It is a very sad morning here in the garden - Mrs Pookie, our bantam hen who has been sitting on10 eggs has disappeared and so have all of the eggs, bar one broken egg shell. The most likely reason for this is that she has been taken by a fox, which also ate the eggs (they will even eat egg shells).
I am completely to blame. I ordered an arc to house her more securely. This should have kept her safe from marauding predators. It arrived yesterday and last night, instead of building it, I watched the television. Procrastination has been the thief of chickens. Intending to build it this morning and move her tonight I went into the garden to check on her safety and found the nest disturbed.
The thief was most likely a fox. At this time of year they are rearing their young and so have a lot of mouths to feed. The mother is also hungry, having fed her cubs herself for so long, so she will take greater risks than usual. We have lost many hens in the months of April and May, both in France and in the UK - on one occasion we came home from celebrating my birthday and found almost all of our hens dead in the hen run with their heads bitten off. A fox not only kills to eat - it kills for pleasure and the damage can be devastating. With long nights summer nights you cannot secure your hens in their run until 9 or even 10 pm, so if you have gone out for the evening you can but cross your fingers and hope for the best.
But this was entirely my fault - had I made the arc last night and moved her and her eggs once it was dark, she should have been fine. A grim lesson for me.