Tuesday, 31 August 2010
Finally the bloody Harris Hawk is back!! Phew! It was an interesting weekend all in all and that could be the understatement of the year! The show went well, the birds were absolutely amazing because it was a playing field in the middle of a housing estate and there were three bouncy castles, and tons of children with balloons on sticks and so on. The arena was a ring of chairs!
I flew Topaz who was as good as she always is, then I flew Theft (Yellow-billed Kite) who was also very good, a little nerve wracking because he does go out of sight, but he did well. I took Domino, Holly’s Harris – as mine was about a mile away in an oak tree in the middle of a stubble field, and although she was a little upset by the travelling, she settled and did brilliantly. Hare was a good as he could be, and rarely lets me down, he is such a great eagle, and Gazelle was very exciting and made them all duck to finish off with. So all in all it was a good day. We found the Harris Hawk that evening in the same place but still not interested in coming down!!

Sunday Holly was off having worked the Saturday because of my show, Simon was off but kindly fed round first, and he flew his Barbary before he left, and the Barbary did a great first flight and then disappeared at a high rate of knots downwind, and there was a lot of wind. So Adam and he went off after the falcon and I did the first demonstration which would have been fine had it not been for the fact that an eagle appeared during the last falcon. So at one point I had a peregrine flying along with an eagle above it. Steve who was mad enough to volunteer that day came running down and said that the Bald Eagle had got loose, and that was very bad news as she was not in flying condition, and so unlikely to come back! It is odd, but when someone tells you it’s a Bald Eagle you don’t look hard at the bird. I asked Steve to get whoever it was I employ in the shop (I could not remember Jan’s name at that point!!) to phone Holly and ask her to come in. We now had a Harris Hawk out and not coming back, a Barbary Falcon out and not coming back and a Bald Eagle out and it was Bank Holiday Sunday – aaaaaaaaagggggghhh. So I finished flying Alexandria and the eagle flew over head as she landed on the lure, she was not impressed. I though - as the bird is interested, I will pick her up and throw out the lure to the eagle, which I did. And down came the eagle, and it was not the Bald Eagle thank goodness it was Hard Tackle. So now I have an eagle trying to eat the lure and I needed him later in the day, no staff, a falcon on my fist, the microphone still on, a crowd of people there and no help at that point. I managed to grab the eagle with my free hand, and Steve came over and took the Peregrine with dire threats not to let her go!! I suspect no one took photos either!

I apologised to the visitors, and said that most of the time we are much more professional than that, and put the eagle back on its perch, where it had managed to undo its catch. Holly arrived and peace started to reign. At 2.00pm Adam and Simon had retrieved the female Barbary Falcon and were on their way home. Holly left after the 2.00pm demonstration and the rest of the day was sort of OK, although we did have rain, which is not good on a Bank Holiday. Adam and I finished off and Simon who did not leave as he was supposed to, so he fed the owls, and then left. We then went out to look for the something something Harris Hawk. We tracked her to a field near a pub, and again she was not interested so we left and planned to come back early the next day. I then managed to pour a boiling hot cup of tea over my leg to finish a difficult day, it is still painful.

Bank Holiday Monday dawned a beautiful day, Adam and I tracked the Harris to a tree near Conigree, again no interest, and so we checked the signal through the day and worked the Bank Holiday. To add insult to injury a bloody wasp stung me on the back of the knee as I was working on my computer, so now I have both legs sore! We all went out Harris Hawk hunting that evening and tracked her to a fruit farm belonging to a friend, and this time she was interested in us. Holly flew Domino under her and that got her very calm and settled and twice she flew as if to come down, but veered off. We left late and decided that as she was actually looking like coming of her own accord we would come back very early and see if we could get her down. Holly and I stopped of at the friends to explain what we were going to do and had a G+T as well! My leg was swelling nicely by this time.

Not much sleep that night with two sore legs and no place to lie comfortably, it was just stunning first thing, early rising mist, sun coming up on a clear and lovely morning. I fed the dogs and horses and took the dogs round the field and Holly and Adam arrived, and off we went again. She was in the same place, and this time much keener. We flew Domino again for a short while and my bird came in several times and hit the fist but would not stop. I sent Holly and Adam home, and Adam came back with tea, we were still hitting the fist and carrying on, but if I moved across the field she followed me!! Adam then dropped off the Landrover as we had to return it and in the meantime I had been within a foot of the Harris at least twice, so I tied a lump of beef onto a creance, and put it on a fence post and stood back, down she came and grabbed the meat and I brought her down in the wet grass, she would not let me wind her up, but I saw then that there was no way she was going to let go of the meat, so I crawled in and grabbed her with a sigh of relief.

So all birds are back and safe, all staff are tired and safe, my leg is now covered in blistered and I am not going to be riding Henry for a few days. Just another Bank Holiday!!


Phil Williams said...

Finally met Dusky Emperor and Ariel today. They are both such stunning birds, I could hardly take my eyes off them. As is your new Goshawk and I was privilaged to witness a training session with him. Thankyou! Hopefully he'll be flying free by my next visit in about a months time. Gareth and I had a really great day again and we are looking forward to our next visit already.


I have to say that keeping a weblog can at times become compulsive and at other times a chore. Sometimes I am berrated for not keeping it up and sometimes I get wonderful comments from people who follow the news of the Centre.

It is fun to share the daily goings on here, some good and some bad, some funny and some sad, but all a part of our daily lives.
And as I said before its a pretty cool to be here and it is a great place to visit, you should try coming and watching the birds and meeting the staff and of course the dogs.

An interesting video on Lead

An interesting video on Lead

I find it staggering that people who want to hunt don't see the value in changing their ammunition from lead to a safer product. We have stopped using lead in petrol, in paint, in our water pipes, but they still want to use lead - ah well, apparently eating it not only kills birds but leads to reduced intelligence in humans......................

NO ONE is asking you to stop legal and genuine hunting, they are just asking you to change your ammunition!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



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