Today was apotpourri of Oklahoma weather. I awoke today to thunderstorms, which turned to overcast, then sunny for a few minutes, then drizzle, then hail, then heavy rain, then fog, and tonight we are suppose to get 3-8 inches of snow. So we shall see it all today. Sometime between thunderstorms and fog I decided to get my birds out for a flight despite the temperatures hovering in the mid 50's, steamy weather to arctic falcons. I quickly spot two Ringbills on the pond next to my training fieldand beep up my hybrid. Text book flight; climbed up really high directly over the pond and hammered the first duck off the water. That is three ducks in the last three flights, so things are really starting to click for this young bird. Then the morning got interesting. As the hybrid was eating his catch, nearly 50 gadwalls come flying in and land on the pond that I am sitting not 20 feet from. As soon as they landed they saw me and took off heading north were they put into another pond about 500 yards from where I caught the first duck. After Tulsa finished eating I hurried him back to the truck to get the Gyrfalcon ready to fly.
No sooner do I have him ready to go, the rain starts. I sit in my truck for 20 minutes happily listening to NPR (I'm a bit of a talk radio junkie) all the while my adreniline is pumping with the promise of flying my Jerkin over a small pond full of gadwalls and scoring his first wild duck kill. Finally the rain stops and for seemingly no reason the ducks leave the water! Luckily, not all of the ducks decide to leave. Upon glassing the pond I found that 5 of them were not as wise as the rest.
My Jerkin has been back and forth with taking a pitch and realizing that I'm flushing game in front of him. Today it clicked. He climbed up to a decent pitch and over the pond awaiting my flush. All five ducks flushed off the pond clean and down came the falcon. Apparently the large size of the Gyrfalcon is pretty intimidating because all of the ducks bailed out onto the ground. When the falcon pitched up they all scrambled back to the water. The falcon then remounted several hundred feet and chased two ducks off the water on the reflush. He quickly was out distanced by them and came back over the water another several hundred feet higher. On the final reflush, the Jerkin singled out one of the ducks and clipped its wing on the stoop sending it cartwheeling through the air to the ground. The falcon wasn't letting this duck get away and quickly got a final grip on his prey, securing his first wild kill!
On probably the worst day to fly weather-wise of the year, I had one of my best days flying of the year! The first duck for my Gyr, now named Mongo, and a double with both birds on top of that! My goal for this bird was catch his first duck before Christmas and I just squeaked it in today. The culmination of a lot of work over the past year. To top it all off, I also talked to the Oklahoma falconry coordinator this afternoon learned that the new falconry regulations will take effect on January 7th, 2010 in our state! All around a great day, despite the weather. Hopefully the snow will fall tonight.