August 12, 2008
After Widow having had a week off I was, and I don’t know why, worried that she would have forgotten everything. She didn’t, but I always do that; we go away for a few days and I think she’ll go wild. I do that with my falcons too, even Blackie who I have been flying for 12 years. I guess falconry is still a bit of a mystery to me even after a lifetime of flying birds. My plan is to continue getting Widow to come over, which she does, but to now get her dialed in on what the dogs and I are doing, namely flushing game for her.
The days start in the morning with me preparing the quail for the birds. I have, for years, removed the feet and intestines from the quail before I feed them. The reasons are simple: pen raised birds, in this case quail, walk around in droppings all day and any disease they might have could be on their feet, so I cut them off. As for the intestines quail are fed diets of corn and other grains which are still present in their system when they die and go bad and ferment. Not good, so I remove it. Anyway, I hood up JH, MM, and Widow and they all wait their turn to be weighed, worked and fed. In the case of JH and MM, they are flying to the lure. Widow, of course, is doing more.
While Widow was waiting this morning she felt it necessary to flop in her bath water.thus she was still a little wet when I launched her. She sat on the ground, rousting and fanning herself, and eventually flew off looking for a thermal. She went out and down the valley and caught one. Within 5 minutes she was a pin dot coming over me. With the two dogs running all around, I called her into the lure, gave her some reward, and launched her off once more. She went up faster, as is the norm on her second flight, and came over.
This time I was carrying a pheasant. The trouble I am facing is that she is going up way too high. Like today, she came over but was just a dot in the blue sky. I released the pheasant and I don’t think she saw it until it had flown a long ways and then she started to stoop. Both dogs were chasing the pheasant and when it landed they reflushed it. All the while, Widow was still coming almost straight down. The pheasant flew out over the grass and landed again. Maggie and Thistle were closing in at the same time that Widow was. Sometimes Thistle will want to help the bird with the catch, so it did occur to me that there could be a problem when dog and eagle both met at the pheasant at the same instant. I was much too far away to offer any help for either animal so I thought, Oh well, I hope Thistle realizes the situation and backs off. And even though Thistle might pull up and just be close, Widow could take offense to that and attack her, not good. But it all worked out. When I arrived on the scene all was well, Widow was plucking her prize and both dogs were safe.