With apologies to Wordsworth, I do not know if clouds prefer a lonely existence, but I am certain that nature down below is more crowded than any city street. The trailcam has caught a lot of crossed paths in recent weeks.
Rights of Way
To this fox, a badger is a jugganaut to be treated politely. To this badger, the fox appears an irrelevance to its evening. Badgers weigh more, socialise more, and have formidable jaws – they are in charge. Although it’s not uncommon to see foxes and badgers sharing a garden, glimpsing their interactions out in the countryside is quite difficult, and I think that this the first time that I’ve caught both species in a woodland cam video.
The lunch guest
Foxes are enthusiastic rat hunters, something which occasionally gives me pause because there is no way to know if the rat is loaded with non-lethal traces of rodenticide. DDT once taught us that toxins can accumulate in carnivores, and yet we still sprinkle many unpleasant substances on the wild by accident or ill will. There is no logic to any of this: we’ve banned bee-killing pesticides from agriculture and yet allow the same chemicals to get into rivers through dog spot-on flea treatments, and we complain about rats while unnecessarily putting their predator at risk. A study from Norway found that over half of foxes tested positive for traces of rat poison, with unknown consequences. In short, poisons should be left on the shelf.
On a better note, deer rest in quiet if not in peace – winter brings redwings to their world, scurrying about the woodland floor and tossing leaves about in frenzy. These small thrushes with their brilliant white eyestripe and crimson splash on their underwings fly to southern Britain each winter, delighting anyone with a berry bush before vanishing again into the cold wild north.
Winter brings sleep to dormice, hedgehogs and bats, but it is the peak of the social calendar for foxes. Vixens are only receptive for a very short window and are trailed by hopeful dog foxes. Telling male and female foxes apart takes some practice, but as shown here, vixens typically have a narrower head and a slightly ligher build.
Into the Sunset
Deer are not yet courting – roe do not rut until early summer. The buck, still in velvet, rubs his antlers on fallen brash.