Nomads Amongst Us

If we cannot go out into the world, then the world can come to us. Everything wild, travels, from foxes to flowers.

Remember  ‘Spectacles’? He arrived alongside another adolescent male some years ago, but while One-Eye – his probable brother – remained a homebird for lifetime, Spectacles was a nomad. He loitered in the garden, quarrelled with the resident foxes, and took to the road, returning and disappearing apparently at random. Where he went, I do not know; but foxes can easily stray dozens of miles. It’s not unlikely that he voyaged to Kent or even Sussex.

Fox spectacles3 160317

There are a certain proportion of foxes who live like this. Territory is not an exact concept, although a family group will make some effort to evict or at least dominate trespassers. If you can imagine a map with multiple circles on it, Spectacles was the kind of fox who roamed loosely over those zones, knowing many but belonging to none.

I’ve known several other nomadic foxes. This young vixen, who was usually accompanied by a very dark dogfox, seemed perpetually baffled by the world even as she trotted haphazardly around in it.

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And of course, the famous Vixen from Across the Road – whose territory was half-destroyed by construction workers – spent several years crossing the line, despite the best efforts of the neighbouring foxes.

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As for Spectacles, he abandoned my village for good in 2017, after repeated squabbles with the tiny but fierce White Socks Vixen. Here’s one of their soundtracks! Like most fox confrontations, the noise is savage, but it was quite bloodless.

We have other wanderers, of course: redwings from Iceland over the winter, chiffchaffs from Africa in the summer. But on the woodland floor is a different kind of movement – where travel is not a matter for the individual, but something accomplished as a team over a hundred generations.

Wood anenome Apr 20

Most plants stay rooted for life, and wood anemones are no exception. These tiny white banner-bearers of spring are exceptionally slow to spread – a rate of six feet a century is the estimate. As we humans are currently learning for other reasons, tiny steps forward are no reason for any one individual to drop the ball.

And even while still, they travel. Anemones are known as the windflower, and how they bob in a woodland breeze.

Living in their own way, patient in the dappled sun.

14 thoughts on “Nomads Amongst Us

  1. Beautiful post, Adele. I’ve never heard the sound foxes make. It reminds me of the sound of raccoons fighting up in the fir trees at mating time. We don’t have foxes around here, but I’ve heard that they are a controversial presence over your way. No matter if people think they are a nuisance, they sure are a beautiful animal to look at.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s easy to get that impression from our newspapers, but having looked into this professionally, I can say with good confidence that foxes are well-loved by a good number of people and tolerated by the most of the rest. It’s only a minority who complain, and of course the papers lap that up. It’s sad that some city people have become so disconnected from nature that they have a quite irrational hatred for a small and relatively benign species. I’ve met people who share their land with jaguars and tigers with less fuss!

      They do make the most extraordinary noises though. I’ve never heard a raccoon but can imagine that’s pretty haunting as well!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I so agree with you about how the news media can distort things and how they leap onto the most sensational parts of any story.
        As for the raccoon noises, they sound more vicious than the foxes, but maybe that’s because they are. They usually just go about their business, and that, mostly at night, but if you ever corner one, watch out.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Such handsome creatures. We have a family around here, who we hear barking occasionally, but rarely see.
    Your lovely anemone reminds me I need to go see if mine are up!
    Happy Easter to you, a quiet one this year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a special affection for wood anemones. After a long dark winter, it’s magical to see these tiny white stars lighting up the woodland floor. I hope yours are awake too!

      Happy Easter 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely post. 🙂 I used to live near a coulee in southern Alberta, and saw and heard lots of foxes, including a couple of swift foxes whom I initially thought were pups. Those little ones are starting to find their way back after becoming seriously endangered.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, how lovely! I’ve always wanted to see a swift fox in the wild and hoped that I would while I was doing research in Grasslands NP in southern Sask, but it’s the one prairie mammal that’s still eluded me.

      Love the prairie landscapes too! Restless living skies.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The foxes are beautiful and the images makes me aware of how fragile existence is for so many of us. The anemones are beautiful too and I love how they vibrate and flutter in the breeze. Like the foxes they also blend a certain toughness with fragility and vulnerability.
    Keep safe in these times and I hope the Easter weekend is special in its quietness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Carol, thanks for your thoughtful words. The Vixen from Across the Road was a particularly poignant example of how a wild animal’s life can turn upside down almost overnight due to a decision by humanity, but her determination to survive was unbreakable. She features in my book about foxes because she taught me so much.

      Keep safe, and yes, I hope that this is a quiet Easter.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for these toughts on traveling, dear Adele, and greetings from Switzerland.

    I’ve seen quite a few of wood anemones here in these last days, always wondering about them and not knowing what they were.

    Normally I live in Munich and had the joy to translate your FOXES into German. The book has just been published and turned out beautifully, I think.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Beate, thank you for your greetings and I am so excited that the German edition has been published! I love the design and thank you so much for your work in translating it. Very best wishes. Adele


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