Woke up this morning and went through all my usual routines, then unlocked the back door - but didn't hear the chickens going mad like they usually do when I go outside. I knew straight away what must have happened, I grabbed a torch and confirmed it.
All nine chickens dead. The fox had only taken one and killed the rest for fun, they lay around the pen, heads bitten off.
I guess I've only got myself to blame as for the last four years I've only shut them in when its been cold and the one pen I thought was pretty fox proof. I'll learn from this and make sure in future I always shut them in - being in a village with a big fence all round the garden is no obstacle to a fox!
Even though I know the fox will be back tonight I don't feel very good about waving my 12 bore out of the bedroom window in the middle of a village (even though one neighbour has asked me to) and I can't set any snares or traps due to to other wildlife.
Looks like the fox won this one.
I'll have to wait until the spring now to get some more chickens so no fresh eggs this winter.