After taking a vacation in the much warmer South Carolina, I am getting my hunting team out to get the season started. On our second real hunt with Wyvern, on October 22, she brought the first bunny of the season to the bag. As of this writing, Flint has not yet caught anything, but he gives very nice, aerobatic flights. Soon I'll test to see if I can fly the two together. Despite being housed right next to each other all year they still seem to be mostly antagonistic to each other, especially when it comes to food.
As "proof" that what we are doing is called "dirt hawking", when we were done letting Wyvern enjoy her catch, and finding ourselves fenced in, and closer to my car on one side of the fence, as opposed to going all the way around, we found a spot to sneak through, under the fence. I got through without Rich catching me on the camera. He was not spared the indignity. Dirt Hawking at its finest!
As of this writing, I still have not secured a "cold weather hawk" for the impending winter when I will not be able to fly the Harris Hawks because of the cold. It has been a rather frustrating trapping season. Usually, I have no problem catching and being able to choose between several candidates. This year I have seen very few immature birds migrating through, and the few I have seen have been very indifferent to the BC. The only one I have laid hands on, which from a distance looked like an immie, turned out to be an adult. Oh, but what an interesting story! Turns out this bird had been trapped and banded before. After reporting her leg band, and their searching the database, I was informed she is a 2015 hatch year bird who migrated through Duluth.
I was given this very cool certificate.
She had a very pretty tail!
I then spent much of the week of October 22 through 28 canvassing all around my area, looking for passage birds. For my 900+ miles driven I still do not have a cold weather hunting partner. I dropped the trap about five times, maybe. Very slim pickings this year!! Mostly, I just educated a few birds. I am seeing LOTS of adults, usually out in the countryside, and also seeing a surprising number of bald eagles, both adult and juvenile, but passage red tails are a rare chimera. Strangely so, when they are found and the BC dropped, they may make a pass or two but not land and foot, or then spend frustratingly long periods of time just staring at the trap from a height. I have inquired of other falconers in the state and was told that the number of passage birds is reduced from several locations in our state by reliable observers. Wisconsin has had a pretty good flow, but the migration seems to have gone mostly around Minnesota this year.
There is a rather dark phase bird outside Mabel, the town next to my husband's home town, which has caught my interest. I could not entice it to the BC, giving it an hour to decide. I went back the next morning at first light and found the bird very early. This time it did go for the trap, but only was snagged by a toe, which it broke free in the struggle. In the process, it flipped the trap. When I approached it was still nearby and maybe would have re-engaged the rats, but the flipped trap just ruined any chance of that being successful. All I did was teach him about BCs.
There is another bird just outside La Crescent that was not interested in the BC both times I dropped it, but I watched this bird chase a squirrel in a tree it was sitting in. This makes it a VERY desirable bird. Because of this I am taking my trapping efforts to the next level. Last night I built a pigeon harness. It will be a couple days before I can try out the pigeon harness on both of the birds above. Hopefully one of them might be caught. Or some other bird will become available. My apprentice will be back home from a vacation this next week. She was to help me trap my bird for this season, as I gave her my hawk from last year. Hopefully soon I will have a new bird to work with.
When not running around, "Hawk Stalking" as I call it, I took Wyvern out and she caught her second bunny. On a hunting trip between the two bunny catches she did catch a "LBJ", a Little Brown Job in a marshy area we were checking out, a potential new hunting site. It did not turn out to be any good for bunnies, but Wyvern did catch something in the marsh grass. I think it was a bird, as is squeaked unlike any rodent I have ever heard. It sounded rather bird-like. However she skipped away with her prize to a thick area I could not easily or quickly follow and snarfed it down.
The weather has been mostly pleasant, cold at night, but up to the 40s and 50s during the day. I have enjoyed many weeks with minimal responsibility to be at work, but now I have to get back to my usual schedule. Vacation is over (insert frowny face here), but hawking season is ON!