Something has got in and eaten Teriyaki, one of the Indian Runner drakes. The Under Gardener found that there was only one drake in their run when he went down to feed everyone yesterday morning. Hoisin was running up and down in a nervous manner but there was no sign of Teriyaki anywhere. There were, however, white feathers floating about, and a pile of bloodied feathers in the nettle patch.
Our first thought was that it was a fox. But we could see no hole that a fox had got in. The nettles were not squashed down. There was no indication that anything had got over the fence. The plants in the field were not flattened. There was no sign of disturbance in the garden over the side fence. Not only that, there were no paw prints of any kind in the run, which is muddy and soft after the large amounts of rain we've had lately. And as Lindsey rightly pointed out, a fox would have killed both drakes. It is also rare for foxes to take carcasses away with them. More to the point, the little fence separating the drakes from the hens and the new girl ducks is only chest high and not firmly fixed. It keeps the birds apart but would be no barrier for a fox. If it had been a fox I think we would have had no birds (or maybe we would have had the chooks, if they had had the sense to sit tight in their house and keep quiet).
So not a fox, we don't think. Not anything that moves along the ground. No paw prints at all, apart from our boot prints.
So a bird, then. We get buzzards overhead from time time time. And we see the very occasional goshawk. Both of them would be big enough to take an Indian Runner duck. We get sparrowhawks too, which might not think they are big enough to take a duck, but which probably could take an Indian Runner if so minded. They are long but not big, and not at all heavy, as I discovered when I picked Hoisin up.
We have put Hoisin in with the chickens and the new girl ducks. A bird of prey will find it more difficult to take birds from in there because there are lots of fruit trees which are in leaf, so not much room for aerial manoeuvres. We hadn't intended to but the males in with the girls just yet because the girls are only 9 or 10 weeks old, but there didn't seem to be much choice. Anyway, he seems to have other things on his mind than adult entertainment at the moment. And I think it was Teriyaki who was more keen on pro-creating with the chickens! Everything seems calm at the moment, although Hoisin, Fennel and Celery were spending quite a bit of time looking up to the sky during the afternoon.
We shut everyone up last evening. The chooks were in their house anyway; we just shut their gate. The ducks were slightly harder to persuade to go into their house in the evening but eventually we got them in there. And everyone was still there this morning when the Under Gardener went down to left them all out at breakfast time.
We might keep the little fence up just for the moment. It will give us a chance to tackle the nettle beds without interference from chickens or ducks. I think we might use chemical warfare on them too.