I went to sleep at Dad's last night to the sound of a vixen screeching to attract potential mates. She was very nearby—on the railway line most likely. It is a disconcertingly human-sounding noise. Indeed, the first time Mum and Dad heard it, many decades ago, they thought a woman was being attached. They stood worried at the bottom of the garden, trying to work out where the noise was coming from, wondering whether they should call the police.
The mid-winter screeches of vixens is one of the sounds of my childhood. I have only heard it once here in Yorkshire: in August 2001, on Jen's and my very first night in our new home. It carried on for about 20 minutes, until in was terminated by a single shotgun blast. Foxes are not tolerated in sheep country.