Foxies

Fiona Fox May 2021
Fiona Fox May 2021

I live in the middle of Sheffield about 2 miles from the city centre. There are plenty of woods around here and my road of 1930s semis backs on to another road of the same type so there is a good range of overgrown hedges, old sheds and decking for anyone who is looking for somewhere to settle down for a few months. If this isn’t enough then the woods and allotments at the bottom of the road provide plenty of places to burrow and catch something to eat.

I had never thought about looking for foxes in my garden although I had seen them regularly in other parts of Sheffield where I have lived. My neighbour told me that he had seen a badger walking up the road and into my garden late one night.

This sounded like something worth seeing so I bought the cheapest trail camera from Amazon to put out in the back garden. It is a very simple device and will take a picture or video of anything that passes in front of it. It will take a good clear photo in the daylight but in the dark it is less useful especially for fast-moving targets like foxes. This was in April 2019.

At first we just saw lots of blurry images but as we got the camera set up properly we started to see some patterns of fox traffic through the back garden during the night. The same foxes coming and going at the same time (but actually only a handful of pictures of the badger).

Foxes have a very well-defined annual calendar of family activity and you can read much more detail about that in the references at the bottom of this page.

After slogging through thousands of pictures and videos of the foxes I have put them together the photos with the theory to show how it looks here in my bit of Sheffield.

We kept the camera going and there was plenty of recorded fox activity daily even before the first COVID lockdown in April 2020. There were more regular sightings in 2020 as the foxes came more into the open. 2021 has seen fewer foxes but the pictures and videos are much better quality as we have moved the cameras around and the foxes are less bothered by them.

Most of the activity follows a lovely adult female who we call Fiona but it is very hard to tell a male and female adult apart so it could well be that we have a Fergus or a Fred or a Basil.

Each of these sections describes our observations throughout the year.

Further reading

New Forest Explorers Guide
BBC Discover Wildlife
Wildlife Online – Red Fox Breeding 
The Hidden World of the Fox by Adele Brand
Fox Watching by Martin Hemmington
The Fox Man (needs Facebook login)