Saturday, September 26, 2015

Hawkin' Hoods

How about we get back to some falconry related topics?  The Season is open now, but it is still pretty warm for flying, for me anyway.  I'm starting to bring my birds down, and condition them for starting the hunt soon.

I currently have my female Harris Hawk, Sassy.  I also have a male Harris Hawk, Flint.  I hope to fly these two together.  We'll see.  As I'm bringing Flint's weight down, he is behaving less afraid, and actually, could be getting a little fist-bound.  I need to get this guy hunting.

At this time I tentatively announce that I'm going to "try again".

A couple years ago I got a permit to try and trap a passage Harris Hawk in New Mexico.  That didn't work out.  At least the permit wasn't that expensive ($20).  Life has arranged itself for me this October to find myself down in South Texas.  I will be meeting my sisters to spread some of my father's ashes.  I decided if I was going to come to the area, I might as well make it just a little more interesting for myself.  I purchased a trap permit ($380 for Texas) to try for a passage Harris Hawk.  At least in Texas, there is a much larger area to search in, a larger population, and also, I was able to make a contact in a falconer in the area who is going to go out with me, and help me trap a bird.  I will have several days to accomplish this . . . and I hope unlike New Mexico, I will actually bring a bird home with me.

This has brought about a need to get some new falconry gear together.  Today I made the journey to go purchase some new hoods, both for myself, and for Sue, who is apprenticing with me.  Sometime back in 2005 or so I bought a hood from David Fulks, which became my most favorite hood.  In fact, I lost it in the field last year, and at the end of the season, having returned to the area where I lost it, Rich found it again for me.  It has seen better days, but I do so love that hood!  Today I visited David Fulks down in Iowa, who is back in the hood making business.  He hasn't made hoods for many years, but recently at a memorial service for Bob Anderson I was re-introduced to him by Dave Noble.  I got his business card, and told him I would come see him and buy some hoods.

Today was that day!

Sassy got a brand new, sporty purple hood, on the far right.  This is a Size 26 according to David Fulk's blocks.  It fits her like a gem!  On the far left is a very large red-tail hood, Size 29, I bought for myself.  I don't know if I'll try for a red-tail this year, but always nice to have a good hood just in case.  In the middle is a Size 28, average female red-tail and then a Size 27, average male Red-Tail.  The two middle hoods are for Sue.  As an added bonus, because I brought my old hood with me, Dave took the old braces off, moistened it, popped it onto the block, and as it dried, made new braces, which he then put on for me.  He 'tuned up' my old hood.  That really made my day!

If anyone in my audience would like to get one of these nice hoods from David Fulks, e-mail me and I'll give you his contact information.  He will be at the NAFA meet this year.

After talking hoods, David asked me to help him change the anklets on one of his birds.  He brought in this beautiful little tiercel, who is a four times intermewed Gyrfalcon / Merlin hybrid.  He hunts upland game birds with this speedy falcon.

Isn't he lovely!

Tomorrow I'll be going to go see the Bell Man!  New bells are being bought!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Gryphon . . . by Barbara O'Brien Photography

On Sunday, July 30th Rich and I went up to a suburb of the Cities, Woodbury, to an open house for the All Breed Obedience and Behavior School.  We took Gryphon with us.  Barbara O'Brien, a wonderful photographer who did a photo shoot of my hawks a few years ago was conducting an open audition for any dogs that came to the event.  Gryphon got her chance, and Barbara has kindly allowed me permission to post a few of the pictures.

All of the following images are Copyright 2015@Barbara Obrien, and may not be used without her permission.  Go visit her website at:

She is particularly skilled at capturing images of animals.

I like this action shot best of all!

Here is a nice close-up.

Itchy!    Gryphon has not gotten used to having to wear a harness.

Final picture, she's sitting nice and looking cute, showing off her wickedly sharp little puppy fangs.

I look forward to watching this girl grow up.  I look forward to her being fully house-trained (as I just took a quick break to clean up a puppy puddle).

Monday, August 31, 2015

Baby Goats and a Baby German Shepard

There have been several stork deliveries here at our home.  I'll share some pictures, and some videos.

First, my two mamma goats had their babies.

Oreo, my most bossy goat, gave birth to twins.  The little black and white one is almost a "mini-me" to her mamma.  The all black baby was a little smaller than it's sister.  They are both female.  They are more appropriately called doelings.

Oreo is a good, protective mamma.  Her babies are growing strong on her milk.

My other mamma goat, Macaroon, only had a single baby, also a girl.  She's a bit fluffier than the other two, and has all her mamma's milk to her own.

Macaroon is a little bit more of a tidy mother, licking her baby clean more frequently than Oreo does with her babies.

They are all quite charming to be around.  We are holding and petting the babies often so they will hopefully become friendly goats.  Their mammas are rather stand-offish, unless you have some tasty goat treats.

The other "baby" that has arrived here is not exactly a baby, but it is a young animal.

We brought home our new German Shepard puppy.

I have named her Gryphon!

Shhhhhhhh . . . . the puppy is sleeping!  That's a good thing, for otherwise she is just a biting ball of energy.  Just ask Monty!

I'll post more on her . . . later!

Monday, August 3, 2015

More of Summer Miscellany

Miscellany - A group or collection of different items; a mixture.

Synonyms:  assortment, mixture, melange, blend, variety, mixed bag, grab bag, mix, medley, diversity, assemblage, potpourri, pastiche, mishmash, ragbag, hodgepodge, hash

Ya, that pretty much explains this blog post.

Summer continues, and no hawking activity.  Sassy has finished dropping her 12 tail feathers, now they just have to all grow in.  Flint continues to resist my attempts to speed things up.  Ah well, in the absence of any hawk stuff . . . how about pretty stuff regarding summer?

Rich and I met up with my friend Patti this last week and went to Madison for the never before attended by me Wednesday Farmer's Market, and also to visit the Olbrich Botanical Garden.  I usually visit the garden in the spring, but wanted to see what it looked like mid Summer.  They also have a butterfly event going on right now in their Conservatory.  I'll post some of my pics, as well as Rich's with his much nicer, newer camera.

There are many spots you can sit for awhile and enjoy the serene beauty that has been created with plants and flowers.

I like the color palate of this grouping of annuals above.  Even the green plants have a warm, red hue.

Summer flowers are at the height of bloom.  The fountain below you can even see the lake in the distance.

Inside the conservatory were butterflies, brought in as pupae and hatched out.  They are mostly native to North America.  They were pretty, certainly, but not nearly as dramatic as the ones I photographed when I visited Florida.  Still, between Rich and I we got several fairly nice pictures.

The little guide sheet they gave out said this one is a Julia, Dryas julia.  The one above was taken by Rich, the one below, by me.  As you can see, Rich's camera can take a much sharper image, however, I think I centered my subject a little better.

Another of the same kind of butterfly.  This one taken by me.  These are three different butterflies, but the species must have been rather photogenic, as we have several pics of them.

Below is a Pipevine Swallowtail, Battus philenor.  Rich has a few pictures of this species, but they are all fuzzy, and not in focus.

This is a White Peacock, Anartia jatrophae.

The guide identifies this one below as a Question Mark, Polygonia interrogationis.

The butterfly below is a Queen, Danaus gilippus, and a rather dark one too compared to my guide. The overall image is a little hazy, as it was taken with a pane of glass between myself and the subject. The display of carnivorous plants was attracting the butterflies, although I think they may have been too big to slip down inside and get eaten by the plants.

I like the picture below simply for the composition of it.  It was taken with Rich's camera. You can see all the tiny details of the flowers.

Rich caught me taking a picture of a most interesting species.  I didn't find this one in my guide anywhere.  One of the volunteers at the gardens playfully wore giant butterfly wings, and directed visitors and answered questions.

Some of the flowers seen that day.  These lilies below taken by Rich's camera.

Same subject, different cameras.  Who did it better?

And finally, enough with the flowers, I really like this composition of daisies taken by Rich.  This picture is nice enough to be a screen saver, with the sharp foreground image, and soft faded background.

It was a nice day with my guy . . .

And my girlfriend!

OK . . . how about some birds?  Below are some of the canaries I bred this year.  I've not bred canaries for probably 10 years.    Soon, I'll see if I can find some homes for them.  They are not any specific breed, just average 'mutt' canaries.  Still . . . it has been a little fun breeding them again.

Mmmmmm . . . they say . . . . fresh spinach!

No leg bands, that is, no closed and registered leg bands.  Just plastic family bands, so I can keep track of who was bred by which adult birds.  All these pictures are of the babies from this year.

Dare I go back to flowers?  Yes, I dare, if only for a quick comment.  At the farmer's market, I bought myself these nice summer flowers on the left. The next day, my friend Liz came to visit from La Crosse. She always had a very nice garden.  She brought me a nice arrangement as well, on the right, and some plants in pots to add to my yard.  Thanks Liz!

How about we go for fish?

Rich likes to go to auctions.  Last year, he found and bid on a fish tank.  He got it for $7.  He's always looking for tanks for me, as I breed rats for hawk food.  Fish tanks make really nice enclosures for rats.  He brought this one home, and it lay on the floor all winter during hawking season, as I had no time to really do anything with it, and I don't breed rats during the winter, as we are hunting and catching plenty of fresh food for the birds.

Once the season was done, and I was cleaning up my home of all the collective clutter from the winter that didn't get put away or dealt with because I was hawking, I took a closer look at this tank.  It was an entire setup!  Well, rather than put rats in it . . . how about fish!  So I did just that.  The picture above is back in April, when I set it up.  I even purchased a sturdy little table to place it on.  The picture below is what it looks like today.  I changed out some of the fake plants above for real ones below.  Also, there are residents now.

I've lost a couple of the fish since I set it up, but for the most part, the community is doing fine.  Here below, on top, is one of my Gouramis.  Below it, my two Angel Fish.  These are the big bad guys in the tank . . . they came in just a few months ago as small fish, but grew and grew, until now they are the largest in the tank.  Other residents are some Neon Tetras, some Danios, a trio of Corey Cats, and one Chinese Algea Eater.  It makes a nice addition to my home . . . but one more thing to feed and clean.

How about we finish up this Miscellany with a dog.  Here is Monty, using, perhaps not completely by his own will, one of the other treasures Rich found at an auction, for just $25.  It's good to keep a Jack Russell tired.

Sunday, July 19, 2015



I Has Them!!

This is the view outside my dining room window.  Rich has a bird feeding station in the front yard.  It's not the best picture, but it is proof . . . I have a squirrel problem!

Just Wait . . . Hunting Season is Coming!