FOXES (Vulpes vulpes)

Fox & cub asleep in little woodland by bramble

Kitchen window view2, Fox in melting snow

Fox in our garden, winter 2002

‘Despite being hunted for centuries, the fox survives and is plentiful in Islington. Commemorated in place names and pub signs, Reynard the fox is reminiscent of his cousin the North American Coyote, a trickster figure and prankster, morally suspect and to be watched. On the other hand many of us have a sneaking admiration for Reynard and feel delighted when we meet him. How often do we lie in bed at night enjoying the raucous throaty bark of foxes calling across our gardens? Who can deny the magic in this slightly eerie exchange?’

RICHARD MEYERS . FORGOTTEN FOLKLORE : MYTHS AND MAGIC IN ISLINGTON, Islington Council

fox-illustration

As Conservation Ranger at the Ecology Centre, Richard Meyers had seen a few foxes  ~  in Gillespie Park, Parkland Walk & on the streets of North London. He told us of a winter’s night when he heard fox barks in the street outside his house… He went to the window & saw several foxes playing in snow. One leapt onto a snow-covered car bonnet. It rested its forepaws on the windscreen & wiped the snow away using its forepaws as windscreen wipers. It peered through the glass for a bit, then jumped down. The fox family then moved off down the road, with the cubs rolling and tumbling in the snow.

 

Foxes are most often seen & heard after dark in Highbury. Fox barks at night are other-worldly. But Foxes are about during daylight hours as well, trotting along the pavement or resting on the roofs of garden sheds. Two brothers living near the fish & chip shop on Gillespie Road put bread under their parked car every night. They took great pleasure in watching the foxes who came along to eat it.

At feeding time, we warn the birds to keep a lookout for Pointy-Eared Predators & fly up as soon as they see one. Foxes & cats can be lightning-quick, leaping out of nowhere (apparently) to catch a bird as it is having a meal itself. Cats, our other Pointy Eared Predators, have their main meals in nearby homes, while foxes have to fend for themselves.

Foxes are scavengers and will eat practically anything. Their diet includes worms, beetles, berries, carrion, mice, rabbits and birds. They also find plenty of food from rubbish, compost heaps and bird tables.  GOOGLE

Often the only clue to a successful hunt & kill for one of the Pointy Ears will be a scattering of feathers left under the shrubbery.

Before everyone had mobile phones, the Ecology Centre nearby had a pinboard where people could pin photos they had taken of wildlife in their gardens. These included many of the local foxes.

FOX ON BANK ONE THIRD

 

Our fox photos in snow are from over a decade ago. The little woodland was still alive behind our new fence, so it must have been the winter of 2002/2003, before the developer…

Fox with mange

As foxes came in & out of our garden, we saw that one had mange – missing fur & a terrible itch, caused by tics. We got in touch with The Fox Project, a charity run by volunteers, & were sent a vial of homeopathic medicine with instructions: ‘Put two drops on a jam sandwich & leave it out for the fox at night. Cats won’t touch it – they don’t like sweet things. Every night, another jam sandwich with fox medicine… When the vial is empty, just post it back to us so we can refill it & send it to someone else’. We did, & it worked, & the fox’s coat grew back…                        foxproject.org.uk/about-us/

http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/ourfantasticwildlife

 

PAUL WAS BURGLED:
The Case of the Vanishing Chocolate Biscuits

It was a warm summer evening in the Garden Flat, & Paul’s window was open. He ate a few chocolate digestive biscuits & twisted the paper packet closed at one end. Sitting the packet down on his keyboard, he went out.

A few hours later, he returned & brewed himself some coffee. He fancied a chocolate biscuit to go with it & looked on the keyboard… but the packet was gone. He went upstairs & carried on looking – was he losing his memory? Had he been working too hard? Could he have been burgled? Who would take only a packet of half-eaten chocolate biscuits, & nothing else? Then he saw that his neatly-made bed had been slightly disarranged, & his wooly hat was gone from its usual place between spread and pillow… He spent a good 45 minutes searching the flat, found nothing, & finally gave up… He drank his coffee & turned in for the night.

Early next morning, Paul awoke. Looking out of his open window, he saw a fox cub frolicking on top of the Ivy hedge. In its jaws was a nappy bag, which it was thrashing from side to side, as a puppy would. Down in the garden Paul saw his wooly hat & three of his trainers. All had been removed through the open window – one object at a time? By the fox cub working alone, or with an accomplice? Another fox cub? A squirrel? By the time Paul got out to collect his belongings, the cub had gone, leaving the nappy bag behind. This was perhaps a trade-off for the chocolate digestive biscuits; no trace of them was ever found.

Postscript: Paul closes and locks his window now, when he’s going out –  just in case.

FOXES 2018

 

 

Foxes 2019

This year the fox family living a few gardens from ours had to deal with mange. We again followed the Fox Project’s  homeopathic remedy routine, but deployed the jam sarnies for breakfast rather than overnight. It was good to see the foxes eat their medicine & gradually recover from mange. The terrible itching stopped & the dusty fur grew back a bright orange again.

Foxes have now gone from our little area. We do not know whether the architects who bought the empty lot have had anything to do with it, but know that elsewhere in Islington foxes are accepted & welcome. We hope the little fox family who were here this last season have a life in the borough, a future.