This could be the end for this season....
Another big freeze was setting in and I happened to find my favorite pond 1/2 open with a number of Gadwalls on it. Twenty degrees and just a slight south wind were ok conditions for a great flight.
Osprey left the fist and went straight down wind, just dipping slightly as she passed over the pond on her way out. After an extremely long outrun she finally turned into the wind and began to really climb. By the time she came over she was tiny silhouette in the sky. I held off on the flush until she was just barely upwind of the pond.
The ducks blasted off the water and I was treated to a near-vertical stoop. From no more than 30 yards away, I saw and heard the impact. The duck went straight to the ground and the falcon ricocheted off to the right, tumbling into the grass with her left wing making a shark fin in the prairie grass ocean. Something about this impact did not "feel" right.
I quickly made my way around the corner of the pond and first encountered the drake Gadwall with a cleanly broken wing. The duck scrambled away from me and right to the waiting falcon on the ground. Osprey quickly grabbed hold of the duck and finished it with the coup de grâce to the neck.
The only problem was she did not start eating it. She just sat there looking a little dumpy (see the photos). I eventually pulled a breast off of the duck and she jumped to the fist and did start eating. I figured she must have gotten her bell rung and that she'd come out of it after a few days of rest.
A few days later I tried to fly her again, but she merely opened her wings and had a short glide to the ground a few feet away from me. Obviously her problem was more severe then I had anticipated. Otherwise though she was and is eating well and acting normal. After a week had passed I flew her again. This time she flew but I could see that she was in pain doing so. She stayed in the air for several minutes but never looked right and eventually landed on the ground near a pond that was full of ducks.
Looks like its gonna be a few weeks rest at the least. Work picks up in February and I was planning on putting her up for the molt early anyway so it looks like that might be it for this season. She had 4 catches in her last 5 attempts and was really flying well, hopefully she'll have a full recovery and we can pick up where we left off in the future.
Maybe now it's the Merlin's time to shine....