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Diary Calendar

July 1 - 10

July 1st

The Le Tour birds received their first training toss today.  Four birds remained home because of health problems.  One of these has an injured wing.  It was a beautiful cloudless morning in Rosehill but at 7:30 when I got to the 8 km release point, heavy fog covered the area.  Normally the fog lifts early but not this morning.  The birds and I waited patiently until 9:30 but the fog did not dissipate so I decided to bring the birds back home.  Three km away from the release point an almost cloudless sky reappeared so the birds were released 3 km from home. 

The vast majority of the birds kitted quickly, circled the release point for about 10 minutes and then left for home.  Of course the infrequent flyers did their own thing and one of them decided to land in a tree.  I scared it up and out of defiance it decided to stay away until the following morning.   Grrrr!

About 20 minutes after being released the birds arrived home made a couple of circles, landed and trapped quickly.  It was a long morning but everything went well except for the 9 infrequent flyers that did not make it home.  I am very glad that the first training toss is over.  Weather permitting the second training toss will be tomorrow west of the Bathurst Airport a distance of 8 km.

Note:  The Overall Results list will now become the inventory list.  Click on link above.

July 2nd

This mornings forecast was not favorable so the birds were kept home.  Unfortunately the forecast was not totally accurate because the birds could have been trained early this morning.  I prefer to be extremely cautious with the birds early in their training.  Because of the hawk problems, my plan was not to loft fly the birds but just train them for the next several weeks.  I am beginning to believe that there are more hazards around the loft then during their training.  The forecast does not look favorable for training over next few days.  Grrrr!

Text Forecast  from The Source Environment Canada
Bathurst: Issued 5.00 AM ADT Friday 2 July 2004
Today .. Cloudy. A few showers beginning this morning. Risk of a thundershower. Amount 2 mm. Fog patches dissipating this morning. Wind becoming south 20 km/h gusting to 40 this morning. High 21. UV index 3 or moderate.
Tonight .. A few showers. Risk of a thundershower. Amount 2 mm. Fog patches. Wind south 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light this evening. Low 15.
Saturday .. A few showers. Risk of a thundershower. Amount 2 mm. High 21.
Sunday .. A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of showers. Low 12. High 22.
Monday .. Cloudy. 60 percent chance of showers. Low 12. High 20.
Tuesday .. Showers. Low 14. High 19.
Normals for the period .. Low 12. High 24.

July 4th 

It was overcast and very foggy this morning but I basketted the birds anyway because the prediction for later in the morning was for better weather.  I took the opportunity to look over all the birds closely.  I was very pleased with the condition of the vast majority of them.  The throats were pink and their was no mucus or strings in any of the birds' mouths.  Only about dozen birds had slightly reddish throats and in 3 of these I spotted canker in it's early stages.  Only 2 birds were noticeably down in weight.  All red throated birds were given 1/4 tablet of Metronidazol. 

The birds were group treated with Ridzol in May and 2 weeks ago with Metronidazol.  Another treatment with Metronidazol may be in order but a slightly stronger dosage then 1/8 of a tablet as recommended.  I have been using 1/4 tablet for individual treatment very effectively and with no side affects.

The fog lifted at 10:00 but the sun only came out at 11:30.   So I decided just to go back to the 3 km spot for another toss.  I just wanted to give the infrequent flyers another chance before the big jump to 8 km.  The birds were released at 12:00 and all but 2 kitted quickly.  The two just did there own thing.  No birds landed in any trees.  One dove done at the truck a couple of times as if it wanted to land on it.  It didn't get the opportunity because I quickly got out of there.

The first group of 50 birds arrived at 12:15 followed by the balance seconds later.  The first group landed and trapped immediately and the larger group flew for another 20 more minutes.  I didn't call them down because they seemed to be enjoying their exercise.  When they did land they immediately trapped and then all the birds were fed together.  One hundred and fifty-seven birds arrived home today.

July 5th

It should have been a very good day but it ended as an unbelievable day.

This morning at 7:30 the fog was so thick that I couldn't see across the road less than 100 m away.  I began basketting the birds anyway because the prediction was for the fog to lift early.  I have heard this one before so I took my time putting the birds in the basket.  I was pleasantly surprised when the sun's outline suddenly appeared through the clouds and burned off the fog by 9:00.

The birds were released at 9:55 in ideal weather just east of the Bathurst Airport and about 8 km from the loft.  Today, only one bird did its own thing while the rest circled a couple of times in a tight group and slowly began drifting towards home.  At 10:12 two birds landed and trapped immediately.  A few seconds later I spotted the rest of the group circling above the front lawn.  About 50 landed and 31 trapped immediately.  Of course some of these were the infrequent flyers.  The red check "tree hugger" was one of these.

You can always tell by the birds' behavior when the hawk is near.  Those on the roof get nervous and fidgety and eventually scatter in all directions.  And for the birds flying, even without looking at them, you can tell because there is a characteristic sound when the air rushes through the wings as the flying birds accelerate to get out of the area.  Also the crows will start squawking loudly.  Well that's what happened this morning as the main group was about to land.  However the goshawk didn't come over the barn as it usually does.  I was standing on the loft balcony and well prepared for it.  I looked everywhere but I couldn't spot it until the squawking of the crows attracted my attention to a spot a couple hundred yards away to the southwest of the loft.  The crows did their job and chased hawk away to the south.

I remained on the balcony waiting for the birds to land and the reappearance of the goshawk.  As I waited I spotted a hawk circling high in the northeastern sky and a little later one high in the western sky.  This was an ominous sign and I expected this to be a long day.  Both hawks disappeared over the trees.  Ten minutes later a group of birds landed and began trapping when all of a sudden the goshawk reappeared over the top of the barn, selected its prey but missed it and flew off.  It happened so quickly that there was no time to react.  This was a smaller hawk than the one I normally see and I suspected it to be the male.  I found it odd that it was not as tenacious in pursuing its prey.  Perhaps it was a young bird learning its trade I thought.

Over the next 30 minutes small groups of the remaining birds began landing and trapping quickly.  By 11:30, one hundred and thirty-one birds were safely in the loft.  During this time I was surprised by 3 birds coming out of the trees to land.  Apparently they had perched there to hide from the hawk.  About 25 remained flying.  The birds inside were anxious for their meal and were eyeing the green feed container outside on the sill of balcony door.  I told them, "patience, no one eats until everybody is seated at the table".  They seemed to understand.

 I decided to change my vantage point so I hid behind a large maple tree and in between a small spruce tree 25 m in front of the loft.  There I remained crouched with one knee on the ground.  By this time the remaining 25 birds had disappeared.  When I got up to stretch I spotted a hawk circling high in the southern sky.  It soared higher and towards the loft then it quickly turned and flew low off to the south.  All of a sudden I realized that I had been duped.  These hawks are hunting in pairs and the one soaring high and disappearing is the scout or decoy.

I crouched down again on one knee, ready and with my eyes fixed to the north and over the top of the barn.  I didn't have to wait long.  About 2/3 of the remaining birds landed and just as most of them had trapped the hawk reappeared but more from the east.  It dove down at birds, missed it's selected target and and quickly fled.  This was not typical goshawk behavior.  Once again everything just happened too quickly.  Don't laugh, "I ain't what I use to be."  It will eventually happen to you.

Déjà vu.  The birds fled, a hawk appeared in the distance and then disappeared.  Again I hid behind the maple tree crouched on one knee and waited patiently.  By this time the wind had pick up considerably to the point where it became difficult for the birds to land.  The remaining group of about a dozen birds reappeared and half landed in the very strong wind before the hawk struck again.  It was the same pattern, the goshawk without notice appeared very low over the roof of the loft and from the northeast, selected its prey and chased the pigeon to the west behind the house.  However, this time I startled the hawk enough for it to lose focus on its intended victim.  The hawk twisted it's tail and fled.  And almost simultaneously, a small maple tree branch with handful of leaves on it slowly dropped to the ground.  I guess the wind was stronger than I thought. 

By 12:23, 152 birds had trapped.  Only one blue checker remained flying.  Five minutes later and out of the east into the strong wind it came swooping low over the loft but landed in the tall pine next to the loft.  From my vantage point it looked like a wood pecker clinging to a tree.  I went up on the loft balcony and whistled a couple of times.  The checker responded by flying towards me and landed on the railing a few feet away.  A couple more whistles encouraged it to fly to the landing board and trap at 12:28.  The team finally got its meal.  Two more birds arrived later in the afternoon and the 156th bird arrived early the next morning.

Amen!

July 6th

A day of well deserved R & R for the race team and management.

July 7th

It was a beautiful day for a training toss.  The sky was void of clouds, there was no wind and it was comfortably warm.  As I unloaded the baskets for the release I thought - it was also a good day for a smash.

The birds were released at 9:00 am from 15 km in a south easterly direction from home.  They immediately went up high, circled a few times and left in the right direction.  Only one bird flew by itself.

At home the weather was the same but with the occasional light breeze.  I felt more comfortable when I saw song birds flying around and singing in the woods.  However by 10:00 when no birds had arrived I began to worry.  With no birds home at 10:30 my level of concern began to rise higher.  Finally 10 minutes later a large group of birds appeared from the south and high in the sky, descended quickly, without circling landed and trapped.  The birds appeared calm, relaxed and not tired.  The first bird trapped at 10:43 and by 10:47 one hundred and thirty-four birds were safely inside.  Others trickled in during the morning and by the end of the day 147 birds were home.  Two birds arrived early the next morning.

July 8th

There was no training toss today because of yesterday's prediction for rain.  The prediction is also unfavorable for the next few days.  The inventory list will be updated later today.  Click on Overall Results 2004.

Friday .. Periods of rain with the risk of thunderstorms. Amount 5 to 10 mm. Fog patches. High 18.
Saturday .. Cloudy. 70 percent chance of showers. Low 12. High 22.
Sunday .. Cloudy. 60 percent chance of showers. Low 12. High 23.
Monday .. A mix of sun and cloud. Low 13. High 24.
Normals for the period .. Low 12. High 25.

Goto July 11th