Allotment Fox, where do you go?

Fox in the snow, where do you go
To find something you could eat?
Cause the word out on the street is you are starving
Don’t let yourself grow hungry now
Don’t let yourself grow cold
Fox in the snow

Fox in the snow – Belle & Sebastian

Recently down our allotments we’ve started to get a new visitor to our plots; a beautiful vixen Fox (at least we think it’s a vixen?) We first started to spot her creeping around the community hut in the broad autumnal daylight a few weeks ago. Boldly strolling around the plots casually un-alarmed by us humans. At first she kept her distance, never coming close but recently she’s grown quite bold.
She trots about the plots, always oddly keeping to the paths, surveying her domain. Last weekend we managed to capture the image above of her as she rested amongst the fallen leaves outside a plot neighbours shed. Although this image was captured from afar we had a more intimate encounter of our own. Whilst bending down to attach the grease bands to our fruit trees, Stuart working a little away from me glanced up and gasped, “It’s the fox she’s right by me!” By the time I looked up she had sauntered away from him heading towards me, about a metre or so. Looking me in the eye, rolling her eyes as if it to say, “you humans, so tiresome” slowly turned and wandered off away from our plot.

Some researchers speculate that the urban fox is evolving into a different species from its countryside cousin, as it has a different diet of mainly man-made food, different survival skills (for example, the ability to cross roads), different places to live (under buildings rather than trees), a lack of their natural fear of humans, and a larger size. [1]

We’ve all had encounters with urban foxes. For me my encounters with urban foxes has until now always been on the streets, late at night, returning from a night out, often startling me and even at times giving me a fright. Urban foxes are often demonized, by their massacring of our urban hen houses, disturbing our bins and bizarrely digging up my dads rose bushes and newly planted fruit trees. In the worst cases their have been reports of foxes attacking human infants, though these are extremely isolated cases. Despite the allotment fox displaying the characteristics of this evolving urban fox, she seems to be in-tune with her countryside roots amongst the allotment plots. And I neither fear her or wish her any harm.

Although we live in an urban environment the allotment site is in a pocket of suburban greenery. Banked by a golf course one side and a woodland the other we get a wide range of wildlife for a London borough. The foxes round this way enjoy a taste of the country fox life (well apart from the roaring motorway not far away). Foxes despite their reputation are omnivores and enjoy a varied diet (when not rummaging in our bin bags), of small mammals such as voles and squirrels, and of course famously preying on birds. But what I had no idea was that they also enjoy plant material and fruits.

Red foxes readily eat plant material and in some areas, fruit can amount to 100% of their diet in autumn. Commonly consumed fruits include blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, persimmons,mulberries, apples, plums, grapes and acorns. Other plant material includes grasses, sedges and tubers. [2]

So it’s quite likely that the foxes that live in and around the allotment site are attracted to our plots by the ever-increasing community of rats, the abundance of wood pigeons and grey squirrels supplemented by the wide variety of fruits and vegetation on offer. So Miss Fox, do stay a while and chase those pesky rats away.

1. Lindsay-Smith, Bruce (2011-01-27). "Yes, urban foxes are getting bigger... and more deadly. As a 4ft fox is shot in Kent, a marksman who culls them for a living issues a chilling warning". Daily Mail (London).

2. Feldhamer, Thompson & Chapman 2003, p. 529

Author: Crafty Garden Hoe

For me it’s all about the simple things in life. Pottering around my allotment, growing things indoors and out, baking a good cake, being outside, pretty things, vintage finds and a good pot of tea. It’s all the small things that make me tick, noticing the beauty in everyday things. Although this blog initially was intended to be a blog about all these things its evolved into being basically a blog about our allotment. Our adventures, highs and lows, wins and loses. So join me & Mr Wilson as we learn from our mistakes and successes down plot 18a.

One thought on “Allotment Fox, where do you go?”

  1. All this thinking about urban foxes has reminded me of a sighting of an urban fox I had once from a London tube window. As the central line tube breaks out into the open at Leyton, along the grass banks I once spied a family of foxes; mum and her cubs playing in the sunshine. Made me smile for rest of my journey.

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