Wednesday, December 30, 2009
It started out looking like it was going to be a short day, or possibly a day to try for multiples. I found a couple starlings milling around a PetSmart and a single was in a perfect position to slip. I think it actually flushed without knowing that Hayduke was on his way but regardless, Hayduke spanked him with an audible *thunk* about 3 feet off the ground and just wasn't able to hang on. It wasn't more than two minutes later where Hayduke put feet on another one underneath an evergreen tree but it scraped him off on the lower branches.
Then things got tough. We found a few slips and he had some close calls but things just weren't falling into place. I had been out my standard two hours so I checked in with the boss (wife) and asked if we had any pressing plans or if it would be alright if I stayed out a little longer to try and beat the skunk monkey. I got the okay and continued on.
I ventured in to new territory where I'd hawked a bit last year but hadn't checked out this year. There were a few starlings about but none of them slippable. I was about to call it a day and conceed that our streak was broken when I noticed a whole pile of starlings with their landing gear out headed to a restaurant around the corner from where I was. I made my way over and found a good group fighting over some leftovers and a couple more playing around in the snow. Hayduke skipped the ones fighting and plowed into this one keeping our streak alive!
Monday, December 28, 2009
We found another good flock at the second spot. There were two slips that were as close as you could come without putting one in the bag. He had a foot on one of them but it twisted out of his grasp at the last second. Despite probably a dozen slips Hayduke was still game but time was running down. I decided to check the museum where I caught the one between two cars as a last ditch effort to beat the skunk monkey.
As I pulled in to the parking lot it didn't look promising. I didn't see any starlings on the light poles and the hedges appeared empty. Just then 3 starlings popped up from some hedges about 20 yards away. I made the slip and Hayduke tackled this one. It was quite the battle on the ground as Hayduke didn't have the best grip. It appeared he had it by the butt and was being dragged around quite a bit. He actually lost the grip on one foot just as I arrived and the starling almost got away but Hayduke readjusted and had it's neck just as I put a hand on the starling and finished it off. We headed to a nearby snowbank for our victory shots. No time to try for multiples today.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
It was a mugging for sure, but we'll take it! The crows returned quickly at the sound of the alarmed starlings but I got to Hayduke before they even knew what was going on. They looked rather omnious following me around while I tried to find a good spot to take a couple photos so I ended up heading home and snapping the photos outside my apartment.
If you don't count yesterday when it was snowing and we didn't get a single slip, then we've taken starlings each of our last 4 outings. I've got the next week off of work too, this should be fun...
Monday, December 21, 2009
I saw a few starlings drop into a grassy area in a shopping center across from where I was so I headed over that way and much to my astonishment I found that the "grassy area" was a cemetary...in the middle of the shopping center! It was the weirdest spot for a cemetary I've ever seen with a carwash and Wendy's literally right next to it and surrounded by the shopping center parking lot on 3 sides! I wonder if it's just been there forever and just got built around. Anyway, most the starlings were on the inside, or sitting on top of, a tall wrought iron fence surrounding the cemetary but there was a single picking at some trash in the middle of the parking lot. Surprisingly enough, this parking lot was pretty empty but that worked against us as the starling saw Hayduke coming long before he got there. He tail chased for a second or two but quickly saw he was beat. I called him back to the fist and we headed elsewhere.
I actually suspected my hawking was over at that point as I had to run some errands. As I headed to my various appointments however, I noticed a good group of starlings fly over me on the road and they looked to be putting down behind a museum. Worth a shot, right? Sure enough, the ones I'd seen flying had landed and joined at least 50 more milling around the hedges surrounding the parking lot and picking through the grass in the empty lot next to it. As luck would have it though, just as I was getting ready for a slip, a car pulled up right next to the hedges and the "slippable" starlings bumped. They didn't go far, in fact they just went to the shrubs next to the museum, but they landed in between a couple of parked cars that made it a difficult slip. There was a car, an empty slot where the starlings were feeding, and another parked car. Well, never try never know I thought and slipped Hayduke. He threaded the parked cars and slammed his 3rd starling up against the curb. When I got to him he had one foot around it's neck and the other foot around its beak, apparently saying, "Shut your mouth sucka, you're mine!"
On a side note, Hayduke has taken starlings the last three times we've been out. Yeah, if you look at the date on those posts, there are quite a few days in between each of those so I only post that to say even with limited time and not flying everyday (that'll change come spring...), kestrels can still be quite effective. There's no excuse not to kill game with these guys!
Saturday, December 05, 2009
It was a great little flight at a group of 5 or 6 starlings feeding on the edge of an island in a Walmart parking lot. They flushed just ahead of us but Hayduke left the fist with a mission and powered into this one about 6 feet off the ground! His first catch out of the air.
He's turning out to be a great little bird. From starting with grasshoppers to catching starlings out of the air, I have to say I'm pretty darn pleased.