Saturday, February 21, 2009

Catch and Release

Dulci was fat today. Fatter than I've ever flown her in fact. For some reason her food was sticking to her like a fly on fly paper. She got 10 grams on Friday morning before I left to work and by the time I'd returned had only lost 5 of those. When I went to bed Friday night I was more than a bit concerned, at over 97 grams she'd have to have some pretty darn active dreams to shed enough weight to reach her flying weight of 89 the next day.

Well, no "sleep flying" for her, she weighed in at a hefty 94.5 this morning as opposed to the 91.5g I usually wake to. The possibility of missing one of my only hawking days had me seriously concerned. I opened a window next to her, I installed an "exercise system" on her perch, all to no avail. By 3:30 she'd only lost another 2.3g.

The highest I've ever flown her was at 90.7 for her first free flight. Of course that was then and I'm much more confident in her returning now but still, 92.2?? What to do, what to do? It's these types of temptations that can lead to lost birds...

It's awfully hard for me to give up a day of hawking though. Off we went with the condition that today was starlings only, I didn't want to run the risk of her carrying a sparrow.

As luck would have it, after a bit of searching we found a perfect starling slip. A group of 30, maybe more, feeding in a field. Dulci was slipped about 30 yards out, the flock rose when they saw her in bound but it was too late. Dulci plowed in to her victim about 10 feet off the ground and they tumbled earthward as the rest of the frantic flock headed for safety. It was a thing of beauty!!

I jogged over somewhat in disbelief. There she was mantling over the struggling starling, my eyes had not decieved me, she'd actually caught it! I jogged over to finish off the starling before taking some pics. The victim was screaming its head off and I could see that Dulci didn't have the best grip. As I bent down to grab the starling DULCI LET IT GO!! NOOOOOOOOO!!!

Fat bird? Bad grip? I don't know. Disappointed? Yup.

It was a beautiful flight though and I suppose that's what we're after, right? *Sigh*

Back at it again tomorrow.


Albert A Rasch said...

That's hunting for you, you win some, you lose some!

Dulci is a? I don't remember reading about her.

Albert A Rasch
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
Proud Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit
Southeast Regional OBS Coordinator

Isaac said...

Dulcinea is my kestrel, she's ALL you've read about! :-)

Doug said...

Yeah, but she caught it. She was trying to give it to you, and you're the one that messed it up.

I mark that down as a catch.


Doug's Harris' Hawk Blog

Isaac said...

Well, if someone asked "Did you catch anything this weekend" I'd answer "Yes"...but I probably won't count it in my season totals.

If I count that starling then I would be tempted to count another starling that I know she had caught momentarily before it got out of her grip (see Vacation Grand Finale post). There's got to be a line somewhere so for me it's "bird in hand". Kinda like when I fly fish, even though I'm going to release the fish, if I don't have it in my hand then I don't count it as a fish "caught". I could play it right up to the bank but if it breaks free as I reach for it...nope.

In was a fantastic flight though. I'm not complaining. :-)

Doug said...

I can appreciate that. I would probably do the same. My buddy Andrew's red tail caught a squirrel, Andrew dispatched it and put it in his bag. About ten minutes later, the squirrel jumped out and ran off into the woods, making good his escape.

We did count that one.

Matt Mullenix said...

Sounds like things are getting fun over there!

Isaac said...

Hi Matt! Yup, we're starting to catch a few here and there. :-)

SimplyOutdoors said...

Falconry intrigues me soooo much. I think it is quite an art form, and one that has been around for a long, long time.

Great blog. I'm looking forward to coming back.

Isaac said...

Thanks for stopping by SimplyOutdoors!

Chas S. Clifton said...

I have added your blog to the "Southwesterners" section of my blog roll. If you can reciprocate, that would be great.


word verification: UNDES -- British public school slang for someone not one's own social class.

Isaac said...

You've been added Chas! Thanks!