The regular fox sightings near our field pond and wild garden paint a fascinating picture of a thriving ecosystem in our backyard. Here’s an expansion of our observations.
The visiting fox, is likely a vixen, she is displaying classic hunting behavior. Her sniffing around rabbit hole could be for two reasons:
Prey Scouting: Looking for potential meals in the future.
Den Site Selection: Foxes give birth in dens, often repurposing existing burrows like those made by rabbits. So our vixen is hopefully looking for a place to bring up her fox cubs.
The time difference between our fox and rabbit sightings suggests a well-established coexistence. Rabbits are highly attuned to predators, possessing excellent hearing and sight. They detect the fox’s presence and retreat to their burrows for safety.
Foxes are more than just cunning hunters. They play a vital role in the ecosystem by controlling rodent populations, including those that can damage gardens and crops. Their presence also indicates a healthy environment with a diverse food chain. Unfortunately they do have a taste for chicken.
Another week of fox hunting. Camera in a slightly different position, hoping to see more investigation by the fox. Plenty of rabbits feeding at night. During the day, a group of starlings came to feast amongst the leaves. There was just one sighting of a fox, she looked to be investigating a home amongst the ready built dens. Still, plenty of time before she has her cubs. Next week the camera has been moved to show a wider view of the likely den area. Let us hope for some foxy pictures.
Another week by the pond, and not much to report. Plenty of rabbits, a definite need for an AI application to filter them out of the videos. A grey squirrel, an import from the USA, unfortunately it has found the bird feeders now, but has not learnt to climb. A sighting of a Muntjac deer most evenings. One sighting of a Fox.
As the new year begins, it is the season for foxes to find a home to raise their young. Next to our field pond, there is a large mound of earth that is friendly to wildlife. Rabbits use it to dig their burrows. In early January, when the weather was sunny, many birds came to feed amongst the fallen leaves. We saw starlings, redwings, fieldfares and garden birds, including a cheeky blue tit that pecked at the camera. We also had many rabbits, a squirrel who luckily has not discovered the bird feeders, and a mouse. The fox visited several times, inspecting the holes. It won’t be long before the rabbits move out for a while when the fox cubs arrive.
Please ignore the date on the camera, the day and time are correct, but the month is wrong. This is January, not March.
This week’s fox cub video was a success. The battery did not fail, and I was able to capture footage of three cubs playing and exploring their immediate surroudnings. I moved the camera partway through the week to a lower vantage point, which allowed me to get better shots of the cubs.
There were originally two vixens and six cubs, but this week I saw only three cubs and no vixens. I believe one vixen has moved home. Towards the end of the week, only one cub remained by the den. I believe the other two cubs have begun to explore a larger area. Last year, they were often seen sleeping under the willow trees. There are also many other large holes on this side of the earth mound and the other sides of the mound.
I am eager to receive my new camera trap. The model I ordered is currently on back order, but I am hopeful that it will arrive soon. In the meantime, I will continue to monitor the fox cubs with my current camera.
I am also pleased to report that the rabbits have returned to the area. They were seen exploring the fox den several times this week. I believe the cubs are not a threat to the rabbits. Too small, or ignorant, to hunt?
The Fox Cubs continue to grow and flourish. This week I haven’t seen the whole litter of six together, but the younger pair and the older quartet are often active. The older ones still nurse from their mother, who tries to wean them off by bringing them small prey. They pounce on her and suckle whenever they can.
They enjoy wrestling and biting each other. They also venture out in the daylight, playing and making noises.
We have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of this year’s fox cubs, and on the 25th of April we were delighted to catch a glimpse of one cub. The little furball popped out of the den for a few seconds, curious about the world above ground. The next day, we saw two cubs emerge for several minutes, stumbling around on their tiny paws. The video shows how the vixen visits the den regularly to feed her babies. You can also see how the rabbits seem oblivious to the danger lurking nearby. This could prove fatal for them; the previous video shows a fox carrying a rabbit back to its family.
Fox cubs are born blind and deaf, with dark grey fur and floppy ears. They weigh only about 100g at birth. Their eyes open after two weeks and change colour from blue to amber after a month2. Their red fur starts to appear on their face and their muzzle turns white as they grow older. By six to eight weeks, they are weaned from their mother and start to explore outside the den. They are incredibly smart and have a keen sense of sight, hearing, and smell. They are also very adaptable and can survive in a wide range of habitats, from woodland to urban areas. Foxes are social animals and live in loose family groups, sometimes helping each other to raise the next generation.
A couple of videos of our foxes from Christmas until April. We believe these are the same two foxes starring throughout both videos. The Fox with the bushy tail is a dog fox, while the fox with the skinny tail is the vixen.
Hopefully the next video will be some fox cubs. Now the sun is out, I am assuming they will be venturing out from their den.