Urban foxes

by Richard Jones

Looking out of the top bedroom window, I was admiring the reds, yellows and golds of the leaves when I spotted a ruddy brown bundle next to the ivy thicket.

Urban fox on a shed roof, photograph by Richard JonesThere was magic going on in the garden today. About 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the sun had started to slope down and was giving everything that rich warm autumn glow. Looking out of the top bedroom window, I was admiring the reds, yellows and golds of the leaves when I spotted a ruddy brown bundle next to the ivy thicket. There was a fox asleep on the roof of the shed.

It turned its head towards me as I cracked open the casement to take a picture. Not a very good one, I have to admit, I need a telephoto lens. Having decided there was nothing to worry about, it stuck its nose back under its tail and continued to bask in the fading day.

Half an hour later it had gone. Maybe it sensed the approaching rain. When I next looked out it was nowhere to be seen, but the sudden short shower had thrown up a double rainbow.

I well remember my first urban fox. We'd just moved to a little house in Nunhead and there was one trotting up and down the back wall, in broad daylight, examining the gardens, looking for a nice place to rest. Since then I've discovered that they are commonplace, but I still get a thrill to see a (more or less) wild animal at such close quarters.

Rainbow over East Dulwich, photography by Richard JonesAnd I can still remember the dawn of understanding (physics pre-GCE back in the 1970s was it?) when I discovered how a rainbow is made by the variable refraction of different wavelengths in the sun's light passing through and bouncing back from spherical raindrops.

I think I can honestly say that my delight in the natural world comes directly from my ability to find wonder in even the most commonplace phenomena. I still take fascination from something, even though I've seen it before, and understand how it's done. It's still magical.

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Gardeners' World Web User 10/11/2010 at 14:06

I could not agree more about eureka moments as I call them and you will go on collecting more and more all your life because you are observant and enquiring. I hazard a guess you were the kind of child, like I was, whose favourite word was "Why?" Your pictures are lovely.

Gardeners' World Web User 10/11/2010 at 18:26

what a lovely little picture of a fox,i have foxes that come into my garden and i enjoy feeding and watching them as they play....the other day i wish i had my camera to hand as the 2 foxes were playing and chasing each other,one lost its footing as it jumped over the pond but he fell head first in,it was very funny as the other fox went running up to the pond [as if to give a hand/or should i say paw]...very cute [arhhhh].

Gardeners' World Web User 11/11/2010 at 09:35

Yes lovely to watch at first as were our 4 cubs and exhausted vixen, but they became the enemy in vegetable garden, playing in the beds and breaking onion and potato plants. Neither the electronic device nor spraying dented their enthusiasm for our garden.

Gardeners' World Web User 11/11/2010 at 22:51

The first time I ever saw a fox I must have been about seven years of age, my sister came running in the house to say that Rusty (a neighbours corgi) was asleep down the bottom of the garden. My mum went down and checked and called the RSPCA to take away a body of a dead fox. He said (and please remember, this is 1961) that it was very rare to see foxes in gardens, dead or alive.

Gardeners' World Web User 12/11/2010 at 15:17

Just like Annar's comment.A delight to see the cubs, 4 of them playing when small, but they are now fully grown and a real nuisance around our gardens.Our group of 22 houses support 5 or 6 foxes.We are in the town centre. The foxes raid the bins of the many restaurants and drop the wrappings. They dig up newly planted flowers, make an earth amongst treasured plants, howl like banshees in the night.The sonic device has no effect. The worst effect is the mess they make on paths ,the garden and the pavement which inevitably gets trodden indoors.They must be a health risk! They are afraid of my cat though.

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