Kitchen window view2, Fox in melting snow

Fox in snow, 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?’




Fox in melting snow










As Conservation Ranger at the Ecology Centre, Richard Meyers had long seen Fox behaviour at close hand –  in Gillespie Park, around Parkland Walk and on the streets of North London. He told us about one winter’s night when, hearing fox barks in the street outside his house, he got up and went to the window. Several foxes, adults and cubs, were playing in snow. Richard watched as one fox leapt onto a snow-covered car bonnet. It rested its forepaws on the windscreen and wiped the snow away as though its paws were windscreen wipers. It peered into the car through the cleared glass for a bit, then jumped down. The foxes then trooped off down the road, with the cubs rolling and tumbling in the snow.

The Ecology Centre had a pinboard in the foyer, on which people pinned photos of wildlife in their gardens.. There were some very good fox photos. We aim to be putting photos of current foxes on this page, and hope to capture some videos.

Foxes are most often seen and heard after dark in Highbury. Fox barks at night are other-worldly. But Foxes can be seen during daylight hours as well, walking along the pavement or resting on the roofs of garden sheds. Two brothers who lived near the fish and chip shop put bread out under their car each night for the foxes, who came along to eat it.




These fox photos in snow are from 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…

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

 Fox in Back with cub, asleep
The Case of the Vanishing Chocolate Biscuits

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

A few hours later, he returned and brewed himself some coffee. He fancied a chocolate biscuit to go with it and looked on the keyboard… but the packet was gone. He went upstairs and 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, and nothing else? Then he saw that his neatly-made bed had been slightly disarranged, and his wooly hat was gone from its usual place between spread and pillow… He spent a good 45 minutes searching the flat, found nothing, and finally gave up… He drank his coffee and turned in for the night.

Early next morning, Paul awoke. Looking out of his 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 and 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 was 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