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!