Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Another Video

Doc is still flying great, catching snipe most hunts. This past Sunday he had a very long hunt. He flew for over 20min and chased about 6 snipe, catching the last one. Here's a video of this hunt. And you'll want to watch this full screen in HD for best quality. The video is a little long, almost 9min but Diana shot almost 20min of video.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Another Snipe

Doc has had his ups and downs this week. After his last snipe I decided to try him on doves. I found a nice flock of 100 birds and Doc took a great pitch. I started flushing doves and Doc started ignoring them. He watched dove after dove flush right under him without interest.

He finally folded up and put in a half hearted stoop at a dove forcing it to cover. He remounted but continued to ignore the doves. I finally called him down to the lure. Not sure why he's hesitant about doves but this is the second time he's done this.

The next flight, a few days later, it was rainy, warmer and windy. I had a few snipe spotted and released the beast. Doc flew downwind and mounted but when he came back to me he had lost most of his pitch. He stooped a sparrow, losing the rest of his pitch. Then he just flew around my head looking for the glove. I finally gave it to him and took him home.

Today I wanted to try a spot that is wide open with very little cover. We drove into the field and immediately flushed 5 or 6 snipe. Doc took a nice pitch but started after some unknown bird way off downwind. We watched as he chased it across the sky and then back across the sky and we eventually lost sight of him.

I saw a few small flocks of black birds swirling around where he was last seen and I started waving a pigeon around to get his attention. After quite a while Doc came flying in low across the field and I called him down to the lure and hooded him.

I decided that I'd let him take a rest and work with the Red Necked Falcon, Bubba, and then take Doc to another spot and try him again.

The second hunt was fantastic. Doc took a great pitch and stooped 4 or 5 snipe, remounting back to 500' each time. He eventually caught one in a long stoop into the wind and ended up following it in to cover and catching it on the ground. He chased two others to the ground and lost them and put in many stoops. This boy loves snipe.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Snipe #5

Doc has been flying very consistent this week. I think the cold weather has really helped (tough to take a good pitch in 85 degree weather). He's flying 500' and staying very close.

This was the second snipe we flushed today. Doc was 100yards up wind and he closed on the snipe very quickly. The snipe bailed into shin high grass with Doc right behind him. Doc missed on the ground and the snipe blasted back up with Doc right behind. The snipe sought cover again but Doc was on his butt.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Red-Necked Falcon (Red-Headed Merlin)

My new little bird arrived last night (or rather this morning at 1:30am). He's 150g of pure coolness.

Thanks to my buddy Keith Richman of CA for sending this little fella to me. Keith has been flying him all summer and decided to let me have a crack at him. He was bred by Bill Meeker who will hopefully have some of these guys available to the falconry community soon.

Snipe & Dove Hawking Video

Sunday I took a small group of people out to watch Doc hunt and Diana took some video. Doc flew great putting in several blistering stoops at snipe, Diana caught one of them on video and I have a slow motion clip of the flight. When Doc pitches up you can see him do several barrel rolls as he flips over and resumes the chase. Diana didn't get the whole flight, it's VERY fast, but he continues chasing the snipe across the field.

Doc ended up catching a Dove, you can barely see it on the video it's very blurry. But he stooped down and hit the dove then grabbed it out of the air.

This video is best watched in the HD version, full screen.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Comparison of Snipe Hawks

I've been asked this question several times now so I thought I'd write my thoughts here.

"Are there differences in this passage bird versus other falcons flown at snipe?"

Well, I am very early into my season so I don't feel comfortable making much of a comparison at this point but I do have a few initial observations.

The first, obvious, fact is that Doc has caught snipe quicker than any other bird I've flown. I caught him on Oct 11th, he was free flying on Nov 2nd and caught his first snipe on Dec 6th and has gone on to catch two more this week.

By comparison my best Barbary was obtained in June and didn't catch the first snipe until Nov and not another until Jan.

Doc, as I would have expected from a passage bird, has very good flight skills. He's powerful on the wing and has a natural tendency to stay upwind of me waiting for a flush.

When a snipe flushes there is NO hesitation, he comes down fast and determined. The tail chase he had a few days ago was nothing short of amazing. My Barbary's have tailed snipe and pushed them a few hundred feet up and forced them back to the ground to catch them but Doc's chase seemed to go on forever and he was at least 500' up, truly amazing.

His manners are still wonderful, he hoods well and has not tried to carry.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Doc, Snipe #3

Well he did it again. Doc's flying great and put snipe #3 in the bag, that's back to back snipe days.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2nd Snipe

Doc caught his second snipe today and I saw one of the most amazing flights I’ve seen. The weather here has been way too hot for good falconry with highs in the mid 80’s and lows around 70 and today wasn’t much different but Doc flew great.

He cast off and flew downwind and began to climb. A group of black birds caught his attention and he headed farther downwind and started circling over the flock which was now packed into thick cover. He continued climbing but stayed downwind ¼ mile.

After about 10 min of this he finally started making his way back to me and took a 300’ pitch right overhead. The dog (Duncan) and I started running around looking for snipe. We finally flushed a bird and Doc was a little downwind but he stooped hard and was in pursuit. He pulled in behind the snipe and got very close but the snipe evaded him. But he wasn’t about to give up.

Doc was 10’ behind the snipe and very determined. The snipe began to climb with Doc right on its tail. He stayed 10’ to 20’ behind it all across the sky. I watched the chase in binoculars as they climbed up to 500’ and started coming back towards me. After a good two to three minutes they were now flying right over my head 500’ up. As they passed over me the snipe began to pull away. I yelled and waved and Doc pulled off the chase. It was the most amazing snipe chase I’ve seen, I couldn’t believe how long he pressed this snipe.

Doc was now right over head 500’ up and circling for the next flush. We ran around frantically searching for another flush. A sparrow flushed and Doc made a short stoop, losing some pitch. Then another snipe flushed and Doc was locked on. Just as he was about to close the deal the snipe slammed down into a small marsh 300 yards away. He hovered over the spot but wouldn’t go in after it.

Duncan and I ran over as Doc remounted. We waded into the thigh deep water and Duncan put the snipe back up. It flew out of the marsh and Doc easily flew it down over the field, claiming his second snipe of the season.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The NAFA meet & Amarillo Hawking

I’m just back from the 2009 NAFA meet and TX Panhandle tour. I had a great time and Doc flew well. I didn’t fly him in OK because of 20-25mph winds but once in Amarillo on Wednesday the wind speeds were much more doable.

Doc flew great on ducks and came very close to putting one in the bag. I had a great time hawking in Amarillo with Matt Mullenix, Jimmy Walker, Brian Millsap, Matt Riedy, Heather Gast, Ken Jennings and a few others.

Here are a few pics of the meet and the trip. Oh and I bought a new Canon 7D camera just before the trip.