All in a night's work
Derbyshire Life|August 2020
Paul Hobson recalls the trials, tribulations and delights of some unexpected garden visitors
Paul Hobson

Over the past 30 years, I have photographed foxes on many occasions, from the Derbyshire woods of Unstone and in my local allotments, to the wintery shores of Japan, the snow of Yellowstone and the rain lashed shores of Alaska.

Throughout this time I have had adult foxes visiting my garden regularly but on the whole they have proved difficult to photograph. I can count on the fingers of one hand successful encounters as a single fox walked through the garden in daylight.

About five years ago the random nocturnal visits of our local badgers transformed into a regular occurrence and I set myself a project to follow their story over the years. This was accomplished using a remote flash system (to provide the light with which to photograph) as they only ever came out in the dead of night. During this time, I sometimes noticed an adult fox on the periphery of an image but it never once came near the camera and flash. This changed during my Covid-19 lockdown.

As a football fan, I always watch Match of the Day and had been enjoying the repeated matches on the BBC during lock down. I was engrossed late one Saturday evening when I heard something bang loudly against our back door. I couldn’t imagine who would be calling at this hour and got up to investigate. During the spring to an autumn period I often run a moth trap at night so much of the garden was illuminated. As I gazed out of the back door window I was flabbergasted to see two young fox cubs chasing each other around. They seemed brimming with confidence and clearly had been in the garden before. I wondered how I had missed them and immediately turned my mind to working out a project to photograph them.

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