Wednesday, November 18, 2009

1000+!



1000+!  Except I'm not talking about a falcon's pitch.  This blog has been viewed 1000+ times since its inception last year.  Now I know that is a piddlely amount, and "real" blogs get that every minute, but I'm surprised that any have come this way.  Thanks to all who are interested enough in what I've got going on falconrywise.  I started this mostly for me to have a kind of online journal for myself with no intention of ever having 1000 hits, let alone from 34 different countries!  I guess I should probably stick to the topic at hand....

The past couple of days, Texas (Oklahoma, Illinois, Missouri, Idaho, New Mexico, South Africa, etc., etc., etc...) falconer Therese stopped in to see if we could get a duck flight for her little tiercel Anatum Peregrine, Cal. Therese has been transient lately going back and forth between schools in Texas and Illinois and it appears that wherever she goes the ducks head the opposite way.  Since she has been passing through here anyway I offered up some of our northeastern Oklahoma waterfowl.

It didn't take long for us to find the first pond with ducks on it, about 1/2 dozen Green Wing Teal, just the thing for a small Peregrine.  We quickly came up with our flushing strategy and Cal was in the air.  Teal are know to hug the edge of the pond on the flush and quickly put back in the water with or without pressure from a falcon.  So when Cal missed the initial flush I was confident they would quickly return to the pond and we would get a reflush.  But as nature likes to do, I was made to look like a idiot.  The Teal flushed and flew straight away over the horizon never to be seen again, at least by us that day.  So Cal was called down and off we went to the next spot.

After checking a few more ponds down the road, we had another shot.  This time for my Hybrid.  There was a raft of about 15 Ringnecked Ducks lazily floating along on a long skinny pond a mile or so south of where we had just flown Therese's bird.  I already had Tulsa ready to go so I jumped out of the truck and turned him loose.  He was climbing really well when at about 600' feet I see him shift his attention.  Looking over at Therese I commented "oh great he sees something."  And sure enough he folds into a nice stoop at some unforeseen prey item off in the the distance.  Almost right away he come back up over the tree line and was stooped by what appeared to be a Prairie Falcon from my distant vantatage point.  They seemed to dogfight for a minute or two and finally it appeared that my bird was heading back my way to get serious about the task at hand.  But, that was not his intention and off he went in the opposite direction of where I was set up to flush.  After monitoring his progress for about 10 minutes by telemetry signal it was finally time to track him down.  This lead us about 5 miles east and then north to find him balling up a merl of Blackbirds.  Out comes the lure, down comes the bird, and its, again, off to the next spot.


After making a quick run back to the house, we went back out in the field to see if our luck would improve.  I flew the Jerkin for several passes to the lure to have him finished for the day.  Then decided to go back to the last pond where my bird had flown off just an hour before.  Sure enough, the Ringbills were still there and we decided to give my Hybrid a second chance.

This time he was locked onto me (probably because I flashed a pigeon at him) and started to climb.  His flaps were nowhere near as strong as earlier though, and it was starting to drizzle a bit, seemingly effecting his flight.  At several hundred feet the little ducks couldn't resist the urge to make a break for it.   This broke Tulsa's fixation on me and after a quick bank and short stoop, he clipped one of the Ringbills out of the sky.  It was a strange impact though; I could hear it clear as a train wreck from across the pond but it didn't appear that he had made contact.  A thought that was reinforced by the fact that the falcon pitched up off the blow to the duck and slowly parachuted to the ground with zero urgency.  I was half expecting to find him sitting on a cow turd, as can happen when a young bird thinks he injured something worse than he really did.  But as I got closer to him on the ground I found that he did indeed have a drake Ringbill in his feet and it was severely severed down its neck.  It was a fairly clean cut so it mostly likely happen on the initial impact and would explain why the falcon had little urgency coming down to his terminally crippled prey.


We finished the morning by driving another hour and a half to only find one more pond with ducks on it and it was surrounded by wild cattle.  On the plus side though, duck #3 in the bag, my bird flew 2x on one day without major problems, and we did get a flight for Therese.  A couple of more kills and it will be time to start focusing a bit more on pitch again and introduce the third element that I love about falconry....
My dog BEP, the duck busting Weimaraner.... Coming Soon....



3 comments:

steveo_uk said...

how do you get your stats ?

Chris Kimble said...

Wild cattle?! Ryan C. has a problem with finding his sharpy mantled up on cow turds as well.

Ryan said...

Steve, I use the clustrmaps widget on the side. Just click on it and you can sign up for one. I found it on Issac's blog.

Chris, Wild as in they will run through the fence if you get anywhere near them. As opposed to the ones that just stand there and get in your way. Cow turds are an elusive quarry and your bird will act really crazy if he breaks into the mushrooms growing on them.