fox!
how wonderful!

Laura Paine Carr said...

I love the fox! And I really love those crows. How wild and crazy they are. The photo of them in the snowstorm is thrilling.

In the summer the foxes come right under my bedroom window. I wish I could see them, maybe they bring their babes around to the bird feeders? They converse with very interesting little yips.

It makes me sad that people don't like them. A completely domesticated world would be very strange.

Someday I will figure out how to use the video feature! Yours are wonderful.

Jeanne said...

Absolutely wonderful is all you share my precious friend.
Thanks for your visits and kind words always and your golden gift of friendship.

and much love

A wildlife gardener said...

* Lovely to have your company, dear Monica..and great to get your input too :)

Everything in Nature is here on earth for a purpose...even foxes. We just have to secure the hens and the lambs :)

I like the Old Father Time weathervane we reminds me my time is precious...and that none of us has a guarantee :)

A wildlife gardener said...

Dear Candycane...lovely to see you in our little corner of paradise again :)

I can appreciate you missing all your wildlife...and I'm glad you have made friends with the hummingbirds and the finches...for they will return each day for their sustenance and reward you with their songs and their antics :)

It's been a pleasure having you :)

A wildlife gardener said...

* Dear Sorrow, you are always so kind and generous with your visits and your comments...thanks so much :)

A wildlife gardener said...

Dear Swallowtail, you are so right... world without Wild Things would be so boring and dull :)

I will email you instructions on how to upload videos to your blog, to see if I can help you :)

A wildlife gardener said...

Dear make my day with all your love and generosity :)

Friendship is a wonderful thing...and we'd be so lonely and lost without our friends :)

Babara said...

We also have foxes around from time to time. They seem to be accustomed to people by now and do not show any signs of shyness. But they do not stay long in the garden, just walk through. Probably they smell that cats and dogs are passing through the garden too. We once had the chance to see a whole family walking by. I was so astonished that I completely forgot to look for my camera. You were lucky to take all these snapshots of your night guest ;-) !

Duxbury Ramblers said...

I think Mr Fox gets a lot of bad press he does not deserve. We always kept chickens when I was young and never lost any to our local foxes. I have just one down on them now and that is Meg our dog loves foxes so much that she wants to smell like them, you know what I mean - having said that she likes deer & anything else that leaves their mark. :)
Another lovely blog.

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Juliet said...

What a beautiful fox - I'd be very happy to have one visit my garden!

I've only recently discovered your lovely blog and not had time to read through much of it yet, but my eye was caught by your comment a couple of posts back about our being stewards of the earth - I do so agree.

I look forward to reading more!

A wildlife gardener said...

Lovely to see you again, Barbara :)

You are right...foxes are very elusive, so, I do indeed feel very privileged that Foxy returned over a few nights, and stayed long enough for me to have taken footage of him :)

A wildlife gardener said...

Hello again, Duxbury Ramblers...I am delighted to read someone else who managed to rear chickens successfully in spite of the presence of foxes living nearby :)

I can well imagine Meg being friendly to all wildife as she accompanies you on your rambles :)

A wildlife gardener said...

Welcome, Mike, nice to meet you...and I might get around to doing that interview one of those days :)

A wildlife gardener said...

Thank you for introducing yourself, Juliet...welcome to our little corner of paradise :)

I hope you get a visits from one of Foxy's cousins some time...I was mesmerised by him :)

My dream, 20 years ago, was to create a garden for wildlife, because I do feel we should be stewards of the earth...and harm no living thing. I am glad I have made my vision a reality. In a few months I will have finished writing the story of my garden :)

Miranda Bell said...

This is some wonderful footage of your foxy visits - I'm sure your free dining table was a welcome treat for him.. must admit I do feel sorry for wildlife particularly when it gets that cold and they can't find their normal sources of food - most of us are a bunch of softies at heart!! Take care Miranda x

A wildlife gardener said...

* Good afternoon, Miranda, and a warm welcome to you once more :)

I must admit I do like the Wild Things...and don't mind giving them a chance to survive all that Winter throws at them by feeding their hungry appetites :)

joey said...

Such a fun post and I love the music! You have it all here, dear Wildlife :) We have the cutest fox at the lake but a bit too friendly wanting to join us at campfires! Sing Hallelujah ... Spring has arrived! (Thank you for sharing the delightful recipe, you are a dear!)

A wildlife gardener said...

* A warm welcome, dear Joey, to our little corner of paradise :)

I am glad your fox is friendly...

Spring is here too...we have snowdrops and aconites out now :)

Glad you liked the post and the music I chose for the videos :)

Naturegirl said...

I love your heart and attitude towards the fox. Feeding him at night just warms my heart. I do the same with racoons...we have taken over their territory here in our sub division.
I am leaving some Spring behind so you in Barleycorn can enjoy some of the warmth. Hoping that you all experience a winter thaw very soon!!!

Anonymous said...

Shoved out of dens all across the country, it is a miracle there are any fox left in the wilds. I would feed them if they came here as I feed birds. I think they are beautiful animals who are smart and take advantage of mistakes. Don't close the chicken house door? Well that is an invite to the neighbor or a fox to have a hen or two.

I like your photos but was impressed with the little fox.

farmingfriends said...

Foxes are beautiful creatures and it's interesting to see them up close. We had two in the field across the lane from us. I had to keep my poultry in for a couple of days until I thought it was safe!
I don't think foxes would get such bad press if they didn't kill a flock of hens and only eatone or two, but nature is a strange and wonderful thing and I always think its unfair how we love certain animals and dislike others especially in the bird world.
We tend to love the beautiful robin and dislike the magpie for their egg eating and chick eating habits yet they too are just as beautiful.
It is always a pleasure and delight to view or photos and videos of the wonderful nature and animlas you see.
Kind regards
sara from farmingfriends

A wildlife gardener said...

* Dear Nature warms my heart to hear that you feed the local racoons, in the knowledge that you are living in their territory...wonderful :)

The sun is definitely warming our soil now...Spring is here...hallelujah!

A wildlife gardener said...

* Lovely to meet up with you again, Abe...and I so agree with your comments regarding the dearth of foxes. It applies to all wild creatures, in fact...

I'm glad you enjoyed the video of Foxy :)

A wildlife gardener said...

* Dear Sara...I couldn't agree more...we need to appreciate every single species...from the humble Sparrow to the majestic Eagle. Each has their part to play in the magical web of life :)

Thank you for all your generous comments :)

Ruth Welter said...

Hi WG, ow, lovely pictures you have posted...I enjoyed the birds and the fox. I saw a fox just a few weeks ago, during the day on one of my excercise walks. He looked at me and I at him and I think we were both a little freaked out. He went in the opposite direction that I was walking, I think seeing me scared him. Hope your snow melts soon.


LuckyDog said...

I think foxes are beautiful. He is lucky to have you feed him. XOXO

Cheryl said...

My dear wildlife gardener....I could not agree more. The fox is a beautiful animal, and many have visited my garden. Sadly our farmer often shoots them, and I must say it breaks my heart a little.

Rabbits are out of control here and I do blame the farmers for causing the problem. I have also found badgers along the lane that have been shot. Of course this is totally illegal.

Thank you for sharing your photographs and lovely little video clip of one of my favourite wild animals. Long live the fox.......

Shirley said...

Hello again Wildlife Gardener, sorry I thought I had left a comment here. I loved seeing your photos of the fox feeding. As others have said all the wildlife is hungry when it’s cold. I try to think of that when the Sparrowhawk does a fly through for lunch.

We’ve never seen a fox here (so far) however I found it a fascinating sight to see one walk along a well lit pavement in a busy city at 3am in the morning. We had just left an A&E dept and this sight did make me smile. The fox wasn’t in the least bit skulking in the shadows. It was walking at a purposeful pace right up the middle of the pavement in full view to everyone. Nature is fascinating :-D

A wildlife gardener said...

* Welcome, dear Ruth...I am so glad you saw a fox while you were wonder you were amazed...and Foxy too :)

A wildlife gardener said...

* Lovely to meet you, Lucky are most welcome to our little corner of paradise :)

I'm glad you like foxes, too :)

A wildlife gardener said...

* I do think you would have less of a rabbit infestation if your local farmers did not shoot the foxes, Cheryl...after all, rabbits make up most of their diet :)

I am always saddened...and angry...whenever I hear of badgers being shot. Our local vet told me that he believes that if badgers are shot, all the cows have to be shot too in order to stamp out disease as no one can tell which is to blame for the spread.

Long live Foxy... :)

A wildlife gardener said...

* I agree with you, Shirl, we must try to look at the bigger picture and accept that all animals play their part in the Natural Order of things :)

Foxes are secretive and nocturnal...and it's always exciting to see one in the wee small hours...simply going about his business :)

angryparsnip said...

I just found your wonderful blog. I was intrigued by the Fantastic Mr. Fox
title and stopped to look... what a lovely series of pictures.
I too live in an area surrounded by wildlife and I try not to impact to much on them, you are so lucky to have seen a fox !
cheers, parsnip

Unknown said...

Oh my gosh. Loved this, I miss having all the wildlife at my bird feeders. We used to live in the country and now I will get my fix at your blog!
Thank you for sharing.

A wildlife gardener said...

* A warm welcome to our little corner of paradise, Angry Parsnip :)

We are on the same wavelength, then...loving all the Wild Things, as we do :)

A wildlife gardener said...

* Lovely to make your acquaintance, Baking Barb :)

Wildlife certainly cheers us up and feeds our soul :)

Janet said...

I love that you respect and care for the fox, but notice no one has cautioned you about feeding wildlife. As any licensed wildlife rehabber will tell you, it can do far more harm than good. We do not want the animals becoming dependent on humans, nor too comfortable with us. We risk them thinking all people are friendly with handouts, and going places where they're more likely to be shot. It's best for them to have a healthy fear of humans.
In addition, the food you put out is probably not appropriate nutrition for them, and may be incompatible with their system. A hungry animal will eat just about anything, but it may make them sick. Birds, for example, need very specific nutrients for strong bones. If they're subsisting on seeds left by you, they may not be strong enough to survive. Feeding birds in winter is one thing, but year round is not good for their health. Please think of the wildlife first rather than your understandable pleasure at seeing them up close.

A wildlife gardener said...

* Welcome to our little corner of paradise, Janet...I will reply to your comments as best I can :)

1. In answer to

'It's best for them to have a healthy fear of humans.'

I have stated that foxes do give humans a wide berth. This one was starving because of the five weeks of heavy snowfall, and that's why he would have come scavenging for food.

2.In answer to

'The food you put out is probably not appropriate nutrition for them, and may be incompatible with their system.'

I fed Foxy meat and fish, which would have done him a power of good, and no harm whatsoever.

3.In answer to

'Feeding birds in winter is one thing, but year round is not good for their health.'

The RSPB (Royal Society For The Protection Of Birds) advises...and I quote...'By feeding the birds year round, you'll give them a better chance to survive the periods of food shortage whenever they may occur.' ...and they are the experts...

4. My garden was created, solely, in order to welcome wildlife, and, as such, offers habitats for birds and insects; two ponds for wildlife; nectar borders for insects and birds; wood piles for insects, as well as many bird feeding stations. And if the occasional hungry fox pays me an all-too-brief visit in extreme weather conditions...then I will provide sustenance for it too...for he, too, plays his part in the wonderful web of life :)

LuckyDog said...

What a great response!!!

Michelle said...

I thought it was a great response, too. A completely hands-off approach may make sense in the wilds of Alaska or Canada, but in so much of the rest of the world we humans have invaded, altered and often destroyed so much of God's creatures' habitats that I feel we have a responsibility as good stewards to DO something sometimes. Yes, we can "kill them with kindness," but that's not what you are doing.

A wildlife gardener said...

* Welcome, Lucky Dog, to our little corner of paradise ...nice to have a new face to welcome :)

I had the best of intentions when I took the decision to feed Foxy and he only came on a few, I am glad he went back to being a Wild Thing. I like to think of him thriving on his own :)

Thanks for your comment :)

A wildlife gardener said...

* Dear Michelle, I am quintupley honoured you came back to make another comment :)

I do respect the Wild Things...and normally leave them alone...but, I felt Foxy came scavenging because he was hungry, so I chose to feed him. I felt privileged to have had his company for a few brief visits :)

Kathleen said...

I'm glad I visited today and read this post WG. I've had a fox in my garden lately too and have been trying to decide if I was happy to see him or not. I'm going with "happy" now!! You've got the gentlest spirit. It's just beautiful and uplifting. Happy Spring!

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linda may said...

Sadly in my country Mr fox is a destructive feral animal our of his natural habitat. He is known to contribute to the extinction of some of our smaller native animals. They are attractive and fascinating critters in their right place though, and I do know of stories from your country of the cruelty that are treated with by some. But.....if you take an animal or a plant out of where it fits and belongs you are going to get problems.

Andrea said...

I used to see foxes in a 640 acre public park - because people fed them, they became unafraid of humans and they had to relocate them elsewhere. Same thing happens with tons of raccoons in that park - people feed them so they come up to cars in the park. Then some weirdo who they have not yet caught, decided it would be fun to drive through the park and shoot the raccoons who sit near the road. I love all wildlife and love to watch the wild animals - deer, coyotes, raccoons, etc. but think it can be harmful to them to feed them - because they then lose their fear of humans and then are taken out by humans because of this. It's always a lovely surprise to see that you were secretly visited by a wild creature. We have raccoons in our neighborhood and people actually leave their garage doors open and let them in to eat cat food along with their cats - another move that is not in the best interest of the wild creature.

Anonymous said...

I am going to start this off by saying that I am a farmer, who raises beef cows, llamas, alpacas, turkeys, pigs and chickens. I try to give my animals the best lives possible, the chance to roam free on my land and live the most natural lives they can while they are alive. I also have cats, and several dogs. It is safe to say that I am an 'animal lover'. HOWEVER, YOU SHOULD NEVER FEED WILD ANIMALS, NO MATTER HOW FACINATED YOU ARE WITH THEM. You are only teaching them to rely on humans for food and eventually they will lose their ability to hunt for themselves, having become fat and lazy from your scraps. Yes, fox eat mice and rats, so do snakes and birds. Fox carry rabies, fleas, ticks, ring-worm and all sorts of other disease. They kill domestic pets as well as farm animals. I have lost over 2 dozen birds to 2 fox in the last year, ALL BECAUSE MY NEIGHBOR thought it was cute to feed them store-bought chicken. My neighbors actions caused me to have to kill one of the two fox, I am in an entrenched battle with the surviving fox now, as it kills two chickens a week. It is people like you that will cause the demise of your beloved fox, for they will not run from humans as they should, they will come in closer to home, because they cannot tell the difference between neighbor A who feeds and neighbor B who shoots to kill. Let the amials alone and destiny decide their fate.