Wild about foxes

I’ve never been able to take a good photo of a fox, so had to rely on this photo by Thomas Butler on Unsplash.

Earlier this week, I was out for my evening walk and I had a good bit of luck because I saw a red fox sitting in the path ahead. We started out some distance apart, keeping a wary eye on one another, but as I got to within about 50 yards away he still hadn’t moved.

I thought, isn’t that interesting? I had just reached a point where I was going to clap my hands or maybe head in the opposite direction when the fox jumped up from his haunches and ran off down the trail. Fleet of foot, he rapidly disappeared into the evening shadows. For me, spotting fox and getting that close to him was really special because foxes are one of my favorite kinds of wildlife.

We are so lucky living here at the top of the Chesapeake Bay to be able to see foxes. I understand that in a lot of places the growing coyote population has driven out red foxes because they basically competing for the same resources. One place where I’m almost always sure to see a fox is at Mount Harmon Plantation, where I like to walk from time to time. It’s way off the road and it’s not unusual to see a fox standing in the middle of the dirt lane like a sentry. Again, I always consider this to be a token of good luck.

Sometimes on winter nights if I’m out driving late and the headlights sweep over a big empty field, I will pick out a fox prowling the countryside. Again, the sight of that resilient fox is reassuring.

When I was a kid on the farm, foxes were usually seen as the enemy. Sometimes they would threaten the chickens. For a long time, there was even a fox who would set up shop on the hill overlooking the farmhouse and tease our large dog, who was tied up in the yard. The fox was thumbing his nose at the dog, which just goes to show that the fox was clever enough to know when the dog was tied up. There are still plenty of foxes around on the farm. The last time I stayed there before this pandemic mess, I woke up early and saw one trotting down the lane on some morning mission. That was better than a cup of coffee to start the day.

I don’t much have to worry about the fox raiding the laptop the way that he raided the henhouse all those years ago. To me, the sight of a fox is a symbol of wildness that always gives me a thrill.

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