Monday, October 25, 2010

Free Flight

Sunday was the day. It started out pretty normal. We began with Jocelyn on the creance cruising down the driveway. No problem, no hesitation.

She has been doing great!

And I have been holding off on the free flight. It was me that wasn't ready. So I decided that today was the day.

Her weight was on. 163 grams. She had been responding well from 160 - 166. Even at 166 she would come, but she would hesitate longer than I liked.

I've been feeding her from the fist, and on the ground. I hadn't introduced the lure, but was ready to do that in the next day or two.

After the second flight on the creance, I placed her on the back of the jeep for one more try.

I backed up a few steps, not far, maybe three feet. The creance was trailing on the ground where I placed my foot firmly on it. It was the short one, not much longer than a leash.

Called her in, thinking - "yeah, this is the last one and then free flight."

She looked to her left, then right, bobbed her head and set her wings - perfect.

Until the sprinklers popped and hissed, spitting out a stream of water.

It startled me.

I turned to look, the bird checked herself in mid air, pumped her wings and banked. Up over the grass and the crepe myrtle in the front yard - trailing the short creance behind her, she disappeared into the trees that flank the front yard. I had moved my foot when I turned towards the noise, releasing the line.

It was stupid - I ran after her, calling, whistling and tossing the food into the air. I wandered the woods. Then I sat and watched.

I scanned the trees, holding the food in my gloved fist. I watched and waited for a sign.

I returned later, just as the sun was dropping, calling and whistling.

I'm angry - not at the bird, but at myself. The creance should have been attached to something. I should have attached the transmitter, even though these were only short flights.

Shoulda, woulda, coulda. Crap.

Went out again this morning and called. There was no sign. I think she's gone.


PBurns said...

This is me dread.

I am not sure I have enough iron in me to be a hawker.


Doug said...

It has happened before. but it is never pleasant.

The worst part is that she has the creance attached. If she works at it, she should be able to get it off. She loves to pick at her equipment. I hope the best for her, but I worry. It has been pouring all afternoon, so I haven't had a chance to look since this morning. I'll keep my eye out. Maybe she hasn't gone far.

Isaac said...

Dang. That sucks.

I've found that, for my last couple kestrels anyway, just going hunting for their first "free flight" eases the worrying about cutting them loose. I focus more on the slip and have the adrenaline from expecting a good flight and the fact that they're lose just kind of fades into the background.

Doug said...

Thanks Isaac.

I find that I am always second guessing myself with the smaller falcons. I worry so much about losing them. After all, no bells, they are small and hide easier. I don't know.

Car hawking may just be the way to go. I'll continue to live vicariously through you this season.

steveo_uk said...

That really sucks in alot of ways

Doug said...

I could not agree more...