It's been a busy week with trip to Tokyo that knocked out three days of hawking for me. What kind of sick work makes you go on a business trip in the middle of hawking season!?
But today I finally got back on track. This morning looked a bit depressing, rain clouds on the horizon and a few wet drops hurling themselves from the sky. By the time my half day at work ended there was a steady drizzle. I had some errands to run before I could get out anyway so I hoped for the best while I set about my honey-do list. With the chores finished for the day the hawking gods smiled down upon me and the skies cleared up just enough to take Spark out.
I loaded up Spark and headed to a spot I've been wanting to try for quite awhile now, a huge (for Japan) expanse of rice fields behind a high school. Last year the local falconers chased pheasants in the fields next to the rice paddies but it looks like 3/4 of their fields will be turned into rice paddies next year since they've almost all been plowed down. I wasn't quite sure how to get into the field I was hoping to fly so I took a side street that I hoped would lead me to where I wanted to go. On the left hand side of the road there was a small irrigation ditch and out of habit I looked down it to see if there were any ducks. Lo and behold there was a lone drake teal! My goal this year is to have Spark take a teal so this was an opportunity not to be wasted. I pulled over and got Spark ready but as I was doing so the teal decided he didn't like what I was doing so he hid himself in some tall grass on the opposite side of the ditch. I tossed a couple pebbles in his direction and he started to peek his head out. I reached down to pick up some more pebbles and the teal decided it was his chance to make a break for it. As it launched from the water Spark dropped from my fist. I would hardly call it a chase as she landed on the opposite bank as the teal blasted off downstream but I was encouraged that she left the fist on her own. It shows that she's thinking about it...
After calling her back to the fist we headed for the rice fields. I marked a wood pigeon in a far corner and tried to sneak up to it but it busted before Spark could get a chance. We wandered out into the main section of the field and Spark was excited by all the dickey birds hiding in the cut rice. I would never see them but she'd slick down and get ready to launch every time we passed some. They'd usually flush before she felt comfortable chasing them though. I'm sure that when all her feathers finally come in (she's still growing 5 primaries on her left wing due to a bad moult!) she'll take those slips with ease. We ended by cutting through a small section of waist high grass in the middle of the field. We flushed a couple of small birds out in front of us and she launched off the fist but they dropped back in to cover quickly and she went to land on a stack of tied rice bales. Since it was getting dark I tossed out the lure and she hopped to the glove after taking a few bites.
The head count is still 0 but with the interest she was showing those small birds and her considering the teal I think this new spot has plenty of potential.