Footsteps in the Wood

Fox, sporting the sleek fur of summer.

And defying a myth with every footstep. Long painted as a night-loving creature, foxes take a relaxed approach to the idea of ‘nocturnal’ – which is to say, they will be active whenever they feel like it. I’ve seen more foxes in sunshine than I can possibly recall, from the urban fringe to quieter corners in the countryside, the deserts of India to the boggy forests of the Canadian east.

In some seasons, being up in daylight is a real advantage. Field voles, which foxes are very fond of hunting, are more active during the day in frosty weather, and their predators follow suit. Other food sources like berries are of course available around the clock. There are subtle social pressures too; I’ve known several low-ranking foxes who visited gardens in daytime to avoid domineering peers. However, a sunny greenhouse roof is a quite sufficient excuse for most foxes to be visible in daylight.

And on an artistic note, day and night give different shows on the trailcam.

Badgers are a different matter. They embody dusk; only rarely I have seen them leave the vicinity of their sett before it, and then in circumstances far removed from the easy mood of a diurnal fox – looking for food in extreme drought, or on the run from other badgers. I’m pleased that the badgers in the wood have been coping with the extreme weather, and as you can see, no leaf cover will stop them extracting their invertebrate prey.

As for the roe deer: in quiet corners, they too can be found at any hour. Admittedly not usually this close.

11 thoughts on “Footsteps in the Wood

  1. Some fascinating snippets of footage here. Regarding daytime foxes, in the early 1990s I worked close to the centre of Leicester, at a grotty tower block within a few metres of the crazily busy inner ring road. One day I was returning to the office late in the morning after a meeting off-site, and was amazed to see a fox trotting past me on the opposite side of the road, alert but without a care in the world. More amazingly, I heard it before I saw it, the clickety-clickety-click of its claws on the pavement. Thirty years later, that memory is still crystal clear. What a beautiful animal, seemingly totally at peace despite the harsh urban setting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How lovely, and sorry for the slow reply! There is something poignant and beautiful about seeing a fox at peace in a city. One day when I was working in South London, someone spotted a vixen and her cubs exploring the street below the office. Desks were abandoned in the rush for the windows, work stress broken by so many sudden smiles.


    1. I wish I’d had more trailcams (or at least, ones that didn’t break down) when I was staying on the island. They give an entirely new perspective on what a garden / backyard is!


  2. I love these videos that you post! The foxes are gorgeous – those tails are so beautiful. I’ve seen many daylight foxes. When I lived in Medicine Hat there was a fox den near my house (it seemed to be inter-generational; do foxes do that?) I could hear them calling to each other during the day (at night too if the windows were open) and often saw them too. They were living in an area that was off-limits to development.

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    1. That must have been good to watch. I came across a fox den in the Sask prairies once, and my camera was very busy thereafter. Are you referring to the den being used in successive years or by a large family? Young females do sometimes stay with their parents and help to raise next year’s litter, although oddly there’s no much evidence that they actually make a signficant difference.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I meant dens that are used in successive years. This same spot seemed to be occupied year after year (it was very well hidden in a slope with lots of bushes around it; I never went close because I didn’t want to disturb them).

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