The wind was howling pretty good today, 24 mph just before I headed out, but it's awfully hard to keep me from hawking if I have even a bit of time. And between a conference at school and a dutch oven cook off this evening, a bit of time was all I had.
We headed over to our usual business park but after a few times around it appeared that the wind had blown all the starlings into another state. I'm like a fisherman always wanting that one last cast before I head home though so I cruised through the park one last time.
As we passed a vacant lot overgrown with weeds the bird suddenly slicked down and bated. Hmmmm....I didn't see anything but I've learned to trust the birds eyes more than my own. As I turned around I saw a group of probably a dozen starlings lift briefly from the field and then settle back down.
This was an absolutely beautiful set up. The starlings were about 30 yards out and the weeds were so tall that you couldn't see them...but that also meant they couldn't see us! As I pulled to a stop in the adjacent parking lot a gift from heaven, one more starling, dropped in to the foraging group marking exactly where they were. With the wind at our backs The Project was off, wings clipping the tall grasses as she covered the 30 yards in a second. A quick wingover and starlings erupted all around where she'd gone down! Booyah!!!
But then she "hopped". And hopped again. And suddenly she was on the wing again with the dang grackles converging like locusts on a grain field. In a matter of seconds the starlings joined in and she was chased back to the car with a massive ball of birds slamming her from every direction. She was driven to the ground just behind me but even on the ground there was no respite from her attackers. She lifted into the air again and the strong wind instantly took her and the black demons 100 yards away. I was worried that she'd be driven away again but I made my way over to the tree she'd been driven in to and she quickly came to my fist and scolded me for exposing her to such evil.
None the worse for wear, we had one more marginal slip just before leaving the business park and heading home.
So another day with nothing in the bag but man, that was a beautiful slip today. I'm not sure exactly what happened to make her miss since the grass obstructed my view. It could be that she just wasn't quite on target since they were down in the weeds but she had to have been awfully close. I hope it's not that she hit one and just wasn't able to hang on but that's a possibility too. The front inside talons on both feet are extremely dull and I wonder how much of a difference that makes. I'm spraying her feet twice a day with water but it will be awhile before they're where they need to be. Then again, she's been able to handle baggies well enough so who knows. I just need to see her actually hit one in the open so I can see clearly how she does.
We're so close I can taste it. We hawk every day though so I'm optomistic. I hope to have her kill something before next Friday since I'm going out of town for a week and a half and will be returning her to her owner during that time. I hope he hawks her while I'm gone but he's a busy man. So before next Friday...send me good vibes and more of those perfect slips!
James Lee Mansell, RIP
4 days ago