Since Ishka's surgery, each morning before I leave for work, I have put the boys in the pen at the bottom of the garden, and then put Ishka in the walled in part of the deck. She doesn't like being on her own, and we've gone to some efforts to provide her with her favourite teddy, a bone, toys... But we think she still spends a lot of time howling and crying and we're concerned about her annoying our neighbours. One thing I've tried to help has been sticking edible treats to her spiky ball, but if I give it to her too early, she may have finished nibbling them all off before I've even left.
This morning, she'd been out in "her room" for a little while and had carried her teddy over to the door each time I'd gone past, but when I didn't stop, she'd go wandering off, teddy still in mouth. Now I'm wondering if something else was going on.
So, after burning the toast, setting off the smoke alarm, losing my shoes, and various other minor disasters, I was ready to go and I headed out to give Ishka her ball, sticking the treats on as I went. This 2m x 3m part of our deck is roofed and has waist-high, fence-style railings, and a full size wire mesh gate. The rest of the walls have been enclosed with clear plastic cafe partitions. Suddenly, this space was full of noisy flapping and Ishka was chasing something around. Something with brown and tawny feathers. Something that was bashing its head into the clear plastic partitions in its panic to get out. After each soft crash, it would perch on the top railing, and Ishka would snap at its tail feathers again, causing it to flap in a panic and rush from one partition to another before crashing into them again.
It was an owl. Ninox boobook, or Ninox novaeseelandiae, I think.
I was busy shrieking at Ishka to leave it alone, while doing a panic stricken little tap dance, in the furthest corner of the space from all the flapping, crashing and snapping. It felt like forever before she heeded me. Or possibly came over to ask me to catch this new and far more exciting teddy that she'd found?
But after about three attempts to steal some feathers, she trotted over to me, and I very clumsily grabbed hold of her and shoved her through the sliding doors into the house. The bird rotated its head almost all the way around and looked at me with... resignation?
What? Yes, we're crazy dog people. So?
I edged over to open the gate and then worked my way around the wall until I was able to shoo the poor bird out the gate. To my great relief, it took flight and soared, so gracefully over the garden, to disappear into the foggy trees.