Tag Archives: Fox

The Sunbathing Foxes are back in Gledhow Valley.


Two foxes sunbathing in my garden in Gledhow Valley on 15 February 2019.  Photo by Mick Burton, continuous line artist, Leeds, Yorkshire.

This burst of warm spring weather is bringing out the foxes just about every day. These two spent about 30 minutes wandering around, sitting and just relaxing.

Not too different to the painting which I did of a couple doing similar things a couple of years ago.

IMG_4534 Best - Copy

My single continuous line painting of two foxes sunbathing a couple of years ago.   Mick Burton, continuous line artist, Leeds, Yorkshire.

The first time I saw foxes in Gledhow Valley was in the late 1970’s, when I lived near the middle of the valley and brought the dog to this end of the woods, above the Well House, and spotted a pair of cubs playing.

To see more animals go to the Friends of Gledhow Valley Woods website    http://www.fgvw.co.uk      .

Four Foxes Frolicking in Gledhow Valley Garden.

IMG_3711 (2) - Copy

Four foxes appear in Gledhow Valley garden on 6 June 2018.   Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

I have mentioned the local Gledhow Valley foxes several times in my posts, but this is the first time that we have seen four at once in the garden, which backs on to the woods. There appear to be two young ones and two adults (or older siblings).

IMG_3721 - Copy

Four Gledhow Valley foxes, with a lot of licking going on.   Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

In the above photo the foxes are licking themselves and each other and this seemed to go on for ages.

Joan and I have been provided with all sorts of entertainment by the foxes over the last few years.

Our next door neighbour used to put out spare ribs in their back garden.  One time a magpie was enjoying these when a fox came along and picked one up and went away with it.  The fox returned several times for others and the magpie became more agitated each time, finally bouncing around the fox in circles and squawking loudly, as if to say “Those are my spare ribs, get off them, clear off ! “.

Twice when we have had relatives here for Xmas and eating Xmas lunch in the dining room we have seen a rare event.  Looking out of the French windows there would be a fox helping himself to all the bread scraps we had put out on the low bird table, as if taking part in the festivities.

Foxes are territorial of course and I we have seen one on the garage flat roof marking his territory up there.

Of course, they are also hunters and we have seen one trotting up the garden, spotting a squirrel to one side and shooting off sideways to grab it in its mouth and then continuing on its way.

As hunters, our foxes have an annual run in with the swans on the Gledhow Valley Lake.  Several years ago we were walking past the lake at about 7pm in mid May when we saw a fox standing nose to beak with a swan, on its eggs on the nest in a shallow part of the lake.  A photographer, who was watching, said that the fox would not take on a swan on its own, but suggested that when it was dusk, several foxes could work together to try to get the eggs.  The next day there were no eggs.  Something similar may have also happened this year.

Foxes are wary of cats.  Avril, who lives on Gledhow Valley Road was once at the end our garden asking if we had seen her cat, which she said was quite shy and usually stayed in the garden.  It was a large fluffy cat.  The next day I saw a fox at the top of the garden just to the right of the huge oak in the corner.  It then backed to the right and a big fluffy cat came slowly from behind the tree, nose to nose with the fox.  The fox eventually turned slowly away and left.  When I saw Avril again she said she was not surprised as the cat was in charge of all her dogs, including a large Alsatian.

We have also seen the effects of mange on an adult fox, which we saw for some time a few years ago, and it seemed to survive.

The fox below appeared on 4 July 2018, and may be one of the four we saw in early June.


Healthy fox in Gledhow Valley garden 4th July 2018. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

This fox was up and down the garden a few times.


Side view of healthy Gledhow Valley fox. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Shortly afterwards, Joan was at the back of the garage with her watering cans and I walked down to the front and between the garage and the house only to come face to face with this fox.  It veered off and went between our garage and next door’s (a gap of about 8″).  I shouted to Joan “Fox coming through”, which of course meant nothing to her until it burst out at the top end of the garage.

And now for a different view of a young fox.


Young fox in Gledhow Valley appears 5th July 2018.   Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

The next day, a young fox appeared, which I think may be a younger sibling of yesterday’s fox, and headed for the pond, which we have in a half wooden cask, for a drink.  There were also  five magpies going in and out of the bird bath.


Poor young fox with scanty fur in Gledhow Valley. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

It was soon obvious that this was not a well fox, certainly compared to the one we saw the previous day.  Lacking in fur and with a red sore patch on its back.


Unhealthy young fox wants a drink from the bird bath in a Gledhow Valley garden. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

The fox now wants to have a drink from the bird bath, which the magpies have temporally vacated.


The magpies have not left much water for Gledhow Valley fox.   Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

The fox can’t quite reach for a drink as the magpies have splashed away most of it.


Young fox in Gledhow Valley showing all the signs of mange, with open wound made worse by scratching.    Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

This close up of the fox shows all the caking and cracking of the skin and the red open wound which are advanced signs of mange.  Of course it is made worse by constant scratching, and the longest period of hot dry weather since 1976 would have contributed.


Young fox with mange, really struggling, with attentive magpies (there were five of them altogether).   Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

All five magpies were nearby.  They were quiet, seemingly knowing that one of their rivals was really struggling.  Eventually the fox wandered off up the garden and into the woods.

Sadly, the following morning we found the body of this young fox on the lawn near to the pond.  Possibly the adult foxes would not let it into the den if they thought that it may die and would need to be removed, and so it returned to our garden.

I buried the fox in the garden, near to Tufty my cat.

But what about the other young fox?  

IMG_3990 15.7.18 another young fox with mange

The other young fox later appeared, also with signs of mange in Gledhow Valley garden. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

On 15 July 2018 this young fox appeared and it showed similar signs of having mange just like its sibling.  I is seen here eating some scraps of bread left by the magpies.  There was no sign yet of an open wound and so hopefully the mange was not as bad as with the other fox.

We all hope that this one survives.  

Gledhow Foxes Sunbathing, continuous line. Mick Burton

“Gledhow Foxes Sunbathing”. Association of Animal Artists “British Wildlife” exhibition, February & March 2015.   Mick Burton, Continuous line drawing.

I drew this picture over three years ago and I sold it at St Gemmas Leeds Art & Photography Exhibition & Sale last year.  I was also asked to produce a similar one as a commission. 

This year it is the St Gemma’s 40th Anniversary Arts Festival and I am one of the 40 artists invited to take part.  As I have intended to do a colour version of my foxes single continuous line for some time I will now complete one to include in my exhibits.

Nessie the cockapoo visits Gledhow Valley


Nessie the cockapoo arrives with a favourite toy. How did she know my favourite colour range. Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Nessie the cockapoo has come to stay for a week whilst Helen and Janet are in California.  She arrived waving one of her favourite toys, which just happens to have a range of colours similar to those in a recent painting of mine.


“Knight’s Tour Fragments”, acrylic on canvas. Exhibited at Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club Exhibition in November 2016. Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Nessie is two and a half and lives in a village in Worcestershire in a house almost surrounded by common land.  Strangely, there are no cats in the village and no squirrels (although several years ago one appeared in the garden the day we arrived for a visit, and it was suggested that it had been a stowaway in our car).  Hens roam free in the garden – so where are the foxes?  No greater spotted woodpeckers, they are all green.

Nessie’s favourite spot in our house is by the French Windows at the back.  She watches the birds and squirrels endlessly, and it is good to lie down on the job.


Nessie, the cockapoo, watching birds and squirrels. Why not take it easy?   Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

But Nessie is not used to seeing cats, and we have plenty of those.  Suddenly we hear barking and scraping at the window.


Nessie spots a cat and all hell breaks loose.  Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Hopefully one of the foxes will turn up whilst Nessie is here.  We often see one or more during the day, and we even had one on the garage roof marking its territory.  Here is a photo of one in the garden in late January 2017.


A Gledhow Valley fox in the garden in January 2017.  Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Nessie eats sensibly and feels that there my be more nurishment in the cardboard box than in the breakfast cereals themselves.


Nessie tucking in to a cardboard box which had contained breakfast cereals.  Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Of course the highlight of each day for Nessie is the walk through Gledhow Valley Woods to the lake.


Nessie, the cockapoo, can’t wait to go to Gledhow Valley Woods, and the lake, with Joan and me.  Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

We are used to seeing the odd rat scamper across the path by the lake, as well as seeing how well they swim.  One rat dashing across suddenly realised that Nessie was passing and took off, missing Nessie’s nose by a whisker.  I am not good at taking photos of flying rats, so here is one nearby wondering what is going on.


A rat peeping from behind a tree on the banks of Gledhow Valley Lake.  Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Twenty ducks who were sitting on the bank and the path fly off when they see Nessie, and Joan has brought some oats to feed to the Swan.  There is only one swan left at the lake just now and it is still in its first year.


Young swan, now living alone on Gledhow Valley Lake.  Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

We have been concerned for some months about the swans, particularly since the water level dropped after a digger cleared rubbish from the dam end. Large areas of silt have been on view where the swans nest.  Here are the adults and one youngster in late January 2017.


Family of swans on Gledhow Valley Lake. Photo taken in late January 2017 before the adults abandoned the lake.  I hope the swans did not have to pull bread slices from this wrapper themselves.   Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

At the time of this photo, showing the two adults and the above young swan in late January 2017, the second youngster had been ostracized and was sitting in a corner of the lake.  When we were litter picking this Sunday on the monthly action day with Friends of Gledhow Valley Woods, they told us that soon after the photo foxes killed this young bird and then the adults left the lake.  One adult was found wandering in the Harehills area and the RSPCA took it to Roundhay Park lake.  A lady told us that the other adult was walking past her house in Oakwood, presumably heading for Roundhay Park lake too.  So we hope that things work out well for the adults at Roundhay and our young  survivor here in Gledhow.


Nessie spots a cat she has not seen before. Henry adopts defensive mode.  Mick Burton, continuous line artist, Leeds.

On the way home from the lake, Nessie confronted a cat.  This is Henry and he stood sideways and seemed to double in size.  Nessie was on her lead, which was probable just as well for Nessie.


Henry the marmalade cat from Gledhow Valley.  Dogs beware.   Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Anna and Emma, the children next door, went to the woods with Nessie today and had been looking forward to it for days.  Nessie gets on well with everyone.

She has enjoyed her holiday in Gledhow Valley and we are taking her back to the land of green woodpeckers.

Continuous Line Drawings at “British Wildlife” Exhibition, Martin Mere.

"Mouseman Mouse" based upon Robert Thompson carved mouse.  Association of Animal Artists  "British Wildlife" Exhibition, Martin Mere, February & March 2015.  Mick Burton, Continuous Line Drawings.

“Mouseman Mouse” single continuous line drawing based upon Robert Thompson carved mouse. Association of Animal Artists
“British Wildlife” Exhibition, Martin Mere, February & March 2015. Mick Burton, Continuous Line Artist.

This is my second year taking part in the Association of Animal Artists exhibition at Martin Mere Wetlands Centre, Lancashire.  “British Wildlife” runs until 29 March 2015.  My chosen wildlife submissions are “Mouseman Mouse and “Gledhow Foxes Sunbathing”.

My grandad George Burton was born in Kilburn, North Yorkshire, and when I was young my Dad took me to the Church in Kilburn and pointed out the carved mice which appeared on the church furniture.  They were carved by Robert Thompson, who was at school with Grandad, and his family still run the furniture business in Kilburn which is now world famous.

As time went on I found out so many things about Robert “Mouseman” Thompson and his mouse trademark.  It seemed natural that I should do a  mouse in my continuous line drawing style and colour sequence.

Robert "Mouseman" Thompson's trademark carving on the Altar rail in Kilburn Parish Church, North Yorkshire.  Picture by Dave Sumpner at English Wikipedia.

Robert “Mouseman” Thompson’s trademark carving on the Altar rail in Kilburn Parish Church, North Yorkshire. Picture by Dave Sumpner at English Wikipedia.

Dad told me that Grandad and Robert were drinking companions in the late 1890’s and he passed on some stories of those times.

A man went to the pub in Kilburn with his groceries every day before setting off home.  He always went home over the “beck” footbridge, which had vertical rails with strappings through them.  The man habitually stopped half way across, sat on the straps and lit his pipe.  Grandad and others loosened the straps one day and the man later fell into the water.  There was a lot of “fuss” about that.

Another regular at the pub always parked his horse and trap outside and, of course, regardless of how much he had had to drink the horse could find its way home.  One night he came out of the pub and boarded the trap, not realising that the horse had been turned around between the shafts.  He drove off backwards to crash into the church wall.

I attended a talk by one of the Thompson family over 40 years ago in Leeds Central Library and spoke to him later.  He said that each wood carver had his own style of mouse.  Old Robert’s mouse had become very simple, like a wedge of cheese, and they called it “grand prix” mouse.

"Gledhow Foxes Sunbathing".  Association of Animal Artists "British Wildlife" exhibition, February & March 2015.  Mick Burton, Continuous line drawing.

“Gledhow Foxes Sunbathing”. Association of Animal Artists “British Wildlife” exhibition, February & March 2015. Mick Burton, Single Continuous line drawing.

I saw a fox cub at the east end of Gledhow Valley Woods when walking the Airedales over 30 years ago.  Since moving here foxes have regularly been in the garden in the day time.  Last summer they took up sun bathing at the top of the lawn virtually every day for a period.  This usually included a prolonged period of scratching.

When we were completing the patio, with the help of Helen, Janet and Richard, a fox came and sat at the top of the garden and watched.  He had the demeanour of an “overseer” or a General overlooking a battle.  On another day there were two of them sitting up there and they reminded me of the “King and Queen” sculpture by Henry Moore which I saw up on the hill at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 1987.

Poster for Henry Moore exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 1987.

Poster for Henry Moore exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 1987.















Continuous line blog by Mick Burton.

Herons on Gledhow Valley Lake

Young heron on Gledhow Valley Lake, Leeds, September 2014. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Young heron on Gledhow Valley Lake, Leeds, September 2014. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

I am an artist who draws and paints quite a lot of animals and birds and it is great to live in a wooded valley which has a stream and a large lake and plenty of wildlife.

Our house is at the East end of the woods, which stretch for about  a mile.  There is a road running the length of the valley, which goes near to the edge of the lake.  Gledhow Beck feeds the lake from  the west  and a road from Chapel Allerton crosses the valley and stream and then winds up a steep south facing slope known locally as “Little Switzerland”.

I have lived in Gledhow Valley, at two different addresses, for nearly 40 years.

There have been swans on the lake for many years and of course ducks , moorhens and coots.  In recent years we have seen a heron, mainly on the other side well away from the main viewing stage.

Older Heron, Gledhow Valley Woods, Leeds, September 2014.  Photo by Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Older Heron, Gledhow Valley Woods, Leeds, September 2014. Photo by Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

In the last couple of months there have been two herons and I took the attached photos a month ago.  The older heron (see left) was still quite a distance away but the young one (see above) was more accommodating and I took quite a lot of photos from the dam on the East end of the lake.  My bird watcher friend Bernard says that the young heron will be about a year old.  It seemed to be catching small fish in its beak.

About a week previously Joan had spotted a Heron sitting up in a tree in the next garden to ours.  I was too slow to get the camera before the bird flew off, but it seemed to be looking down into the beck which runs past a neighbour’s garden.  This would probably have been the young heron.

I then remembered an incident  earlier in the year, in January, when Joan found a fish on the back lawn.  It was 9″ long and I photographed it (see below).  We could not understand how it got there and our friend Jerry, who is a keen fisherman, said that it was either a Rudd or a Perch and it looked slightly damaged on its side.  Possibly a heron was passing by with the fish and dropped it !

Rudd or Perch fish, 9

Rudd or Perch fish, 9″ long, found on lawn. Maybe dropped by heron. Photo by Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

The photo shows a largish animal dropping above the tail, which could be from a Fox (we see one most days in the garden – even two at once last week) maybe claiming title to the fish.  We left the fish there and it disappeared.

Our enjoyment of the valley is greatly helped by the Friends of Gledhow Valley Woods who once a month organise volunteers (including Joan, and occasionally me) to collect litter and do all sorts of development work and repairs on paths, seats, signs, etc.  They hold an Annual Fair and an Open Day of the Well House, or Gipton Spar Bath House, which was built in 1671.