I've put a huge amount of effort into my fox project over the last few years through observation, providing regular bait and maintenance of vegetation in the hope of seeing foxes with their cubs. Each year I've tried to learn from previous failures. This year by luck I became entranced by the plight of an incredibly resilient vixen, Limpy, with a badly injured leg (There's a previous blog post about her). As a consequence of my interest in her well being I become aware of a great many foxes in the local area, their relationships and importantly when they had cubs. Since the beginning of May I've been seeing cubs with increasing regularity and quickly realised they belonged to White Eye (vixen) and Imposture (male). As both parents have increasingly become used to my presence and the sound of my camera shutter, the sightings and behaviour I've witnessed steadily increased. This week ranks with the best wildlife behaviour and sightings I've had anywhere and the world.
The images below were taken during the last few days, when I've seen the entire family together and made the discovery that there are in fact six cubs, rather than four, with two very shy cubs eventually turning up much to my surprise. The patience and sacrifice of the adults is remarkable. Imposture, the dad, regularly arrives at the feed site and uncovers the food then simply walks away to allow the cubs to eat it. He also sits and watches over the site sometimes from inside the woods as revealed by wildlife camera trap.
White Eye, like most mums, is hard working, constantly out hunting for food while Imposture baby sits. When she does turn up it's usually quite brief so I was stunned when she stopped to feed the cubs in full view of me. The cubs are getting so big already that White Eye cannot stand with four paws on the ground when 3 or 4 try to suckle. Much to my amusement, at one point she was forced to do a handstand so that the cubs could fit beneath her. It must be said that pose didn't last too long.
The deep bond between this pair of foxes and their cubs has been a revelation to actually witness. The division of duties and efforts of the adults, and boundless energy and antics of the cubs makes this a priceless wildlife experience. I'd have payed an awful lot of money to have seen what I have this last week, but then again, you can rarely, if ever, buy such things.