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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The fox outfoxed by a flock of geese: Birds gang up on predator who thought he was in for an easy lunch

-The encounter was photographed by a visitor at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Centre in Barnes, south-west London

By David Wilkes

As he splashed into a pond full of geese, this hungry fox no doubt thought he was in for an easy lunch.

But he had chosen the wrong flock for that. The brave birds banded together – and outfoxed him.

The Canada geese even recruited passing ducks, coots, moorhens and cormorants for their cunning plan.

Outnumbered: As the fox wades through the water looking for an easy meal, the geese surround him

They ganged up on the would-be predator to prevent him picking them off one by one and followed him along the pond.

Eventually, the fox gave up and returned to dry land still hungry and probably rather baffled.

The encounter was photographed by a visitor at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Centre in Barnes, south-west London.

Safety in numbers: Other birds join in to defend themselves and their offspring

A spokesman for the centre said: ‘They will be used to seeing foxes and have developed strategies to deal with their presence and protect themselves. It is typical behaviour in the wild but rarely seen.

These are fascinating pictures.’ Tim Webb, of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said it was an example of ‘mobbing’, a form of behaviour that birds engage in to defend themselves or their offspring from predators.

They aim to divert a predator’s attention through their behaviour and to blow its cover, thus reducing its chances of success.

Better luck next time: Defeated, the fox begins slink away

Although more commonly associated with crows and gulls swooping in flight at their target, it is common among many species of birds and can take place on land or on water.

Mr Webb said: ‘It’s instinctive behaviour. At first, the birds will have acted out of fear for their young, but they will have become emboldened by the number of birds that were there and acted as a group.

‘Normally mobbing involves one species. What is quite unusual here is that they are all joining together to defend themselves against a fox coming into their patch – it’s like an avian

Neighbourhood Watch. They are being intimidating by patrolling up and down wherever the fox goes.’



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