Thursday, November 20, 2014

One Day Makes All the Difference!

Today dawned clear blue skies, still rather cold, and breezy, but I was determined to go hawking, regardless. Stepping CC onto the scale, she weighed 1245 grams. This is just about the perfect weight for her. We dawdled around the house this morning, but got ourselves together and got headed out to go hawking in the afternoon.
After arriving and getting CC out and beeped up (telemetry on) I decided to hood her in order to walk to our starting point. She has not been hood trained, so hated it, and it would turn out to be an unfortunate decision on my part, as somehow the hood seems to have fallen out of my jacket, somewhere. After the hunt we re-traced our steps but did not find it. I guess it could be worse . . . Justin tells me he lost a $300+ transmitter. YIKES!

Anyway . . . back to our story.
We flew at one of my best hunting spots, which can be counted on for many bunny flushes. Upon striking the hood and attempting to toss CC up into a nearby tree, she caught the wind and flew way down the track. Well, where she landed is an area I've wanted to check out, but never have as I've usually caught game in the usual spot, going the other direction. So we followed her. Very quickly, Rich kicked up a bunny, and she chased it, but it got away. Keep moving down, following. There were many brushy piles, and a lot of bunny sign. I kicked up a bunny and she went for it but missed, crashing the ground. I called her up from the ground to give her a little reward for her efforts. Back up into a trees, and try again. Third time was the charm! I kicked the bunny out, she was right overhead, and scooped it up easy as you please.
Rich caught all the action on his GoPro, but as of this writing he is having some technical problems with the software, which seems to have automatically updated and changed something, but wants him to purchase an update of some kind to work. Once he gets it all figured out, I'll post a video, which shows all the action.


You presented me with a challenge when you first came to live with me, getting sick and needing some gentle care and rehab time to recover from your respiratory issues. You took all the handling in stride, and thus far, have been a fairly sweet hawk to handle. Now you are entered as a falconry bird. I'll give you the weekend off, as I have to work, but we'll get out there as soon as we can and try to put some more bunnies under you. Soon, we'll try for squirrels as well.

I'm quite a bit more happy than yesterday when I wrote the previous post. To celebrate, I took Rich and myself out for a really good hamburger.

And now I have the video.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Deep Freeze

I'm a terrible grump to be around lately!

A very large and cold bubble of air and snow descended upon us last week. It's not the 'Polar Vortex' which became so very famous from last winter, but the end results are just as bad. A very large storm system pushed into Alaska, and unique air currents sent the jet stream into a huge loop, pulling arctic air into the lower 48, and with it a sudden and abrupt introduction to winter. It is only November, and should be prime hawking time, but instead I'm hunkering down inside because I just don't care for 30 mph winds, which coupled with teens in the temperature, make for very miserable hawking. It feels like January.

Yesterday wasn't quite so bad, but of course, that was the day I had scheduled an appointment, and had errands I had to run, so no hawking. Today it's back to the high winds. It is supposed to 'warm up' as the weekend comes on, just in time for me to go back to work. Also, next week is Thanksgiving, and I'm going to be working just about all of those days, including the holiday.  *Grumble*

I hate being cooped up inside. I hate not being out trying to get CC entered. I hate being cold. Tomorrow will be single digits cold, but the wind should die down. Rich and I will be making an effort to go out hawking.

Being stuck inside, I'll spend some of that time posting some of the successes I didn't post previously.  I recently found a new spot to hunt not far from my house, and Sassy caught bunny #5 for herself there.
While looking through pictures we've taken this season, I also realized we didn't post the dove she caught earlier. To be fair, it was not a straight up catch. I think this dove was injured. I flushed it, but it didn't fly fast like it should have.  Sassy made short work of catching it. She also ate it pretty quick too. Survival of the fittest works for wild hawks as well as falconry birds. The weak get picked off, rather easily.
I've been trying a few other new spots. So far this year, there does seem to be a pretty healthy population of rodents. Sassy has caught her fair share of them, and CC has as well, but I really need to kick up bunnies under CC. She needs to learn that I am her advantage in the field, for bigger meals.

I had a "Carolyn's Posse Falconry Day" last Sunday, 11/16, and it was cold and snowy. Justin joined me, and along with Rich, and Janelle and her son Harvey and friend Greg, and Foxfeather and her husband Roman, we tromped around out in the cold. Only mice were caught. I even whacked one myself with my stick. On his way home Justin informs me he made a quick stop and did catch a squirrel. We didn't take a group picture, because frankly I think everyone was beyond cold.  We got to see his gos, but she wasn't cooperating for the hunt. His red tail, Chomps, got to fly for awhile, and did some pretty stoops on bunnies, flying over his dog, Lucy, who is a real asset in the woods. I wish Monty was as useful.

The very cold weather, and our first snow, brings to an end Rich's outside 'honey-do' tasks for the year, mostly. He did a lot of building of things for me this past summer (tilling a garden, new wood planks on the deck, pigeon loft refit, pasture fence, goat outbuilding maintenance). This includes making CC's home for the winter. She has a jump box inside a fenced weathering yard. There are heavy duty black tarps to provide wind break, as well as privacy. She has learned that it is warmer inside her box, so sleeps inside there, and hunkers down when it is cold and windy, as it has been. Next summer perhaps I'll get the third mew I'd like to have built.

One of the few bright spots with all this cold, Rich and I have been enjoying our 'new to us' hot tub. This was another of the summer projects. I purchased it from an employee at the hospital this last summer. It's an older tub, but has been cared for well. The employee's husband is an engineer, and maintained it well. Also, being used, we got it for a fraction of the cost of new. We arranged to get it moved (Rich had to refit a cart for it), then it sat in storage most of the summer as we worked on the porch, and he built a platform for the tub, then just in time, before we plunged into the deep freeze, Greg (my current apprentice) wired us up, and we got it operating. It is terribly nice on these cold nights to go and soak and visit together in the dark, prior to bedtime. When I was going to school and was a housemate for Liz in La Crosse, she had a hot tub, and I told myself I wanted to get one some day. Some day has arrived!

Ahhhhh . . . tis nice to be a Snow Monkey! Rich took this quick pic before joining me. Click the link to read a posting I made those many years ago when I lived with Liz, on another terribly cold day.

After starting this post this morning, I stepped away from the computer and made myself useful. I have decided what I'm going to do with Flint, for now. It is already way too cold outside for this little guy, so I switched the two Harris Hawks, exchanging mews. Sassy's mew has automatic lights that have a timer I can set.  Now that mew belongs to Flint. Along with the switch, I put new carpeting down, which I had purchased previously. You see, for my two HHs, they have carpeting on the floor instead of gravel, inside a job shack trailer, which has indoor heat. They are quite toasty in this terrible cold. Once a year or so, when it is warm, I can remove the carpeting and power wash it. Well, Flint now has the larger mew with lighting, and I'm going to try to stimulate his molt. Then, hopefully if all goes well, he can be done and ready to hunt in the Spring when the other two hawks have to be put up due to the end of hunting season. I'd like to have a HH that hunts birds. This was my plan for Wasp which never happened due to his untimely death. I got them both switched around today. So, let the molt begin for Flint. I also cleaned rat tanks, and generally tidied up the Hawk Shack.

And one last thing to close out this post. Last Saturday Rich and I saw the Prairie Home Companion show here in Rochester. We've been meaning to catch one of Garrison Keillor's shows.  When they announced a show in Rochester, I bought tickets. Well, during the show they had a guest choir from Rochester, the Choral Arts Ensemble. One of the songs they sang is one I know, from my days in Region Choir, years and years and years ago. Well, that song has been stuck in my head all week, and seems appropriate with the winter winds outside.  I'll include a very nice rendition of it I found on YouTube.


Monday, November 3, 2014

In the Meantime

Between nursing a sick hawk, and running up to and back from the Raptor Center four times in an eight-day period (a two-hour drive each way), and trying to help my adopted apprentice Sue trap a passage red-tail, and flying Sassy several times, and attempting to understand what the heck is going on inside the head of Flint, my new Harris Hawk, and pathetically trying to maintain my home (Rich has not had very many great meals lately, and the house is messy) and working, and sometimes sleeping . . . . this past month has just flown by.  
Sassy has caught two more bunnies, for a total of four so far this season. That's not very great, but at least she is adding to the meat in the freezer.  The other two birds are just eating it, and not contributing.  Hopefully soon the Red Tail will begin to pull her weight.  Flint is just a mystery to me at this time, and I'll write about him later.  He probably needs more time than I have been able to give lately.  I have heard Falconry being playfully compared to having a brat (and for any of you who are outside of the Upper Midwest, a brat is a largish sausage served on a bun, like a hot-dog).  One bird, like one brat, is Great!  Two is too much!  Three will kill you.  I currently have three birds to fly, not exactly intentionally.  I had hoped to train Flint and Sassy to fly together, but Sassy has decided that Flint is a worthy opponent to bully, and Flint doesn't back off from her so just antagonizes her.  Flying them together has resulted in a crab-fest.  Frankly, I think Flint needs more work, and I need more opportunity to try and understand how his brain is working, because it is different, and set into unusual patterns.
Justin joined us for a hunt, after flying his goshawk and his red tail, who are both doing great.

I need to catch up with Greg and see what he's been up to.

And we still need to find a hawk for Sue.  She's about to give up.  I'm hoping for a stroke of luck.