Foxy Encounters

06/09/14

Last Friday I decided to get up at 4.15am to look for foxes like the summer before, only having luck once, on one of my outings last summer I wasn’t expecting much. Though I have borrowed a Canon 5D Mark 2 ii for the summer I hoped to achieve this at some point during the summer to get better pictures.

Already at 4.30am in the morning it was fairy sunny and warm, I stepped outside the door and heard a cuckoo calling in the forest quite close to my house. I thought mm maybe I should go to the forest instead…but I continued with my plan.

Walking silently and keeping my eyes and ears peeled I walked to the park, walking by the pond the geese and goslings swam over squeaking away. I continued and not long after a fox darted out in front of me, watched me hiding behind a pile of twigs, on hearing the camera shutter off ran the fox into the woods.

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I walked the same walk that I walked last year, I didn’t find any further along than the entrance to the park but I did see the two herons (which I haven’t seen for ages). As it was gone 5am and rather light, people heading for the train, dog walkers etc I turned around to head home. So there I am bim-bling along the path at the bottom of this road this fox is running towards me, I gasp and just stare wondering whether to fumble around with my camera or not, the fox soon saw me and diverted its path very quickly. I near a bench and wonder if I should hide somewhere and wait for the return of the fox. Whilst stood there contemplating what I should do, I heard a rustle looking up just across the stream is a fox leaping in the air trying to catch a blackbird! I managed to get a few snaps before the fox disappeared.267271

I walked home grinning away.

11/06/14

Again I awoke early this morning for the foxes, a bit groggy I went back bet thinking maybe I should just go back bed, suddenly wide awake I was like what am I thinking…

Grey Heron

Once outside on I walked to the park, same route as Friday came across the first fox of the morning same place as last time (Déjà vu?) but this time it had saw me before I saw him, so off he shot in a flash.  Saw the heron again by the second pond and heard the woodpeckers but no foxes here. Heading back the goslings and geese are going on their morning stroll, I passed them and saw a orange flash of a fox just across the road, It stopped looked at me, I thought that’d make a nice picture out the open…vrrromm car came =fox grunted and ran.IMG_1011IMG_1018

So there I am walking along this path again, being very quite camera is at the ready. I hear rustling from my right; I peer through a gap in the bushes and to my delight 4 fox cubs rolling around on the floor and play fighting with the parents watching over them, one on either side. I watched intruding on this moment with a big beam on my face. They soon moved on and so did I, to the clearing bit though only parent comes out into the open for a short spell.

The fox picture below made me chuckle, I didn’t realised I was being watched and when I noticed (the second time I walked past) I laughed to myself because of the fox peering out checking if I’d left. I was also being watched by a jay.

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This evening I headed into the forest for a walk hoping to come across a deer, fox or an owl. I didn’t have much luck here (especially getting attacked by flies). I decided to do a loop back home and walk through the park just in case there was a fox. Well let’s just say I wasn’t disappointed! At the clearing there they were, the fox family. I crouched down hiding behind the nettles and just watched the cubs rolling around again; a fox went to jump the creek but saw me and decided against it. The cubs went back into the thicket but one fox remained just lying on the floor, I photographed this one for awhile, he/she didn’t seem fazed with me at all. Soon fed up of the limelight the fox strolled off.IMG_1037IMG_1056

I walked up the path a bit and saw a fox playing on a chopped down tree trunk. I hid here for awhile until I couple walking their dog spotted the fox, well the dog saw the fox first and started yipping at it, and the fox shot off like lighting back into the undergrowth.IMG_1054IMG_1052

I must say during this evening encounter I got bit the hell out of by the flies, I have 15-20 bites all painful and itchy but I must say it’s worth it! And the funny looks I get off of people that see me crouching on the floor.

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Not all the pictures are amazing but hopefully will improve over the summer; I also took some short (shaky) film today which can be seen here: http://youtu.be/iJAQSwbmu_g

Loddon Nature Reserve

A few weeks ago I visited Loddon Nature Reserve which is located in Twyford along the river Loddon hence the name I guess . This reserve is part of the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife trust(BBOT). The habitats of Loddon Nature Reserve are wetland and woodland. The reserve was quite hard to find and it took us awhile to see a nature reserve sign and had to drive up and down the road for a while to find a place to park. The species we saw on this visit was the common tern, coot, great crested grebe, grey heron, mallard, mute swan, Canada and greylag goose. Species that can be seen at the reserve according to the BBOT are: purple-loosestrife, yellow iris, blackcap, common tern, coot, cormorant, gadwall, great crested grebe, grey heron, moorhen, oystercatcher, pochard, shoveler, teal, tufted duck, whitethroat, wigeon and willow warbler.
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)
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The common tern is medium sized and a silvery-grey with a large black cap and short red legs and a orange beak with a black tip. They are quite noisy and breed on sandy coasts, in dunes and islands but also breed inland on gravelly banks of lakes and rivers. To catch their food they plunge-dive into the water. They are a summer visitor and are threatened by habitat loss, pollution and disturbance.
Statistics:
• Length – 31-35cm
• Wingspan – 88cm
• Weight – 130g
• Average Lifespan – 12 years

Conservation status:
In the UK they are classified as an Amber list species (under the Birds of Conservation Concern Review)

http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/species/common-tern

Coot (Fulica atra)

Coots are a wading bird and are often seen in park lakes, ponds, reservoirs, gravel pits and rivers they are a widespread species. Coots are black with a bright white bill. They spend most of their time in the water and dive to catch for food. They breed in the spring and lay around 6-9 eggs. Even though they are common their wetland homes are at risk from development, drainage and pollution.

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Statistics:

  • Length – 36-40cm
  • Wingspan – 75cm
  • Weight – 800g
  • Average Lifespan – 5 years

Conservation status: Common

http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/species/coot

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)

Great Crested Grebes are waterbirds, which feed on small fish and aquatic invertebrates, they dive to feed and also to escape. Because their feet are places so far bar on their bodies they are clumsy on land. The great crested grebe as white cheeks, dark cap, orange ruff and a white neck and dark body. They can be found on lakes and reservoirs. The grebe’s elegant feathers made them nearly hunted to extinction in the UK.

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Statistics:

  • Length – 45-51cm
  • Weight – up to 1.1kg

Conservation status: Common

http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/species/great-crested-grebe

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

The grey heron is one of Britain’s most familiar birds and is often seen standing very still in shallow waters waiting patiently hunting fish. Their diet mainly consists of fish but they also eat small birds & mammals and amphibians. Grey herons have long legs, long yellow beak with grey, black and white feathering with a black eye stripe. They are seen around any kind of water such as garden ponds, lakes and rivers.

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Statistics:

  • Length – 60cm
  • Wingspan – 92cm
  • Weight – 450g
  • Average Lifespan – 5 years

Conservation status: Common

http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/species/grey-heron

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Common at the local pond or park are often quite tame due to being fed by the public regularly. Males have green head, yellow bill and a maroon-brown chest and grey on the body. Females are mainly brown with a orange bill and quite speckled in comparison. They breed all over the UK in summer and winter.

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Statistics:

  • Length – 55-62cm
  • Wingspan – 90cm
  • Weight – 970-1200g
  • Average lifespan – 3 years

Conservation status:

Under the birds of conservation concern review Mallards are classified as an Amber list species in the UK, this is because non-breeding populations are declining. This displays that the survival of some common waterbirds are under threat because of the loss and degradation of wetland habitats.

http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/species/mallard

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

A large, white waterbird. The mute swan has a long, curved neck with orange bill with black at the base. They feed on plants and normally mate for life, often seen on ponds and lakes all over the country.

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Statistics:

  • Length – 1.5m
  • Wingspan – 2.2m
  • Weight – 9-11.5kg
  • Average lifespan – 10 years.

Conservation Status: Common

http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/species/mute-swan

Canada goose (Branta canadensis)

Common across most of the country expect North Scotland. The Canada goose is not native to this country and was introduced 300 years ago from North America. They spread across the UK becoming pests in some areas after the 2nd world war. They are a large goose with black head and neck and white cheek patches.

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Statistics:

  • Length – 55-100cm
  • Wingspan – 1.6m
  • Weight – 4.6kg
  • Average lifespan – 6 years

Conservation status: Introduced species.

http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/species/canada-goose

Greylag goose (Anser anser)

The greylag is the ancestor of most domestic geese, they are the largest and bulkiest wild geese native to the UK. They have short  orange bills, are pale grey with pink legs and like to graze where cattle or sheep are grazing. They are easily seen in lowland areas of the UK all year. Wild ones are found mostly north of the Solway.

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Statistics:

  • Length – 76-89cm
  • Wingspan -1.6m
  • Weight – 3-4kg
  • Average lifespan -8 years

Conservation status:

Under the birds of conservation concern review they are classified as an Amber list species in the UK.

http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/species/greylag-goose

An early rise: The Sequel

Yesterday I decided to get up early again and search for the foxes. However I was out the house 15 minutes later than last week and didn’t see a fox at all down the park. I wandered around for quite a while and didn’t have much look. I did however see the two local herons on the same pond. As I started heading back I was thinking to myself ‘I haven’t even heard the woodpecker this morning’ and a few seconds later I heard the woodpecker. Happy I continued to walk back taking the path that lead to the local woods, as I was wondering if the deer would make an appearance this morning instead.

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Once I arrived in the woods I took my usual path, leading to wear I have seen the deer graze before. Whilst walking I drifted off into a world of my own I was thinking again ‘Mmm wonder if there is foxes and badgers in here two’ and as if to answer part of my question I saw a fox run out of the bushes where I last saw the deer (this would also answer my other question of the dead deer the dog keeps finding parts off to bury). Anyway once I reached the bottom of the path there was a sign saying ‘Warning forestry operations in process’. ‘Great’ I thought to myself that’s probably scared the deer off. I didn’t find the deer, I did however spot a buzzard which is the first time I’ve saw one near me and often wondered why I’ve never saw one.  I also heard the cuckoo and saw a chair in a tree(it was tempting to climb up and sit in it but I decided against it).

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I carried on walking meeting friendly dog walkers and walkers along the way. I decided to take a different path back as I had a visual idea in my head at where it would come out. The path then split off into 3 different ways, I explored the first two which came to dead ends but head loads of strange birds sounds but couldn’t see any of them. I then went back and continued my walk. About 40 minutes later I arrived home covered in fly bites.

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P.S believe it not I got scared by cats hiding in the bushes twice! Those darn kitties.

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An early rise

This morning I awoke to the sound of the dawn chorus under full swing, I chucked on some clothes set my camera up and was out the door at 4.30am with a rather suspicious dog looking at me as if to say ‘Excuse me, where do you think you’re going at this time of the morning young lady’. The reason for my awaking at this time, was to find the local foxes. I’ve seen foxes over the years just at the bottom on my road, just managing to catch a glimpse of them run off into the darkness.

So I set off at a brisk walk down the little path at the bottom of the street and walked in the direction of the park, I took the path that led down to the pond. Stood and looked at the geese and ducks (I kicked myself for doing this), I heard a loud rustle behind me and as I spun round I caught set of a little red bushy tail scurrying out a bush. I thought to myself ‘Typical that may well be the only fox I see this morning and I was too busy looking at the flipping geese which I look at all the time’. I walked back up the hill which lead to the main path and looked into the wooded area and there the fox was rolling round in the leaves. After taking a few pictures I glanced down at my camera and when I looked back up the fox had disappeared. I carried on walking spotting a great spotted woodpecker along the way.

About 15 minutes later whilst taking a picture of a blackbird I heard another loud rustle. I walked over a little bridge and hid behind some bushes and poked my head round the corner and there was another fox. There was a few moments of eye contact a quick snap and she fled. I turned round at this point only to find another fox sitting watching me and the other fox. I moved to a curb and put my 1.4x extender on the 300mm lens and set off again. I came across some squirrels which in actual fact I thought they were a cat stuck up a tree, when I looked up I was surprised. At this point I was seeing quite a few people walking to the station and walking their dogs, so I turned back the way I came. I was surprised once more to find another fox, much bigger than the others and not as flighty. The fox sat and I froze and looked and took some pictures. The foxed got up and started walking towards me, I was slightly shocked and looked for my nearest escape route, though I didn’t have to fear, he soon ran off up a path that led to some houses.

I couldn’t quite believe my luck this morning, I was thinking I’d be lucky to see one but 4. Wow. Seeing them in morning light, up close and not in the dark has made me realise how beautiful they actually are.
Anyway here are some pictures I took this morning, there not amazing but hey as far as first fox pictures go I wouldn’t say they are terrible. They can only get better right ?

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