COASTAL FOX

COASTAL FOX

AN UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTER

In November 2021 I was walking along the Norfolk coast in the UK during the grey seal pupping season trying to find a good place to photograph this annual event. To my amazement, as I was walking along a coastal path a soaking wet male red fox trotted up just metres in front of me, glistening in the sun.

Completely unfazed by my presence he continued about his business, barely even looking at me. He was clearly there for the same reason as me: the seals. However, he obviously had very different intentions to mine! He sat on the edge of the path peering down onto the beach where there were dozens of grey seals with their newly born pups. In my mind he was scoping out the beach as he was on a mission to find a meal. He had clearly been in some trouble, since he had half of his right ear missing and what looked like a broken back left leg (which was hard to see properly amongst the long grass on the dunes).

Despite his injuries, towards the end of the day he attempted to access the beach through a small enclosed path where there were lots of grey seals blocking his way. I wondered if he was after some of the protein-rich placentas, which would have been recently discarded by the new mothers in the seal colony. He tried his best to sneak past fully grown adults who were sleeping, but they weren’t having any of it and sent him packing.

He wasn’t going to give up that easily though, and eventually found a way through the crowds of seals, ending up on the beach. He started off by hassling a seal pup. My adrenaline was pumping as I feared that he might kill a young seal pup, or be crushed himself by a defensive mother. He ran along the beach disturbing many seals in his path and even ended up in the sea at one point!

 The seal wardens (who work extremely hard to protect the colony and new born pups) made the difficult decision to call the land owner. Sadly I found out that this beautiful animal had been shot dead just a few hours after my photos were taken. All I can hope is that he died instantly and didn’t suffer anymore pain. RIP buddy, it was an absolute privilege and really hope my photos have done you justice!

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