Neil Fletcher takes a regular look at the everyday wildlife at Woods Mill, headquarters of the Sussex Wildlife Trust, and at his home in nearby Henfield.
The foxes were screaming again last night. As they are pretty much every night. I love having them in the garden, even though I see foxes pretty much every day, I still get a thrill that a large wild mammal chooses to visit us.
They're sorting out their territories, pairing up, and mating now to have their cubs in early April.
For ages now I've been wanting to make a sound recording of them barking, screaming, yelping, but unless I'm going to sit outside in the cold for hours with all the recording gear waiting for them to turn up, then it's going to be a bit difficult. See, if I simply wait for the opportunity to arise, then I have to get the gear all sorted, then try to open the door or window and slip outside without them noticing. The back door is a few hundred years old on my ancient cottage, and no matter hard I try, it clatters and creaks and bangs when I open it, and all the animals are away on their toes.
Last night though, every thing was perfect. Just getting ready to go to bed, and there they were in the garden, having a right old go. Recorder, microphone and parabolic reflector were all there, from something I was trying to do earlier in the day. Picked them up, and gently gently gently opened the window - the one that opens without getting stuck and then making a noise. Everything working, batteries good, switched to record.
But there's another problem, the problem that always happens - well you'll see what I mean from the sound recording. She just will not shut up. Every night this happens, every night my sleep is regularly punctuated by this ridiculous over-reaction. I don't mind the foxes, it's the 30 kilos of noise and fur bellowing in my ear that I find a bit annoying. Then she gets over-excited and wants to go outside to the toilet at 2.30am. My chances of ever getting a clean recording are quite frankly zero. It's not her fault I suppose - she thinks we're being attacked by monsters.
While we're at it, I might as well include a bit of video of one of the cubs filmed last September - she might have been the one making all the noise last night. Used a long lens hand-held through the kitchen window as didn't have a tripod to hand, so a bit shaky, and didn't have a proper microphone, so the whirring noise is the image stabiliser on the lens rumbling away - things I wouldn't countenance normally.
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