I still don't know how many foxes come to garden each night. I set the new Browning trail camera outside the back door to try to find out and here is what happened during the course of one night. These photos are from last month but it has taken me a while to process and post them.
The first fox, which had a mark over its right eye, arrived before 7pm and was very wary of the camera. It was picking up peanuts one at a time and walking 10m away to eat them.
Fox no. 1 suddenly flattened into a submissive posture and a second one turned up. No. 1 trotted away leaving no. 2 to the food. No. 2 has marks on its back, its right flank and its neck, possibly injuries.
Then no. 2 flattened into a submissive posture
as fox no. 3 appeared stage right.
To judge from their behaviour, nos. 2&3 are obviously a pair, eating together and rubbing against each other. While they were eating no. 4, with no marks, appeared but stayed in the background.
No. 2 wandered off and another fox, either no. 4 or possibly no. 5, ran in to feed although it wasn't welcomed by no.3.
There was a brief flare of aggression and no. 3 chased off no. 4 (or 5) who lay down in the distance.
Fox no. 2 reappeared and 2&3 spent 10 minutes eating. They then disappeared and no. 4 (or 5) came to eat for 15 minutes. It was timid and wary of the camera.
Next up was a big confidant fox, perhaps no. 6, with a notched left ear. It stayed eating for 5 minutes or so.
The next fox was less confidant, retreating with each peanut. I am losing count now. This could be no. 7 but could also be no. 4 (or 5) back again.
All this had taken about an hour. Then there was a lull until midnight when a small fox appeared, possibly no. 8, and very unsure of camera. It stayed for 20 minutes until it ran off, alarmed. One minute later two new foxes arrived. We may be up to nos. 9&10 by now. They were obviously a pair but not the same pair as nos. 2&3. The female was dominant and had a dark mark on her back. The male had wounds on the right side of his face and neck. She snapped at him (perhaps that's how he got wounded) but he stayed to eat.
At one point he bit her tail and she snapped at him again but then disappeared.
No 10 stayed eating for another 20 minutes. You can see the wound on his neck as he mopped up the last of the peanuts.
After that the camera recorded four further visits by foxes over the next five hours but none stayed as there was no food left.
So what to make of it all? Only a few of the foxes had distinguishing marks but some were smaller or larger and some timid, others confidant. I am sure at least 6-8 foxes visited the garden in one night and possibly as many as a dozen. I had 291 videos to sort through (almost 2 hours of recordings) so I won't be trying this again in hurry.