05h00 Central African Time: I wake to find Timka Pie still admiring the view from the balcony pillar. 'Good Timka. Now where is the other little stinker, Merlin?'
I look outside to the dividing wall where Merlin had spent many hours the previous night. Of course, the chick is not there - that would be too easy. I look for Pappa - he's not around. Pot Plant Owl? No sign of her. Take a quick look around the garden, and no fluffy owl chick appears anywhere. Now I'm starting to become concerned.
Just as I'm about to organise an 'owl search party' (is there even such a thing?), I spot Pot Plant Owl on a rooftop at the top of the complex. She sees me and flies immediately to the neighbour's roof and watches me from there. Now I know Merlin is near.
I stand for a minute, looking around in the direction of Pot Plant Owl's gaze. Suddenly, I hear a THUD, SCRAPE and FLAP FLAP and I see Merlin trying desperately to climb up the neighbour's gate. Merlin's fighting a losing battle attempting to grip slippery, vertical bars, but the chick doesn't give up. Again, I give it full marks for trying.
Just then, a dog appears around the corner, and I know I have to put Merlin back up on a wall or tree branch for its own safety. I call the neighbour who comes out to open the gate and let me inside.
Merlin puts up a fight but in the end size does count, and I pick up the chick, and put it on the wall. After it gets over the initial shock of being '(wo)man-handled', Merlin appears quite content in its new surroundings - two pot plants on the patio below the balcony nest.
Merlin's done a disappearing act. I can't find him anywhere, despite searching in, and under, everything in the garden, and getting scratched to ribbons for my effort.
I give up searching for the little stinker, and decide to water our veggie patch.
And lo and behold! Sitting behind a Protea bush on the far side of our garden, is the missing Merlin. Right next to the bush is our bird feeding tray.
Hmmm - the plot thickens. I wonder if Merlin was out for a 'midnight / midday snack'?