|Fox on a roof, January 2010|
A few days ago I was contacted by a researcher for Windfall Films asking if they could use one of my photos for a documentary about urban foxes. The program in question is called Foxes Live: Wild in the City and it starts on Channel 4 on Monday night. Fiona, the researcher, went on to explain:
"To give you a bit more information about the show it will be broadcast live on Channel 4, over four nights at the end of April / beginning of May. The idea is to look at our current knowledge about urban foxes and to learn more about these fascinating creatures. Our ultimate aim is to mobilise the nation in an attempt to study the fox population across the UK and, working with academic researchers at Brighton university, we hope to contribute up-to-date research to the scientific literature on urban foxes. We also intend to look at people's experience with, and opinions of, urban foxes and to consider - from a scientific perspective - issues such as whether foxes deserve their often-negative reputation."Sounds good to me, but you have to wonder if the focus purely on foxes will be enough to sustain viewer interest over the duration of the series. The scattershot approach of Springwatch (the program Foxes Live will inevitably be compared to) isn't to everyone's taste, but one of its strengths is that if you don't like a particular feature, another one will come along soon after to replace it. And, as with any live TV show featuring animals, there's a lot riding on whether its bushy-tailed stars are willing to perform on cue.
Of course, where I live, foxes pretty much own the night. Seeing them after dark is one thing; getting a decent photo of them during the daytime is a different matter entirely. So, after many frustrating near-misses with the camera, you can imagine my reaction when, one morning in January 2010, I heard some magpies kicking up an almighty fuss and looked out my window to see a fox standing in full view on my neighbour's roof. This fox was soon joined by a second and the two proceeded to follow each other back and forth across the rooftops. They were up there so long I even had time to switch the 50mm lens for the TV-60 (400mm), enabling me to get the photo shown above.
Last spring I was treated to an even closer view when a vixen and her cubs used the gap behind my garden shed as a temporary bolt-hole. I admit I did use some strategically-placed dog food to get the cub in the right position for this shot, but it was worth it.
|Fox Cub in my garden, May 2011|
Incidentally, I was asked to sign a release form formally granting the program-makers the right to use my photo, and, buried in amongst the usual legal-speak, I was amused/alarmed to see the eyebrow-raising text "throughout the universe, in perpetuity". On this occasion I was content to sign the form, as I don't consider the photo in question to be as good as the ones on this page (if they use it all it'll most likely be a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment), but it serves as a salutary reminder that you should always read the small print.
Foxes Live begins on Channel 4 on Monday 30 April at 8pm. For more details (including videos and an interactive sightings map), visit their website at http://foxes.channel4.com/