Tag Archives: Gledhow Valley

Four Foxes Frolicking in Gledhow Valley Garden.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?  

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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.

Mallard steams by towing eight ducklings in a continuous line.

Mallard steams by towing eight ducklings in a continuous line. Photo Mick Burton, 7.8.2016, Well House Drive, Gledhow Valley, Leeds.

Mallard steams by towing eight ducklings in a continuous line. Photo Mick Burton, 7.5.2016, Well House Drive, Gledhow Valley, Leeds.

After a couple of hours digging rocks and roots in the back garden, I emptied the roots into the brown bin and glanced towards the road at the front. There was a gap between the car and the gate post and I glimpsed a line of ducklings going by on the other side of the road.  What were the chances of that happening?

View across the road where a line of ducklings went by. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist,7.5.16.

View across the road where a line of ducklings went by. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist,7.5.16.

I rushed inside the house for my camera and ran to catch up with the female Mallard mother marching down the road with her brood in tow.  There were some kids in gardens not yet aware and cars going up and down the road.  I took the photo which appears at the top of this post.

But what was this Mallard mother doing coming down our road with her ducklings, when I knew of no streams or ponds in the streets higher up?

Anyway, I knew where she was likely to be going.  If she turned right at the bottom of the road she was on Gledhow Valley Road and the houses along there all had the Gledhow Beck flowing through their gardens.  She started to move out towards the curb to assess when to cross the road.

Mallard mum starting to move out towards the curb. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Mallard mum starting to move out towards the curb. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

I took another closer view of the bird as she headed along parallel to the curb.  There is an eighth duckling just out of shot at the back.

Closer view of female Mallard with seven ducklings in the picture. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist, 7.5.16, Gledhow Valley.

Closer view of female Mallard with seven ducklings in the picture. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist, 7.5.16, Gledhow Valley.

Looking at these photos reminds me of my  train spotting days as a youth when I saw the  A4 pacific steam engine “Mallard” at speed pulling many carriages.  No wonder they decided to name the fastest ever steam locomotive after such a sleek bird.  Here is a photo I took of the “Mallard” steam engine at the National Railway Museum in York three years ago, along with my son Matthew.

Mallard, the fastest ever steam engine, at York National Railway Museum along with my son Matthew. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Mallard, the fastest ever steam engine, at York National Railway Museum along with Matthew Burton.  Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Now back to the ducks and the dangerous task of crossing the road.  The road seemed clear so Mum decided to cross.  A car was signalling to turn left into our road and I flagged it down just as it was turning, which gave me little time to get a photo of the ducks in the middle of the road.  The result was a bit shaky.

Mallard Mum and eight ducklings crossing the road in front of a waiting car in Gledhow Valley. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Mallard Mum and eight ducklings crossing the road in front of a waiting car in Gledhow Valley. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

When you are a very small duckling it’s not easy to mount a pavement you can’t really see over, and there’s not much sympathy from Mum.

Ducklings struggle to mount a pavement higher than they are. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Ducklings struggle to mount a pavement higher than they are. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Pause to regroup and a crowd of kids is starting to gather.

Ducklings regroup on the pavement after mounting to kerb. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Ducklings regroup on the pavement after mounting to kerb. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

The worst is over and the female Mallard turns right into Gledhow Valley Road.

Mallard and ducklings turn right into Gledhow Valley. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Mallard and ducklings turn right into Gledhow Valley. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

The Mallard Mum and her train of ducklings can speed up as they enter the home straight.  I am sure now that they will turn right into a drive soon.

The train of Mallard ducklings speed up as they enter the home straight. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

The train of Mallard ducklings speed up as they enter the home straight. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

The crowd of kids is becoming a bit intrusive and I ask them to keep their distance, but without much effect.

Kids arriving from all directions are beginning to crowd the ducks. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Kids arriving from all directions are beginning to crowd the ducks. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

The Mallard Mum’s preferred garden is a bit further along I think, but she decides that she will turn into this drive anyway to escape the kids and go down to the stream.

The Mallard and her brood turn down a drive to escape the kids and to head for their stream. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

The Mallard and her brood turn down a drive to escape the kids and to head for their stream. Photo Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Just another incident with wildlife in the valley.  Not long ago Joan and I helped a family of swans to cross Gledhow Valley Road, whilst policemen held up traffic from both directions, but that’s a story for another day.

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 !

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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.