I set about tidying the garden, still pondering the red orb glowing in the early sunlight. Maybe a squirrel had put it there? Probably not: I've only seen one squirrel this year, and I just don't think they do a lot of storing tomatoes on a tree branch. Ok, maybe a bird? Well, the few birds we have around here are either way too small to carry a tomato or they would have just pecked it in situ. Maybe...?
An hour later, I had given up finding a sensible answer to the mystery. As a delightful distraction, however, a Eurasian jay landed on the fence; I held very still, pleased to see this skittish bird so close up. Her more brightly-colored mate joined her a minute later, confirming that I was still undetected behind the gaillardias and daylilies. After looking around the garden for a moment, the female swooped down with practiced ease to the plum tomato plant, and... yup. She neatly plucked a ripe tomato and flew away with it into the pine forest, conclusively solving my mystery but perhaps beginning a new one for another curious human.
|photo from https://www.patrickblakephotography.com/EAsianBirds/ACrows/|