Monday, December 21, 2015


With only a few short hours available to me the morning of the shortest day of the year, Rich and I got out with the two girls, "B Team" for a little Solstice Hawking. Time was limited, not for the lack of daylight hours, but because it was a work day for me, and I would have to lay down in the afternoon for a nap to reset my clock for working through the night.

We visited a location that has the occasional squirrel, and very rare rabbit.  Working the acorn-rich producing trees we kicked up several squirrels.  I am noticing that with two hawks going after the squirrels, the tree rats are showing a tendency to bail out of the trees as fast as they can and go to ground.  With a single hawk, they just push around to the other side.  Wyvern is really starting to get into squirrels with Sassy, and looking up to see them.  It is also exciting to see when they come to ground, for with two birds they tend to "hopscotch" the squirrel, each taking an attempt at catching, but when missed, the other bird is in position to try, and skipping back and forth until the squirrel either escapes or is caught.  Today I believe two squirrels may have sustained a few bruises and pricks, but the girls didn't get a good grip and hold them down. Giving them just a little credit, the squirrels did look pretty big.

We looped around the woods, which are on some rolling hills, and came around a pond to the far side, which also happens to be closer to houses.  Here, in a thick patch, one of those rare rabbits was hiding out for the day, and it got up to escape, however was not fast enough.  I don't know who made the first try for it, as I know the first dive was not successful, but the second hopscotch tackled the bunny.  It took Rich and I a minute or so to locate them, as they grabbed the bunny inside a brushy pile on a hillside, which was hard for us clumsy humans to get to.  Both birds had hold of the bunny, so it wasn't going anywhere.  I carefully extracted them from the pile and brought them down off the hill onto some flat grass, where both were rewarded for their efforts.  Fully cropped up, we went home, got everyone back into their mews, bunny packaged away into the freezer, myself cleaned up, and off to sleep.

It has been a warmish, El Nino year. What little snow we have gotten has not lasted. This so far mild winter has allowed me quite a longer time to get the two hawks flying well together. Sassy does well either way. Wyvern has been learning, and seems to be coming along great. When and if "real" winter arrives, we'll see how this Texas hawk does with snow.

Below is a rather longish video of the morning.  At around the 2:45 mark the real action on the "Big Ass Squirrel" takes place.  The bunny hunt was spliced in right after.  You can't see the catch on the bunny in the video, but it does show exactly how brushy the final catch location was.  It does not clearly reflect that it was on a hillside.

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