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Hail the Fenland foxes!

Cheeky foxes often make an appearance around farmland. Cheeky foxes often make an appearance around farmland.

Vulpes Vulpes, or, in English, the red fox. Culturally known as Mr Fox. This lovely cousin of the dog resides in the farmlands where I ride, taking advantage of the rabbit population, the fields and hedges. They like the green byways and shrubbery, human dwellings with available food sources and paddocks in the outlying areas of my village.

The last sighting of this mammal was not by me but by my mother who I was horse-riding with recently. I was focused on keeping my overly-excited Patrick under control behind her horse. We were coming back down the byway, and the fox was seen exploding from the thicket of trees onto the farmland next to the track in front of us as we cantered along. Despite having studied conservation, I am always disappointingly bad or unlucky at wildlife spotting!

However, I have been surprisingly lucky a few times out riding. I was riding up this same byway and a fox cub burst out from the hedgerow in front of us, rolling around like it was playing, and then ran off. It made an impact that I’ll always remember – and it was so cute!

Another time was a year or two later, out riding with a friend who lives in the second village away. We had taken our steeds in the horse trailer to get to her yard and were riding up a farm track in the middle of arable landscape with a network of ditches and few trees. The fox was right there, running across a field, always stopping to look at us warily. It was lovely to watch.

Then a year later - this past winter of 2016/17 - we were riding up a friend’s private farm track that runs from the byway I had mentioned before and we saw a fox – one that may even be related to the cub I saw previously. Foxes can live in family groups, staying with their parents when adult. It was a similar picture to that of the fox in the other village, running alongside us and away across the winter crops in the distance.

A thriving population

It is clear that we have a thriving population of foxes around the Fenland villages and surrounding farmland outside the town. Fox screams can often be heard, and I come across fox poo from time to time.

I used to leave my wellies outside, but then one winter morning I found a welly lying away from its usual place with a chunk chewed off! It may have had been a rat or a fox, but I did feel sorry for the creature who must’ve been having a hard time finding food if it had snacked on my welly.

I like the foxes, they keep the down the population of rabbits, which can compete with horses over their grazing. Also, they are beautiful and a much-celebrated wildlife species that belong in our countryside.

Versataile creatures

I had never actually seen a fox before moving to and riding around my village (though we had chickens killed and taken most likely by a fox!), which is probably because the village is near the town. Foxes are extremely adaptable and like to live in urbanised areas.

Hail to our Fenland foxes! And to the byways and tracks where I can ride and get my lucky sightings of them.

Lizzie Bannister volunteers at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Branch of CPRE. Want to get involved with CPRE? Find out more in our Ways To Volunteer section.

One winter morning I found a welly lying away from its usual place with a chunk chewed off!

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Hay field harvest

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