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June 2007 Diary

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Week 3

June 11th - All the participants' birds have arrived and have been inoculated for PMV.  The youngsters were ebanded upon arrival and will be registered the next rainy day.  The birds have been out for almost a week without incident and beginning to trap well.  The first day they were out some of the older ones went up immediately and disappeared out of sight and then returned.  I suspect not all returned.  In the mid afternoon, a couple of hawks circled high above the loft.


 For this time of the year, the general health of the birds is as good as it has ever been.  Only one bird has been removed due to sickness and only a few are still struggling in their new environment.  Including my flock there are about 150 birds in the loft.

June 13th - On Monday the goshawk struck around 10:00 scattering half the birds.  The last I saw  of the goshawk it was chasing a bird down Rosehill Road.  I assumed the worst.  Normally if the hawk gets its prey it doesn't visit for a couple of days.  So Tuesday morning the birds were let out at 7:30 am.  The intention was to leave them out for 30 minutes and then call them in.  At 8:00 I tried to call them in but less then a third of the birds responded.  The rest just sat on the eastern end of the roof as if nothing had happened the day before.  It was quite obvious that they were not hungry.  I will fix that tomorrow, I thought.  I continued trying to call them in and I could only coax a few more to trap.  At 10:00 the goshawk struck.  At that time I was standing about 15 m in front of the loft.  As goshawk flew over me I yelled and distracted it from its first target.  It quickly flew off chasing another bird.  Half the youngsters were scattered everywhere.  I tried to call in the ones that remained on the roof.  They just sat there as if their feet were glued to the roof.  Ten minutes later the hawk struck again.  This time only a few young birds remained on the stock loft aviary roof below.  At 12:00 I did a quick head count and only about 50 birds were left in the loft.  Needless to say the loft looked empty.  It was a long afternoon.  The birds trickle back until late in the evening and a few more returned the next day.

The birds remained in this morning.  I did an inventory and took the opportunity to put 2 drops of Ivomec pour-on on the back of each bird's neck.  The head count was much better than I expected.  Ten birds are missing however I suspect some of the older birds disappeared the first day out.   The Inventory List is on the OA Results page until racing begins.

June 14th - The plan was to have the birds out early this morning, get them up to fly and call them in as soon as they landed.  Because of fog the earliest I could get them out was 7:30.  I got most of the birds up to fly.  About 25 disappeared to the south.  As soon as the birds landed I began calling them in.  Twenty-five refused to go in.  At 9:00 the 25 that disappeared earlier returned and flew around loft for another 30 minutes.  When they landed I called most of them in but 25 were still refused to come in.  Right on time at 10:15 the goshawk appeared and did it's usual thing.  There were a lot of hungry birds in the loft this evening.  They will remain hungry until they start trapping quickly.

June 15th - The birds were let out at 6:30 this morning.  The birds were flagged and almost all flew for a short period.  At 7:00 I began calling them in and the vast majority trapped immediately.  A group of 25 returned just before 9:30 landed and trapped immediately.  Only a few refused to trap.  Of course they had to be mine.  A few birds trickled in for the next hour.  The 10:00 o'clock goshawk did not appear this morning.  The plan will be repeated tomorrow beginning at 6:00 am.

June 16th - The 10:00 o'clock goshawk at 10:15 flew by the loft from the east to the west and down the tunnel between the house and the back woods.  As it flew by the loft it glanced inside, spotted me and kept on going.  The plan almost went perfectly this morning.  The birds were let out at 6:30 and scared up with a flag.  The vast majority went up and at least flew around the loft for a few minutes.  A group of 40 to 50 birds disappeared as during previous days but the group was larger which pleased me.  After 30 minutes the group that remained around the loft was called in.  All but a handful trapped immediately.  That pleased me more.  Some birds began trickling in for the next 2 hours.  Just before 9:00 I did a quick head count and calculated that about 40 were still missing.  Just after 9:00 three birds arrived.  One was a 38 day old dark red wflt who had only been up flying a couple of times and with its 10th flight still 1" shorter that the rest.  At this time I began to worry because it looked like a perfect day for a flyaway.  It was perfectly calm with not a cloud in the sky and the temperature in the shade was almost at 25 C.  At 9:30 and almost 3 hours after being let out a group of 40 birds arrived, circled a couple of times, landed and trapped immediately.  They were tired and very thirsty.  I gave them all they could eat.  Tomorrow will be the 14 day that they have been out of the loft.  I will keep them in tomorrow and if everything goes well I will register the ebands and update the inventory.    


Week 4

July 23 - The week went well even though it rain for several days.  For the last 3 exercise periods, 80% of the birds flew for an hour.  Now, they mostly fly in one kit.  There is a group of about a dozen birds that exercises up to 30 minutes longer than the rest.  I haven't figured out if they are in better condition than the rest or they are just more hawk wary.  On Saturday the birds were kept in because of continuous rain so I took the opportunity to updated the inventory (OA Results).  The birds are trapping well and eating heartily.


Week 5

July 24 - Sunday was a good day.  The birds flew for an hour with little flagging and most of the time they flew in a light rain.  A small group flew for another 30 minutes before they landed.  They seemed to be nervous of some looming danger as it was obvious that they were hesitant in landing.  They would swoop low over the roof as if to land but changing their minds at the last moment and flying off to circle the loft a few more times.  The youngsters repeated this behavior several more times before they eventually landed.  As soon as they landed I rushed into to the loft to call them in.  I barely reached the upstairs loft when the birds were scattered off the roof.  The hawk struck again and disappeared.  Almost simultaneously a squawking crow appeared and begun swooping and diving down just above a huge maple tree to the east of the loft.  Eventually it landed in the tree and continued its incessant squawking.   The maple tree was about 100 m from the loft in a densely wooded area.  I strolled over and spotted the crow acting very agitated as he jumped from limb to limb high up in the maple tree.  While squawking it was looking in my direction.  I got the message.  Behind me stood another maple tree of similar size.  So I turned around quickly and scanned the tree up high in the branches.  To my surprise but I should have known better, I spotted a goshawk high up in the maple tree perched and hiding in the fork of 2 large branches but without a victim.   It obviously spotted me first and stood motionless staring at me with its left eye.  Then it winked as if to say "you found my spot but I will find another one".  I winked back and thought, "No you won't", and before another thought passed through my mind the goshawk disappeared in a flash.

The birds were exercised this morning without incident which didn't surprise me.  It was a beautiful, calm, cool and sunny morning.  The vast majority of the birds flew for a solid hour.  As usual a small group flew longer but eventually trapped without incident.  Yes, today was another good day.


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