This year when I had no nesting birds or beech martens the clear highlight of my nature watching were the fox visits to the garden. This has been a first for me, I’d never previously seen or recorded a fox in the garden although we live in the type of suburban environment in which they shouldn’t be so rare.
The first fox recorded was on the 18th April and then the visits were pretty regular throughout the year until the last visit on the 24th October, since when nothing has been seen. A total of 131 visits for 2022.
Early on I started recording the time of each visit and from this simple data I’ve made the chart below.
The vast majority of the fox visits were in the early hours of the morning, the quietest period of the night. I only had a very few before midnight and I never actually saw the fox with my own eyes, only ever recorded on the garden trail cameras.
I also noted during the year how easily startled the fox was, particularly terrified of the cats, who actually seem quite unperturbed by the presence of the fox.
This all gives me the impression that the fox visitors I had were extremely timid. I know in London my Mum has regular fox visits to her garden and there the foxes seem much bolder. They are often seen lounging in her garden during daylight, sometimes in groups. They basically wave whilst see takes a picture on the iPhone. My experience has been very different with much more secretive and timid animals.
I know that there is a big difference in the behaviour of rural and urban foxes, with rural foxes being extremely wary, whilst urban foxes are much more at ease in proximity with human activity. It seems that the behaviour of the fox or foxes I’ve been watching has been much closer to the rural rather than the urban type. So maybe I’ve been watching summer visitors into my suburban environment and now they have returned back to ‘the wild woods’ for the winter. It will of course be interesting to see if the visits restart next year.
Another important question I never really managed to answer was whether I was watching one fox or several different foxes. I understand that the best way to identify foxes is by facial features but I honestly found this too hard. I tried studying the pictures, when I had good, close up facial shots but I could never really make out distinguishing features.
The only clear evidence that there was more than one fox was the fight I managed to capture between two individuals.
If I get another chance next year I would hope to see if I can improve my skills in fox ID and perhaps have a more definite answer to the number of different fox visitors.
But mainly I just hope that they come back as they have been a completely wonderful addition to the garden wildlife.