After a little episode earlier this year with a predator and one of our chickens, all seemed quiet and normal life resumed. Originally after the attack, I had been locking them in over night but after a few weeks and no sign of the culprit I have lapsed and allowed them complete freedom again. That is up until now …
Adrian’s folks were staying and after an early morning walk around the garden to check up on the plants on the potager, his father discovered a pile of feathers. There did seem to be an unusually large amount of guineafowl feathers, too much for just a slight altercation.
After searching all the hedgerows, looking for a wounded bird, a breach in the fencing was found with feathers caught along the wire. Climbing over the fence into the field nextdoor I came upon the grisly truth. A headless, plucked carcass of a guineafowl lay in the grass. Damn.
Time for action. Now our friendly farmer has a trap, which I have borrowed in the past, but it is really only for rats and fouines (stone martins). As I am not quite sure who the villain is I went to see my English neighbour. He has a much larger trap which he uses to catch ragondin (coypu), who damage the banks of his lake and eat his rushes. He mentioned that he had seen foxes nearby as well.
The large trap is now set up in the garden by the breached fence, baited with guineafowl pieces and 2 eggs. The eggs for a fouine and the meat for a fox.
The trap has successfully caught – the neighbours kitten – twice! He has eaten all the guineafowl pieces so there are only eggs in the trap for now. If after a few days there is no sign of anything, I will put some more meat in the trap.
The 2 remaining guineafowl, one male and one female, still roost on the bench out in the open of a night time. I do not have anywhere I can lock them in during the night that is fouine proof. Guineafowl do not like to be cooped up and it would be stressful if they were. They will have to take their chances as usual.
And now… the chickens are locked in again every night and let out first thing in the morning. Once the new coop is finished, I think I will be a little extravagant and purchase an automatic door opener. The thought of getting up early when winter arrives fills me with chills!!!