Sunday, 4 June 2017

Close Encounters of the Fox Kind

A trip out in the hope to see and photograph Foxes proved perfect early summer conditions, little wind and not too hot with of sunshine though the latter proved to be as much of a hinder from a photographic point of view.

The best of the summer weather so far this year I’ve only been a spectator to, looking at it through a distant window at work so I was determined to make the most of the opportunity this Saturday with a forecast of sunny spells all day.  Although I arrived on location before 7:00 am, the sun was already quite high up and so the light was very strong and bright.  From a photography view, on the one hand it gives you plenty of scope to reduce the ISO and open up the lens while still keeping a fast shutter speed but the harshness made for some very contrasting  images especially when shooting against the sun, still, I wasn’t complaining.

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The birds were out singing in force from the tree tops and Rabbits out in the open meadow parts, seemed very relaxed and unbothered making me think there weren’t any Foxes about.  After nearly an hour later, Magpies, always a good indicator of the presence of predators, started making a noise and then I caught the briefest glimpse of a Fox in the distance which soon disappeared under cover though not out of sight of the Magpies that followed it continuing to mob it before either getting bored or loosing sight of it.

With all this commotion going on, the Rabbits in front of me were clearly a bit agitated, looking around and a couple going for cover but soon everything returned to peace.

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Another hour passed when the Magpies started up again, this time to my right, so I moved from my hidden position to investigate though could see nothing.  Returning, I saw a Fox out in the open just were earlier I had my lens pointed at.  Surprisingly it didn’t see me so I was able to get back under my cover and take a shot.  I normally use my camera on ‘silent’ mode when shooting Foxes or Deer which they traditionally ignore or don’t hear.  Surprisingly, despite the distance, this one not only heard it but was quite nervous by the faint click.

Fox cub

Fox cub

Staring right at me, it was probably unsure what to make of me, half under cover and the other under netting which I carry around me for such occasions.  Another release of the shutter and that was it, the Fox ran back the way it came.  It was clear this was a young Fox, which from previous experience makes them less weary and curious.  Not this one.

Fox cub running

Fifteen minutes later it returned, only closer this time and again started to cross over in front of me and again I took a photo and again, after a good look in my direction decided it didn’t like what it saw and went back again.  Another ten minutes later, once again it returned.  Clearly it wanted to get across to the other side so this time I settled to just watch it and leave it in peace.  Surprisingly it went right past two Rabbits which seemed completely indifferent to it’s presence.  I wondered if, because it was just a youngster, they thought it wasn’t a threat.

Fox cub

Nearly two hours later, I got up and leaving my camera set up, I stretched my legs.  When I returned I saw to my right a Fox nearby out in the open about five metres away. Unfortunately, I too was in the open except for my lower half hidden in the undergrowth.  This Fox started walking toward me and I was sure it was about to spot me – how could it miss not seeing me!  It stopped momentarily sniffing the air but with no wind it probably couldn’t detect me by scent.  I ducked down under cover and waited and still it came on until one point I could have reached out and touched it by which time, it new something wasn’t right and darted back.

You would have thought that would be it, but a few minutes later this young Fox, probably a sibling of the other one earlier in the morning and certainly equally determined, came back and proceeded along the same path as before only this time I had my camera pointed in the right direction and was ready.  With this Fox, the noise of a single press of the shutter had the effect I would normally expect – stopping and a curious look but continue on its way – which it did.  Eventually it got so close I couldn’t focus on it and, as before, so close it eventually detected me with the same result of darting back.

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Much like the Fox earlier, I guessed it probably would have made a third attempt at its journey, and as before I decided not to interfere moving to another position from the route.  This was the position where I started the day and soon another Fox appeared, possibly the same adult and probably one of the parents of the two young ones I had been seeing all morning.  This one saw the grazing Rabbits out in the open and made a half hearted stalk attempt on one of them which clearly saw it and hopped away not too concerned.

Fox stalking

With midday approaching and the absence of any further sightings, I decided to call it a day.  What could be better than spending a relaxing, summers morning in the warm sunshine watching Foxes.