Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dry Run

I took the blind, nets, and bait birds out for a dry run on Saturday. It was my first day off in I don't know how long, and all the trapping indicators were wrong.

But that is alright, I just wanted to give it a try.

I set up the nets Friday night, leaving them collapsed, but ready. Bait poles were hung with lure line and ready for the bait birds. I slept roughly Friday night. Often before a big outing, I can't sleep This was like that.

I got out of bed before my alarm and made it to the trap sight as the sun crested the horizon. I finished setting up, strung up the nets, and placed the bait birds on their strings.

The wind was perfectly wrong, 10 miles an hour and coming pretty directly from the South. I only needed to trap one bird though, only one bird migrating through the area.

Everything pointed almost directly North, the nets set in a V around the bait.

Then I waited. Egrets flew into the field and started picking at the ground, and quail took dust baths in the distance.

A single merlin blew by me, paying no mind to nets, bait, or other enticements. It just winged its way south.

Then Nothing. The sun moved high in the sky, and nothing.

I left the blind to stretch, only to see a peregrine pursuing another bird. They swirled and twirled in reckless abandon, zig-zagging their way across the field, then ringing straight up to the sky, and plunging back down, skimming the ground.

Gone - over the horizon, then nothing.

I pulled and pulled on the bait pigeon. Nothing flew over, only vultures and crows.

Vultures and crows.

The day ended with a Merlin, flying low over the nets, checking out the bait. It noticed the bait, but never really slowed.

A full day listening to my own inner dialogue with no action in the nets at all.

But, the tension in my neck was gone, I was calm, relaxed.

Maybe I need to spend more time doing nothing for hours on end. It might be good for me.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Turtle love

I admit it. I've gotten out of the habit of checking other blogs and writing my own. I promise to do better.

Things have been crazy here and It's all I can do to keep up. Fortunately, my schedule is starting to clear a bit. It cleared enough that we were able to go out and check on a turtle nest that we had heard about.

Our friends were lucky enough to be there when the momma laid her eggs.

I was shuttling the boys home from boy scouts, and we were supposed to meet the girls out there.

I was late and missed it, but the girls got to see one of the little buggers shuffle his way down to the surf.

While we waited for any new arrivals, my talented wife decided to take advantage of the harvest moon and take some pictures.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Whatcha doing?

Gettin' ready. This time of year is real busy. I'm working two jobs, seven days a week. Trapping season is soon upon us. Soccer for the kids has begun in earnest - That's three traveling teams and the middle school team for the oldest.

Oh - and I'm in a triathlon this weekend.

I think that's enough.

But in between driving here and there, work, wine and song - I've been getting nets ready.
I'm trying a new design for my small nets. I have stolen the idea from a net that Andrew had when we were trapping last year.

I've taken and made stationary posts out of 1.5 inch pvc. I painted it camo (cause I think its funny that they have a paint color 'camo'). Now I can theoretically drive around with the nets set up in the back of the car, ready to set it up at a moments notice.

On the single leg in back I've drilled holes so that I can attach a bait bird to the net structure itself.

The rings on the side are to let the net collapse around the caught bird, without having the untangling issues I've had in the past.

I've left holes open in the bottom of the uprights as well, so I can still stake the whole structure to the ground. I had a peregrine last year blow through the net, pull down the poles, untangle itself, and then fly off before I could get to it.

Heart wrenching.

I don't think that can happen here.

For a release mechanism I use clothespins attached loosely to the ends of zip ties. Eric Edwards has pictures of the same mechanism on his nets.

Next I work on the lure poles - trapping will be here soon.

Oh - and Tess is at weight, ready to hunt. 905 grams today.
I changed her jewelry, and as soon as I have an opening in the schedule, we try some car hawking.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Evacuation Plan

We're close

Weight management is the key to successfully hunting with any raptor. Some people like the challenge in maintaining a more difficult to manage bird. I don't, as a general rule.

I want my falconry to be fun and hassle free.

For me, harris hawks fit the bill.

Both my birds, at weight, are easy to get along with and biddable. They come to the whistle, every time - but they also come to the call of their name. They roam ahead early in the hunt, and leapfrog over one another as they check out new terrain.

One quests forward, while the other hangs back and watches for movement. They know the game, and they are experts at playing it.

Over the last month I have been slowly cutting the amount of food that they receive by about a quarter. It takes about two mice a day for the birds to maintain their wight as the nights begin to cool (hawks loose more weight in lower temperatures). So I feed them two mice one day, one the next, and they slowly drop the weight.

Tess is about there.

At 940 grams, she would go and hunt right now. By the end of last season, she was hunting around 960 and performing impeccably. But squirrel season still doesn't open for about a month, so if I am going to hunt, I'll be hunting birds.

Most likely out the car window.

To do that, I need her just a little bit lower. She should be ready early next week.

It's time to start clearing the calender.

Friday, September 3, 2010

I spent the day cleaning up other peoples homes and decks today.

Cruising south down the beach road was an experience.

I'm glad I decided to take the jeep.

After a few miles you realize why all the houses around here are built on stilts.

As the day wore on, Earl pulled farther from shore and everything seemed to return to normal.

Earl Passes

No news is good news. I haven't ventured from the yard yet, but initial inspections look good. Howling wind and rain overnight, woke me and the kids up.

Otherwise, its a cool storm. I need to go out and clean up other properties. There will be more pictures to follow.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Biding time

So school was canceled today - I spent the morning getting other peoples properties ready for the storm. We took in their deck chairs, put away anything that could be turned into a projectile. I Shut down power to the hot tubs and pools... and the whole time it was a gorgeous day.

There was a cool breeze and the sun was shining. Light clouds scudded across the sky

Slowly the wind started to pick up.

Went to the store and bought some supplies.

The kids were excited for the storm and cleaned our house while I was out. They readied everything for the storm. When I got home we checked the hive, then strapped it down. I made sure all the birds were fed. Then we were about as ready as we could be.

Then we checked out the beach. The birds were all hanging low, staying grounded. And the surf began to pick up.

Right now, 9:00, we're watching the Steeler game and waiting for the storm to really hit and hoping the satellite doesn't quit on us. We should be asleep when the winds start to get bad. I'll post some pictures tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Waiting to see what happens.

We're just watching the weather channel. I'm right below the "M" in the words Friday a.m. in the below picture.

Life is on hold until we know where all this is going.