Thursday, November 12, 2009

From Bad, to Worse, to Awesome!

As predicted the past several days have resulted in fly-offs.  Tulsa (the bird has been named now and his band # ends in 918, Tulsa's area code) has been flying well but he is a baby as far as hunting goes.  I got him at the end of last season after my previous Hybrid died.  He was hatched last summer and was the only bird not sold from Steve Sherrod's breeding project.  Basically the bird had lived in a huge flight chamber untrained from fledging till the end of January when I acquired him.  The interesting thing to me about this particular bird is that his mother is an anatum Peregrine who was taken from an eyrie in Wyoming as an eyas.  So her parents had survived natural selection and, at least the Peregrine, genes that this bird possesses have not been diluted by captive breeding.  So I got him at the end of the season last year, flew him to the kite for 2 weeks, tossed him a Pigeon or two and put him up for the molt, which he only completed half of, and we got a fresh start this year with no real hunting experience.

Now that we are back up to speed, Tulsa caught his first duck last weekend and has been doing the typical baby stuff.  He flies well, mounts nicely, but has been missing the initial stoop and chasing the ducks to the horizon over the past few days.  Baby birds have to make baby bird mistakes, so I guess I have to be grateful for the telemetry refresher course and the exercise these fly-offs provide.

That brings us to today.  This morning I found 3 gadwalls on a nice small farm pond, the perfect set up for duck #2.  After the usual prep, the bird was in the air, but not showing any sign of flying seriously.  Basically, no pitch and flying with baby flaps and fanned tail.  A bit put off by this, I decided to make this a learning opportunity for the bird and flushed the ducks with the falcon way out of position.  This worked well, after a quick chase, Tulsa realized that he was fully burned by the ducks and was flying back my way.  Being that he had hardly flown I decided I was just gonna walk the field and let him fly for a bit before I called him down.  This seemed to motivate him to get in gear and climb he did.  If fact I have not seem him that high without the kite above.  I would feel confident in estimating that he was 1200' high if not higher, this coming from several years experience with seeing birds flying the kite.  He stayed directly above me while gaining altitude so I decided on a whim to head on walking toward a pond down the road that I have only seen ducks on one time in the past three years.  With the bird just a tiny spec in the sky, I jogged over to the pond without expectations and low and behold no less than 20 ducks had been hugging the bank of the pond closest to me!  A quick yell and the ducks took to the sky.  Three Mallards and a bunch miscellaneous came off the water, but I was watching the bird so I didn't get much time to id the rest.  Then came one of the top 10 stoops I have seen in my life.

Down came the falcon completely tucked into a falling cigar position, not 10 degrees out from a perfectly vertical stoop, pouring on the speed.  Without being a very experienced bird this could have ended badly had he hit the duck full on, but he wisely pulled out of stoop early and grabbed a hen Mallard, who had broken from the flock, squarely in the rear hauling her to the ground.  Not the prettiest ending to a fantastic stoop but effective just the same.  With time his aim and confidence will improve and I expect hard hits in the future.

1 comment:

steveo_uk said...

i think thats half the fun of falconry, you never know what the bird is really going to do !