Sunday, May 2, 2021

Eerie Cries and Nazgûl Eyes

The common red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is an uncommonly beautiful animal, sleek of form and pleasant of hue.  We have them in my neck of the woods, but it is a rare occasion, usually around dawn, when I see one.  Hearing them, though, is another story entirely... it's enough to raise one's hackles.

Right around four-thirty this morning, I heard that screa suh m and rushed out to the field with a high-powered flashlight to get a glimpse.  While I could see the sleek profile of the wee beastie, the most prominent visible features were the twin glows of the animal's tapeta lucida reflecting back at me.  Needless to say, the cat wasn't too happy knowing that there was another predator in the vicinity.  She eagerly jumped onto my shoulder, even though the fox kept a distance of about fifty meters, and was glad when we eventually went back inside.

I'm not the sort of person who scares easily, I couldn't function in my job if I were, but there's something unheimlich about such a sound, even coming from a small, pretty animal.  Of course, my natural inclination is to investigate the sources... contrary to John Bellairs' advice: "Unexplained noises are best left unexplained."

I love my job, I find it a continuous source of beauty and wonder, but it's not for everyone.  To my knowledge, two new hires didn't even last a shift.  I like to think that it's my investigative bent which keeps me here... well, that and a certain level-headedness.  I know I'm the most dangerous animal onsite.


Li'l Innocent said...

For some time now, it's been practicallyt impossible to watch a British tv drama with nighttime scenes out in the country without hearing the fierce screech of a vixen as part of the soundtrack - to the extent that I can't help wondering if it isn't sometimes edited in to enhance the wild-night ambience of the scene. I know that the fox population in the UK has gone up, and that urban foxes are now quite common. But is there *always* a foxy lady in season within microphone range when these scenes are filmed?
European foxes are subtly different from ours in some respects - according to Wikipedia anyway - variants within the species. I wonder if that extends to vocalizations too. There are foxes in our neighborhood on and off, and I've heard some wild sounds at night in summer that might be them, but never that hair-raising British yell. Next time your fox shows up with things to say, you should try recording it!

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

I'll see what I can do, it's an ephemeral occurrence, so it might not be so easy to record.

Anathema Device said...

Oh yeah, mating foxes, or ones in search of a good time, are scary as hell to hear, whether in a forest, or a quiet suburban street at night.