Tuesday, January 4, 2011

ERG!!! Late trap madness...

So Sunday, was my son's birthday. We were getting ready to go have lunch with the inlaws, but also need to return my brother's drill I had borrowed to put on my Giant Hood.  So I brought the bird out a little early. I offered her meat and she took it. She ate nearly an ounce. I thought that all was well. I was able to weigh her because she bated on to my scales. And although it was not very graceful, I was able to get her back into the GH.
Later that night I brought her back out. She wouldn't take the meat I offered. Bated incessantly and was wanting to perch on our big screen tv. I kept her on the glove the best I could for about an hour, then put her back in the GH. I returned the hood I had borrowed from a friend, so this time it was trickier to get her in, but not too bad.
Then last night, I tried to get her out of the hood, and she would not come out. flared and glaring, she refused to come out. I spent a while trying to calm her and had her on my fist several times, but each time that I tried to pull her out she flared her wings, and made sure she couldn't get out.
I decided that she was too high. She had just eaten the day before, and evidently, it went to her head.  I think that there was probably a better way to deal with her, and get her out...but I didn't want to just yank her. I am trying hard not to make anything a bad experience for her, and avoid some of that resentment. But, at the same time, I have lost much progress, by not having manned her more last night.
It is frustrating and conflicting. I feel like I should be able to work with her better, and be less feeble about it all, yet, at the same time, she is a late trap and has that attitude issue, that I have never had to deal with.
I am going to go out this morning and try again. I will offer her food, and see if that changes her mind. I really need to get her weighed, so I will have some clue about where we are at. I am anxiously waiting for that hood to come in the mail...it just couldn't come sooner...
for now, I just have to work with what I have.  Get her out of the GH, onto the fist, and trying to eat again. It's everything I have to keep my cool and not wonder why it is so difficult. But I know that she is a little older bird, and that is why. If we could just get past these early hurdles it seems like she will be really great on game. But until then, She will just be taking out her frustrations on me. And all I really can do is keep trying, and not get too frustrated myself!
Wish me luck, I really need it!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Day 2: New Year, New Bird

So day 2,

I decided that the leather anklets were just too flimsy, and needed changing. Also that her "emergency" jesses were just too darn thick and she needed something new, fast. (cursing that I didn't make more high quality good last season) I begin to read my posts about Kumihimo, and I google end knots. the sennett rose, the turks head, even the monkey fist. I can't make up my mind, and the anxiety of the situation in setting in. IF my bird isn't wearing the proper gear, she could injure herself, even if in GH, and I have to get it right. It's a holiday, and it's a weekend...it's doubtful of ordering anything, or even stores in town carrying what I might need.
Brainstorming ensued, and to top it off, I was expected at my in-laws for a New Year's "Linner"....I just didn't know what to do, so I tried to take it 1 thing at a time.
First, I want bigger, sturdier bracelets on this girl. she is very strong, and if she could tear out the slits on the jesses, then the anklets were an obvious weakest link. Furthermore, I felt that the fit was much too snug, and that I should make a pair a bit more comfortable.  I made up a few pairs of removable anklets, with grommets in place. I kept second guessing the sizing, I was sure one pair was suitable for an Eagle, another barely large enough for a Kestrel.  I made 2 that I thought would work, one larger than the other, just in case. With the removable ones, you have to be sure there is enough room to pass the grommet through without harm, yet not so loose, that the rear talon lodges itself into the grommet, or other fates.....
I used a metal punch to emboss my phone number on the anklets, in case something happens later in the season. (let's not assume it will....BUT...Murphy has laws).
I was somewhat satisfied with the results, and although I don't think they are much to look at, I think they will do the trick.
Upon returning home from the other side of town, I began to worry more....about jesses.
I had been reading about the braiding techniques and looking at pictures online of dacron jesses, bullet jesses, all the fancy new stuff that wasn't around at the beginning of "falconry time". All the stuff that "modern day" added to the sport...or borrowed from others...
I decided to order some things from Davidson's. I bought a set of bells and a hood that I really liked last year, so I emailed him, and he answered, repeatedly, actually...on a holiday...2 pairs of anklets, 2 pairs of jesses, one mews, one field...and a hood, size 13, for my 1613 birdie....and, to top it off, it was 38.25, combined with tax & shipping....dirt cheap dirt hawking is what he should have named it! He said he'd have it to me ASAP. And I really didn't expect any response on a holiday weekend, so that was great news after the rough last 24 hours!
BUT....being me...I had to fix the NOW, not the LATER. I was in dire straits to get my gear up to par. I felt foolish for not having known these things. But I know that most all falconers have a story like mine, and many more, and those that don't will!
But my brother always says, "perseverance will prevail"
Google....hmmmm...falconry forum? member's blogs?
Yep, both.
After spending and hour and a half, maybe more..and with my husbands help...a pile of filling on the floor, a pile of frazzled ends, electrical tape, shrink tubing, elbow grease, more perserverance, ("why won't this ding -dang thing feed through? it's snagging...it's ripping...start over) to do this job that should take 5 MIN of a normal person's time, it took us some serious frustration to get the job done...but I think this time, I got it right!
Now on to more projects.
I declare that this year is the real first year of my falconry experience. I will try all the things I wasn't going to try to do this time...I want to make some braided jesses, several pairs, and learn how to get the length and strength just right. get the end knots down. Go out and buy a bunch of paracord, and make up a ton of these, varying lengths, so I have those "emergency pairs".Learn to make them well enough to actually do it in 5 min. (ha)
 Get a few more hides...I have this incredibly thick stuff, and the rest is junk for anklets or jesses....My friend is coming down and letting me cut off some of her Roo hide...that's a huge favor...so hopefully I will learn to craft some stuff to repay it! :) and others, too, that are helping me along the way.

I would also like to try to get this bird "good to the hood" ...or let's rephrase.."I'd like to hood good"(hehehe)
That's not something everyone does with red tails but I want to learn it, so this is the year...(I am pretty sure I should ask around a bit about this since she has been trying to nip at it the last time I put it on her.)

If I get through the season or can even start a season with this bird, I will try to keep her through the moult. I would love to, being that she is crazy vicious and will be a killer! If we get along...she'd be a keeper.

If she's a keeper, we'll be building a mew.

So..on and on down the line. We shall see what the new year brings!

Good News is, that I got her suited up with her new gear and on the glove for a few hours of manning. Nevermind she shat on the floor, and I didn't lay plastic on the floor....will have to make note to self...old shower curtain or table cloth shat splat mat...hmmm   advertising opportunity?

She did OK, all things considered...I am a newbie, so she is having to put up with that. Last year manning was mono e mono, this time its a bit more in the face. I only man for a while at a time, she has a temper, but she seems to understand, or have a clue what might be going on. Or at least, I think she knows she is not dinner, but maybe a pet. I have to prove that she's not a pet, and I am not an owner...but a hunting buddy.
I have been offering a mouse cut in half. she nibbled a bit several times. But it was much too big to eat at once in front of me now. she would have to tear at it. I tried getting it to her feet and letting her have at it, or getting her to bite, but of course she would just hold on until something startled her and dropping it on the floor.
So progress in that respect? no, but it's day 2...gotta love my dumb luck of trying...but tomorrow it's red meat only. I threw the mouse away, and I would like her to get nibbling. so I will cut strips of rich red meat enough that she can have a torn piece, because I do believe that she will gobble that up, and come back for more, and we can get on with our business!
More soon

Eve-ILL my new passage Female RT

I think the name is fitting. Eve was trapped on New Year's Eve, so that means I finally trapped before the new year!
She was located on a post in Willard, Mo. A friend of mine had seen her the previous evening in the same general vicinity, and said she was vigilant on game in the field. A fierce hunter he said, and if he could have trapped her, he would have liked to! When we saw her we drove on and made a U-turn and decided where to drop our trap. We pulled in to a street in the undeveloped area she was watching, but far enough not to bump her. I got out and laid the trap baited with a starling and a mouse. We drove on, turned around and stopped to watch her reactions.
She was facing in the other direction for a while, and at least once I thought that she might just fly away. But after the longest 3 or 4 minutes ever, she turned in the direction we had laid the trap, and like a radar sensing an enemy plane, she honed in on the movement of the bait animals. She dove down steeply, and coasted over the field, across the road to my trap.  Nailed it hard and fast and was snagged. We waited an eternity, or a minute, and looked through binoculars to ensure she was snared. Yep! She spread he wings, laying back, but not without some distress to why she wasn't eating her meal, yet! :)
We came in to greet her, gloved hands holding nail clippers to release her snares, tape to secure her, and a hood to deny her sight to sink a foot into my flesh. We decided, being such a short drive to our friend's place, to sock her later, and just secure her well and I held her until we arrived. My hood was meant for a male RT, and a small one at that, it was sliding slowly off her head as we drove and I prayed she didn't freak out. Traveling with a freshly trapped, unhooded, unsocked bird of prey was obviously asking for it, but we made it with no major issues.
 We got out and weighed her, she came in steady at 1613 grams, or NEARLY 57 ounces, if you can believe it! 3.5 lbs of mayhem, waiting to tear me a new one!
My friend loaned me one of his hoods, and we were on our way. I sprayed her down for mites and feather lice, and once home, I feebly and amatuerishly put her anklets and jesses on. I leashed her to a perch, hooded, and all seemed well and good. I backed out and went inside to bombard friends and family with text message pictures of her and give them all the news of the morning.

A few minutes later, I went out to check on her. As I walked to the weathering I noticed she was no longer hooded. SHEESH! How am I going to get that back on?? As I approach the weathering she bates, and then lands on the ground. I look at her, and notice her jesses are completely ripped out at the slits! NO!!!!NOW WHAT????

I have always been warned of Murphy's Law, and especially since beginning in Falconry. But this is ridiculous. With the aid of my husband, we carefully wrap her in a towel, encasing her wings so she doesn't frightfully fly into the walls, or our face! And we rehood her. We get her perched again and frantically find materials for emergency Jesses. As I curse my lack of preparation (this never happens in the rest of my life!) And my husband eagerly cuts me a few eagle sized jesses and I teach him how to roll the button. trimmed and ready, we go back out and I re-Jess her. Noticing, she has yet again, unhooded herself. Now the anklets seem not quite right to me...the same leather as the jesses, I assume that they too, are too weak for this monster bird.  I decide the best bet is the GH. She can't keep a hood on, for they have been either too big or too small, so into the GH, for now, while I take a breath and figure out how I did so much wrong in such a short time, and what I am going to do about it.
I get her safe and secure in a dark place and decide to call my sponsor, my falconer friends and anyone else who can give me advise in a time like this.  I am told it's OK, she is bound to be fiesty trapped this late in the season. Just keep her safe...well, she is now! But we had a moment of worry .....

So training proceeded after dark.....
I brought her in the house, in the Giant Hood for a few hours of manning. I had a dinner to go to with family for New Year's Eve, but called to let them know I would be fashionably late, I had things to do.
I got her out of her Giant hood with a lot less issues than I would have thought. She had already stood on my glove earlier in the day while I was having so many problems with my furniture, out in the weathering. Normally you really wouldn't mess with the freshly trapped bird until after dark. But I was left without a choice, and I am still unsure which of us came out more frazzled, but I am pretty sure it was me.

The indoor manning was new to me. All my contact with CL last year was outdoors, so having her inside was new for us both. I stood in the middle of the living room floor, left arm holding her as long as I could, my elbow shaking ever so slightly from her beastly weight, and my pansy arm muscles.  She bated some, but was pretty well mannered. We watched Tv, for some time, at least 3 full sit coms and a little of the evening news.  My husband kept the cats out, and would walk around a bit. I noticed that she seemed to bate in the direction of light, and my daughters room. But the amazing thing was how she could regain the fist. She is not a "dangler" at all. She doesn't flop and act like a dead chicken tied to a string. She intently looks the direction she wants to fly, squats down, and then jumps. as she realizes she can go no further than a few inches she stomps back down on my glove, footing and mad! She glares at me, but stands, slowly bringing her wings in tighter.  I offered her a mouse over and over. she chomped down so hard I could hear the skull crack...but she didn't eat it.  As I decide to call it a night, I hood her...actually not too badly, just long enough to get her in the GH again...or so I thought!  as I back her in, she begins to lean on my arm...she has nearly gotten her footing on the inner perch, and I am gingerly trying to slide the hood from her head. As I do this, she nips at the hood, but instead bites my arm!

OH well! It hurt, but it wasn't so bad. I had to leave and we were done for the day, but I realized that I wasn't doing that part right either! I spent the evening recapping the events of the day, and mulling over my many mistakes. deciding what would need to be done in the morning, and in out next session of manning.....

Thursday, December 30, 2010


man, I want this bird.
I think I would call him....coal-train....or something.....amazing specimen!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

 This is a gorgeous Red Shouldered Hawk (mature). He was very interested in my trap.I came to pick it up, before he could....and got this picture...love it!

This Hawk I have thrown to, and until yesterday thought it was immy.

 This is a mature Red Tail....but it was hard to really see while she was perched. The next shot, when zoomed in, shows the tail and the upper wings really well...another favorite shot! You can see the tips of the flight feathers....love it!

I really thought I had this one....this is the tree in the bottom of our pasture. I set the trap as I came up the driveway, and just drove past the barns to the trailer, and caught this shot of him from there. He flew over and landed in a nearby pine...right over the trap, then to an oak a little further away, and then he just flew off....not hungry, I guess!

 Well, these are the highlights from a long, frustrating and sometimes fun adventure in trapping...or not trapping, but trying to! I guess it pays to keep your sense of humor...it was a stressful weekend! ;)
NO Luck trapping ...but we had a few good hits...
This bird killed one of my mice yesterday....he was mature, even with the dark belly, his tail was too red!
Here are a few pictures of an adult Red Shouldered Hawk. I honestly, from the back, thought it was just a small male RTH. Until it flew down to the trap. I was trying hard not to look at it, so it would not know what I was doing. Some of these shots came out terrific! And it was very exciting. I thought he was snagged and I came to release him, and although I was very close, he didn't fly away! He sat on top of the BC and stared me down!

This is my favorite shot....it was a gorgeous bird!
 Here is a great view of the tail.
This bird was quite stubborn. It footed and footed even as I grew closer to it. It was free and instead of really clearing out...it perched atop the swingset and stared at me while I continued to take pictures.

 Here is the bird FINALLY flying away...as you can see the cupped wings...(it is low to the ground near the base of that large vine covered tree).

 And here it is in the background trees, just landing....it did not bump as we loaded back into the truck, staring it down...this little guy was hungry!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Still trapping season

....but not for long! Going to Willard today to try and snag an immy. Wish me luck, time is running short. Trapping season ends Jan. 21....let's cross our fingers!