Now we're wondering if it might be because we have an interesting visitor to our garden. It's a tawny frogmouth.
The other day we found a dead rat on the path, but Penny showed no interest in it. (Perhaps she only likes live ones, so she can hunt them). It had a chewed tail, but showed no sign of what had killed it. We don't know enough about tawny frogmouths to guess whether one could kill a biggish rat, but I'm going to ask around and try to find out. And if it did, why didn't it eat the rat? All very mysterious.
Oh, wait a minute... Here's an article in The Daily Mail about these gorgeous birds - they eat
cockroaches, spiders, beetles, mice, lizards, centipedes, scorpions, snails and slugs.Okay, that's also going to be helpful in our garden. But I doubt the bird killed the rat.
When we spotted this welcome visitor in our agonis flexuosa tree, we all hurried out, cameras in hand, to photograph it, but Penny wasn't interested, and the bird was unfazed by all the activity a couple of metres below its perch.
Maybe it will do a better job at scaring off nighttime fruit thieves than our plastic owls did. The night diners have scoffed nearly all our apples and most of our apricots, and now they've started on our nectarines.
By the way, I've just visited the Australian Museum site and read that these birds are not actually owls. They are more like nightjars.
I"d better go now. I want to pop outside and see if the tawny frogmouth is still there!