WK&Bushnell

James' Shed Fox Family

I have been following my fox family for two years now. I have been captivated and priivileged to have Fern (my vixen) bring her cubs to my feeding station in early summer. Despite considerable searching, I have been unable to locate their den, despite me being pretty sure it is close by. There is something very special about a wild animal sharing a small part of their life with you...

In March I was contacted by James, who asked for some advice regarding cameras as he thought he had a fox possibly using the underneath of his shed as a den. Last week he came back to me with some quite magical footage on his Bushnell HD of the vixen and her cubs. I have been talking to James ever since and I have helped him with some more cameras as he will be setting up a wired camera in the area very soon.

The footage James has captured is the best fox footage I have seen so far... so wonderful that I wanted to showcase it on my website and share the story of this family. I am sure you will agree, the clips captured, along with a wired camera in the area, will paint a captivating story of how foxes can be living their own, private lives so close to ours. The Bushnell HD is providing stunning footage without disturbing this wonderful family!

May4th_-3682
April 21st _ 3

James' Fox Playlist

Every time James uploads a new clip, it will appear here. The other clips can be viewed by clicking in the arrowed box at the base of the feed.

See all the clips here....

James' Story......

We moved here over 20 years ago. It's a typical suburban house in a street full of houses all the same, near Esher in Surrey - proper commuter belt. There are semi-urban foxes all around - I know of at least two other dens within a half-mile radius, and I'm sure there are many more. Driving home late at night you can guarantee to see half a dozen foxes crossing the road - mostly they're quite careful of traffic and look both ways before crossing, perhaps that's natural selection at work but it's rare to see one killed on the roads here.

It's a long, narrow garden (about 80m long), and the shed at the end was there when we moved in; it's very big for a shed, we were told it used to be a scout hut and it's certainly big enough. It's full of the usual junk - rusty barbecues, garden tools, wheelbarrow, mower, that sort of thing.

Ever since we moved here there have been foxes under the shed on and off, and the end of the garden has always been a popular spot with them. We have three black labs, however, and of course they don't like intruders so they chase off any foxes, squirrels or cats they find in the garden. A few years ago I put up a fence beside the shed, so the dogs can't get to the end of the garden any more - since then it's become fox heaven.

I've tried various remote cameras in the past, and got some quite nice (SD) footage of foxes taking eggs etc that I'd put out to bait them in - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZDZWoRvG6s

This vixen moved in under the shed during the cold weather last winter - I noticed signs of digging, and her footprints in the disturbed soil - and I captured some night-time footage of her using a Dogcamsport bullet camera wired to my mac with a long a/v cable. Then I got talking to Bushnell and ended up trying one of their cameras. The vixen became very relaxed about the camera, and would happily take food from around it - I even placed some tasty treats on top of the camera, which she took - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=li7LEXGJi7I

Over the last few weeks it's become clear that cubs were likely - the vixen has spent more and more time below ground, and there have been visits from dog foxes; the smell has been terrible! I moved the trailcam in near the entrance to keep an eye on things, using a handily-placed tree to provide support and help it blend into the surroundings.

Vixen1
P1010305

I crossed all my fingers and toes, but I couldn't believe my luck when I checked the SD card earlier this week and saw we had cubs. Their very first appearance above ground was on Monday 26th March, at 04:14. In under a week they've become much more active, and I now know that we have 5, as they have all been out at once.

Cubs1

The highlight for me so far was seeing the vixen catch the rat - it was remarkable luck that the whole action took place in front of the camera. The rat does a good job of fighting back, and it looks like it has its teeth in the vixen's lips for a while, but she kills it in the end. Rather than eat it, she has taken it underground for the cubs to play with and gnaw at...

This lovely clip shows a cub carrying the rat proudly from the den, then the vixen fetches it back by the scruff of the neck before retrieving the rat.

Cub&Rat

It's fascinating to watch all this behaviour played out naturally and undisturbed - and quite incredible to think it's happening just at the bottom of the garden. I can't help reflecting on the contrast between our comfortable, artificial lives, and the foxes living completely wild just metres away, behaving exactly as they have done for 1000s of years - except I suppose they would have been under a dead tree not a human's shed!

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