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General Management 2003

Management 2002

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August 2nd    The team was exercised the morning after the last race but they were not that anxious to fly.  The birds gave me the impression that they were a bit tired.  However as the week progressed they began exercising more like their usual manner.  This morning they were out at 7:00 and disappeared for 30 minutes.  Upon return they flew very vigorously around the loft.  Only a couple of birds refused to fly and just sat on the roof of the loft.  I went into the house to get a cup of coffee and when I returned all birds were gone again even the ones sitting on the roof.  I suspected they may have been encouraged to fly by the appearance of a hawk because the ones on the roof where also gone.  Futhermore, earlier my flagging and throwing rocks at them would not dislodge them from roof.  Besides when they landed after an hour of flying they did not waste any time trapping. 

The next race (New Glasgow 300 km) is tentatively scheduled for Monday August 4th.  At the moment, the weather at the release point looks favorable.  A mix of sun and cloud with a chance of showers has been the prediction for most of the summer.  Rarely did we get showers unless it was late in the afternoon.  However early morning fog could be a problem.

August 4th   Due to unfavorable weather conditions in the general area of the release point the race team was brought back home to fly another day.  My practice has been to release birds only if there is some blue patches of sky visible or the outline of the sun can be clearly seen through the cloud cover.  And if the next day has reasonably good weather, so that if something should go wrong, the birds have a good chance of getting home.

Accurate weather forecasting throughout the Maritime Provinces is a challenge because of the many different fronts that pass through the area.  Several days ago the prediction for the release day was for sunny weather, then for a mix of sun and cloud, then for a cloudy day with sunny breaks.  What we got at the release point this morning was cloudy and more cloudy.

After basketting almost 160 birds and a 5 hour drive, I spent last night as a guest of Margie and Lothar Schmitt of Toney River, NS.  As always they were exceptional hosts.  After an excellent nights rest I was up early this morning caring for the birds. The weather did not look promising.  It was overcast, slightly foggy and the visibility limited.  The prediction was for a day that would be mainly a mix of sun and cloud with some chance of showers later in the day.  Furthermore the prediction was for worsening conditions for the following day.  I checked the weather channel, Environment Canada on the Internet and CBC Radio and their predictions although not exactly the same were similar.  By 10:00 am the weather could be best described as overcast but bright with good visibility.  However not a blue patch of sky could be seen anywhere and there was no sign of the sun through the clouds.

Being confident of the condition and the quality of the birds, I was tempted to release them at this time but over a cup of coffee in Margies kitchen I was persuaded otherwise.  Lothar quite succinctly said, " after all that work your season could end today" and Margie added, "Andy, if you dont have a good gut feeling about releasing the birds, dont do it".  Thats all I had to hear.

I packed up the birds and left for home.  The weather was inconsistent all the way back.  At Amherst there were some blue patches, from Moncton to Kouchibouguac the cloud ceiling was very low with a light fog and poor visibility and from the Miramichi to Bathurst it was a mix of sun and cloud.  When I arrived home I released the birds in the yard in beautiful weather.  The birds made a few circles,  landed on the loft and trapped immediately.  I had 100% returns and I felt good about my decision.

The worst part of the trip was paying 89.9 cents/L to fill up my truck.  Fortunately, the birds will fly another day and unfortunately I will fill up another day.

August 5th    Because of overcast skies and fog conditions the birds were not released for their morning exercise until 9:00 am.  The team disappeared for 45 minutes and when they returned they flew strongly around the loft for another 15 minutes and then rose sharply and disappeared again.  You could tell by the sound of their wing beats that something scared them off.   They reappeared almost an hour later and flew at their leisure around the loft.  When almost all had landed with out showing any signs of nervousness and about a dozen had trapped, out of nowhere a hawk attacked and was successful in catching and caring away a meal.  The birds took off again and didn't trap until 11:45 am.  Hopefully the unlucky bird was one of my late breds that were raised particularly for this purpose.

August 7th    The birds were kept in yesterday because of the weather.  It rained steadily all day long. They were also kept in today because of an all day fog that kept the visibility down to 1 km at the most.  The pic is a view from the loft at 10:00 am this morning. 

No doubt most of you are anxious to get the next race over with to determine the winner of the sprint portion to the Le Tour serious.  So am I, however the long-term weather forecast, if accurate, only predicts favorable weather at the release point not until Monday.

August 9th    One cant overstate the adversity that is associated with the running of a futurity.

The birds were shut in for 3 days because of rain and heavy fog that limited visibility to several hundred meters. This afternoon the fog disappeared however it remained overcast but bright and the outline of the sun could be faintly seen through the clouds.  The birds were let out at 4:45 for their first exercise in 3 days .

I knew something was wrong because most of the birds were sitting on their perches and not out in the open area were they normally are at this time of day.  Anyway, they were still anxious to get out and took off and disappeared immediately when the doors were opened up.  Ten minutes later the resident goshawk glided slowly over the loft and disappeared into the woods.  This was definitely an ominous sign of what was to come.

The first time the birds returned an hour had passed and they were just tiny dots high in the sky.  The birds flew over the loft several times and disappeared quickly.  At the 2 hour mark they flew over again. And all of sudden you could tell by the sound of their wing beats that they were alarmed.  They darted off quickly in a westerly direction.  At 7:15, which was 2 hours and 30 minutes after the start of their exercise only about 20 birds were brave enough to land and quickly dart in through the traps.

Finally by 7:30 most of the team had landed and trapped.  When I went in to feed them there seemed to be more room at the feeders then normal.  Some were still missing but not many.

Shortly after 8:00,  high in the sky, a solo bird flew over the loft, made a circle and then dropped like a stone down to the loft roof.  It was obviously nervous.  It slowly walked down to the landing board, hesitated and looked around. This hesitation would have drastic consequences.  Out of nowhere the hawk appeared, slowly glided over the loft and spotted the lone blue checker on the landing board.  For a instant it looked like the hawk would keep on going.  The checker rather than trapping did a stupid thing and decided to make a run for it.  This was the wrong decision because within a 100 meters another member of the Le Tour team became permanent part of the food chain.

Its hard to say anything positive about this frustrating experience however I will try.  The birds did not look tired at all for being exercised the first time in 3 days and after flying for almost 3 hours in muggy conditions with heavy feather.  After they trapped they ate heartily, were calm and went about their business as if nothing had happened.

August 11th    It rained all day yesterday so the birds were kept in.  Finally, this morning I saw some blue patches of sky.  The birds were let out at 7:15 and flew for over 90 minutes mostly away from the loft.  No doubt the birds are still hawk leery.   No sign of it today.

August 13th    The race team was given a 75 km training toss this morning and they were home within 60 minutes.  This evening they flew over an hour and the nature of their flight pattern and behavior indicated that they were still hawk leery.  No wonder, the Goshawk flew near the loft but at distance at 5:45.  The birds returned 15 minutes later and  were all at 6:10. 

Tomorrow is a rest day.  The team will be basketted after dinner and off to New Glasgow we will go for a Thursday morning release.  Good luck to all. 

August 17th    Things seem to be back to normal if the quality of the droppings is any indication of the birds' health.  The team was rested Friday and not exercised until Saturday morning.  They only flew for 30 minutes and it was obvious they were not anxious to continue flying.  However, Sunday morning they took off and disappeared for 50 minutes.  About 2/3 of the team returned at that time.  The rest returned 15 minutes later. That evening they flew strongly for another 30 minutes.  They should be ready for the next race tentatively scheduled for next weekend.

August 19th  It hasn't been a good 2 days.  I will spare you with all the details because of my frustration of getting to this point and having the unexpected happen.  Hawks have never been a problem in August.

Yesterday the birds were let out at 9:00 am and most flew for over 2 1/2 hours.  Today I let them out at 7:00 am and most of the birds flew for 3 1/2 hours.  There were 8 missing at supper time.

Weather permitting the Le Tour team will be released from Antigonish on Thursday.  Good luck to all.

August 24th -27th    The birds where kept in all week because of the hawk but where given 2 tosses instead.  On Sunday they were given a 40 km toss and were back in 40 minutes.  On Tuesday they received a 70 km toss and returned in 70 minutes.  This evening they flew for 45 minutes around the loft.  The birds will be basketed Thursday for Stage 6 to be flown from the Canso Causeway (400 km) on Friday.  The present prediction for the release point is for mostly sunny conditions and little chance rain.  Similar conditions are predicted for most of the course.

Port Hawkesbury

Wednesday night





Chance of showers Sunny with cloudy periods Sunny with afternoon cloudy periods Chance of showers Chance of showers
Chance of showers
Low 15C
POP 70 %
Sunny with cloudy periods
Low 15C
High 18C
Sunny with afternoon cloudy periods
Low 12C
High 22C
Chance of showers
Low 16C
High 25C
POP 70 %
Chance of showers
Low 16C
High 23C
POP 40 %


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