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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Friday, January 16th,  2014:  Cool, light wind, sunny.   A beautiful day.  Got the Harris hawks out for flights nearly all day long.  A squirrel decided to appear in the park and the hawks had some fun giving it a few thrills.  It went on for a while, then the squirrel found cover.    The hawks were flown around the pool and beach area consistently until sunset, then a walk with the falcons was done around the island to check the status of the grackles across the harbor.  They are still across the harbor.  Now it was time to pack and head back home to North Florida.  

Friday, January 17, 2014

Thursday, January 16, 2014:  Cooler, clearer and windy.    Few guests were out, due to the seasonably cool weather.     Also, quite windy so I had to make sure the winds had slowed before I set them out.    Had some meetings and set the birds out afterwards.  Also the area was straightened up and organized around the cabana. As it got later and the winds slowed for flights with the hawks.  Two hawks were flown around the pool when guests who are dining.   Enjoyable flights across the pool from post to post were done with one particular hawk.  It was fun to watch her glide close Harris' hawks were put up.  The grackles left.  Again around the North part of the island, grackles were across the harbor.  The final day is today and we will see how long the grackles stay off the island.  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014   Cooler, with decreasing humidity, light cloud cover.  Rains occurred for about an hour at dawn, shortening my morning wake up swim.  I set all of the hawks and falcons out to relax.  Then I put two Harris hawks up for flights.   They enjoyed the cooler weather and were flying all over the place.   The winds were light so it was ideal weather, especially with the cloud cover.  Beach and pool attendance was light, which surprises me, since it was such a wonderful day to be outside.  I expected more residents to be walking their dogs or just being outside.   I then put the falcons away after a few hours and put up all of the Harris' hawks.  Unknown to me, the osprey had caught a fish and was eating in the trimmed tree at the circle entrance to the park.  The hawks paid little attention to the osprey and I approached it taking both video and photos.  It called in the high pitched gentle call of the osprey and moved off.  One of the Harris hawks followed it but stayed in the area.  I flew all four of them again for quite a while, called them from point to point.   Evening patrols were again started, this time with falcons on the fist.  Again at dusk the grackles were definitely across the water, but I saw no scouting grackles on the island looking for a place to roost.   We spoke with quite a few residents and answered questions.  All in all a good day.  

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tuesday, January 14, 2014,  Warm, sunny.  I finally fell well enough from my cold and lingering cough to take a  re-dawn swim prior to starting my day.   I brought the hawks out an immediately got them up in the air (all 4 of them) and flew at the beach and pool.  I noted that grackles are starting their courting and nesting behavior with the lengthening days.   I would fly the hawks, then the winds got a bit strong, so I flew them back into their training boxes.  Then I would wait for the winds to slow down a bit and put them up again.   I flew a second session when the winds had slowed.   And took time to take photos which will appear later.   But had to curtail flights and setting the hawks out.  A guest had a dog in the beach area.   I was putting the hawks up and the dog was off leash, curious and wanting to chase the hawks.  I asked the guest to leash the dog.  I was concerned about the safety of the hawks when tethered in the weathering area.  So until the guest left later on, I had to stop flights.  Later in the day, evening patrols were to the north side of the island.  As before, the grackles were across the water, with very little activity on the island.  But, there are noise/predator/distress call deterrents across the water.  I am curious how it will affect the grackles staying after relocating there.   I also walked the area after dark and did not see any indication of grackles retiring to the island at this time.   

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014:  Sunny, mixed clouds warm, more humid.  I did a walk around the key, looking for signs of roosting birds in the morning, very few droppings were found, some by the entrance to security at the hotel across the street, looks like pigeons, some raptor, like dropping at the base of a tree across from the real estate office.  Security told me that a handful of grackles are roosting in the tree next to the bus stop.  I have not seen nor heard activity from that time.  The hawks were set out to weather and enclosures were cleaned, supplies were organized from the busy weekend.  My truck is getting stubborn to start, so the engine heater was plugged in.  It started this morning and I ran it for 15 minutes to get the batteries (it is a diesel with 2 batteries) charged.  A trickle charger will be brought it to keep the batteries charged.    Very little grackle activity was noted around the pool and beach.  There was an event at the beach, and I put the hawks up earlier than usual.  But, I again went in the evening to the north of the island to assess the grackles there.  WIth the hawks in their enclosure, all I had to do was appear and the grackles saw me with the equipment and left for across the water.  I just waited until the grackles were settled in.  Across the water, I can hear recorded predator and distress calls.  The grackles now see me in my work attire especially the hat and move on.   Studies have been done to show that birds definitely recognize people and threats, even a while later.  I again walked the key that evening after putting the hawks 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sunday, January 12, 2014:  Clear, lower humidity, sunny with mixed clouds.  A lovely day.  The hawks were set out and two were flown right away to keep grackles at bay when guests at the pool start dining.  As I was flying the hawks.  The osprey flew up on a light post in the part with a fish and proceeded to eat.  So, it is seems just fine.  The hawks are not disturbed or upset at all at the presence of the osprey, since ospreys only eat fish.  The hawks were flown off and on all day, rotating each out to keep the grackles away from guests.  Fewer guests were at the beach due to it being Sunday.  But a family at the pool dining needed some extra raptor presence to keep the grackles away.   Later, evening patrols were started at the North end of the island.  The grackles were definitely across the harbor this time.  Hawks and equipment were kept out until dark to keep the message clear to the grackles that raptors are here.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Saturday, January 11, 2014:  Warm, mixed sun and clouds.  It was a warm day, and the entire area was busy with guests in the pool area and beach.  The raptors were set out and two were flown at a time.  The grackles were quite interested in eating guest's food.  But the previous day, I saw adult guests feeding sparrows.  So the pattern of humans feeding birds was quite established.  It was a busy day for staff, since the rainy weather during the week was putting a damper on pool and beach attendance.  The osprey was still in the tree, and was preening then left a short while later.  It seems to be better or maybe not ill at all.  All day, I was busy keeping the hawks in the air as deterrents, explaining the concept to guests.  One island resident said that a few grackles had returned to the North end of the island, so  evening patrols with flying hawks were a top priority.    We went to the end of the island, and with the hawk's presence, the grackles got the message and moved across the water.  A wedding was occurring on the beach that evening, so the moving of the hawks was delayed until the ceremony was over.  It was a clear night, so I could see some stars at night.    Something I really enjoy doing.  The hawks were safely put away for another day.   Sunday will likely be just as busy.  

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Friday, January 10, 2014.  Warm, mid-70-s,  mixed clouds and sun.  Set the raptors out to weather.  Then flew Harris hawks as deterrent flight around pool area.  A handful of grackles were showing up.  The weathering raptors took baths and enjoyed themselves.   Then in the afternoon, the falcons were put up and all of the Harris hawks were flown.   The flights were back and forth from tree to post which is an excellent presence of to the grackles and just plain fun to do for the hawks.  A bird was spotted in the tree above the beach area.  It is an osprey, and not looking well.  It was sleeping mid-day, not a good sign,  and looking listless.  It is too high in the tree to recover and a piece of uneaten fish was found under the perching bird.  In case it falls, security was informed as well as the local wildlife rehabber.  The osprey was checked after dark and it was still on the same branch.  I will look for the osprey in the morning again.      Items were organized, then evening patrols were done around the island.   Again, grackles were across the harbor, but are definitely more inland.  A good sign that they have changed the roosting pattern.  One resident on the island told us when he lived in Venezuela, he worked with Harpy eagles at a wildlife center there.   Residents also told us again as to how happy they are not to have the grackles making a mess on the island.  It is so nice to hear that the hard work is appreciated.   

Friday, January 10, 2014

Thursday, January 9th, 2014.  Cloudy, but no rain.  Just very light mists.   I set out all of the raptors to weather and bathe.    

Thursday, I made sure all of the raptors were able to weather and I flew two raptors as deterrent flights at the pool and beach area.  But, there were no grackles around.  I feel that the weather has a lot to do with it.   I took hawks around the key in their enclosures for evening flights to deter any roosting on the island.  I noted very few grackles across the key and   A friend who was in downtown told me that a large number of birds in the mainland area roosting in the trees that evening.  So, the grackles are starting to stay inland.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014:  Cloudy, rainy.  Early morning I saw two raptors.  A red shouldered hawk, and a peregrine falcon.   Then I saw a frigate bird, a large gull type bird with a forked tail.   The prior day I saw two peregrine falcons.  The smaller one sitting on the hurricane shutter.  Then a larger one (likely a female) flew up and they both called and flew south to the next island.  It started raining and threatened rain all day so, I brought out two hawks in their training boxes, ready for any deterrent flights around the pool and beach area.  I flew them several times briefly.  Then rains started later in the day, so I took them in for the evening.

On Wednesday there was a visit from Florida Fish and Wildlife.  The officer asked about the activities I was doing with the hawks,  That day I had only two birds out, due to the threatening rains.  He said that a resident had called about the abatement activities.  I mentioned that my permits were cleared when I was out in the spring and mentioned the officer's name.  He was satisfied with that and I was able to continue and get the two Harris hawks out for flights that day.

This is posted today due to not having internet access yesterday.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tuesday, January 7, 2014.   Cold, breezy and cloudy.   I am glad that I cleaned yesterday and let the hawks bathe.  It has changed overnight from balmy to cool/cold.   But the hawks love this weather.  I let them all fly and they enjoyed flying all around the pool and park.   Very few guests were out, due to the coolness.  After a while, Some guests with children were eating outside and sure enough, the grackles knew that kids often feed wildlife and were hanging around the table.  I put all of the hawks up and the grackles moved away.  I would then rotate the grackles around.  As things slowed down int he pool area, I took a walk around the key to see what activity there was across the harbor with roosting and to look for droppings.  I found no droppings anywhere and no activity of roosting across the key.  But, impending weather is a big factor.   This morning,  (Wed.)  It is chilly, rainy and windy, I had to fold and drop the tables on the porch, due to them being blown around.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Monday, January 6, 2014:  Cloudy, rain in some area.   Mid-70's.  Cooler weather is arriving later on.  I set the hawks and falcons out and cleaned enclosures.  I changed into dry clothes (brought some down with me) after cleaning.   The grackles likely noted the wet hawks from showers and baths and started in at the pool area.  I got the driest one out and up in the trees, and the grackles soon dispersed.  I flew them one at a time, because I wanted the falcons to have a day out weathering and bathing as well.  They all enjoyed it.  Then, afternoon rains came in, I got wet getting the birds back in their enclosures,  and I had to change again.   After the rains,  The cooler weather arriving had made the grackles far less active.  So the hawks were flown for just a short time before dark.  

Monday, January 6, 2014

January 5th, 2014,  Sunday:

Warm, cloudy humid.  Harris hawks were brought to beach area, weighed and all were flown at once. They flew back and forth between the beach, pool and park.  Flying eagerly to the T post.  I took some photos which will be posted later.   After some time, I set the falcons out after putting the Harris' hawks in.  Residents and hotel gusts were always fascinated by this.  Some are coming every day to watch the hawks fly.  Then the winds picked up and I put them back in. A rain storm passed through and I  waited it out in the cabana.   I then set the falcons out again and was flying the one Harris hawk so that I can keep the birds away from the beach and pool area.  Then a second stronger squall came through,  I had put the birds back safe just in time.  I got soaked that time, so I went to my room and changed.   I came back out and again flew all Harris hawks at once.  They work so well together and the grackles stay away. A few crows came in to tease them, but they moved on.  Evening patrols were started and a few grackles were starting to hang around the residence.  But the vast majority have started roosting across the water.  I got out some falconry equipment to be made (replacement jesses, and leashes).  On the evening rounds, we were thanked for keeping the birds away by some of the residents.  I am glad to hear that.  

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Saturday, January 4, 2014:

Cloudy, rain threatening all day.   Got the hawks out in the cabana area.   The beach and pool were quiet, the rain and clouds was keeping guests away.  I took the opportunity to fly 4 Harris; hawks at once and flew them around the beach area.  They really enjoyed working together, and they all landed in the palm tree.  I tried to get a photo of them all at once, but they were having too much fun flying around.  Needless to say, the grackles were gone while they were out.  Then some rains started, so I put them back, to keep them dry.   I then got them out after the rains stopped and flew all of them at once again.  I just love the harmony they exhibit when they fly together.  Guests and residents came over and were enjoying them flying as well.  On my way to my truck, I noticed a dead rat at the curb.  So I picked it up by the tail.  Wrapped it in newspaper and disposed of it in the trash.   I am so glad I found the rat before the hawks did.  Rodenticides used around the area are deadly to hawks and raptors through secondary poisoning.  I will keep diligent in looking for such dangers for the hawks.  This site:  explains the dangers of using rodenticides to our raptors, wildlife and pets.   At dusk,  I then went to the far side, near the residences.  The grackles were across the harbor, and rain was threatening.  So the hawks were positioned to keep them away and to have a 'presence' that is so important to change the roosting habits of the grackles.  As it got dark, they raptors were fed and put away for the evening.  

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Friday, January 3, 2014.  Cool, sunny in the am then got cloudy later on.  A refreshing day.  Got the birds out, waited for landscaping to finish up.  Then set them out at the beach.  I cleaned throughly their enclosures and around the cabana area. Got a lot done on such a cool day.   Grackles were staring to hang around the pool, so I rotated one hawk at a time, flying around the area.  The grackles stayed away. The winds picked up and whitecaps were on the water on the south side of the key.  I put the Hawks up and  Then we went out in the evening to the positioning area for the grackles that have moved across the harbor.  It also started getting cloudy and was a nice day to be out, cooler temps and lower humidity.  

Friday, January 3, 2014

January 2, 2014:   Sunny, bright mid-70's.

On my way to set up,  I observed the peregrine on his usual perch on the hurricane shutter.  He stayed there until about 11:00  The hawks were set out and showered.  I noted some bird activity around the pool and beach area.  So, I put one of the Harris hawks up and the grackles moved on.  I would put up the hawks, one at a time and the grackles got the message.  Guests enjoyed watching the mid-day bath and shower I give the hawks and falcons.  Often, the hawks will jump in their bath pans for a big soak and shower.  In the evening the hawks were taken to the residential areas.  Where the grackles were still  across the water at the harbor.   They still head over to the key but change their minds with hawks sitting the trees in the area.   Hundreds of them line up on the railing, then move to the trees.  The presence of the hawks, and the cart with their equipment is enough to keep them away until they settle in after dark.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

January 1st, 2014.  Partly could, light breeze, mid 70's

Set the birds out and the entire area was busy with guest's questions and inquiries.  I heard grackle activity around the pool at lunch, so I had two of the Harris hawks fly about to keep the grackles at bay.  The best thing is that I saw the peregrine again on the residence building.  He sat there for several hours, I again took time to show guests (two were avid birders) the peregrine through my spotting scope.    I also showed him to the employees as well.  The peregrine moved on. I put fresh telemetry batteries in the hawk transmitters and gave them a brief shower with the hose. Some hawks jump in their bath pans for a shower and bath.  The guests love watching this.  As I was flying the hawks around the pool.  I saw a string (kite string) caught in the palm tree to the ground.  It was hard to see unless there was just the right angle of sunlight.  I immediately pulled on it and it was attached to a kite stuck at the seawall.  I pulled, snapped the string. Leaving about a 6 foot strand waving in the wind of the palm tree.   This could have cut or one of my hawks if it had flown into it.  Earlier, I had been informed that some grackles were by the residences on key.  So evening patrols with two Harris' hawks were started there.  I saw again grackles flying in groups, but heading across the water to the mainland by the harbor.  I could see with binos, and hear their activities.   I flew the harris hawks close by to keep them from crossing the harbor.   Then waited for the night to fall.  After sundown,  I saw the peregrine fly right over me back to the key to roost.  So, I know my day has ended.  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Tuesday, December 31, 2013, New Years Eve.   Woke up with a setback in my post cold bronchitis.   Heavy coughing and nasal reaction, eye tearing in reaction something in the air.  Started my antibiotic routine again.  Took my time to get paperwork done.  Then went to get the birds loaded  It started raining.  I decided to watch my health and postponed setting the birds out until things got drier.   As the rains subsided later in the afternoon (after 2) I decided to just take the falcons out to educate the guests, per requests of staff and guests who have heard about the program. I was glad I got everything clean and organized yesterday.  I did walking patrols with the falcon(s) then walked the key by the residences at dusk.  Sure enough again, grackles were at the harbor across the water.  I stayed until misting weather started and I went back in.  Fireworks were set off at midnight, so I got up and to make sure the hawks and falcons were comfortable.  They were fine, the building blocked the majority of the noise of the fireworks.  Then back to sleep for all of us.