I have a dog who watches TV and aeroplanes – at least, she did when she was a puppy. By behaviour, she should be classed as a sighthound; her vision isn’t as detailed as mine, but lacks nothing in detecting movement. Sometimes we play a game where I hide a toy and instruct her to locate it – then, she uses her nose, standing tall, sniffing the air, but it clearly isn’t her preference.
Foxes aren’t scenthounds either, or even sighthounds. Mostly, they hunt by hearing. I once saw an ambling male suddenly cock his head, march twenty yards through dense grass, and leap on a rodent. This is a map in audio beyond our human experience.
But this morning, for the first ever, I saw a fox following a scent.
The behaviour was mistakable. He followed the trail through the frost, doubling back, scentmarking, studying.
Sometimes he stopped, head high, sniffing the air.
Naturally, he soon had an audience.
He was hunting – but not for food, I suspect. The fox breeding season in the UK peaks right now, and no doubt he was intrigued by the scent of a vixen.
He was still looking for her when I left.