6:40pm Central Africam time: I feel like a steamroller has ridden over me once, and again for good measure. If I feel like this, I hate to think what Pot Plant Owl must feel like now.
To quote the famous detective, Monk, here's what happened:
3pm: Nicci Wright from FreeMe Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre arrives, armed with 3 different types of catching nests for PPO. The plan is simply to throw the net over the unsuspecting PPO sitting in the far pot plant, and put her in the carrier box. Easy.
The first approach - the 'lets-sneak-up-on-her' approach - failed miserably. Before we could blink, PPO flew off the balcony and landed on a wall in the neighbour's garden. There is a fair distance between our house and where PPO landed on the wall. As I squinted to where PPO landed on the wall, my mind's eye pictured a field of flowers with someone wearing a summer dress waving a large butterly net over her head, and PPO flying into net.
Ergh! Back to reality. We couldn't run around waving a large catching net over our heads, so we had to think of plan B.
Plan B came in the form of my head being used as target practise. I went out on the balcony with Nicci and taunted PPO by going right up to the nest, and her chicks. At first, PPO didn't take the bait. She knew what we were up to, and what we wanted from her. But after a series of cheeky beak snaps from her chicks as I got closer and closer to the nest, PPO and Pappa finally had enough, and launched an attack.
With one deft swing of the catching net, Nicci swooped the attacking PPO up in the net, and quickly moved her to the travelling box. I then drove PPO to Dr Brett Russell, the expert Avian vet.
In Brett's consulting room, PPO made one further attempt to 'stamp her authority' and flew around the room until Brett finally caught her. PPO was x-rayed and samples were taken and tested.
A grumpy looking PPO and I sat in the waiting room together, for the results of the tests to come back.
Good news! PPO is well. What may be causing the 'coughing' is fur or something similar stuck inside her, that she is trying to get out. Otherwise, the x-rays showed no sharp, foreign objects in her, which was a major concern. Tests came back negative for very harmful, often fatal, diseases in owls, so that's also great.
The ride in the car home wasn't pleasant. I suspected the cold shoulder from PPO, but I got an icy reception in the car. I believe she sensed she was going home, and played up to that.
PPO's release took the form of me carrying box out onto the balcony, and opening the release door. PPO bolted out of there, landed on the balcony railing, threw a 'if-looks-could-kill' look back at me, and flew quickly away.
So much for 'thank you for checking on me'!
PPO has since been back to the balcony. She now has to contend with hyper chicks running amok on the balcony, and I have to prepare to do an owl talk on ol' stinker and her family.
No rest for the wicked here.