Search This Blog

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Stubborn and smart birds

I arrived a bit earlier today.  It was cloudy with a threat of rain, 60"s.  My favorite kind of weather.  The blackbirds were greater in numbers today. Many animals increase foraging activity prior to stormy weather.    I flew my second oldest harris hawk first.  A nice Ford 4WD arrived and it can old two hawks.  I drove it around to get the 'feel'. and learn it's limitations, and I even got it stuck. We got it loose with digging and rocking it back and forth.  Thanks guys.  The muddy areas are really muddy and I have to stay on the drier ground, even with 4WD.  My harris' hawks did move the blackbirds around and they move but it takes time.   The blackbirds see the hawk and eventually realize it's not going away and they move on.  But I need a more immediate response of them to flee. I discussed with the farm manager that having the 15 foot poles for the hawks to fly back and forth with would really help.  For when the hawks fly and land on the ground due to not having a perch to land on.  The effectiveness greatly diminishes.   I was very, very tempted to fly the falcons, but they are still just a bit to heavy.  Also they were acting non-ready for flying.   I took time to see what the attraction of the damage to the peppers was.  They break into the top, around the seed crown.  They pick the seeds out and move on to another pepper.  As the rains started, I stayed and walked around with the falcons on the glove.  For them to get familiar with the area. I went down to where the coots/moorhens hung and and the gyr hybrid showed great interest in chasing them.  Rains started to get steady, a light farmers rain.  And I was forced to leave to make sure I can get my truck out.  I described driving in on the mud and soft sand as driving in the snow.  I keep a steady speed of 20-25mph leaving to keep from getting it stuck.  Wildlife seen on the way in:  Caracaras, bald eagle, were the highlights and the resident kestrel on the farm is always a joy to watch.  

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Day two. Pepper farm

Got up early, and ready for the day.  I took time to weather the hawks behind the camper.  For they needed some time to bathe and drink.  I kept them there until about 8:00 then put them back in their enclosures.  I was planning to weather them prior to dawn under lights, but the lights were out.  I got to the farm at 9:00.  I did not get stuck today.  I drove quickly through the sugar sand areas, then did not drive around the farm. I parked by the equipment and left the truck there.  I walked around for my abatement tasks with the hawks.   My truck is a highway towing truck not set up for off-road conditions.  The grackles are smart and stubborn.  I set up all 4 t posts (love the extra height of the 16 foot one) and th e 8 foot high rotating rings.  The hawks use them a lot.  I saw this morning a wild kestrel, hunting bugs around the farm equipment.  She also made the grackles move.  When I put up the hawks, the resident red-shouldered hawks often get territorial, always vocalizing.  Sometimes diving at the hawks or falcons.  Smaller raptors are a peril with the RSH.  I have had a barbary falcon lost for 4 days from the RSH chasing him around on his initial flight.  I flew the hawks and the grackles move --- well eventually.  They do move but it takes time.  They mostly shift around then when the hawks don't leave after a while.  The grackles do move one.  My one 'silly' harris hawk who is a clumbsy flyer was taken to the back standing water.  Some coots were flushed and flew after them  I was surprised at her doing that.  For she is not a confident hawk, but she sticks with me and is very reliable.  The second oldest hawk was also being flown and she decided to visit the local red-shouldered hawks.I want to fly the agile male HH and flew him some, but with his weight up.  He was just sitting around.  He HATES the red-shouldered and will chase them if challenged.  When I got the telemetry out.  The farm will be providing me a 4WD so I may get quickly to the areas where I am needed rather than walk.

Note:   These things make the most effective falconry abatement business model.   Housing with electric and drinkable water  and sewer (or portable toilets) at the flight fields and areas.   I discussed this with some western abatement falconers and they agree.  Staying at the flight field is crucial for effectiveness.  A shaded weathering area for the hawks to take break, bathe and drink.  And a 4WD vehicle for taking the hawks quickly to where they are needed.  Some farms realize that abatement is part of their pest management and have set up quarters for the falcones and a fenced, covered weathering yard, and even some falconry mews at their farms.  This is thee first abatement job I've ever had to drive to to start my day.  Not just step out my camper in the morning at I am at work.

For abatement is a very time consuming profession.  Personal time, even shopping for supplies, laundry and meals are very limited during abatement hours.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

New assignment, pepper farm, south florida

It is the specialty peppers being damaged by grackles.  The typical eating one hole in a ripe pepper rendering it useless for market.  After going to the fields (way out in the middle of nowhere).  I brought the hawks out mid-day.  My husband left at 10:30 to head back home after helping me set up.  I flew 2 harris hawk to see how the grackles react.  The challenge here is not perches in the fields for the hawks to land on and intimidate the grackles.   I have told the grower that putting up 15 foot high telephone poles in the fields would also bring in the wild hawks to help with the bird issue.  The grackles sit on the stakes and pick the peppers, and socialize.  I flew two of the Harris' hawks.  For they are easy to fly.  The falcons weight are still too high in weight.  With the warm spell we had last month, it was hard to get them back to flying weight.   Also, I will need access to a 4x4 to get around the fields more efficiently.  My 2wd truck got stuck 4 times.  So I will have to remain parked between the two fields in the equipment area, the truck is a 7.3 diesel and is very front heavy.  But great milage, 23 driving 16 towing.     The equipment has places where I can stick the T posts and move the hawks around.  One hawk made a pass at the grackles and scattered them further down the rows.  So, I walked on foot with her on the perch.  She did very well and stuck with me.  I did not get a chance to weather the hawks at all.  So, I will weather pre-dawn in the morning and get them out as early as I can.  If I don't offer them water in the morning and a bath.  They take off looking for water to bathe and drink from.  I prefer to control how the quality of the water they come in contact with.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Monday, Last Day

I walked in pre dawn, saw only one pigeon.  A lone pigeon sitting on the 5th floor balcony above the spa.  I chased it away.  The hawks are in their enclosures and they will be set out.  For it it cleaning day.  I am getting my supplies in order and will be departing Tuesday, hopefully pretty early. I set the hawks out, hosed off their enclosures.  Then started to get my equipment organized and sorted for packing.  I was planning one last flight for the evening.  Then packing the hawks and their equipment.  But was stopped by a late rain storm.  So, I rolled up the hose, put perches up and away and arranged and organized.   Tuesday, I got up early, did laundry, got the hawk equipment packed first then my personal effects (and traveling office).  I left at 10:45 and got home safely by 5:30.  

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sunday Morning

I got up pre-dawn.  I enjoy my pre-dawn walks and make a point of doing them where ever I am at.  I walked about and I so glad to see again no pigeons roosting on the hotel.  Just the two on the south side of the vacant restaurant.  I got ready for the day, had a light breakfast.  Moved the hawks out to their area at the restaurant.  

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Saturday Morning and evening

Saturday a warm day, and will again be sunny.  I did my pre-dawn walk and found no pigeons on the hotel.  Around the back of the restaurant on the south side, I saw two pigeons sitting on a light fixture.  They are probably the ones I've been moving from the awing the past two weeks.  I chased them away.  I did another walkabout the buildings, but no other pigeons were sighted.  It was hot and I stayed as much as I could in the cool to keep from overheating.  The hawks were misted all day and I was checking them frequently and moving them about to keep them in the shade. I was also organizing my equipment for departure on Tuesday.  Mid-afternoon was quiet, for it was too hot for the pigeons to sit in the sun on any of the buildings.  As four o'clock approached.  I noted some milling about, and I saw that this group had several pigeons with a lot of white markings.  I noted that also they were not flying as coordinated as the morning pigeons.  This group is one of the local lofts, being released for afternoon flights.  They stayed a few moments on the hotel, but departed quickly before I could chase them away.  After their departure, the feral pigeons started streaming in just a few at a time.  I also saw them east across the highway, milling about at the church field behind the all glass office building.  It was shady there so I think they were also keeping cool, out of the sun.  After dinner, I had the hawks ready to fly, and noted approaching rain clouds.  I waited a bit longer, but the feral pigeons landed east across the highway on the power lines behind the 24 hour restaurant.  And stayed there quite a while.  I waited the weather out, there was a light rain starting.  I saw lightening to the north and heard distant thunder.  The pigeons were apparently staying across the highway for the time being showing no interest in moving and I decided to pack up a bit early.  I had packed up the hawks, and was in my truck just starting to park,  and I spotted the Cooper's hawk again hunting pigeons at rooftop level.  The few on the vacant restaurant flushed and the hawk had missed.  The hawk then flew west into the neighborhood out of site.  I thought, thank you hawk for helping me out this evening.   

Friday, August 7, 2015

Friday Morning

On the pre-dawn walk no pigeons were found roosting on any of the property.  I got the hawks out after breakfast, did paperwork and now changing into my 'cleaning clothes'.  It cleaning day and I always change into the prior day's clothes for that task.  I get very wet and soggy, even though I put on a vinyl apron to keep as dry as I can.  But, on hot days, I don't mind getting wet anyhow.  Hawks will be out and misted by mid-morning.  I got the enclosures extra clean, scrubbing with a scrub brush that I had purchased.  Sometimes spraying is just not enough.  I set the hawks out, they were misted and I noted that when the hawks are weathered outside, pigeons in the area are far fewer.  It was sunny and hot so I made sure the hawks were kept comfortable all day long.  I waited for the evening to arrive and after dinner, I flew all 4 of the hawks over the pool area, one at a time.  As with other sunny days, I stay out until the sun is quite low in the sky, just getting ready to set.  I then put the hawks up and put them in my truck for the night.