RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Finding buried eggs? Blame the pesky foxes

Once again readers have told me of mysterious things happening in the villages along the coast.

“Suddenly,” said one reader, “three duck’s eggs appeared on my lawn; two of these were half-buried in what was pristine turf.”

Another reader discovered an egg buried smack in the middle of her precious billiard table sward at Felpham.

“Surely ducks don’t bury their eggs?” the reader asked. “It made an awful mess.”

No, but foxes do. So do dogs. I used to have a bitch Labrador called Flighty-girl who made herself useful in spring when the mallard I reared here in the woods, laid their eggs anywhere among the leaves under the trees without much clue as to how a nest was made.

She would find the eggs and bring them back ever so gently and place them in my hands. She would also round up the ducklings in her mouth and deliver them one at a time in the softest mouth I have ever known, back to the fold.

Then one day I saw her pick up a loose pheasant’s egg dropped by a scatty hen bird in the leaves.

This one she quietly buried with her nose after digging a small hole. That is what foxes do.

I watched a big old dog fox this morning in the wood beyond the kitchen window, hunting the leaf mould for pheasants’ eggs.

It will eat some, bury the rest for later.

In a month that is what arctic foxes will be doing among the brent geese in Russia. With cubs to feed, these animals will be frantic if the lemmings and other small mammals fail, as they do on a regular cycle.

Arctic foxes will try to climb the cliffs where the seabirds breed.

First-time guillemot mothers, pushed to the edge of the colony, are most at risk as the fox inches along the sloping ledges. One of those eggs is a huge prize, being twice the size of a hen’s egg.

Geese try to beat off the foxes, but often pay the ultimate price if seized around the neck when in defence of their young.

Polar bears will also hunt the shores for the eggs of brent geese when times are hard and there is no ice on which to hunt seals.

The foxes of Felpham have nothing to fear when it comes to survival, however.

There is a surplus of take-aways for them and their tribe all over the country.