Over the next few weeks, the babies were a constant factor every day, running around in the garden, flocking to the mother as soon as she returned.  The baby here (May 30th) has a rounded face, and dark fur, compared to the parents.  This changed dramatically over the course of just a few weeks.

The father disappeared somewhere along the way; not sure if that’s the nature of the fox family structure, or whether perhaps he was trapped, killed by predators, or otherwise killed.

Feeding time – the mother was attacked by the babies as soon as she returned, all of them squeezing underneath, fighting each other for space while the mother patiently waited for them to finish.  This lasted for several minutes, and happened a few times a day.  Looks painful to me!

Happy pairAfter feeding, the mother would hang around for a short time, then disappear – probably to find more food for herself and the family.  The babies would frolic in the garden, play-fighting with each other, chasing each other, rolling in the grass, and so on.  But they never went beyond the boundary of the garden – it was as if there was an invisible fence in their mind.  After a few weeks, however, they started to go outside the fence, but still never far away.

Here’s a couple shots of playful foxes, taken with the new 350mm lens:

Play fighting
This one a few days later …
Play fighting 2

Graceful pose Here’s the mother, checking out the garden (June 17). With the babies getting larger and larger, and their color and facial shape becoming more and more adult, it was harder to tell them apart, but – the mother was still quite a bit bigger, and the tail of the mother is still a lot fuller.

Sitting pretty This is one of the last pictures of the babies, taken June 22 – about 2 months since the first appearance of the parents (April 13), and a month after the first appearance of the babies (May 26).

Compare the facial structure and fur color of these babies now to how they were just two or three weeks ago.

Mixed diet, June 23rd) Over the course of the next several weeks, the number of babies gradually dropped, with only two babies left after a few weeks. The only reason I could imagine for this is that they are getting picked off by predators – birds, probably. But maybe … just maybe … they rapidly achieve self-sufficiency and go off on their own.

They still continued to feed on the mother, even as they grew. Note the bird lying on the ground, in the foreground … looks like they are transitioning to solid food! At different times, we saw the mother bring snakes, birds, and squirrels.

Final VisitSeveral weeks later (July 3rd to be precise), I caught this shot – the first sighting in over a week. A pair of the ‘babies’ returned for one last visit. Perhaps remembering that this was a safe place to hang out for a while…

Click here for a Windows Media Player movie of the same visit, using the movie-mode of my ‘other’ new camera – a Panasonic Lumix with widescreen movie mode.  And here’s a direct link to the same movie in Quicktime format, for those who need it – only click this link if you can’t get the WMP version to play, and if you can wait several minutes! I don’t know how to embed the Quicktime player into a web page, so this is a direct link to the movie itself, which means all 4 Megabytes have to download before it will play.