Thursday, January 28, 2010

First Drake Mallard

Work has been taking up all of my daylight for the past week or so and I haven't been able to get out as much as I would like but I did manage to slip away a little early yesterday to get the birds in the air.  I checked my training field ponds first as they are the closest to the Center and found a pair of Mallards paddling around on the back pond of the three.

I put the Hybrid up first and he promptly took a terrible pitch of about 500' and was setting wings.  This was the first time that he has done this so I was waiting him out.  The ducks had other ideas though and tried to break on their own while I was behind the dam wall and he slammed a hen who bounced off the ground and back into the water.  He then remounted to a great pitch, closer to the 1000' mark and hit the drake on the reflush, trying to powerbind going full speed sent them swinging and whipped him off the duck!  But the drake bounced hard on the ground and the falcon was on him.  Pretty neat flight and first drake Mallard.  700 gram bird beats the 1300 gram one!  

Next up, the Gyrkin.  I found a great setup on a pond with a bunch of Gadwalls.  The Gyr was cast off and began to fly off up wind climbing well but as soon as he turned to come over head he saw the ducks on the water and could resist and started stooping them as they were still just floating there.  The ducks would simply dive underwater after each pass splashing him as he zoomed by.  I knew this would be a good lesson for him and just let the whole thing play out on its own.  It really was pretty funny and I found myself laughing my ass off standing on the shore.  After 15 mins of chasing ducks to no avail he finally was tired and soaking wet from the splashings and landed at my feet.  So I picked him up and off we went.  

I finished the day off with my "little project."  During the big freeze I passed the time trapping kestrels using a bc with full grown Courturnix Quail for bait.  I found out real quick that when it is cold, Kestrels are brave; catching 21 of these small falcons using the large quail and there were even some male K-birds trapped as well in that bunch.  Number 19 looked a little different then the rest when I picked her up off the trap.  She was passage!  I now realize that passage Kestrel females actually do look quite a bit different than the Hags and by trapping so many I now can see it. 

I ended up keeping this bird and after an extremely quick train I got her hunting.  In fact I only did two bagged Starlings with her.  One off the fist that she just pounded instantly from 20 feet away and one out the car window where she had no hesitation.  Then I took her hunting.  I have only hunted her a couple of times now but she has caught a starling on every outing so far!  Hopefully we can keep that streak alive if everything doesn't freeze solid for the next week.

At the end of they day yesterday we caught a Starling on the second slip that was about a foot off the ground. Awesome!  The day before was slightly more interesting though.  I was out with my apprentice Daniel in Tulsa and we had a few slips with narrow misses and one grab that pulled loose.  Then we pulled up to a stop sign and there was a single milling about on the edge of the road.  Three or four cars drove by and without disturbing him so we decided to go for it.  The little falcon jumped off my fist and instantly folded up into a stoop slamming the starling down without even flapping his wings.  Daniel jumped out to help my bird while I pulled out of traffic and we had one in the bag!  We noticed that this Starling had a stripe down the middle of its head so I guess we killed the leader (Gremlins reference).  So now the kestrel has earned the name of Gizmo and we will be hunting as many Gremlins we can from here on out.  And that is why I won't name a bird till after it's first catch.

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