Wednesday, 24 September 2014

A Personal Message.





Here is the stone seat beside my pond. I've been sitting here quite frequently in the last couple of weeks, trying to assess how many of the new fish have escaped the attentions of the heron.
This morning I discover that someone else has been sitting, or at least crouching here too. And they have left me a clear message that this is their territory.

It is perilously easy to be anthropomorphic about animals, and I find myself particularly prone to do this about the fox or foxes who make free with my garden most evenings, nights and early mornings. I know they do this because I have borrowed a motion (ha) sensitive camera, and I've seen what they're up to. I also know because they have the odd fight and shouting match in the road outside my bedroom window, usually at about four o'clock in the morning.

I know foxes are not everyone's cup of tea, but I have a certain admiration of the ingenuity of the urban foxes who create a successful life in such proximity to people, especially when many of those people may be hostile to them.
This faecal message tells me I'm being watched. I wish I had been able to watch the creature who hopped up here in order to leave this message, and the several other similar messages I have received over the last couple of years.

A few years ago foxes in this area nearly died out because of a severe outbreak of mange, but they are back, strong, healthy and with what I have to interpret as a sense of humour. I recently watched a pair of youngsters, working their way round a neighbouring bungalow, bouncing up to have a look through each lighted window. The occupant had no idea she was being investigated.
It was probably the same pair of adolescents who played volleyball with my previously neatly-stacked plastic flower pots and left them scattered across the lawn.

But who was it who left the same faecal message on a pair of leather gardening gloves I had accidentally left out overnight - left out on another garden seat moreover? And  whose aim is so accurate that they almost got it down the hole in the lawn where the washing line goes?

I cannot help but take this personally, and to be pleased that I am never alone in my garden.

13 comments:

Leslee said...

Ha! They are clever, aren't they. Funny image of the adolescents peeking in the neighbor's windows. I've only rarely seen foxes, and delighted when I did. But then I don't have a garden for them to mess around with. Anyway, they do seem to be leaving you quite personal messages!

mm said...

Tee hee. Wily, cheeky Mr Fox. I have great respect for them and their adaptability. I have to say that I've seen far fewer foxes since I've moved here to the country. London is crawling with them!

Zhoen said...

Good of you to interpret this as a different language, with a different goal. No doubt it makes perfect sense in Fox.

Elephant's Child said...

I have a soft spot for foxes though I rarely see them here. And I am still smiling at the adolescents investigating your neighbour. Great image, and they are often less destructive than adolescents of our species.

Relatively Retiring said...

Leslee: I always remember your fox poem on my previous fox posting.
http://radio-weblogs.com/0129978/stories/2004/01/14/13WaysOfLookingAtAFox.html

mm: yes, the adaptability is impressively clever.

Zhoen: it makes sense to me, too, even if they are telling me to keep out of my own garden!

E.C: the adolescents were charming at that point, but were no doubt later fighting over sex and territory, like so many other species in that age-group.

Joan said...

Ah. I had wondered who had left a calling card on the window sill the other night. I choose to believe it was for the cats rather than for me.

Relatively Retiring said...

Joan:thank you for reading and commenting. How high is the window will? I bet the message is for you and your cats - just to let you know that you're on fox territory!

Jee said...

We don't see foxes in this garden, but we had a vixen who chose to have her cubs for three years running in our very urban and tiny Croydon garden. They used to sit along the wall and look into the kitchen, hopefully - though we never fed them. One evening we saw the vixen leap over the top fence carrying a McDonalds take away bag and scuttle down the entrance to the earth with it. They certainly all looked sleek and well fed.

Joan said...

Judith, I have been enjoying your blog since the day you posted a picture of a green malachite box... I wish I could remember what happy chance brought me to your page. The windowsill in question is about waist-height and gives off of our living room, the side where we spend most of our evenings. The steps from the house to where we park the cars is often similarly embellished.

I'm not surprised that they are annoyed with us. They had the run of the place for two years while we were in Bordeaux and were probably not best pleased to see us move back in this summer.

Oh, and the cats are spending more and more of their nights inside. There must have been a fox population explosion!

Relatively Retiring said...

Jee: are you sure you don't have foxes now? I hope the Croydon foxes enjoyed their take-away.

Joan: thank you for your response. It's lovely to know a bit more about you. Thank you very much for being interested in my writing.
You have really spoiled the place for the foxes. They are obviously trying hard to make you understand that you're trespassing. No wonder the cats stay in!

Peregrina said...

I was thrilled last year, when staying with a friend who lives in Hersham, to see (through the kitchen window) a fox in the back garden and, when we went for a walk at dusk the next evening, another fox (or the same one) crossing the road. Foxes aren't exactly common where I live! My friend said that a couple of young ones would sometimes come into the garden when she was sitting quietly outside on a summer evening. We tried sitting out, not talking, and did hear a fox jump over the back fence behind some bushes, then, to my disappointment, it jumped back and ran away when the neighbour's dog barked. I don't know if any personal messages were ever left.

Jenny Woolf said...

I actually think this IS the way foxes mark their territories. I find it hard to be too keen on them, as they're really so nasty to the chickens... yet I sort of admire them as they march through the night world here in London.

Relatively Retiring said...

Peregrina: good to see you! We should have arranged a fox-watch when you were here.

Jenny: yes, that and urine, which is invariably sprayed on my car wheels in the morning. Well, what else can an urban fox use when he hasn't got an aerosol?