Sunday 7 July 2019

The Fox & Rabbit II

It’s not often  I will go back to a successful shoot at a location in the hope of replicating the success again as it rarely turns out that way, but at this time of year it’s a great time to see and photograph foxes as this years young haven’t left for their own territories so you have a number of foxes in one place some of which haven’t yet learnt to fear humans.

With that in mind I returned to the same location as before.  Conditions were different.  Instead of dull, damp weather there was sunshine and, out of the wind at least, a little warmer.  However this time the wind was coming from a different location so my previous ideal position now had it coming from behind me, making me upwind from their location.  This and the lack of rabbits feeding may have been the reason that, after two hours, little was seen.

Eventually, the mobbing calls of a couple of magpies caught my attention so moved to a different location to see what the fuss was about.  The new place was more sheltered and what little wind there was now came towards me.  Unfortunately, for the first time in a number of years I was hit by a bad case of hay fever, maybe because of the lack of wind but it was very sudden and my eyes were itching like mad and starting to stream.

Just then a fox came out of nowhere and across my front.  At this point I could barely see never mind try and focus on a moving fox through long grass.  A couple of shots is all I managed, mostly out of focus or largely hidden by the vegetation.  The rabbits further out, although alert to its presence, didn’t seem overly concerned until, after initially disappearing from my view, it sprinted out out after them.  It was all over in seconds and again, I had nothing but blurry images due to the problems of trying to focus in the long grass.

With my hay fever moderately better, after a couple of anti-histamines, decided to go back to my previous location despite the problems with the wind direction and being colder at least I had a more open view and it was where I had the previous weeks success.  Again, after another hour and nothing happening it had to be my being upwind that was the issue and after, once again hearing the mobbing of the magpies, moved to investigate.

As I approached the noise I kept coming up to rabbits, frozen.  Normally they would be off in a flash with someone approaching them but they clearly they thought I was a lesser threat than presumably the fox or foxes ahead.  Each time I chose not to make, what must have been an already stressful time for them any worse, so gave them some space and went around them.  One rabbit I stumbled across, I was so close I couldn’t even focus that near so had to back away just to get a photograph.

Despite the obvious presence of foxes, I wasn’t able to get closer due to the ring of clearly fraught rabbits around the area, so returned back to my original location.

I know there is a lot of photographers who shoot wildlife to whom getting ‘the image’ is all important and I don’t think they realise the impact they might have.  I remember reading once how, for wildlife, it’s a day-to-day struggle for survival it it did make me think.  I don’t chase after wildlife and if I think my presence will cause unnecessary stress, I will back away without an image.

There has been so many times I have had close encounters with an animal, particularly foxes and deer, where I stumbled across them without their knowing of my presence.  But because I was so close, rather than ‘get the image’ and inevitably give the animal a shock, I have stayed quiet and let them pass without knowing I was there.  There is a certain satisfaction in being within metres of a wild animal, unaware of you and simply being able to watch it rather than it see you and run off.