Monday, January 10, 2011

Amazing - or Tess learns a new trick

My birds ROCK!

It was one of those days. I wasn't planning on hunting today, but bad weather is rolling in and I didn't know if we'd be able to hunt until the coming weekend.

Heck - I dashed home from work and loaded all my gear as quickly as I could and got to the field by 3:40. I ha to coach wrestling practice this afternoon, so I needed to be out of the field by 4:30. Not much time.

If we could get in a flight or two, maybe snag a squirrel, it would be time well spent.

I tossed Gonzo, then Tess into the trees. I closed the bed of the pick up - and the birds were already stalking something. I followed them into the trees - and saw the first squirrel hiding on the opposite side of the tree as the hawks. I ho - ho. The squirrel bolts, crosses, but is quickly snagged off a short branch.

A fun chase, but quick. We had time for doubles.

This particular spot is close to home and I have hunted it a lot this year. I hunt a series of ridges, and in between the ridges are the bottoms that are pocked with shallow pools of water. Last year, this area was all under water. With all the hunting I've done here this year ,I keep waiting for the day when I don't find any more squirrels.

Today wasn't it. Five more minutes we had another squirrel on the run. He crossed from ridge top to partially fallen tree, then crossed from branch tip to branch tip across a wide but shallow pool.

The hawks were hot on his trail.

The squirrel made it to the other side, spiraled down a tree and popped into a hole about the size of a jar lid in the side.

That was it, or so I thought.

Tess came barreling in at full tilt (this was cool) his talons stretched out at full length in front of him.

Both talons plunged into the hole, her wings stretched out, holding her in position.

What the....

Then Tess starts rowing her wings backward. No way.

Then Tess plucks the squirrel out of the hole, both feet clamped to its head, the hawk spirals to the ground.

That was awesome - but it gets weirder.

I was on the wrong side of the pond, though it was only a short walk around, but my vantage point was perfect. As Tess spiraled to the ground, she adjusted her wings and changed her trajectory to land along the edge of the water.


I stumbled around the edge of the water, pushing the cane brake out of the way. Tess was in a clearing, holding the squirrels head under the water. Tess would squeeze. pump, pump. Let the squirrel up for a moment, then push its head back under.

She had the little fur ball completely under control, so I popped a picture.

I would have called it a fluke, if not for on the way back to the truck the exact same thing happened.

I was trying to get back to the truck in time to get home, changed, and then to practice, when the hawks checked off for an extended chase. it wasn't really that long, but in the end, Gonzo scraped the hawk off the side of the tree, dropped it to where Tess snatched it out of the air. Adjusted to the head, then coasted down tot he water, where she plunged the squirrels head under water.

I got to her as fast as I could, but the squirrel was already drowned when I got there.

We had 45 minutes of hunting. Nonstop.

It was amazing.


Dan said...

Gosh! I would give ten of my rabbit fields, just to have a squirrel spot half as good as the ones you fly! It really isn't fair ya know :).....Nice session brother!

Doug said...

The populations seem to be way up this year. With it being as dry as it has been, there must be more for them to feed on in these low lying ares. - I have never had as much success (fun) as I have had this year.


Kitty Carroll said...

What a smart HH!! They learn to use a tool (water) to dispatch prey.

There is a video on YouTube where a wild sparrowhawk does the same with magpie.