Fox Watch! is the latest addition to the site. It began as a quick way of recording and sharing pictures of the urban fox family that has moved into our garden. Quickly though, the sheer volume of material caused a re-design, with the addition of photo gallery pages, and then a Picture of the Day.
This introductory page originally featured some of my earliest photographs. I've retained a couple of them, but the quality of the photos didn't really warrant long term inclusion.
We intially realized we had foxes in the spring. We'd catch an occasional fleeting glimpse at night, and we also found a neat 'doorway' eaten into some brush screening we'd put up.
We'd seen foxes in the past (they are common around here), but usually in the distance, and only very rarely in the garden. This next shot is the first one I managed to grab. It's one of the parents at dusk. They were still fairly wary of us then, but did seem to take a fancy to the hen's eggs we left out at night.
Gradually, we gained the confidence of one of the adults and noticed that its coat was in pretty poor condition. We sought advice from a local wildlife centre and began a feeding programme of small amounts of dogfood and Vitapet, a cod liver oil skin conditioner. A popular choice it seems. This more regular feeding was rewarded with frequent visits and has allowed me to start the collection of photographs in the gallery.
Since those fitful beginnings, we've been rewarded with daily visits. The most frequent of the family is now one of the cubs, who is utterly bold; so much so that he tries to grab at my shoe, or trouser leg if I let him close enough. The first adult fox continues to visit regularly and is relaxed with us around. The other cubs (at least two more) are far more wary and we usually only see them fleetingly unless we stay indoors and watch through the window. The shyest of all of them is the second adult, who scarpers at first sight of us.
The first adult's coat has improved in condition, and the tail is thickening up. This is important as the tail serves as insulation for them in winter. The first photo below was taken in early June. You can clearly see the poor skin condition, especially on the rear flank which was near bald at the time. The tail is barely covered. The second photo was taken on 21 July: the coat is clearly much improved. The tail is thickening rapidly now, and the flanks are developing a healthy golden coat.
There are many more photos in the gallery, including the cubs. The next page of Fox Watch! has some more early photos. There is some video footage on page three, and a short 'photo-story' on page four. Pages five and six have photos and a video clip of the fox climbing. Page seven gives a quick update of the latter part of 2005. The best photos are on Fox Watch! 3 and beyond, and on the later photo gallery pages.
September Note: it's becoming more difficult to photograph the foxes. The cubs have more or less left our garden as they head off to seek new territory (part of the annual cycle). The adult is more wary when it's dark, and with nights drawing in tends also to spend less time simply wandering the garden or relaxing. Most of the photos currently on the site are from June through August.