Black fox photos placed with the DAILY MAIL…
When amateur wildlife photographer Adam Lloyd emailed me with his amazing photos of a rare black fox I knew it would be a story a national newspaper would love!
At first glance the creature beast baring its sharp teeth looks like a grizzly black bear.
But this is the terrifying moment a rare black fox and a red fox launched into a vicious fight – in a suburban west London garden.
Amateur photographer Adam Lloyd, 48, took the dramatic photos showing the pair snarling in combat as they fought over a vixen.
Black foxes are incredibly rare – only a handful of them are said to exist in the UK and legend says they bring bad luck.
But Mr Lloyd could hardly believe his good fortune when he spotted the distinctive jet-black creature with its bushy white-tipped tail from a bathroom window.
He said: ‘Until now I never knew black foxes existed. So I feel incredibly privileged to have witnessed not only a black fox but such a battle – and such drama in a busy London suburb.
‘To open bathroom blinds and see a black fox calmly sat right in front of me on a shed roof next to him was a vixen was extraordinary.’
Quickly reaching for a camera he began taking photos.
But within minutes the scene of serenity on a frosty morning had turned to one of menace as another fox – a red male with a less bushy coat– began howling in the garden next door.
Said Mr Lloyd: ‘The black fox and the vixen looked over the wall to see what the noise was. I had no idea what was making the commotion until I saw the male red fox come into view.
‘The vixen who had been with the black fox stepped aside out of danger. It as then the red male fox arched his back and with his ears back and tail down, let out a long snarl.
‘The male red fox had a patchy fur coat and didn’t look as well as the black fox and the vixen. I can only think he went into battle because he wanted to mate with the vixen or possibly the pair had strayed onto his territory.’
Mr Lloyd believed the black fox would retreat. ‘But the black fox was very aggressive. Without warning he reared himself up on his hind legs in an incredible show of dominance and opened his mouth baring all his teeth.
‘In defence the red fox stood up on his hind legs too to defend himself. But the black fox was bearing down on him and he quickly turned tail – with all three of them running off into a neighbouring garden where I could hear them howling as they continued the fighting.’
Mr Trevor Williams from wildlife charity The Fox Project said: ‘In 27 years and dealing with some 10,000 foxes coming to us for treatment, we have never had a black fox brought in, which tells you how rare they are.
‘January to february is the mating season for foxes with the cubs being born March to April. And what this photographer witnessed was a typical fight over a vixen.
‘In this case the black fox is clearly dominant – indeed he is likely to be the most dominant fox in the area. This is shown by the way the red fox put his ears back as he approaches the black fox – that is a subordinate gesture. The coat of the male red fox is also looking a little worn so maybe demonstrating past battle scars. It is possible the male red fox used to be the dominant fox in the area. He is still not ready to relinquish his status and is having a go – but the strong black fox is having none of it.’
Incredibly Mr Lloyd, who was staying with a friend for a few days in Hounslow, almost missed capturing the fight on camera.
‘Frustratingly the first camera I grabbed was out of battery,’ he said, ‘but after a brief panic I managed to find a second camera and so could use that.’
He adds: ‘My own house is set in a rural area and backs onto woodland. Many times I’ve taken photos of foxes. Over the nights leading up to the fight I’d recognised some howling was coming from foxes.
‘But I have never seen a black fox and nor have I witnessed such a drama. It’s ironic that it happened in such an urban area.
‘But the foxes seemed to have no fear of me. At one point the black fox seemed to look directly at me and he didn’t flinch.’
It was only when he researched black foxes Mr Lloyd realised how rare they are.
There have been only a handful of sightings of black foxes in the UK since the first one was seen in Preston, Lancashire in 2008.
The phenomenon is due to a rare genetic flaw dating back hundreds of years.
Although a black fox is in fact an ordinary red fox which has black fur, it is normally only seen in growing cubs. Those cubs with darker fur will then develop a chestnut coat in adulthood. However, a true black fox has been born with a genetic mutation which ensures even as an adult it keeps its black coat.
Meanwhile in Medieval times villages were very afraid of the sighting of a black fox which was thought to be a ‘devil’ and the bringer of trouble or bad luck.
Have you got an amazing photo to sell to the press? Why not contact me as Adam did for a full free appraisal of your picture >>>