Thursday, July 13, 2006

A murderous, and mysterious, event

Don't ever be misled by tales of the peace and quiet of the countryside. Out here nature is red in tooth and claw. And noisy.

It is particularly noisy outside our bedroom window, almost nightly it seems, but as the wandering herds and flocks have wandered elsewhere and the cow-that-leapt-over-the-fences-and-bellowed* has been led to the bull I settled down in anticipation of a good night's sleep.

Now perhaps it was the moon - full and low in the sky to the south over Corndon - that woke me in the early hours. Or maybe it was the grunt and scuffle of some nocturnal creature in the lane. Curiosity got the better of me and I hauled myself from my bed and to the window. Vague shapes moved in the grass. I picked out two young foxes tussling and watched them for a few moments by torchlight. They seemed unconcerned by the light and continued to roll and tumble issuing grunts, squeaks and shrieks.

'Play' I thought - and then as an afterthought - 'nature isn't playful'. Seconds later as if suddenly aware of being in the spotlight the larger of the two darted to the fence, dragging the limp body of its fellow. It darted through the fence, across into the field and out of sight. Those shrieks must have been yelps of pain as sharp white teeth bit into tender flesh. A murder had been committed and the following morning the body of the young fox lay still in the grass.

I've not studied the social behaviour of foxes so am not sure if this murderous event was characteristic. If it were I suspect the countryside would be littered with vulpine corpses. Perhaps someone out there in blog-world can enlighten me?

The other interesting question is was it 'murder'? (Murder being premeditated and unlawful killing and the law being an unknown concept to a fox.) This thought was more effective than counting sheep and sleep followed shortly afterwards.

*Hormonal - quite understandable.....

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