Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Flying in Spring Grove

Rich and I made a trip up to the farm today, in Spring Grove. Both hawks spent the night in their boxes in the car, as I gave a short falconry talk on Tuesday afternoon to a group of High School students. One of the students is the son of our good friend and Wednesday night Movie Night hostess, Laurie. The class was spending the week at Whitewater State Park, which is a short 9 miles from Saint Charles. We could not fly the hawks in the park (could not hunt with them, so no flying), but did fly Sassy afterwards north of the park in a brushy Wildlife Management Area. No wildlife was managed . . . just one hawk exercised.
Today I wanted to try Hit Girl free for the first time this season.  The park in Spring Grove is a good place to do this, as there are many squirrels in a confined area.  Whereas she is the lowest weight so far this year, she is still above last year's flight weight.  Also, it is fairly warmish - 60s - which does not lead to very motivated hawks.  She took a perch, rather sloppy - she is going to have to build up some more stamina and grace - but then mostly just wanted to sit, and not follow.  Fortunately, she has great response to the lure, so I brought her down and put her away.  Then I got the Hot Girl out!  Sassy went quickly about the business of teaching the Spring Grove squirrels that she means business.  She did chase one for quite awhile, eventually pushing it up into the tops of the tree, where she raked it off it's branch, but while falling to the ground she lost her grip.  The squirrel took off running as soon as it hit the ground, and she tried to chase, but she had lost all her flight momentum.  We pushed the squirrels just a little more, but she was obviously winded from that intense chase, so we moved off to the brushy, bunny area.
As we kicked around the brushy area Richard flushed a bunny.  Sassy reacted to it, but it disappeared into a new brush pile.  I'm pleased by this brush pile as it is just the right size . . . big enough to attract rabbits, small enough to be stomped.  Richard stomped.  Bunny ran.  Sassy chased, but was not in a good position.  I looped around and poked the brush, and out popped bunny one more time.  This time Sassy made a dive and a chase for it.  They went up the hill, down into the spring valley for which Spring Grove is named, and ended with a really loud SMACK, then bunny cry.  We made our way over, and I had to get some help from Richard to work bunny out as it was wedged into some large branches, with a hawk hanging onto the backside.  Once out, I observed blood everywhere!  Upon returning home, and a shower for Sassy, it was determined it was bunny's blood. I'm not sure which animal made the SMACK, but Sassy otherwise appears to be fine.  I let her crop up on this bunny, so no flying afterwards.  I'll have to watch her to make sure she is OK.
This makes 2 bunnies and 2 squirrels for my Sassy girl!  I'm very pleased with this hawk.  Over the summer she became very possessive and nasty in her mews.  She's back to being her sweet self . . . that is unless you are a bunny or a squirrel, or a mouse.  Then she's just a bloody killer!

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