Let’s Go Outside: Duck shock and horror

4 Jul
Jemima (the one on the right) and Vanessa.

Jemima (the one on the right) and Vanessa.

This morning, around half past four, the ducks woke me up, quacking. Oh for goodness sake, I thought reaching for my glasses, they can’t need feeding this early, can they? I looked out the window, and the quacking turned into panicked quacking. Further down the field was a fox.

You know what’s coming next don’t you?

I rush downstairs, pull on my wellies and go outside. Two ducks are there, one female and the one male. No sign of the second female, Jemima

So I start looking.My stomach flipped with a kind of excitement, but a sick, dread kind of excitement. At this stage I don’t think she’s been caught, she can’t have been, she’s just off laying her egg somewhere. The two ducks return to their pond and I go and let out the chickens.

It’s now half an hour later, still no sign of her. Neville, the male duck, goes back to the paddock and stands near the stable. Vanessa, the female, is with him, but quiet, no quacking at all. I start to worry. Jemima should be back from laying now. I search again, but nothing. Time to wake up the husband. As I clamber upstairs I think, he’s going to really cross I woke him at half past five and the duck will be back, waiting for food when we get back. But she’s not.

He helps me search, and I go back to the bottom of the field near where she’s been laying eggs recently. It is lighter now and I spot something I missed before.

Blood. And a few feathers.

I whistle my husband then burst into tears. I know she’s been taken by the fox. But where? Could she be lying hurt?

An hour later, having searched everywhere, I have a brain wave and clamber over the fence at the bottom of the field into the farmer’s field. The nettles are as tall as me and I’m still in my pyjamas but I flatten them down with my feet. I step out to the edge of the field and she’s lying right there. But minus her head.

Oh god. I cry harder now.

Neville is still calling for her, so we take her body back carefully, wrapping it in my husband’s jumper. We don’t know if it’ll work but we want Neville and Vanessa to recognise she’s no more. I don’t know if they took it in of not, but a while later they left the field and went forlornly back to the pond.

We inherited these ducks from the previous owners. They’re gorgeous looking ducks but they’ve not had much human contact so as such they won’t be locked up in a duck house with a run. They keep themselves to themselves and are more like wild ducks than domestic.

Foxes often return if they know there are more birds to massacre. It is hard for us to keep them safe, but we can try to block their access to the field tonight. We did do this in early spring but stopped when they quacked really loud about it.

We can but try. Fingers crossed.

Now just two.

Now just two.

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8 Responses to “Let’s Go Outside: Duck shock and horror”

  1. Judy July 4, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

    Oh I am so sorry at the dreadful news, we had a tame, very old pheasant which we thought safe at night in her pen, but poor old dear must have poked her head through the wire at the wrong moment. Mr fox pulled her clean through the wire and we were heartbroken, it was like a bloodbath and I still feel sick thinking about it. However some weeks later we happened across 4 tiny fox cubs playing in the field and they were beautiful. I suppose it’s the big old circle again.

    • Helen July 5, 2013 at 8:48 am #

      Thanks, Judy. I like foxes they are great to see. They’re just so vicious to chickens/ducks/pheasants which makes keeping them so heartbreaking at times.

  2. ducksanddrizzle July 5, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

    That’s horrible to hear 😦 My beautiful Cayuga drake was taken by the fox around this time last year- foxes are such horrible vicious creatures. All we could do was add height to the electric fencing and keep his (traumatised) wife shut in the run of the house within the main run.

    • Helen July 9, 2013 at 6:43 am #

      Oh I am sorry to hear about your drake. I don’t have my ducks behind any fencing, they are more wild than domestic, but when I get more in the future I will make sure they have a proper house with run like you.

  3. Backyard Chicken Lady July 7, 2013 at 7:37 am #

    How sad for you and the duck mates. Many years ago my dog lost its mind and slaughtered about 10 of my ducks. It was so horrible to witness. Sending you a virtual Hug!

    • Helen July 9, 2013 at 6:44 am #

      Thank you! The ducks are a bit subdued, I’ve not heard the female quack since it happen which is very odd.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Happy ducks | Hen Orchard - July 28, 2013

    […] hours have been very exciting.  Losing birds in such a vicious fashion through a fox attack (and here) is extremely distressing, yet, also, part of the life we have to accept. We can keep the chickens […]

  2. Neville? | Hen Orchard - April 23, 2014

    […] Neville, despite being a bit of a rubbish bodyguard, he lost his original two wives last year (and see also here), likes to be The Man. He stands proud when the girls feast and lets them eat […]

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