Yup, we took multiples our first time out. 6 or 7 in fact (I kinda lost count). Admittedly some were blatant muggings but he did take a couple right out of the air!
...Okay, okay, they were grasshoppers but I had fun!
Saturday was his first time outside and after a less than stellar session I decided he needed more exposure to the outdoors so I decided to take him on a little walk today. Knowing that the grasshoppers are still out in full force I popped the creance (30lb. fishing line attached to a light sandbag) in my pocket thinking that if he showed any interest I might as well let him go as long as he would be attached to something. He was a bit higher than I had him Saturday so I wasn't sure what would happen but sure enough before we'd even hit the main field I was headed to he started head bobbing at a grasshopper. I attached the creance and took a couple steps and he plopped down on our first kill of the season! Wahoo! :-)
He didn't even try to carry. He bit off it's head, chowed down on it's body and I lifted him back on the fist. I un-wound about 15 feet of the creance, held it in loops around my free hand and headed out into the main field where the grasshoppers are thick.
A big one with yellow wings (he doesn't like the ones with red wings apparently...) got up in front of us and he zipped off the fist and caught the sucker in midair about 10 feet in front of me! Alas (or thank goodness?), the creance brought him up short just after he caught it and he must've let it go when he hit the ground. I don't know how far he would've gone had the creance not been attached...
He didn't seem to happy about the unexpected drop to the ground but hopped back to my fist easy enough when I approached. I wandered over by the bike bath where two big grasshoppers were flirting and he dashed off to nail one of 'em with plenty of creance to spare. He kind of flared when I approached so I just stood back and he downed the bug right there on the bike path. A short whistle when he finished and he hopped back to the fist! Cool!
That did it for the morning session as I had to head off to church. I hadn't planned on him actually catching anything but it worked out perfect since he needed a little tidbit before I left. Both grasshoppers only equaled 2 grams!
After church he weighed in still slightly above where I would've liked him to be but lower than he was in the morning so with the creance attached again we headed back to the grasshopper field. I had a little more line out this time but didn't really need it. He was definitely more keyed in to the grasshoppers at the lower weight. He smacked one right off the bat and then jumped to the fist for a tidbit of starling breast when he finished. I had my cell phone camera with me this time:
That pattern repeated itself 2 or 3 more times. He'd grab a grasshopper, eat it quickly right where he was and then jump to the fist for a 'real meat' tidbit. He showed real tenacity when one grasshopper dodged his first attacked by hopping about six feet away. He hit the ground where it had been and immediately hopped back up to fly it down where it landed. Just like a goshawk!! :-)
For the most part I think I would've been okay without the creance but there were a couple times like the one he caught flying, and one where he missed toward the end after he'd filled up on a few, where I don't know if I would've gotten him back. I need to have him a gram or so lower and work on some instant response at longer distances before I'm comfortable free flying...but today was fun! I think it was a good opportunity for him to "hunt" with me and get used to that whole procedure. I need to get some baggie sparrows to toss for him in the field and then we'll really start having some fun.
Good times await!