The sand banks of Valkernisse, North of Saeftinghe, are important basking places for grey seals inhabiting the easterly part of the Western Scheldt. During high tide these seals forage regularly in the creeks of Saeftinghe. Every once in a while they are even spotted basking in the area. Other mammals inhabiting or visiting the site include brown rat, muskrat, rabbit, hare and fox. In 2012, the population of adult foxes (during the birds’ breeding season) was estimated at 15-30 individuals. The fox population appears to have a strong impact on the numbers or certain breeding birds. Birds breeding in colonies, such as geese and ducks, are especially prone to predation. These birds have adapted their behaviour by breeding in the north of Saeftinghe, where foxes are less active. Foxes regularly drown during spring tides: young foxes in dens, as well as adults, are surprised by the tides, although this doesn’t seem to have a strong influence on the overall fox population. Old territories are filled each year by the young foxes of successful broods (on higher and drier land) and by new foxes coming across from neighbouring ‘polders’. In the more dangerous areas of Saeftinghe, there is so much food available that foxes are willing to risk being caught out by the tides.
Toppredator of Saeftinghe