The fox and the cat
Christmas, like the recent weather, was a bit of a washout. Somehow we managed to catch a cold/flu bug that floored us and persisted for a couple of weeks. At least a lack of appetite meant that Christmas excesses, not that we were planning many, were kept to a minimum.
The highlight of the season was probably a garden visitor we had not seen in daylight before. We know that there are foxes in the neighbourhood and we sometimes see one running round the garden at dawn. This worries me because Mia (the cat) screams (and jumps around the bedroom) to go out first thing in the morning (which can be as early as 4.30am at times). I try not to give in because I don’t want her out in the dark but it can be tricky in winter. Foxes are a lot bigger than Mia but I was slightly relieved last year to see Mia in the surrounding field apparently ‘playing’ with a fox during the day. They seemed to chasing each other back and forth. Mia is quite well armed but she is a softy and not aggressive so it is a constant worry.
The fox appeared the first time mid morning and was wolfing down (or should that be foxing down) some old grapes that I had put out for the blackbirds. I have been putting out small amounts of food on the paving because it is quite open so Mia has little (or less) chance of creeping up on the birds. She does not seem too bothered by the blackbirds but she hates the magpies that sometimes appear. She actually caught one once and I had to go and release it when I heard the commotion. I don’t have any fondness for magpies but I don’t want to see any birds caught.
Over the next few days the fox returned several times a day and even started to sit and sunbathe on the raised beds. I know lots of people don’t like foxes, and I wouldn’t encourage them but it is lovely to see wildlife in the garden.
But then one day Mia was let out (it is a constant job keeping her the side of the door or window she prefers) when the fox was in the garden. We only realised when the fox was seen scampering down beside the hedge with Mia in hot pursuit. She stopped at the boundary and sauntered back – job done. She is obviously not as daft as I feared.
Yes, our pets are probably not as vulnerable from other wildlife as we fear. Far more danger from other humans with guns or even cars. I was sitting down at a very quiet (few are aware of it’s existence) pier here in North Mayo, enjoying the low winter sunshine, paying more attention to my smartphone than to my elderly pointer dog paddling about in the clear, foot deep water at the edge of the rocky beach. Suddenly there was an almighty splash like some kind of bogey man rising from the ocean and I’m not sure whether the huge grey seal or my dog or me got the bigger shock but me and my dog made the fastest getaway. Himself bobbed around in the sea watching us as we stumbled and panicked our way back to the car!
That sounds very scary! I am glad you all survived. Yes cars are a worry, of course but also the worry of rubbish or traps left around the place, to catch foxes or badgers. It might be an urban myth but I was told that most badgers that appear to be roadkill are actually poisoned and then dumped on the road. I don’t want to spread misinformation so it may be wrong but it does worry me.
Dumping poisoned badgers on a public road would be a very irresponsible thing to do. A while back I was a front seat passenger in a car driven by my son about 4am (going for the first early morning train) and around a bend in the road a large badger suddenly came out of the ditch. We were unable to avoid it and the bang will haunt me forever, the bill for getting the car fixed was another matter – several hundred euros, so I truly hope that nobody would purposely dump a badger sized object on the public road. The purposeful killing of our native wildlife is a worry though.
Well I hope I am wrong. I can imagine a collision with a badger would be memorable, and expensive. And a horrible experience – it is bad enough when a pigeon or other bird hits the windscreen.
Obviously, Mia has a good measure of the situation! We have foxes around also but rarely see them during the day.
Yes this daytime visiting is rather unusual. They more often make themselves known by nighttime noises