Saturday, December 14, 2013

It's Cold Out There!

Today was the first day in about a 10-day stretch when it was neither a work day (6 of the last 10 have been), nor was it single digit or sub-zero temperatures outside.  Granted, it only got up to about 19, but that has been the warmest opportunity I've had for quite awhile to attempt to get my birds out.  Greg was also available, and despite some coughing in their household, two of his kids came along as well. 

After we met up, we first checked a spot in Rochester that I had seen, but had not explored on the ground.  Desper was our overhead game inspector.  The Minnesota Falconers are having a mini-meet in January in Rochester, hosted by a family of new falconers, the mom and wife I met last week.  I've offered to help locate hunting spots for those who join us.  There are several locations I can suggest, but have not explored them all.  Today was a chance to check out a couple of them.  The first site only rendered up two flushes, of which probably was the same bunny.  Though it looked like good squirrel habitat, perhaps it was just too cold today for the tree rats to be out.  Overall, I've judged that site to be rather poor, and not worthy of recommendation.

After some lunch, we explored another location, which I may, or may not share.  I shouldn't be greedy or over protective of my hunting spots, but this one turned out to be rather good.  We flew Sassy and Wasp first, and proceeded to kick up quite a few bunnies.  Sassy got in several good chases, and Wasp even tried to pick one up, rather poorly, as he was just not having a good day.  It was just too cold for him, and quickly became too cold for Sassy as well.  Finally, when she let two bunnies run right under her, and made no effort to chase, I decided I'd lure them in and put them away, and let Desper have another chance.  Desper did get several slips herself, in fact she treated us to at least three classic wing-overs . . . flying over the grassy marsh we were working, then making a quick 90 degree turn and stoop into the grass.  She missed all her bunnies, but it was pretty to see.  Our lack of success today was credited, I think, to Desper being a bit overweight, and my two birds being Harris Hawks in Minnesota, when it is just too cold for them to tolerate.

We were successful in catching some 'game' . . . sort of.  Belle whacked a rodent, which I now think was a short-tailed shrew.  She's holding it up in her right hand above.  Brady is posing with Desper.  Shortly later, I flushed several and managed to stomp on one myself.  Once the picture above was taken, I let Sassy and Wasp each have one of the recently deceased rodents . . . and they each did not say Thank You, and swallowed them whole.  *Urp*

It was a good day, even if no game was brought to the bag.  Next Tuesday it's supposed to get as 'warm' as 30, so maybe I can try flying my cast again.  After that, it is to return to sub-zero temps for several days.  Maybe next year I should consider reverse molting Wasp, artificially stimulating the molt over the winter, and fly him in the summer/early fall.  It just seems too cold for him.  Oh, and next year I should get a passage red tail . . . if they will bless us with their presence and migrate through.  I think they boycotted Minnesota this year.  They were very hard to find.

Thanks Greg, Belle and Brady . . . for a fun day!  Let's do it again, soon!

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