Saturday was a little disappointing. I didn't have much time so I zipped over to the sparrow bush thinking that after last weeks success she'd dive right in. Didn't quite work out though. She was maybe .5g higher than last week and I suppose that made the difference. She chased them off the top of the bush like she usually does but was reluctant to go in after them. I tried feeding her into the bush through one of the openings but she'd just hop right back out looking for a tidbit.
There was only one time when I thought she might go in. She was sitting on a nearby building and I guess a sparrow flushed out of the bush I was working and put in in a smaller bush ten yards away. She took off from the building tucked up in a super shallow stoop heading for the bush but flared right at the last second landing on top of the bush. She looked down into the bush pretty intently and I could hear the sparrow moving around but it flushed out the opposite side as I approached.
The closest we came to a "kill" was at some small bushes in a Walmart parking lot. The bird took a slip at some sparrows WAY too farout (like 30 yards with the sparrows right next to cover...). I got my bird back on the fist and started kicking bushes and bunny popped out and ran across the street right in front of a car. The bunny saw the car at the last second and kind of folded in to a ball as the front tire took off some fur. It got spun for a loop and spun perfectly in time with the rear tire just barely, and I mean barely getting out of the way!
Sunday was super cold with snow flurries. It seems like I find more starlings on the ground on days like this then the warmer days we've been having. The first group I saw bumming around a dumpster next to a bank. I was actually on my way home from a church meeting so I was dressed in a suit and tie but I didn't want to let the opportunity pass me by so I rushed home, got the bird, and headed back for the slip still wearing my suit! The starlings weren't on the gound any more when I got back but I quickly located them on the roof of the bank. I pulled in to a parking spot and watched for a few minutes and before long they headed back to the dumpster. Unfortunately this dumpster had one of those concrete walls around it with a locked fence as the only access and most of the birds were on the inside. Patience paid off though and before long two birds were arguing over a piece of bread just outside the dumpster. I rolled down my window and began my approach. As I got about 15 feet away I was thinking that this was going to be good since both birds had their backs to us. Out the window she went...just as the bird she was going for disappeared behind some low shrubbery. It was only a few inches high but I guess it threw her off just enough since she overshot the bird. The rest flushed and that was that.
I headed back out after church, this time in proper hawking attire. A quick stop at the sparrow bush yeilded a pretty good flight as probably 30 sparrows were away from the bush feeding at the feeder. The main group got up probably 5 feet in front of her but she plowed into some long grass under the feeder and for a second there I thought she had one. She hopped back up and followed one over to the bush but didn't go in after them. With a bit of daylight left I figured rather than trying to get her to go in the bush after them I would go look for starlings and come back if I couldn't find any. I headed over to a nearby industrial park and did my usual route. On the very last leg I found about 6 starlings feeding in a grassy strip behind a building. It was an absolutely beautiful slip! I was sure wewere going to get one as I rounded the building, unhooked the kbird and prepared for the kill I was sure was coming...But I swear I am the unluckiest falconer on the planet. Just as I got lined up all but one bird flushed for no apparent reason. W.T.F!! The last bird was jumpy and flushed shortly after. Dulci was out the window but the starling had agood 10 yard head start. It was a good 75 yard chase but she was beat before it started.
I called her back and we headed home.
James Lee Mansell, RIP
4 days ago