Sunday, September 25, 2011

Trapping . . . and soon a New Hawk

Saturday started out as a cool, misty morning, which only became more gloomy as I drove closer to Rochester, but cleared in the later morning to become a bright, sunny fall day.  Christina Thompson joined me to go 'hawk stalkin'.  I've been out several times so far this fall, only having trapped one previous bird with Justin, which was a male, based on its weight, so we let it go.  So far this season, the passage birds really are not moving in such a way as to spot them.  I'm seeing adults, haggards we call them, everywhere.  About 20 to 25 of them yesterday, but only one passage bird about a half hour into our trip, which was promptly caught.  I judged this one to be a female, at 2 lbs, 10 ounces (42 ounces).  I'd really like to take a bird that is trapped over the three pound mark initially, so it was decided to release her.  She had very dirty feet, and really was not as "grippy" as the bird I trapped with Justin.  The season is still young, and there is time.  We need a really good, killing frost and some wind to knock all the leaves off the trees.  Then the birds will be much easier to spot.  We probably passed by lots of passage birds, hiding in the trees, that we just didn't see.  Also, a good cold snap will hopefully get those passage birds from up in Canada moving our way.  There is time . . . though sometimes the urge to get the next bird can be very enticing, making you want to hold onto whatever you trap.  (Right Justin??)

Yesterday's adventures also included making my way across the state, to Hector, Minnesota, to see a woman about a hawk, as opposed to seeing a man about a horse, with no nefarious intents in mind.  An advertisement was posted by a fellow Minnesota falconer on a falconry forum, looking to sell a 2008 female captive bred Harris Hawk.  She is an experienced hunter, but her falconer is busy with two hunting gyrfalcons, as well as a gyrfalcon breeding project.  I wanted to meet the bird, however felt fairly certain I would want to purchase her.  We were introduced, and she screamed a lot at me, and everyone else, mostly because she was hungry.  I was able to pick her up, and take her outside, and though not at weight for hunting, was instructed to let her fly up to one of the trees, which she did.  I was given a chicken leg, and called her to the fist.  She hesitated for only a short time, probably wondering who I was, but did come to the fist and started to eat.  I returned her to her mews to finish her meal.

I've put a down-payment on her, and will come to collect her in the very near future.  I want to finish my 'warm mews', before bringing her home.  I have also been invited to come go hawking with her when I come to collect her . . . which would be great.  She has caught jack rabbits, so I hope to do the same with her, though not around where I live as we don't have jacks here.  As for our hunting here where I live, we do have lots of squirrels, which she is experienced at.  I'm also told she catches crows.  I'll write more about her when she comes to live with me.

The rest of our visit was involved in chatting, and meeting both the hunting and breeding gyrfalcons.  Christina and I were allowed to hold them, so here is the gratuitous picture of that.

Beautiful creatures!!