Last night we lost a young male duck to a fox. We knew something was up when we heard lots of chaotic duck quacking. I went out to find one of our little females on her own, very obviously upset.
I walked her down to the other ducks, to find them running over from the other side of the garden. In counting there were only 5, including the little girl by my feet. That left 3 more to find.
The fact, as a flock animal, that they had been separated, let alone ending up in various parts of the garden when they are just learning to use their wings, instantly alerted us to foul play. And particularly a fox.
We found another duck outside the fence, or should I say, she let us know she was there. We now had all the females rounded up. Two male ducks to go. But dusk was fast falling. And with dusk comes silence from our feathered friends. It would be impossible to find them if they hunkered down.
We split up, Pumpjack going to the river whilst I headed to where the largest group had been. We were calling and quacking, listening and… silence.
And then a barely there, raspy sound, giving me an indication of where to look. One of our males had flown into the neighbours garden. So whilst I tried to comfort an upset duck through the fence, Mr P went around and came up behind. He collected him up, passed him over the wall, and I put him in with the very subdued girls in their duck house.
It was almost dark and we knew we would not be able to find our other male. We called and called, but this time it was just silence. We hoped the morning would find him pacing outside the enclosure. But alas, no. He was gone.
We knew for sure as the day wore on that the ducks had seen him taken by a fox as they remained quiet all day, when they are normally happily quacking their way around the garden looking for treats. They wouldn’t even leave their compound, and the chickens have stood guard in silent commiseration.
When I was a young child, my grandparents had a book they would read, or rather sing to me; ‘The Fox went out on a Chilly Night’. It was an old song put into book form with wonderful illustrations. It was always the one I requested they read/sing to me before bed, though at a young age it didn’t have the same connotations as it does today. But, I can still remember the lyrics, and it resonates with me every time we have a fox encounter.
PS: For those of you that follow our pet duck Maggie’s antics, she wa out of harms way, tucked in the safety of our cottage since she still doesn’t believe that she is a duck.