Friday, February 21, 2014


As I write this, I should be at work!  We can't get out of our street to get onto the main road that runs by our house.  The morning news said we got 6.5 inches of snow overnight here in St. Charles.  The wind moved it all into the roadways, drifted up to make them impassable.

Here is Rich, standing in the middle of Sinclair Rd.  This view is facing South.  That's a 3.5 ft drift, which goes on for quite a distance.  Anyone living further down our road is going NOWHERE anytime soon.
Here is Sinclair facing North.  This is where we got stuck this morning at 4:30 as we tried to make it into work.  Rich's Dodge Diesel 2500 4X drive truck couldn't break through.  He ended up having to get his snow thrower out of the garage to free up the tires so he could back up into the driveway, and then garage. 
The front of my house, my porch.  This was all clear yesterday.

Hopefully a plow will come by soon on Sinclair so we can get out . . . and go to work!

A little later in the morning we even had a snowmobiler get stuck in the snow in front of our house.  It's deep!
Below is a video we recorded while we waited to be able to get out to go to work.  This was proof of how bad the blizzard was for us.

And this is what it took to clear the path . . . so we could go to work.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

That's a Wrap!

On Wednesday, February 19 Rich and I got out for what is most likely the end of my falconry season, with Sassy anyways.  It got up into the high 30s.  We went to my favorite bunny location, which is usually just crawling with them.  However, with the terribly deep snow we've been experiencing, what bunnies are there are dug in deep.  There is sign of them all around, but it is impossible to kick them out.  There was a location of a brush pile, mostly covered in snow, but which I knew about.  We stomped that pile and popped out the only bunny we saw all day.  It was kinda a pathetic slip.  The bunny ran out and tried to make it's way up the deep snow embankment next to the brush pile.  It was so slowed down by the snow that Sassy snapped it up pretty easily as it tried to escape between a couple buildings.
We continued to walk the entire location, opting for snow shoes fairly quickly, as the snow was drifted up to our thighs, and sometimes waist.  The picture above is not a true reflection of how deep the snow was, but it seemed like it sometimes.  This above is piled up with a plow.  Small Game Season for Minnesota closes at the end of February, which is next week.  It is forecast to be single digits and subzero again next week.  I have lost so many days of flying potential this winter because of the terrible cold.  With that said, Sassy still managed to bring 10 head of game to the bag.  Not great at all by any measure, but again, she is able to hunt after her injury, and bring game to the bag.  Except for the extended cold, that number would have been higher. 

I must say, I do so love this bird.  She is so calm, when she's not too fat.  We flew her yesterday in Spring Grove after squirrels.  She did contact one, and got the only bite I've ever seen her get since I have had her.  The wound bled clean, and after a cleanup with iodine and topical antibiotic, looks to be healing fine.  The squirrel got away.  She let me fuss over her foot and didn't mind my ministrations at all. 

I plan to conduct an experiment with her.  Because I can no long fly her to hunt, I'm going to place some full spectrum lighting on a timer in her mew.  It's going to suddenly become summer for her, with 15+ hours of daylight.  I'd like to stimulate her molt to get going early.  I want her to be done and in shape so we can get out hunting as soon as the season opens in September next year.

Wasp may get flown a bit more, as things melt.  I want to work more with him, focusing on birds.  As spring progresses, we will have lots of nesting starlings, and there are always European House Sparrows.  I want to build up his confidence on catching more prey items than just mice, which he's pretty good at.  However, it has to warm up more than what is going on outside.  I popped my head outside the door and took a little clip of the snow coming down.  There was a clap of thunder snow a little while ago.  The wind will get blowing tonight, and push around the 5 to 8 inches of snow we are forecast for.  Spring is still several months away, but for me, the falconry hunting season is mostly over. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sue, New Falconer

This is Sue.  I met her through Karla at the Houston Nature Center a couple years ago.  I introduced her to Dave.  Sue is an avid birder, but she has also found falconry to be very interesting to her.  Dave agreed to train her.  Here she is with her first hawk, a bit of a late trapped bird, who of course did not face the camera when I took this picture, or otherwise blinked.  She has named him Pazil.  This picture was taken at the Wisconsin Falconers Meet held on the weekend of February 8 ~ an exhausting slog through deep snow to try to find bunnies that were tucked in deep.  Rich and I attended but didn't bring or fly any birds.  It would have been too cold anyway.  At the time of the meet Pazil had not yet been entered, but I did receive a call today where Sue shared that finally a bunny was flushed under him and he caught it.  This makes her truly a falconer, one who has caught wild game with a trained raptor.  Congratulations Sue!

Previous to the meet, Rich and I had met up with Sue one afternoon to beat brush for her.  Rich caught this very pretty call down.  Some of the best experiences in falconry are to see the 'air artistry' of our birds up close and personal.

I'll have to get a good picture of Pazil so I can share it here.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Snowshoe Hawking

It has been terribly cold here in the Upper Midwest.  This winter has been really hard to hawk the Harris Hawks.  I am really missing that I don't have a Redtail.  This has me making plans to make sure next year I have a new mew for a RT, and that I make an extra effort to trap a large female.  I'd like to show Greg how to do bow netting.  Hopefully, if we put forth the effort to secure a location near the river, we'll actually have a migration this next fall.  The birds were just absent in our area this last trapping season. 

The thermometer creeped above 20 degrees last Wednesday, January 29.  We took Sassy to chase squirrels in Spring Grove.  We had to use snowshoes, as the recent snow and then blizzard winds had piled it up deep in many areas.  Her increased weight from lounging around the mew meant she didn't try too very hard.  You can get away with this kind of sloppy weight control with a HH, as they tend to not fly off, as a RT would.  However, the downside is that they don't try too hard.  She had a close call with a squirrel that lost it's footing when the branch it jumped for broke off, but at the base of the tree was a lot of "water sprouts", extra branches growing from the base of the tree, which Sassy became tangled in, and through which the squirrel escaped.  We walked around for about an hour letting her stretch her wings before I decided I was tired from tromping through the snow with my snowshoes.  Sassy is fly-able in the 20s, but she is quick to quit and return to the warmth of the vehicle.

Hunting season for rabbits and squirrels closes in a month.  I'm seriously thinking about manipulating the bird's light in their mew.  I'd like to increase Sassy's light to stimulate the molt to start early, and I'd like to restrict Wasp's light, to extend his hunting season into spring.  He has only hunted mice and voles, and I'd like to get him on birds, so I'm not too worried about flying him after the close of rabbit and squirrel season, as he has shown no interest in them at this point.  I would like to see if I can delay his molt into the fall, and molt him over next winter.  If I can't fly him because of the cold, I might as well do something useful with that time.

It is Monday now, February 3rd.  It may get into the 20s today, and the sun is shining.  We will try to get out again today, if I can decide where to go.  I'd like to chase rabbits, but with the deep snow, they are going to be hard to find.