Part 1 is here.
So just as we were crossing our fingers for no more chooks becoming dog, cat or goanna lunches, I was up at the house when I heard a short chook alarm sound. Usually that sort of thing is just Brahma making a fuss because some other chook looked at her, but because of recent events I was paranoid. I skidded barefoot down to the new fenced area in about 15 seconds.
I was faced with a small huddle of chooks looking a bit stunned. I know, they’re chooks, and facial expression is not one of their grand aptitudes. But they can have very expressive bodies, and these chooks were looking stunned. Datura was even up the other end of the summer garden, squashed into the corner with her head in a thicket of weeds. I did a quick head count and Ellen was missing. No sign of her.
Local opinion seems to be that it was a grey goshawk, a bird of prey that attacks and leaves quickly. It might have been a wedge-tailed eagle, but apparently they tend to stick around, and there was no sign at all of anything except some shell-shocked chooks. It would have been quite a feat for a dog or cat to have dragged Ellen over or under the fence in the 15 seconds between Ellen’s alarm and my arrival. So we went googling for ways to discourage birds of prey.
Part Three of the Predator Prevention Plan: The roost shed area and the summer garden are already roofed, but Ellen was taken from the newly fenced area in the middle. Netting or roofing the new area would of course keep birds of prey out completely, but what with the large area and the big mango and nectarine tree, that option looked quite complicated and expensive. Perhaps we’ll have to go the whole hog in future, but for now we’re trying something that seemed to work quite well for one woman on a forum. We’ve draped tape streamers (the forum lady used surveyor’s tape but we had a roll of woven fabric tape that seems to be doing the job) with no more than 2m gap between drapes, over the unroofed area. We’re OK so far.
And Part Four of the plan is Omar, our new rooster. Omar is a young Australorp/Loman cross, with creepy all-black eyes and legs like a high-jumper. Omar’s job is to keep an eye out for the girls when we’re not around. More about Omar in a bit.