Sunday, December 7, 2014

It Was An Active Weekend!

On Saturday, December 6 I got together in the morning with Sue, to make one last effort to chase a wild hawk for her, and after failing that, fly CC for awhile. Most of the juvenile hawks have moved out of the area, following their instinct to fly South to a warmer climate for the winter. A smart move which I wish I could follow sometimes, especially after the very frigid month of November we experienced. The very few juvenile birds that remain, if found, have been out on their own for awhile now, taking care of themselves. They have become more wary of people and unusual situations (traps), and even if one could be convinced to come to a trap, tend to be more stubborn and hard to train. Sue would not have an opportunity to test this, as the lovely passage bird I saw and we both re-found in Rushford was not at all interested in our trap. After giving up we moved down the road to a promising brushy spot, where we did see lots of sign of rabbits, and did flush what was most likely the same rabbit about three times. CC put in a good effort but just didn't contact. As 1 pm approached Sue had to leave to meet some friends at her home. CC and I would seek out a different location before heading home.

I re-visited a spot in Peterson that had bunny sign last year. There was not as much activity this year in the main location along a bike trail. I did flush a bunny that made a quick break for it into the houses nearby, seeking safety in a garden. Fortunately, CC just followed up to a nearby tree, and not into the yard, for shortly after I saw the bunny disappear, I saw a person standing in the yard. I don't exactly want my hawk making a kill right in front of John Q Public, especially in their yard, when they are not expecting it. Notoriously, these kinds of people profess to love their local bunnies and don't want you killing their "pets". To those people I silently hope the bunnies girdle their expensive new bushes and trees and kill them. CC returned to me and we moved down the bike trail to a new area I had not kicked through before. Here we found lots of brushy piles, from which I did kick out another bunny. It retreated after CC made a half-hearted brush crash after it. Once regaining her high perch, I flanked where bunny had gone and managed to reflush, right into CC's waiting talons. This was bunny #2 for her. I cropped her up and then headed home. Rich was at work on this weekend day, so I just snapped a quick picture on my cell phone, above.
The next day, Sunday the 7th, CC was back down to weight and willing to try again. I was joined in the hunt by Christina "Shorty" Thompson. I've not seen Christina for awhile, and was happy she could get away for awhile and come join us for a hunt. We tried out a new spot I've had my eye on. It turned out to be good, although possibly limited, as it is bordered on one side by a fairly deep creek, and on the other by a tall fence, which I did not have the opportunity to explore if there was a way around or into it just in case a bird took game on the other side of it. I didn't have to explore these hazards as CC took down bunny #3 within 10 minutes into the field, and possibly even shorter than that. For we land-bound humans, there was a lot of raspberry canes and tangling vines to navigate, but it all looked like really good bunny-tat. CC doesn't quite seem to understand that she needs to grab her dinner by the head, for she practically skinned that pants off this rabbit. Fortunately, I was able to get to her and help subdue her prize or it very likely may have gotten away. After feeding her up, and being rather glad that she had been successful quickly, Christina and I headed into Rochester for some hot soup. Afterwards she returned to my home to enjoy my hot tub, and watch a movie. I should have gotten a picture of us both, but forgot to do so.
CC after her third bunny. She makes quite a bloody mess of herself.
Previously, or maybe after . . . I don't remember right now, and I'm not near my brain (Richard) to check the date, Rich and I went to visit Janelle in her new home. She assured me that there were bunnies to be had in her yard. This turned out to be true, although CC wasn't on her game this day so didn't catch any of them. Sassy was along, and put in a better effort. After awhile, and after moving off to a far corner of the property, we managed to flush a bunny that Sassy caught. This was #6 for her.
We were then invited inside to have something to drink and some cheese, and to tour Janelle's new digs. We will probably visit again this season. I'm sure we could catch another of those bunnies given the chance.
November was a very cold month, but I did manage to put some game into the freezer. December turned out to be a lot more comfortable, weather wise. It warmed up, relatively, into the 30s, and melted away all the snow. The Minnesota Falconers had a mini-meet in Rochester on December 13. I was working that day, but did get the morning off. I took Sassy to another new spot I have had my eye on, and it turned out to be quite good. I flushed and she chased several bunnies, finally catching #7 for her for the season, and #10 overall between the two birds. After cropping her up and getting back to my car, I quickly ran into Rochester to meet up with some of the club members to say 'hello', then had to get home and get cleaned up for work. Quite a lot of the month of December has been spent working extra. One of our longstanding co-workers resigned to take a job closer to his home (Thanks David! We are going to miss you!) Our department is now waiting for the new lady to start and get trained. Until that time, there are lots of extra shifts that have to be covered. OT is nice, but TIME during this season is what I really need to fly birds . . . and the upcoming Winter Solstice only makes the days very short.