Monday, November 08, 2010

Pushing My Luck

Goliath weighed in at 91g on Saturday morning. Still on the fat side of things but heck, he's caught stuff at 92.2 so I figured there'd be no problem.

And there wasn't. First slip of the day at a group of about 6 starlings feeding in some low grass behind a shopping center. It was a beautiful 30 yard flight where Goliath dropped off the fist and skimmed the tops of the tufts of grass keeping his profile low. They saw him right before he got there but it was too late for one and he smacked it about 6 inches off the ground. Best flight of the season so far!

But it was too dang quick!! I decided to go for two. Traded him off and we were back on the hunt. I found another group just across the street. It was an awkward slip though and he didn't seem to have the same fire in him that he had for the first slip. I'm always worried about going for doubles because I've never been successful and I feel like I'm not giving the bird it's just rewards after catching one and not letting him feed up. When there's lots of birds I usually don't have time and when I have time, I can't find any birds! I drove around for another hour or so but wasn't able to find any ideal slips. We had another decent flight where I threw him at some sparrows in a McD's parking lot but they were so close to the bushes that they just ducked under before he got there. I ended up calling him back down and fed him up on the morning's first starling. I wasn't paying attention though and after the feed he weighed 112! If I remember right he was trapped him at 109g...Flying Sunday was questionable.

At flying time Sunday he was a whopping 93 grams. And the wind was blowing about 20 mph. So what did I do? Went flying of course! We only got one quick flight at some sparrows that he barely missed and when I held up my fist with the starling wing he kited only briefly in the wind before coming right back. :-D

Conventional wisdom about kestrels is that you have to be excruciatingly exact with weight control. I know folks who weigh them every two hours and insist that tenths of grams make a difference. So I imagine I'm pushing my luck but Goliath seems up for the challenge.

There's a lot that I do with my kestrels that tends to defy conventional wisdom but I've been successful so far so I can't complain. In all honestly I don't think these guys are nearly as difficult as people make them out to be. If I can be successful with them, anyone can be!


Ryan said...

Funny I thought the same thing about weight control. I flew and caught with Giz from 92 to 102. She just needed a carcass thrown at the higher end and she would still come down. Looks like this bird ya got is working out well and it's not even prime hawking time yet.

Isaac said...

Yeah, I get folks PM-ing me messages on NAFEX asking about weight control for their kestrels and I tell them to be careful but the window is ALOT larger than people make it out to be.

And yes, Goliath is working out great. It'll be a slaughter when "prime" hawking time gets here! (Okay, okay, not 100 starlings in 39 days but I'll put my fair share in the bag! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I've only flown a couple kestrels, but I agree about the window being larger...and I've never weighed in tenths. But I think it's also a combo of routine and training with the weight. Those with more experience and raptor knowledge may have a larger window because of experience and knowing what to look for behaviorly...those that are newer to the sport might be better off keeping more exact weights as they continue to learn.... my two cents at least....Angela

Ryan said...

Ya gotta have a goal. lol

Doug said...

Great picture. It sure sounds like you are having fun with this one.