With the weather continuing to be grim, its a good time to catch up with the perennial backlog of images needing processing. It is always nice to go back to a set of images you took a few months ago as not only does it re-stir the happy memories of the moment but inevitably you find a few surprise photos. This week I have been working through some fox images from a couple of sessions last summer in a friends back garden.
My good friend Steve has a wide variety of wildlife visiting his garden that includes for the last few years a pair of buzzards and foxes. Often the key to having a garden full of wildlife is to keep a constant supply of food and water available. For the last couple of years when Steve and his family have headed off on holiday I have offered to visit to keep the food supply going and also this give opportunity for a quick photo session or two.
The garden includes an acre of oak woodland on a slope and close to the house falls away in a couple of terraces with the lower area being were the foxes are regularly fed and also come in to clear up spillages, particularly peanuts, from the various bird feeders. Steve has built a small hide down there for photography.
So I turned up for the first visit with a couple of jumbo tins of dog food for the foxes. Having checked all the bird feeders were topped up, I scattered the dog food around the lower lawn. The strong smell of fresh tinned dog food should draw the foxes in quickly. I went to go in the hide to find it full or garden furniture in temporary storage so quickly needed a plan B. Fortunately in my car I had my rarely used ghillie suit which putting on quickly transformed me into a bush. I found a suitable place to lie down, at some distance on the terrace above the lower fed area and waited. I decided given that I only had the ghillie suit to, and not wanting to potentially alarm the foxes, to sit further back and use thequiet and movements we 600mm lens. This would have the added benefit of reducing the angle from my slightly raised position. I had to keep very quiet and move very slowly so as not disturb them. Fortunately the wind was in my face blowing any scent away from them. They knew something was there, from the click of the camera shutter, but couldn't work out what it was but this had the benefit of having a lot of the foxes look straight at me.
I did not have to wait long and a grey squirrel dashing up a tree and alarm calling with its rapid flicking tail announced the arrival of the foxes. There was a total of seven foxes visiting at that time, 2 adults, 2 of last years young and 3 of this years cubs. Over to the right hand side from where I was lying there was some low shrubs on the edge of the woodland and a various obvious fox sized path going into the undergrowth and as expected that is where the first fox appeared.
Over the next hour or so a number of different foxes appeared in front of me with the vixen being the most active. They are such beautiful animals and always special to have one in front of the camera. Later in the week I made another early evening visit going through the same procedure. During both visits the dog fox only appeared once briefly and seem to be suffering with an eye infection which I am happy to say he now seems to be fully recovered from. So I will finish off by saying thanks to Steve for the opportunity of spending some time with his foxes.