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A Fabulous Fox

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Simon

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« on: August 23, 2007, 11:27 AM »
Hello everyone,

Actually a vixen, we spotted her apparently dropping out of a roadside pear tree on our way to a village festival at Vilamolat de Mur (see www.icc.es). I slowed the car gently and pulled up about twenty metres further. To my surprise the vixen didn’t bolt but remained by the verge eying us intensely. I slowly reversed until we were alongside, about four metres away, and stopped the motor. What followed was about five minutes of pure bliss. ;D

I’ve often seen foxes and always noticed their cat-like movements, but what we now saw was cat like behaviour. The vixen was obviously alarmed at or presence and her fur was erect, making her brush magnificent, appearing almost the same size as her body. What she did then was, for me at least, the key: whereas dogs yawn when they are nervous cats tend to preen themselves, and that’s exactly what the vixen did. As her fur began to subside she began grooming her flanks, occasionally stopping and looking back at the car intently before hesitantly turning away and beginning again. The intervals between stopping and staring gradually increased and at last she stopped grooming and attending to us altogether. She then sat and sniffed the air, raising her mask to do so, and then, after a brisk ear scratch she began to make off over the newly mown wheat field that bordered the lane, giving us a last baleful glare as she did so. We wondered that as there was no cover behind her, and the car was between her and the woods on the other side of the road, she stayed put all this time instead of bolting as soon as she left the tree. We also wondered what she was doing there at all! It strikes me as far too late in the year to hope for eggs of nestlings, so maybe she was scrumping for the nearly ripe pears as they are fairly omnivorous.

Her gait changed from about twenty-five metres distance to a slow and rather majestic trot, suddenly interrupted as she sopped dead and gave us a malevolent glance over her shoulder.  As she drew further away she stopped attending to us at all and began to pounce, apparently just for the fun of it. But the there may have been broken nests among the stubble as the wheat had only just bean harvested, as we confirmed having wound down the windows at last to admit a warm blast of scented evening air. What added to the pleasure even greater was that we had along a friend who had never seen fox in the flesh before, and who was amazed by its beauty, as indeed were we. Needless to say none of us had our cameras, but then we did have the intense pleasure of this brief encounter unencumbered – a timely reminder that the simple pleasures are the best! :biggrin:

Simon

Offline Dave

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« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2007, 14:07 PM »
hi Simon
Well described and the last sentence well said
Regards
Dave

Offline lucy

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« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2007, 15:46 PM »
Very vivid Simon, I felt I was there.  It's uncanny how foxes have traits of both dogs and cats.  Maybe she was pouncing on grasshoppers there in the stubble.

Offline Sue

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« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2007, 18:29 PM »
A moment enjoyed by us all,
i too would imagine she was after the pears.

Regards, Sue
« Last Edit: August 23, 2007, 19:53 PM by Sue »
Thinking of visiting the beautiful Sierra de Grazalema in Andalucia?
www.grazalemaguide.com

eileen

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« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2007, 18:56 PM »
Hi Simon

How lucky you were to have had that fantastic encounter. Thank you for sharing it with us, you made it so real.  Its true, you would have missed a lot trying to get a photo.

Well done.

Regards

Eileen   :clapping:

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2007, 20:27 PM »
Greetings Simon and All,
Many thanx for that and the
Quote
timely reminder that the simple pleasures are the best!
  :dancing:
Regs.,
Technopat
Ps
Anyone want to open up a thread on Maslow at the "Other things" board?
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Simon

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« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2007, 02:37 AM »
Hello everyone,

Thanks for your kind comments and I'm very glad y'all enjoyed it.

Just a note that this occured while we still had a summer (fabulous now  isn't it!) on August 4th to be precise, hence the closed windows and air conditioning on. This allowed us to talk our way through the whole time, the fox evidently didn't smell us, and we boiled our brains out in just fifve minutes!

Ta

Simes

Offline spanishfreelander

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« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2007, 13:01 PM »
Hi Simon,
I was telling your story to some friends last night...which they enjoyed..maybe future members? :clapping:
What i didnt know..was that the spanish word for Fox..was Zorro..
I know you all know..but heather and i didnt..so thanks for the new word..for us at least :clapping:
Dave

Offline Dave

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« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2007, 13:31 PM »
Hi Dave
One of the things I love about living here is learning new words for Animals, Plants etc. one problem it causes is forgetting the English ones then going back to the LOG and happily discussing with my Mum how well her Hortensias (hydrangeas) look and her giving me a blank look. This goes too for Madreselva (Honeysuckle) and a myriad other things.
I put it down to senior moments (a Terry Wogan phrase). God knows what I will be like in 20 years time, if I last that long.
Now you know why Don Diego was called Zorro.
Regards
Dave

Simon

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« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2007, 20:17 PM »
Hi Dave 1 abd Dave 2!

As we were not only in Catalonia but also in the company of a Catalan(a) we'll have to call it a guineu, or rather, a guilla. Like many other Catalan words, both  sound rather more pretty than they look!

Regs

Simon

Offline nick

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« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2007, 23:41 PM »
Very enjoyable Simon. Some more fabulous foxes here:
http://www.iberianature.com/spainblog/2007/08/27/fox-legends/
Nick
http://iberianature.com/barcelona/history-of-barcelona/spanish-civil-war-tour-in-barcelona/
Spanish Civil War Tours in Barcelona
http://www.iberianature.com/
A guide to the environment, climate, wildlife, & nature of Spain
The Amazon/Forum Bookshop - lend us a hand
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/shop/index.htm
And also now The Natural History of Britain
http://iberianature.com/brita

Simon

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« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2007, 06:04 AM »
Hi Nick,

Moltes Gràcies for that. Glad to see your monicker back on the Forum & looking forward to some holiday snappies!

Si

Simon

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« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2007, 12:34 PM »
Greetings all,

I was going to write this follow-up to the Fabulous Fox story as a sad footnote, but now I’m not so sure. We found these remains about half a mile across the fields from the August sighting. As can been seen all that remains of the fox is its nether quarters and hind legs and feet. All the viscera had gone and the corpse was well desiccated, so much so that our two huskies passed within feet without noticing it; no smell, no obvious signs of putrefaction, maggots, etc. This struck me as odd, given that at this time of year it is still warm and the cold, drying air of winter, when to preserve meat like hams or sausages one simply hangs it up in a safe place, is still a long way off. Apart from being well and truly eaten, there are large populations of vultures, kites and carrion crows nearby so normally animal remains disappear very quickly, there didn’t appear to be any obviously unnatural  cause of death; the site was miles away from any road and as well as no gunshot wounds (OK the shot holes could have been in the eaten-up bit) I know the owners to the hunting rights hereabouts and I am sure they would never shoot a fox – indeed they banned a trigger happy group of ‘quemacooos’ from Barcelona a few years back for doing precisely this!

So is this a sad end to our Fox’s story? Well. For us perhaps, but that would be based on a very self-centred view of nature. We enjoyed the splendid sighting, and the memory of it ‘playing’ in the new mown meadow gave us immense pleasure – which I hope I’ve managed to share over the Forum. But what about the vixen? What is the meaning of ‘happiness’ to an animal? Sure, she appeared to be enjoying herself but what does that actually mean apart from my own anthropomorphism? Pondering this I was reminded of an apposite quote which, me being the old fashioned bloke that I am, I looked up an actual book rather than all the on-line stuff. It turned out to be from Tennyson; “Nature, red in tooth and claw”. Reading further this is a line from a canto comparing Man (as in Man’s nature) to Nature: here it is in full:

Man . . .
Who trusted God, was love indeed
And love Creation’s final law –
Though Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shrieked against his creed.

In Memoriam A. H. H.  (1850) canto 56
But in the previous canto, describing the nature of Nature, so to speak, makes a more subtle and profound point:

So careful of the type she seems,
So careless of the single life


This poem was about grieving over the untimely death of his friend and mentor A.H. Hallam. And I suppose the point is to remind us of our own susceptibility to mortality’s cruelty – I should point out that I know nothing whatsoever about literary criticism so this analysis is most probably profoundly naïve! Meanwhile it serves as a reminder to us that the vixens’ sole point in existing was to kill, eat, breed, and in turn be killed and be food to others. So it’s not a sad footnote after all, rather, part of the interminable cycle of life, death and rebirth. On a related, but lighter note, if and when the Iberianature International happens let’s all have a singalong of ‘Ilkley Moor bar t’at’! Maybe this should be our anthem?

Cheers

Simon






Offline Technopat

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« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2007, 13:56 PM »
Greetings Simon,
Sorry to read of your Fabulous Fox reaching the end of its days. Maybe it died a natural death - are there known cases of animals going away to hide when their time approaches or dying in their sleep?

Re. your qualms about anthropomorphism, surely the fate of a wild animal in the wild is better than that of a wild animal in captivity? Human hunter intervention notwithstanding. Wild animals are in their element and do what they know best. And as you say, quoting
Quote
So careful of the type she seems,
So careless of the single life
... and in your own words:
Quote
So it’s not a sad footnote after all, rather, part of the interminable cycle of life, death and rebirth.

Regs.
Technopat
PS.
Puzzled by lack of tail, and what animal would make off with the skull? Do vultures, kites, etc. fly off with such large lumps in their beaks? Maybe it's not the moment to make a poll, but I'm pretty sure that the most frequent identifiable remains of an animal I come across on the ground in the wild is its skull. Mind you, even then I can rarely identify it to my full satisfaction. Any other empirical data?

PPS.
Just saw Nick's interesting earlier posting on fox legends - and the wolverine sprang to mind, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolverine Sp. glotón, followed by other mustilidae. I was struck by the coincidence of Galicia appearing in most cases but doubt that the glotón lives this far south, even in the colder climes of the northernmost parts of the Ib. Pen.
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2007, 14:39 PM »
Greetings Simon,
Can't do the accent, but shouldnae tha' been "On Ilkla Mooar Baht'aht"?
Having been expelled from the Scouts :dancing: at the tender age of 12 for a heinous crime - details of which might come to light seated round the campfire in the early hours at the 1st International iberianatureforum Summit - I wouldnae know, but
according to wikipedia's alternative lyrics, these variations on a theme would seem to be in keeping with iberianatureforumers as we know 'em:

"without thy trousers on"
"where the ducks play football"
"where the sheep fly backwards"
"where the ducks fly backwards"
"an' they've all got spots"
"where the ducks wear trousers."

Tho' on second thoughts, they do seem a bit tame. Can anyone come up with something with a bit more oomph?

Regs.
Technopat
« Last Edit: October 08, 2007, 14:43 PM by Technopat »
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Simon

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« Reply #15 on: October 09, 2007, 07:30 AM »
Hi TP,

Just a quick thought on animal remains and bird's carrying capacity. Our two neo-wolves disturbed a buzzard making off with the nether quarters of a kid (as in cabrit) i.e. its two hind legs, after a very brief encounter the dogs got a ham each - end of walkies for the next two days and serious farting ensued!

Si

PS I didn't even make it to the scouts! Expelled after my first night at cubs - a wild child then as now!

Offline lisa

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« Reply #16 on: October 10, 2007, 20:58 PM »
It's a step up from Kumbaya I suppose.
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