Den Cartlidge July blog

Wednesday 11th July 2018

I thought they were young deer at first. Rusty brown shapes danced in the long, wilting grass. Moving to the side of the field, I followed the woodland edge by the fence, hoping the trees would break up my silhouette. Rusty brown turned to pale ginger as I moved closer. Then I saw the pointy ears.

The fox cubs played in the early morning summer sun. Three chased each other and their tails while a fourth lazed in a nest he’d made in the long grass. They were about two or three months old, based on their size and the colour of the fur.

An adult stood a few feet away keeping watch. Her slight figure made me think she was a female.

She saw me and ran into the wood. The cubs playing in the grass stopped and looked around. Then they saw me and followed mother into the woodland. The last cub was still in his nest. He was obviously reluctant to move. A short, high-pitched bark echoed from the wood and the last cub followed his siblings into the trees.

I remember feeding orphan fox cubs working at a wildlife sanctuary years ago.

Born with slate-blue eyes and chocolate-coloured fur, after a month or so the pupils turn to amber and the fur fades to a pale rust colour. Fox cubs are very cute, but these beautiful canines, like their parents, have a powerful smell (not unlike a hot armpit on a summer’s day).

I sniffed the air when I reached the abandoned nest in the grass, but the musky scent had followed the cubs and their watchful parent back to the wood.