This section of the book is from the "Stories of Animal Sagacity" book, by William Henry Giles Kingston.
Mrs F— gave me the following account of the ingenious stratagem of a fox, witnessed by a friend.
He was lying one summer’s day under the shelter of some shrubs on the banks of the Tweed, when his attention was attracted by the cries of wild-fowl, accompanied by a great deal of fluttering and splashing. On looking round, he perceived a large brood of ducks, which had been disturbed by the drifting of a fir branch among them. After circling in the air for a little time, they again settled down on their feeding-ground.
Two or three minutes elapsed, when the same event again occurred. A branch drifted down with the stream into the midst of the ducks, and startled them from their repast. Once more they rose upon the wing, clamouring loudly, but when the harmless bough had drifted by, settled themselves down upon the water as before. This occurred so frequently, that at last they scarcely troubled themselves to flutter out of the way, even when about to be touched by the drifting bough.
The gentleman, meantime, marking the regular intervals at which the fir branches succeeded each other in the same track, looked for a cause, and perceived, at length, higher up the bank of the stream, a fox, which, having evidently sent them adrift, was eagerly watching their progress and the effect they produced. Satisfied with the result, cunning Reynard at last selected a larger branch of spruce-fir than usual, and couching himself down on it, set it adrift as he had done the others. The birds, now well trained to indifference, scarcely moved till he was in the midst of them, when, making rapid snaps right and left, he secured two fine young ducks as his prey, and floated forward triumphantly on his raft; while the surviving fowls, clamouring in terror, took to flight, and returned no more to the spot.