Everyone always told me a fox call sounds like a woman screaming.
When I moved to the city a year ago I was warned about the sleepless nights foxes would bring.
Which meant, two months after moving into my ground floor flat,
when I heard a strange keening noise outside my bedroom window in the small hours of the morning I thought I'd finally made it as a Londoner.
I'd been angry at tourists on the underground, seen rats swarming around my local takeaway, and now I had fox calls haunting my nights.
Tired at work, I would plead my case as a fox victim, and receive knowing nods and sympathetic comments.
"I nearly called the police"
"I thought it was a murder"
"Doesn't it sound like a woman screaming?"
A few weeks ago, as I lay in the oppressive dark of 3am listening to the wails from underneath my window I thought about those comments.
I tried to imagine the sounds I was hearing came from a woman screaming. But I couldn't get the sound and the description to match. There was something distinctly not human about the sound.
No one could mistake it for a woman.
I decided to research fox calls, and spent my last weekend listening to endless videos on YouTube. Nowhere did I find the call of the creature outside my window every night.
Last night I finally had enough. It's summer and the nights are cool.
I waited on the scrub of grass behind my building, next to the alleyway, where I have seen their scratchings and burrows during daylight.
And as the air chilled and the sky greyed, I finally saw what I had been content to think of as a fox for nigh on a year now.
And it's not a fox. It's not a woman. But I can tell you something about that scuttling, hissing mass of jittering limbs because I looked at it's twisted face and looked it in the eye.
I can tell you why it screams.