Daring raid by vixen who swims river four times to steal eggs from goose's nest

Daring raid by vixen who swims river four times to steal eggs from goose's nest

5th July 2007
Daily Mail

This remarkable set of photos shows the extraordinary lengths a fox will go to in order to feed its young cubs.

An amateur wildlife photographer managed to capture the vixen swimming backwards and forwards from an island, gently cradling goose eggs in her mouth, in Warwickshire.

Unable to carry more than one of the large eggs at a time, the female fox repeatedly swam the 40 yards from the bank to the island in marshland near a river.

The vixen gently grasps the goose egg in her mouth. She is unable to carry more than one and eventually makes four trips across the water

She takes a quick look around to ensure she has been undetected

Once there she would loot the Canada Goose nest, carefully picking up one of the delicate eggs in her mouth and then make the return journey through the water to her waiting cubs.

The vixen made a total of four trips to the island, bringing back an egg each time while hiding a fifth on the island which she then ate herself.

BBC wildlife expert Chris Packham, 46, said the pictures, taken by Tom Melton, gave a great insight into the lifestyle of foxes.

With the egg firmly in her jaws, the vixen contemplates her next move

Down at the riverbank, she begins the journey back to her hungry cubs

Mr Packham, who is about to launch a new series of Nature's Calendar on BBC2, said: "These pictures tell a great story and are quite an insight into the foxes' world.

"To capture such a specialist piece of behaviour is fantastic.

"I have never seen this before and I have spent a lot of time watching foxes.

"It shows how resourceful foxes can be and is a great example of how animals can appear to display intelligence.

"It also shows how much time and effort they put into raising their offspring, much like we do.

Careful not to let go of the egg, the vixen gently enters he water

She begins her 40 yard journey from the island to the marshland on the other side of the river

"The fox realises that the egg is a great big packet of protein which is just what her cubs need - she's basically delivering a packed lunch for each of them.

"She knows she can't get that back to them if she breaks the shell so she has to be very careful - foxes, like dogs, can have very gentle mouths when they want to.

"They are also quite good swimmers, although they will only swim if they really need to or if there is a good reward for doing so like this.

"They look odd when they swim because their tail floats out on the surface behind them.

The vixen's peckish cubs wait for their mother to bring back dinner

The outraged goose discovers the theft of her eggs

"This fox has probably learnt through trial and error how best to raid a nest of eggs and has become very adept.

"Finding this store of eggs was probably like going to the supermarket." Mr Melton, 47, took the amazing set of pictures early in the morning at marshland on a wildlife reserve near his home in Warwickshire.

After turning up to photograph a Kingfisher he knew would be at the site, he saw the two Canada Geese taking flight and was amazed to see a fox rummaging in their nest.

The father of two, who works for Coventry City Council and lives in nearby Solihull, said: "I could see an egg already hidden on the nearside of the island and realised there was something strange going on.

"The whole thing went on for about an hour and a quarter with the fox swimming out to the island, gently picking up an egg and then swimming back towards its den.

"I was absolutely stunned. When I realised what the fox was up to, at first I could not believe what I was seeing to be honest. I have never seen anything like it before.

"She would paw at the nest for quite some time to gently pick up each egg before starting to swim back the 40 yards or so to the bank.

"The eggs were really large and I could see how wide her mouth had to be to get them in.

"I was really scared of spooking her while I took the photos because I didn't want to interrupt but at one point I'm sure she heard my camera's shutter go and she looked right at me.

"I later saw her three cubs on the shore.

"When the Canada Geese came back they were honking and hissing and making a real fuss - they were clearly very upset.

"Then they went back to sitting on the nest, although all the eggs must have gone." Mr Packham said that the geese would not have tried to protect their eggs from a raiding fox.

He added: "Geese have to be careful because if they are in range the fox will have them - a Canada Goose against a fox is a one-sided contest so they would just leg it."

Dreadful Nonsense
Quote: Originally Posted by BlackleafView Post

He added: "Geese have to be careful because if they are in range the fox will have them - ."


Yeah well tell that to the marines

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