Tuesday, 23 October 2007
The sad sight on the left was a young fox with sarcoptic mange that was in the garden almost all the time three or four months ago, scrounging any food it could get. Its brush was like a rat's tail, it had practically no fur and it didn't look long for this world.
In desperation, I Googled fox mange and arrived at the website of the National Fox Welfare Society. They provide a homoeopathic treatment free of charge. It's a combination of Arsen Alb and Sulphur 30c, for those who know anything about the subject. The instructions provided suggested making the fox a jam or, even better, honey sandwich every night for a month, and sprinke 4 drops of the treatment on it. Well, it worked. Look at the brush on the same fox now (right-hand picture) and the thick fur that has grown, now that the poor creature is no longer scratching itself bald. Left untreated, the animal would have died within four months. Now, hopefully, the little dog fox will go on to father a family and live at least a couple of years.
I sent them a donation by way of saying thanks. Not everyone likes foxes, or the way they have proliferated in urban surroundings, but Hillingdon isn't inner London. There are more than 30 miles of countryside on the Hillingdon Trail and room for a few foxes, I think.
Friday, 19 October 2007
"Wit, wit-wit." It's not a blackbird's alarm call. Too loud for that and not quite the right tone. Too much 'body' to the voice. It sounds more like, "kwik-kwik." Then the sound is followed by a weak, experimental sounding 'whoo'. Aha! That sounds more like an owl. And hey, there's another one, on a different oak tree, answering it. But wait - it's only three in the afternoon. How can it be owls? I run for the binoculars and climb up a ladder. I spot an upheaval on a branch. It looks like a large bird flexing and flapping its wings, preparatory to taking its first flight. I'm thrilled. I feel privileged to watch what may be the debutante flight of an adolescent owl. Then my hopes, together with my interest, are dashed. The flaps I have seen turn out to be nothing more than two randy wood pigeons having it away. Damn! Owls, where art thou?
In the last few days I have found out that they are probably tawny owls, which leave the nest any time from August to November, to establish their own territories. The RSPB have put them under Red Alert because their numbers are declining so rapidly, so I really hope that two Hillingdon owls are off to found new dynasties in the area.