The stars shone with absolute clarity on Monday night. As I let the dogs out into the garden the bright spark of Jupiter dominated the sky. With a pair of binoculars I could clearly make two of Jupiter’s attendant moons before the cold drove me back indoors. These dry cold nights are the most rewarding for star gazers, so many more stars and galaxies flow into vision. But it is not just the stars which are clear, the sound world itself also becomes sharper and brighter.
It was not until the small hours that the shrill call of a vixen came like a sharp jab through an open window. Foxes are very vocal at this time of the year, their territorial part scream part bark can come as a surprise to the unaware. The vixen travels over considerable distances calling constantly as they map out the night time geography of their patch. As I lay in bed listening the sound map of the railway line and the vixen’s wider circuit was delivered by the regular repetitive call. This carried on until the air could no longer transmit the most distant call.