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  • Writer's pictureMike Curtis

Encounter with fox cubs

Updated: May 7

I've always wanted to see young fox cubs at their den. Two days ago, I finally located the den of our local vixen, Ruby, who's been nursing her cubs for about 5 weeks. The den is extremely well-located, surrounded by deep swaths of nettles, tangled vegetation and fallen trees, so it's challenging to approach without being heard. Clever old Ruby.

My first glimpse of the cubs was three of them playing at the den entrance, their heads visible above the nettles in the foreground. Not wishing to push my luck I left quickly with plans to monitor the den.

I returned the following morning to place a couple of trail cameras. On my approach I was cautious not to make a sound, every step was precisely placed and no twigs were snapped. After placing the camera traps I stood where it's possible to glimpse the den entrance. There was no movement and no sounds of cubs growling and wrestling, Suddenly, I became aware of movement in my peripheral vision and moving only my eyes saw a cub walking up to my feet followed by another. I held my breath, not daring to move my head so much as a millimetre, while the cub moved back a metre where it stopped and stared at my shoes. I slowly brought my camera to focus on the cub and pressed the video record. The two cubs spent a few seconds assessing the strange new creature before them before looking up at the camera lens and realising they were being watched at which point their curiosity was replaced with caution and they ran back toward the den but did not disappear. I slowly backed off and took cover behind some nettles. They could still see me and remained very curious, with one cub, in particular, approaching a little closer. I managed to take two photographs before they returned to the den, at which point I decided to quit while I was very much ahead.

The image is uncropped taken on a Canon R7 at 186 mm focal length. That little guy was close

I could not be happier with the image above, although of course, I'd dearly love to have the opportunity to take a lot more. Unfortunately, there is no suitable place where the cubs can be viewed through a long lens, so I'll have to wait a week or two until they start venturing out into the open. I'll restrict my visits to switching out the batteries and memory cards on the trail cameras and hope Ruby, Black Socks and Pintail are not too perturbed.

Here's the short video of the encounter

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