The dog fox slipped out from the woods just in front of me. Oblivious of the human, he dandered on along his path; sleek, red back catching the low sunlight, long thick tail streaming behind. I followed. Suddenly stopping, he sprang and pounced. Having missed whatever it was he’d seen, the fox sat down. He still hadn’t noticed me. I was no more than twenty yards away, and feeling as though I was in my very own John Lewis Christmas advert, I crept closer. Yawning, he curled into a ball, snout digging deep into his tail. It was only now that he saw me. He didn’t seem particularly bothered. Looking me over thoughtfully, his snout bristled as it took my scent. The moment I lifted a hand to scratch my nose though, he loped into the trees. I met him again this morning, lounging in a neighbouring field. Rolling over extravagantly as though he owned the place, he began cleaning his striking white chest. When few humans are about, it’s not uncommon to encounter daytime foxes, especially at this time of year as we enter the breeding season. And I’m not the only one who’s been watching this one. Somewhere in the woods, a prospective mate will be well aware of his presence. It’s for her that he’s been putting on this late autumn show of nonchalant mastery.

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