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Meet "Fiona."

Discussion in 'Wildlife Corner' started by Doghouse Riley, Jan 31, 2018.

  1. Doghouse Riley

    Doghouse Riley Head Gardener

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    For decades, foxes visited our garden occasionally, but last February, one would stand on our patio looking at us through our French windows for a minute or two. Then hop back over the fence. It did this for several days. We never reacted as we've always liked them. They never did any damage to our garden.

    It then seemed to disappear, until in late March we saw this. I guess she'd been sussing us out in February, to see if we would be a threat to her expected litter.

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    "Dinner for six."

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    She'd made a den under our Japanese Tea-House. I built it on low brick piers, so it has "skirts" on three sides, which don't quite reach the ground but at the back, I left it open for air circulation. So there was a gap of about 9" between the flags on which it sits and the base of the building.

    She had a litter of six cubs, all healthy and she was a very good mother. We didn't go in the garden when they were out, but I did supplement their diet with a can of cat food every night. They grew at an unbelievably rapid rate. All the photos and videos I took through the glass of the French Windows.

    P1000470.JPG

    All six cubs did well and she eventually took them all away, at the end of May, two at a time over three nights, over our six ft fences by way of the top of one of my Japanese lanterns. They'd flattened a few bluebells, lily of the valley and cyclamen and dug a few holes in the lawn, but it all recovered.

    I gave them an upturned box for them to practice their "pouncing."


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    I used to put out some dried mealworms for them and the cubs would come right up to the French windows

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    They were out most nights playing, setting off the PIR on the back of the shed. The light didn't bother them.
    We miss them a bit , but I've made sure we won't be getting them again this year.


     

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      Last edited: Jan 31, 2018
    • Victoria

      Victoria Lover of Exotic Flora

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      Welcome back @Doghouse Riley nice to see you again. I always loved your Japanese garden, so beautiful.

      I love your jukeboxes but even more so your beautiful fox family. How honoured you must feel for them to trust you. How wonderful. :love30:
       
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      • Victoria

        Victoria Lover of Exotic Flora

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        Duplicate posting. :hate-shocked::rolleyespink::redface:
         
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        • roders

          roders Total Gardener

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          What an awesome adventure ,you were so privileged to witness such joy.:wow:
           
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          • Zigs

            Zigs Ginger Admin Staff Member

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            Welcome back :sign0016:
             
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            • Doghouse Riley

              Doghouse Riley Head Gardener

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              Thanks for all the kind words.
              We learned quite a bit about foxes, by just observing them. They have to be taught to chase and pounce. Fiona must have scoured neighbours' gardens, looking for toys she could pinch, so that they had stuff to play with. So every now and then something new would appear, a small soft toy, a ball, a "red devil" child's mascot.

              img 2.jpg

              Then this.



              img.jpg

              My wife was distressed because one evening she thought a cub had a blackbird in its mouth and the others were chasing it round and round the garden.
              We always have blackbirds in our garden, "they're heard on all my garden videos."
              I could only say "That's nature."


              Thankfully, however, it wasn't as I found this in the middle of the lawn the following day.

              1.jpg




              Once the cubs did had left as is the usual practice they did not not return, but they did play havoc a bit in other neighbours' gardens for a while.

              However, in October Fiona came back, looking nowhere near as careworn as she had when she was "mothering."
              She looked through the French windows and hung around long enough for me to go upstairs and fetch my camera. Then she made her way along the rockery to the lantern and jumped back over the fence.

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              She may have been sussing out her old den, but I've put a sturdy wood and double mesh screen over the access and concreted the ground between the building and the back fence, so she can't dig under it.
               
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              • Doghouse Riley

                Doghouse Riley Head Gardener

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                We were woken up by a bit of "banging," at around 3.00am this morning. I looked out the window and saw Fiona trotting past the house opposite,(we've very bright street lights) I think she must have been having a look in someone's bin.

                If anyone wants to look any more photos. There's four pages I put on the Photobucket file.
                I can view them, so I hope anyone who is interested can too. I think the restrictions now are that you can't link them unless you pay them $99 a year.

                There's about 100 of them. In some Fiona has a very bad eye, looks as if she had been attacked by another fox or maybe a dog. But thankfully it got better. (I used Carmen Sternwood as a name on Photobucket, she's another "film noir" character from "The Big Sleep").

                Fiona by CarmenSternwood
                 
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                • Doghouse Riley

                  Doghouse Riley Head Gardener

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                  I meant to mention earlier, you can choose from a huge selection of music hosted by YouTube to replace the original sound on your video recording. I chose something upbeat, but I think there's over a thousand tracks of non-copyright music from which to choose.
                  The original sound would have been what my wife had on the telly next to me, probably Murdoch Mysteries, and "my heavy breathing," trying to keep the camera still!
                   
                • Doghouse Riley

                  Doghouse Riley Head Gardener

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                  For our regular readers, this thread is about "Fiona" who gave birth and successfully reared six fox cubs under our tea-house, last year.
                  I built this over thirty years ago. it's on brick piers on top of paving stones. It has a "skirt" of Victorian style skirting boards around the base which are two inches above the paths. There's no skirt at the back, so I could get a good passage of air under it. We had hoped that maybe a hedgehog might make a home under it. But they never did. All was fine until last year when Fiona decided to make a den under there. It was easy enough for her to get in. Our garden is very secure with fences all the way round. so it was ideal for her.

                  This is where she got in.

                  P1000541.JPG

                  When she and her family left home I concreted over this unseen area and made a sturdy frame covered in double thickness chicken wire to prevent any access and still allow good air circulation. Testimony to the durability of this building which was built from mostly reclaimed softwood.

                  P1000618.JPG

                  She and a couple of the cubs made separate appearances in late summer. But that was it.
                  Fiona also put in a couple of appearances again in January of this year, but we hadn't seen her since.
                  I'm not sure if foxes breed every year.

                  Anyway, this morning I went down to the tea-house, just to "turn over" my vinyl jukeboxes, (use is the best form of preventitive maintenance). I heard a scrabbling behind the building, looked round the side and saw Fiona scrambling over the six foot back fence. I'd seen her often enough to recognise her.

                  I was faced with this. She'd been trying to get into her old den by scraping away the earth in the tiny gap between the path and the skirt. Her next trick would have been to chew away at the base of the skirt to improve access.

                  P1010994.JPG


                  So I've effected a temporary measure to prevent her getting in. It's not really visible as there's only a tiny gap between the building and the side fence.
                  I found some Dexion and a length of tanalised 3 X 2 in the garage and screwed it to the base of the skirt still leaving a bit of a gap for any water to run off the path. i'll get some sand and cement at some time, remove the Dexion and wood and spread a thick screed of it level with the path to make it more secure.

                  P1010995.JPG


                  We've done our bit for nature. We don't need more foxes.
                   
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                  • Sheal

                    Sheal Total Gardener

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                    If she wasn't doing any damage I'd have left her to it but we all have different thoughts about this. :)
                     
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                    • Doghouse Riley

                      Doghouse Riley Head Gardener

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                      Of course we've got different thoughts.

                      We've had foxes in and out of the garden most years, they don't cause much damage when they are just looking for food. They're in and out again quite quickly.

                      We didn't want the foxes taking up residence in the first place, but as I told our neighbour immediately behind us, who after seing the fox coming backwards over the fence, came round to complain. She was very concerned as she had two small children who frequently played in the garden. "What do you want me to do, shoot them?"

                      She didn't understand that foxes normally keep well clear of people and small kids.
                      They'd dive under the tea-house if we ever opened the French windows when they were out.

                      My view was that as we'd got them, we had to make the best of it. A duty of care if you like. We made sure the cubs were protected, by never leaving the door in the fence from the drive to the garden open and making sure there was always some fresh water and a can of cat food out for them each night. I reasoned she'd be hard pushed to keep all six well fed.

                      They did flatten pretty much everything in the bed at the bottom of the garden with their playing, dug a few holes in the lawn and there were always muddy paw prints all over the tea-house varandah floor and bottoms of he glazed doors.

                      Apart from that it was an entertaining experience, but not one we care to repeat.
                       
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                      • Mike Allen

                        Mike Allen Gardener

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                        Similar thoughts to Sheal.

                        Agreed, they can make a bit of a mess with the plants at times.
                         
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                        • Sheal

                          Sheal Total Gardener

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                          I understand where you're coming from Doghouse Riley, and perhaps because you looked after them so well Fiona decided to return. :)
                           
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                          • Mike Allen

                            Mike Allen Gardener

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                            It's so nice to learn about DHR's experience with foxes. And if it's acceptible I'd like to say. Thank you on behalf of the Fiona family.

                            Val and I were so pleased when we saw our first foxy visitors to the garden. Perhaps to other animal lovers, and also to plant and tree lovers. How often may we have said. If only we could understand what you are saying.

                            Sadly. Our British wildlife is so often wilfully destroyed, due to ignorance and old wives tales. Foxes in particular, have become a familiar sight in our towns and cities. WHY? Their natural habitat is rapidly being destroyed. Considering the countryside. Foxy is cruielly hunted hunted down for sport. OK in the search for food, foxy will take advantage of the poorly maintaned hen house. So from countryside to townlife. Here our very attractive creature has gained favour and dislike. Favour because. Honestly, how much, what of our wildlfe do we see. Not perhaps "wildlife" When our daughters were kids, we'd often take them and their friends for a day out. Living close to the A20 we would head for Kent. Perhaps heading for Margate or thereabouts. Green fields, trees etc plus animals. Some youngster would pipe up and ask. Aunti Val, what are those? They are sheep, or cows. Even way back then. It was hard to believe, these kids had never seen an animal except for Tibbs, the cat or Spot the dog, oh yes. The milkman's horse and the bakers horse. Wild animals.....NO.

                            Later as a London cop. I was often close to London Zoo. I did my bit at relaing to the public. Kids would exit the zoo. Try to engage in conversation. Had a good time? Be glad to get home mate. Mister, some kid would shout out. I saw all these animals.

                            The relationship between man and beast has been difficult. Even now. Returning to the urban fox. Lets be honest. You have been driven from your home. What would YOU do?

                            For a hungry animal, todays city streets are a mecca. One fox says to another. Hey. these humans are so wasteful. They drop food and litter everywhere.

                            A survey study was carried out by an Oxford University. They found out that foxes are very territorial animals. And that a sort of code of conduct is very much part of their lives. Having studied the movements of foxes in towns. It became evident that. Due to whatever. Should a section, area suddenly lose a fox, for whatever reason. Then a fox from the nearest area would move over and take his/her place. From the study. I became known that this, " srepping into replace, was the norm"
                            Lifespan. Sadly for whatever reason. Most of our wildlife has a very short lifespan. Take care of it. Share it and enjoy and appreciate it.

                            There is room on this planet for all of us.
                             
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                            • KFF

                              KFF Total Gardener

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                              I'm sorry Doghouse Riley but I think you behaved despicably. You encouraged them to stay with catfood, mealworms, water and whatever and then turned them away. To me it's akin to giving someone something and then taking it away saying " you can't have it " . You should have turned them away at the very beginning if you didn't want them there.
                               
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