Foxes have made themselves home in urban areas not just in London England but all over the world. Like racoons and squirrels, they have acclimatised to human areas and are thriving. Whilst we adore watching our small coterie of foxes and vixens as they frolic in the back patch and also at the allotment, they can be a gardener’s pest – mainly because about a fifth of their daily diet consists of worms. So if you’ve turned over new beds, softened the earth, and watered, this creates perfect conditions for foxes to dig for their favourite wormy treats. If you have a problem with foxes digging in your plots, we’ve found that laying the area around new beds with prickly cuttings – blackberries and rose cuttings, for example – works well. If the digging is persistent you may have to bury some prickly material under the ground. That’s sure to make them think twice!
But don’t get me wrong. We love our foxes and aim to be able to live in harmony with them. The urban London fox is a beautiful wily creature. When they disappear for a bit, we miss seeing our resident foxes in the back patch and at times like that we suspect a generational change has happened. We’ve spotted younger looking foxes in the front and circus area, but none seem to make the back patch or woods a regular part of their patrols. In the summer of 2019 we speculated that perhaps our family of foxes had moved over to the heath for their summer vacation. Who knows!?
In winter 2018 we had a very active older fox residing near or in the back flower gardens. S/he guarded the territory ferociously, with some wild fox fights happened in spring 2019.
Late April 2019 and there’s a new fox in the back patch – a young one with a big white blaze on the chest. Very light coloured fur. And what a howler! It made the most strange, quaking wailing sounds one night at about 3.30 in the morning.
Late April 2019 while on the allotment I saw a ragged and thin female fox with dropping teats, so obviously had had some cubs. She was bold but hesitant at the same time. I just went about my business getting water from the trough, puttering and weeding. She came along across the front allotment plots, stopped in her tracks to lock eyes with me for a bit, and then crossed the stairs and continued on her way. No sign of the cubs.
Early April 2020 we spotted a slinky wild looking fox on the allotment. It’s tail was very thin and mange-eaten, poor thing! No sign of our usual foxes in the back patch. Apparently there’s been some council work on a boiler house for a near-by council estate, which some said may have dislodged a large fox den.
We saw a similarly slinky fox, with a mange-eaten tail making its lonely way along the railway tracks during the London coronavirus lockdown mid-May 2020. The Hampstead overground station is eerily empty, with not a soul on the platforms. During the quiet of lockdown wildlife of all sorts are exploring farther afield and enjoying the emptier urban spaces. Go foxes, go!
At midnight on 4 June 2020 we witnessed two young fox cubs with their mother frolicking and pouncing about in the back patch. They were particularly enjoying the new meadow patch in the middle of the lawn. A lovely sight and they both looked healthy and very happy and frisky. The mother seemed to have a sore paw and slight limp, according to the big guy who got a better view of her than I did.