Wednesday, August 3, 2016

High Ground

I have been wanting to secure a new location to set up a bow netting trap station.  In years past I have mostly done road trapping, and it is something that I enjoy very much, and I'm pretty good at.  However, the biggest and most aggressive hawks can be better trapped while they soar, down the Mississippi flyway, following the river, and using the bluffs to give them lift.  Road-trapped hawks are usually searching for mice in the grass, hence they are perched along the roadside.  Now, while this does not preclude them from becoming great squirrel hawks, those birds which naturally keep to the woods and hills tend to be more suited for squirrels.  These birds can be "fished" from the sky using a bow net trapping setup.

Bow netting takes a lot more preparation and equipment.  You also have to get land access.  I've wanted to secure a site along the river, and recently a situation presented itself.  I found out a co-worker of mine owns a large tract of land with her husband near the Zumbro Bottoms State Park, which now that I have measured it, is about 10 miles from the Mississippi "as the crow flies", and due South of Lake Pepin.  It is cleared off and flat on the top of the bluff, where some farming is taking place, corn and alfalfa.  These clips are not the best to give perspective, but from the vantage point, looking North and North-East, and especially the second one, you can see for miles, to include several bluffs in the distance.  Behind the direction I am filming is a tree line or down slope, where a blind can easily blend into the background.  This is a pretty good setup to attract migrating hawks from a long distance.

Go full screen for the best image.

A pretty handy elevation tool I found on the Internet reveals the place I have selected to be 1060 feet in elevation.  The surrounding hills go as high as 1100 to 1150 feet.  This still affords a pretty good view, and an excellent place to go hawk fishing,

I will have to dust off my bow netting gear, and maybe buy some new things (maybe I'll treat myself to a brand new bow net) and fashion a few supplies that have gone wandering away from my hawking gear.

I would like to try to snag a monster red tail for this next season, and I'd like to get one that I could keep for a few seasons.  I've got a couple of apprentices that might be able to help me man the station, and they both need a bird this year as well.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

What's Going On In There??

. . . . Just waiting and waiting for the molt to get done with . . . . 

Here is a short, silent video making the rounds of the hawk and wildlife people, of a weather camera that has attracted the attention of a curious juvenile hawk.  This is a member of the cohort that I will be going after this fall.  Yes, 2016 will be the year to have a Red Tail for the hunting team again.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

May Day (the flower kind)

At the very start of Spring, I wanted to experience a new botanical garden in Minnesota, that I have never visited.  A search uncovered the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, Minnesota.  It was a beautiful day, and Rich and I enjoyed viewing and photographing the spring blooms.

There are multiple beds of tulips, bunched together by their variety, and each has a little sign to tell you what it is, so if you like it you can seek out the plant to add to your own garden.  This is true for all the plants at the Arboretum.  It is a living laboratory of the U of M for the cultivation of plants that will tolerate and survive our environment.  As you drive up you can see groves of apple trees.  We arrived just in time for the spring bloom.

Spring flowers just make me very happy!  I don't have the dedication to start anything like this at my own home, so I bought us a family membership so we could go and enjoy the work of others.

The Arboretum is divided up into many themed gardens.  We walked through many of them.  Below was a gathering of Red Bud trees.  Very Pretty!

Perhaps the most dramatic on this day was the flowering of all the crab-apple trees.  They have a hillside grove of hundreds of varieties, blooming in multiple colors.  Such a wonderful way to wake up a winter-weary soul.

A closeup!

I had to take a picture of this plant below, for I have planted one last year in my yard.  It is a hardy magnolia that can survive our winters.  My own is just a little bush that managed to put out about three blossoms this year.  This picture inspires me what is possible as it grows.

Here is one of the blossoms from my own tiny bush.  It has a long way to go, but did survive the winter.  Keep growing little plant!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Because it is Time

I've not posted for awhile, because I really didn't have much to post.  It is time to put something bright and cheerful at the top of my page.

Rich and I have made several visits to the Raptor Center, because Wyvern has had several visits as we treat, and eventually amputate her toe. Wednesday, 4/27/16 was that day. We brought her to the Center and left her, then went to visit the Como Conservatory to pass the time.

The indoor Sunken Garden was getting a re-fit on this day, but previously we've been there to catch the Spring Show.  Today, also, the Japanese Garden is coming to life, and some of the gardeners were out trimming the trees and cleaning up the fallen leaf debris.

They have a collection of Bonsai.  Several are in bloom.

Spring is arriving!  I always love this time of year . . . until the bugs wake up.

Wyvern did fine with her quick surgery. Thankfully, as of this writing, she is leaving her bandages alone.  It will be good to finish up, and get her feet all healed up.

Thursday, March 31, 2016


I've not written for awhile.  My heart has just not been in the whole effort to blog lately.  It is time now to write about this, and then move on.

My 2015/2016 hawking season came to a crashing halt at the beginning of February, first with a toe injury to Wyvern, and then the very unexpected and sudden death of Sassy.  I was back up at the Raptor Center this past week and received back all the gear she was wearing when I brought her to them, hoping they could figure out what was wrong.  She died shortly after I got her there.  They thought possibly heart failure, as the x-ray showed an enlarged heart, and she had profound hypoxia, gasping for air even once she was placed on high oxygen.  After her death, I requested they perform a necropsy, to hopefully determine a cause.  The results surprised both myself and her vet.

Brain, hemorrhage, acute, subdural, mild to moderate.

Comments: The subdural hemorrhage is suggestive of a blunt force trauma. However, it is unclear whether this lesion may have been the initial event or may have been a terminal event.

Somehow this fantastic bird, in the confines of her 10 x 10 mew, gathered enough speed and struck something hard enough to cause a brain bleed which resulted in her death.  It had to have been in her mew, as we had not been hunting the previous 10 days due to it being too cold for the hawks.  I had noticed, and I don't remember if it was the day of or the previous day, that the tip of her beak was broke off.  She struck something in her mew hard enough to crack off the tip, and sustained a bleed that killed her.

She has been a fantastic game hawk, and I'm going to miss her.

I am left now with Wyvern, who will need some more work, and Flint, who will need a lot of work.  I was so enjoying the cast of Sassy and Wyvern, and I was a little lazy, relying on Sassy's calm manner and commanding presence to keep Wyvern close and working on the team.  Wyvern is quite a lot more wild, so will need some manning for next season.  For now, both she and Flint have been fed up and are moody and difficult, and want nothing to do with me.  I've increased the hours of light in their mew to push the molt to get started.  We can't hunt, we might as well get the molt going.

As far as Wyvern's injury, she is still getting care for a squirrel bite to one of her feet, the left, which is healing nicely, but then something else to the right foot.  Her vet thinks it is frost bite, but I wonder at that because why would it have been only for one toe.  During the cold of January, the 10-day spell that confined my birds in their mew, and when sometime Sassy sustained her injury, we did have a power outage in the heating unit in the mew.  I noticed afterward this toe looking red and Wyvern favoring it in pain which is what alerted me that something was wrong.  There was also a nick on that toe, and it is possible the blood flow was compromised, and then the cold did the final damage.  Either way, she is going to lose this toe.  Hawks have very slow circulation in their feet, which is why an injury takes so long to heal.  We have been waiting and treating conservatively, with foot soaks and moisturizing cream on the foot, waiting to know exactly where the necrotic tissue begins.  Soon, I will make an appointment to have that amputated.  I could wait to see if it will fall off on its own, but I think I would like to have a clean and stitched wound.

She should have full use of that foot once it is healed.  I'm just going to need to focus her hunting efforts towards rabbits.  Strangely enough, this year she did not catch one.  She tried very hard, but Sassy always got there first.  However, she did show a great zeal for hunting squirrels.  I'm going to have to discourage that to prevent further toe injury.

For squirrels, I'm just going to need to get myself a big Red Tail next season.  That would also give me an option for hunting when the temperature is lower than 30.  I hope to get Wyvern and Flint working together next year as a cast.  I'll be tethering them out close to each other, and I have a new mew which just needs a little more work to be finished.  It is a two-chamber mew that will allow the birds to see each other up close, and get acquainted, but without being in the same chamber.  That's the plan anyway.

With hawking, you can experience the great highs when your birds fly well and catch game, and you can have the devastating lows when a bird's life is cut short, or you get a curveball with a bad injury.  It is all part of this sport I love.  You take the bad with the good, and hope through planning and work and training that there are more good days.