Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Gotta Getta Cast

Today I quashed my fears at releasing two hawks at once, not so much that I didn't trust Sassy, but was unsure on how Wasp would perform, and how they would fly together.  I think it rather turned out OK.  They have had quite awhile to get acquainted, although not right next to each other all the time, but share my 'hawk shack', in separate chambers at each side which allows them to see and hear each other. 

We flew at a location we've been to several times, isolated, with a rather concentrated population of bunnies.  It has a substantial thicket of burdock, thus the choice of my burdock-proof hat.  Weather has been wet, mostly, with some sleet, but held off while we were in the field.  It was just 'warm' enough that the little Harris Hawk should not be bothered by the temp (high 30s).  After activating all the transmitters . . . they each have to have two now according to the new laws, I released Sassy first, then followed with Wasp.  As we worked the little patch of woods the two birds moved along with us, and even sometimes perched in the same tree.  Wasp did a pretty good job of following.  Sassy is an old pro.  During our hunt, the only thing brought to the bag was a field vole, caught by Wasp.  When I went to intervene, I pulled away most of the vole, with him keeping the front part.  Sassy then spotted what was going on, and joined us.  It was at this point that I saw the only aggression.  Sassy scrawed at him to give up the food.  I then distracted her with the part in my hand, and resolved the issue without any further conflict. 

During our hunt today, a couple bunnies were kicked up, but none caught.  Sassy had a really nice chase on one, and it may have been caught if Wasp had joined her.  I'm not sure if he's unsure about bunnies, or afraid to chase the same food as that big female.  The solution may simply be to fly them together as much as I can . . . which I was going to do anyway.  Rich caught the action on his GoPro, so I may have a little video to follow in the next couple days.

Overall, I feel it went well for a first joint flight.  We'll have to work on the recall, as I gave a lure to Rich, and we both called a bird, but ended up each with the other bird, and then both on the same lure.  It was a little clumsy, but all birds were returned to their boxes safe. 

On a somewhat positive note, sortof, I briefly decided to bring Monty out on his leash, and see if he could be persuaded to try and kick out some bunnies in a brush pile.  This was the first opportunity Sassy had to really get a go at that dog that she has despised for some time.  She immediately flew in and got a few good licks in on the dog, who I think now just may respect her for it.  I'm not sure if I could eventually convince Sassy to let him join us in the field, but at least the first step is for him to fear her.  I think maybe he understands that now.  Will he remember . . . that is the question.

I wanted to get a second Harris Hawk so that I could fly a cast.  A second female would have been preferred, but a male is what was available to me, and ultimately, I wanted a second bird that could be a good companion to Sassy.  A little male may turn out to be an ultimate companion, who could eventually be her mate in a couple years.  Hunting together should help cement that bond.  I wanted a cast, and today I flew one.  The team needs work, but it is a start.

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