Those of a nervous disposition may care not to read on.

A week ago we had three drakes, six hens and a cockerel. Today we have one drake, five hens and a cockerel. Such are the joys of keeping poultry in the countryside.

Last Friday only two drakes turned up at bedtime. Not too unusual as one does occasionally get seperated from the others and normally is waiting outside the hutch in the morning. But not this time.

Then on Saturday lunchtime there was a kerfuffle in the chicken field. We didn’t get there in time to see anything but a pile of Light Sussex feathers and a trial of smaller ones down through the new field.

So what was it? Fox? It wasn’t our old foe the goshawk as the body was obviously dragged under the fence.

Then this morning I went out to let the two drakes out and there was only one – and a hole chewed in the bottom corner of the door about three inches across. Also the heavy fork tines which we rest against the door, in case the catch breaks, was tossed aside.

As it happens I had the wildlife camera in there last night as we thought we might have a rat. So I grabbed the photo card and rushed in doors.

Something was going on at about 1.15 this morning, but peer as I may I couldn’t see anything apart from one drake coming out into the run.

Whatever it was – and I’m looking for suggestions – either chewed the hole, squirmed in, killed one and dragged it back out. Or chewed the hole, the inquisitive drake stuck it’s head through the hole and was dragged through and away.

There’s hardly any feathers in the hutch or outside, so it was a clean getaway – hardly any DNA for a sample!

So, fox? Mink? Badger? Ideas please! We have spotted this fox recently, nipping in to get some cat food, so maybe the prime suspect, but wouldn’t a fox have dug under the duck run, rather than chewing through the door?

The poor remaining drake is looking somewhat shellshocked and can’t decide whether to stay indoors or go out to the stream. I think I might put him in with the chickens for company.