It is amazing what a range of personalities can be found within a sample of ten cubs. But this litter is far more camera-shy than the last one, partly, I suspect, because Kitty sends out such unfriendly signals whenever she sees a person - signals that the other cubs would likely instinctively heed.
But where ordinary cameras are unlikely to succeed, a webcam might work
Tonight was supposed to be about getting this little device down the garden in preparation for proper setting up tomorrow. It's only been tacked to the inside of the safety pen (a little enclosure that allows for the outside door to be shut and any inquisitive cubs who slip out when the inside door is opened to be contained) and I certainly wasn't expecting to post any footage tonight. But, here it is: tiny Tina gnawing the cat climber, and general play
Just a couple of other quick things:
I know it's summer now because the Old Dogfox is hiding in long grass!
(Actually, I also know because the wild orchids are finally appearing over the meadows and I will try to get some pictures of them soon.)
The bullfinches are still regular visitors.
While the magpie wins the "Clown of the Month" award - again! - for pretending to pull off a near-impossible balancing act!
All change in the fox pen! Chatter, Waldo, Marion, Echo and Foster have gone to another fosterer now. Moving between carers is part of the regime to stop them becoming too comfortable around people.
So they have left me; but five new cubs have been brought here! The Old Dogfox has taken note - he was hanging around in the garden during the cubs' arrival.
The new "litter" (again, these cubs are not actually related to each other, but come from a variety of areas) are about a month younger than the last ones.
I wonder if Chatter left a message about going climbing
Their personalities are already apparent. Last out of the carrying cage was a tiny runt called Tina, barely more than half the others' size.
If she is a little intimidated, I don't blame her: amongst the cubs' number is a vixen named Kitty (dubbed Spitty Kitty) who may yet make Marion seem serene. Her growl is impressive and her eyes flash fury if she thinks that she is cornered. Surely she cannot be angry all the time...can see?
The other cubs are Isla (from the Isle of Wight), Ticket, and Howard (the only male). It will be interesting to see how they develop over the next month
I'm back up to five cubs again Waldo came home this afternoon, having sufficiently recovered from his injuries to rejoin the litter. He wasn't in the mood to let me photograph him, but he's growing into a fine-looking, calm-natured fox, and perhaps he'll help smooth out the friction that fiery Marion seems to spread wherever she goes!
For no matter how quiet the pen looks...
...drama is never far away
And it usually has Chatter involved
Though even little Echo isn't completely angelic
But when the June sun beats down, there is one fox, who, though probably not completely past playing, much prefers that ancient indulgence of sunbathing. A hot Old Dogfox is a happy Old Dogfox!
I can hardly stay out of the meadows on sunny evenings
But it's more than just the flowers which are pretty right now. The landscape of the Surrey Hills is rich with greenery as summer (albeit in a rather sporadically warm form) finally takes hold. Birds are hard to photograph at this time of year but you might see one here
I do want to spend more time getting landscape pictures. In the meantime, I can at least show this - one of many markers dotted about the hills reminding those who pass that this is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Back in the garden, the three resident wild foxes - the Old Dogfox, the Survivor Vixen and the Chipped Vixen - are keeping to fairly regular times. The Old Dogfox rarely comes late in the evening; afternoon sunshine suits him fine
He looks quite serene compared to the insanity in the fox pen
A couple of days ago, he was milling around the garden as usual, and was promptly spotted by the rescued cubs in their pen. Previously, they had been more interested in the Chipped Vixen (perhaps because she tends to appear just at the time I'm about to feed the cubs!) but they seem to be seeing possibilities in the Old Dogfox now. And why not? The National Wildlife Federation, as part of a Father's Day special, has named red foxes as one of the "best fathers" in the animal kingdom!
But I fear he does not approve. The cubs seemed full of enthusiasm for him that morning, ears right back, brushes wagging, and voices whimpering.
He took to his heels and bolted
I don't really blame him. Cubs have inquisitive teeth and demanding appetites. Presuming that he is the father of the Chipped Vixen's brood (which is by no means certain), he will have quite enough to contend with as it is
Nevertheless, he has returned...
...and he's not alone; the Scraggly Vixen is having one of her occasional "I'm going to stay in the garden all day" episodes. There is very little friction between her and the Old Dogfox, but from my perspective I am still inclined to ask why it is that her visits are invariably on days with terrible weather
The huge Saddleback Male is still around (I saw him last night) but is by no means a regular visitor.
As for the cubs themselves, they are doing well. Chatter is still climbing everything that she can!
But they are all very playful.
Well, most of the time Peanut butter does not, perhaps, bring out the best in their natures. In this clip you can see their reactions to their treat and hear their strange coughing "chatter" to each other. I also put a short clip of the Old Dogfox and the Scraggly Vixen right at the end.
(Press F5 if it doesn't work...)
I haven't had much opportunity for non-fox pictures lately but I did enjoy seeing this horse in the evening light a few days back.