That Time of Year

January has two meanings for foxes: the breeding season, and voles. Subzero days coax field voles into daylight foraging, and their predators hurriedly follow suit. Happily for the fox-watcher, they are highly visible while questing for lunch.

fox bl 4 jan 19

And when they’re not thinking about food, they’re concentrating on each other!

foxes courting 17 jan 2019

Foxes have a complicated social life. Groups consist of a breeding pair, their cubs, and sometimes offspring from previous years. They do not hunt together like wolves, but protect a common boundary. But between – and sometimes within – these territorial homelands are a significant number of free-ranging, nomadic foxes, including dispersers searching for a vacant home.

Moreover, many large males trespass freely during the breeding season, sometimes triggering fights. We’ve had an interesting situation here this winter with an exceptionally high number of big roaming males, most of whom I don’t recognise. Doubtless they’ll disappear again before the spring.

Meanwhile, the courting pairs stay close, more or less ignoring their neighbours in the pasture.

foxes and sheep bl 17 jan 2018

The sheep seem to care little about fox territories.

foxes courting2 17 jan 2019

But the grass knows – foxes have scent glands on the edges of their mouths, transmitting information that other vulpines will note.

foxes courting3 17 jan 2019

Hopefully this pair will produces cubs. We’ll find out in the spring.

13 thoughts on “That Time of Year

    1. Thank you πŸ™‚ I’m back home in England now. These are red foxes Vulpes vulpes; the same species is also found in North America and Eurasia, although they look a bit different in other climates. They’re fascinating creatures and I never tire of watching them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh thanks. I was not sure if you were back in UK or staying on in Canada, Interesting that red foxes occur on different continents. I expect they look different in their winter coats than in the warmer months? How lovely to see foxes going about their lives unaware of being watched, or else relaxed enough to be unconcerned despite the dangers that abound.

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    2. Yes, indeed they do look quite different, and the contrast between summer foxes in southern Europe and winter foxes in the UK is especially marked. That is an interesting idea for a post, actually – I will dig up some photos illustrating that. Thanks! πŸ™‚

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