Last night I put out my time lapse camera! So this is great as it can film in colour at night, the issue is that it isn't triggered by movement, its designed to take images or film at regularly intervals of course to create a time lapse! But I set put it out with the chance of getting some footage (very slim chance) I set it to record from midnight till 10am, capturing 30 second videos every 5 mins! And out of 163 pieces of footage I have 2 with cubs... however! It's the first time I'm seeing the little guys in colour! They are so cute, but very baby bear like!
I am still waiting for the day when they are out during the day and having a play and some rough and tumble with each other on the lawn, but until that day, I am really enjoying waking up and checking the cameras from the night before! Mum and dad continue to pick up the cubs and put them back into the den, but they are very confident as exploring around their home! They don't venture too far and rightly so!
It has been just over a week since I last shared news with you about the fox den in my garden and the arrival of cubs. Since this time, I have been reviewing my camera trap footage daily, it has become quite the routine! Here is what I have discovered in the last week:
1. Both parents are regularly heading in and out of the den, Most activity is at night with the odd shot in daylight every 3 days or so. The cubs are yet to witness the day light, and they are extremely active at night - to be precise, the early hours of the morning. I know that in my area, the birds begin singing around 4am, and the cubs are back in their den before this time.
2. WE HAVE 4 CUBS!! As the filming has progressed I have seen more little cubs. For the first few days I wasn't too sure how many cubs there would be. A good typical litter is approx. 5-8 cubs, so I hoped there was more than 1. At such a young age and only seeing them in darkness, it was near impossible to tell any cubs apart when they were only appearing one at a time. But I can now confirm that the maximum number of cubs I have seen at once is 4. There is a chance that there could be more, so I will keep you updated on that as and when I see them!
3. The parents are great! allowing the cubs to explore, but only at the den opening, and carrying them back when they wander too far. The cubs aren't really interacting with each other yet, and I believe that to be another indicator as to how young they really are.
4. The parents are aware of my presence - I collect the camera and then replace them daily, so my scent will be there, and this does not phase them.
5. Mums' teats are still large, which suggests the cubs are still suckling and not yet on solid food! I am predicting they are coming up to around 2 and a half weeks old, but this is pure speculation!
The cubs are very bold and i'm sure it will only be a matter of weeks until they are exploring more of their surroundings. At this point, I hope to film them with my proper camera during day light and really experiment with what I can get. I am a stills wildlife photographer too, but making a film about this little wildlife oasis in my own home in incredibly special to me, and I hope it will bring lots of joy and interest to others too!
I am so excited to share with you my new personal project. This project will hopefully interest and appeal to a lot people, but it is potentially controversial.
When I arrived home recently, my mum and dad had told me they had found a fox den on the flower banking in our garden while they gardening. (There had also been a lot of talk in the dog walking community of Rodley that foxes had been spotted on walks, in gardens, and even on the rug of a living room, looking at the occupier). Admittedly, my dad told me he had filled the hole back up with soil. In his opinion (and I’m sure others’ too) they are a pest. They are digging up his flowers, Cassie’s dog toys are going missing and are potentially dangerous to dogs and other pet as well as a number of other things. When I went to look, the den was clearly back in action and used on a more than regular basis. I took this as an amazing opportunity to photograph a WILD urban fox. This is something I have never done but have wanted to do for a very long time.
‘Red foxes have successfully colonised urban areas throughout the world. They are widespread in many Australian, European, Japanese and North American cities.In Britain, foxes were first established in cities such as Bristol and London during the 1940s. More recently, cities such as Cambridge and Norwich have been colonised. Similar patterns of colonization are found worldwide. Foxes were recorded in Melbourne as early as the 1930s and were widespread in many Australian cities by the 1970s, but in Zurich, Switzerland, urban foxes only appeared during the 1980s.’ http://www.thefoxwebsite.net/urbanfoxes/
I firstly wanted to get a better insight to the routine of the fox. When is it most active, when does it leave and return and so on. While I was thinking about the best way to do this sat in the garden (on an unusually hot day in Yorkshire) I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. To my huge amazement and delight, I saw a fox cub scurrying past the side of the house. I ran inside and grabbed my GoPro and I knew the wide-angle, size and nature (action camera) would be perfect to determine the foxes’ activities. I attempted to use the GoPro for three evenings/nights, however I came across a number of problems.
Abandoning the Gopro, I eventually moved on to my Nikon D810 (which I love). I decided to set my camera to ‘interval shooting’ so that it would take a photograph every 2 seconds for as long as I wanted, in my case I set it to stop shooting after it reached 2 hours. I changed the settings so that I was shooting in aperture priority which deals with the changing light better than any other setting, and heightened my ISO to around 3200. The model of camera is brilliant at dealing with this amount of noise. My settings were as follows: f/4-5 which allowed me to achieve a shutter speed of around 125th of a second (fast enough to freeze any movement).
I placed the camera on my Sirui tripod which allowed me to get very close to the ground and keep as hidden and out of the foxes’ way as possible. Around the camera, I placed a plastic food bag just in case it rained (which, let’s face it, is more than likely in Leeds). Despite knowing that the Nikon D810 is brilliantly weather sealed, an incident involving water with my previous camera scarred me for life, so precautions all the way. I manually focused the lens I was using which was the standard Nikon 24-85mm lens. The focus was located between the lens and the edge of the den as I believed this is the most likely place the fox would be. I left the camera taking images and went inside.
Around 2 hours later I went to check the camera and to my huge delight, there was a baby fox on the back on my LCD screen. Naturally, I ran inside screaming ‘MUM!’ who came running after thinking I had been mauled by the fox. After telling her I had got a picture she sighed with her hand on her heart which I thought was happiness and delight… It turned out to be disappointment as I had disrupted her game of candy crush! Despite this she looked at the image and was very interested!
Excitedly, I quickly uploaded the images from my SD card on to my computer, changed batteries and put the camera straight back outside. Being so excited and eager for more images, I forgot to change the settings and so naturally with the evening progressively getting speedily darker, the camera was making the pictures as bright as it could, meaning the shutter speed had fallen a huge amount. When I looked at my camera this time, there were many images of the fox but all motion blurred. This was however a great learning curve.
I am hoping to get a lot more images and even footage during my stay at home. I can now confidently (sort of) attach my GoPro to my camera as I know it will be light enough to see the footage. This way I will have a supporting film to go with my pictures.
Note: To achieve these image I have changed the image from RAW quality to JPEG in order to get more images onto the SD card. When I am confident that I can photograph the foxes personally and that they trust me enough to be in my presence, I will change the quality back to RAW which will allow me to get some beautiful images and edit them fully.
A Brief Edit
That’s the hope anyway! Please stay tuned if you’re interested in my blog or comment if you have any questions or opinions, I would be so interested to hear anything from you!
Thank you all and watch this space!