Saturday, 9 January 2010

Reynardine

Beyond the back wall of our postage-stamp-sized back garden lies a mysterious expanse of trees and brambles known to our family as The Wild Place. In reality, it is an unused corner of a municipal cemetery, cut off on three sides by back walls and fences, and thus unvisited from one year to the next by humans, apart from the odd explorer seeking a non-existent shortcut. I'm sure that in the days of my childhood, when we kids roamed far and wide building camps and climbing trees, it would have been a favoured place for playing, but its lack of central heating and complete absence of electrical outlets or internet cabling means it is utterly silent these days. That suits me just fine.



The Wild Place is perfect for wildlife, of course. Even though we are close to the centre of town a wide variety of birds are regular visitors -- the hard winter has brought in this week our very first Redwings and Fieldfares. In the past I have been able to watch a buzzard sitting casually on a branch not 20 yards from my bedroom window and tearing up a pigeon for lunch, mobbed by coup-counting crows and magpies. Even the occasional deer makes its way into this cul-de-sac; a few years ago I spotted one peering forlornly over our back wall as I was doing the washing up.

But the lords of the Wild Place are the foxes. At night, their shrieking can chill your blood, as they pad up and down on the back wall. During the day, they can usually be seen sunning themselves amongst the brambles. Today I spotted these two, napping in the winter sun in a snow-free corner beneath an oak tree.



Cute, eh? It's a tribute to the lens (Canon EF 70-300 f/4 IS) that a hand-held shot taken through the unwashed double-glazing of our loft extension should come out so well.

6 comments:

Martin H. said...

My grandfather, a countryman to the core, always used the term Reynard, when referring to a fox. A girl I once knew, called them (male and female alike) Mr Tod.

We saw a couple, not dissimilar to those in your photograph, padding around the perimeter of the SGH car park recently. They certainly have made themselves at home.

Mike C. said...

I think there is a remnant of a countryside taboo about naming foxes which is apotropaic in origin, like avoiding naming the devil.

Of course, my title refers to nothing more wicked than the track of that name on the Fairport Convention album "Liege & Lief" ...

Mike

Kent Wiley said...

Good to hear that you've got a Wild Place so close to hand. They're my favorite kinds of "wilderness." But that lack of central air and missing Internet link is a damn shame. Get your wifi router aimed out there, man!

Mike C. said...

Do you know, it's never occurred to me to see whether our wifi extends into the Wild Place -- I must take my new netbook out and check. That would be something, wouldn't it, chucking your kids out to get some fresh air, only to find them working Facebook behind a hedge...

Mike

Kent Wiley said...

Even funnier if they found you there!

Mike C. said...

Kent,

Just received your NY card today -- many thanks (admirable moustache, btw). Happy New Year to you, too!

Mike