The North Marsh Dog Fox.
19th March 2013
Sunrise 06.11 am Sunset: 06.22 pm
Like me, the north marsh dog fox is using the new corridor that runs along the east side the swamp, North Pond and the north pasture.
The red dog doesn’t see me and wanders slowly ahead. The fox is a smart animal; he doesn’t run unless there is value in it, like a meal, or he is fleeing from something. Walking slowly is energy-efficient and quiet. He likes to take his time, sniff the air, and listen to the sounds around him. Survival on the marsh is something he has down to a fine art, and he doesn’t take kindly to competition: he can’t afford competition.
I followed foxy to North Pond gate. He slipped under the fence and down to the water’s edge. A heron lifts off and the coots quickly disappear into the reeds; a couple of mallards noisily take to the air and escape over the River Stour. The fox is on his rounds; hoping to catch his prey unawares. He knows where all his prey animals are, what times they are active, their routines, when they are most vulnerable, and he tries to catch them at their weakest. He will try to fool his prey by approaching them from a particular direction several times, and then from a different direction, at a time when he hopes they will least expect to see the fox. He wants totally surprise to cause his prey to make a mistake, and perhaps dither for a second or two too long.
The marsh foxes play a game of strategy, and how well they play has a direct influence on their quality of life, and indeed whether they survive at all. If the marsh dog fox is not on top of his game, he will lose his territory to a stronger competitor.
Individual foxes can always find something to eat. It’s during the breeding season and long hard winters that good foraging skills and successful hunting strategies make a difference.
When the cubs are old enough to be left alone at the den, the dog and the vixen will hunt as a team. One will distract the prey, and the other will creep up behind and make the kill.