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  #871  
Old 03-02-2018, 08:48 PM
Sharpster Sharpster is offline
Dave Sharpe
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Northampton
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Default Re: Zeus- a muddled diary in pics and words!

I know, she didnt give a sht! She did say she might not have done after seeing g him in daylight!! The scars in her ha ds, arms and bum have heeled but the next in her tummy isn't the best! One tough chick I have to say!
Mind you she's a fitness fanatic so the pain she suffers at the gym and not eating carbs is probably worse than. Talon wounds hehe
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  #872  
Old 04-02-2018, 06:15 PM
Sharpster Sharpster is offline
Dave Sharpe
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Join Date: Dec 2004
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Default Re: Zeus- a muddled diary in pics and words!

Weight 8lb 8oz
No flying since last weekend. No hunting or training work; this season has slotted in between way to much actual work due to the ever present need to earn money. No me gusta!
Todays meet has been organized by Mike Hewlett to get together with various people that have wanted to see the eagle and hawks fly. A motley crew of spectators indeed! We had Mike’s friends from Belgium; Ronny and a few other falconer mates. They speak good English and bring their Harris’ Hawks over every year to fly on the estate at Pheasant and Rabbit. A fisherman called Paul, A great Goshawker from Newcastle, James another lovely guy whos new business has shortened his season. My guests were Damien a mental health manager (he fitted in perfectly with us lot!) Ella a lovely country girl and horse lady. En-route I had picked up Kev, one of my long term best mates and colleague from my Print finishing days. There was Travis flying his Ferruginous x Redtail Hawk accompanied by his mate, another top lad. My son Kyle was with us flying his female Harris’ Hawk Zara.
Weather was atrocious!! At last the howling winds had dropped! Too much! There was no air movement at all, nothing. And today’s theme was rain, with a little snow followed by more rain. It soaked us while we met up and kitted up the birds and then as we walked out to the fields it snowed for thirty minutes and then just poured of rain falling down vertically in the still air. I like to apportion as much blame as possible to the weather as it’s a most English thing to do! In that vein I must say today was as bad as it gets for flying a Goldie!
We had a natter and introduced everyone and then walked maybe a mile to the start of the estate land we were to fly, fields unflown this season. Hares were seen running off before us (despite the crowd being hushed) Once at the start point Travis was to slip first and I was backing him up incase anything big broke from rough patches beneath the trees in the field. We were walking a track between the long field running along below us and to our left and a huge field to our right. Everywhere here sown with short winter wheat and the soaking fields were sticky mud.
Within minutes the hybrid was away at a hare probably two hundred and fifty yards away. I must comment once more on this hawks ability! I am not a hybrid fan as prefer more than anything else British Raptors as we have the best! (Despite my eagle’s parentage being Kazak) However with Travis’ fitness regime of flying uphill for multiple call offs under lamp light after work combined with hunting once or maybe twice a week, this bird is really really superb. It flew flat out all the way to this hare and positively reeled it in. She winged over really hard and got it but it broke free almost immedietly.This hawk has easily the long range of a Goldie, massive prey drive, tight turning circle and only falls down on Brown Hares on size and feet. But it certainly holds more than its fair share!
Once back on the fist it was Zara’s turn. A few yards more and she was away and powering fast but this hare beat her to cover well in advance. She sat on a hay bale, up got another hare running away uphill. Zara flew hard and caught it up and despite matching his zig-zag evasive moves she was beaten before putting a foot out.
Zeus up next and the line had only covered half the field’s length (despite both previous flights ending at the far end of the field) Nothing moved for Zeus and as we approached the end of the field I was hopeful we would find something hiding amongst the wide but now rather flattened cover strip to be found here. But then I saw the Belgian guys way off in the distance in a lower lying field (they had decided to go and hawk the woodlands before the weather worsened) They had their dog with them and just to be cautious I asked Trav to slip again, but nothing moved here anyway.
We called the beaters up to us and now walked back in the opposite direction on the higher field. This field is vast and the side we were now walking is reasonably flat; however its other side, to our left, goes down into a huge steep dip about half way along. Further to this side is another vast field (the fruit bowl) that lies well below the field we were now walking. A couple of hares moved off way ahead but nothing much else, there were though plenty of fresh forms dug into the wet mud. No doubt the noise of whispered talking sending the hares away well before us. The line stayed put as I and a couple of others walked all the way up the field and then came back towards the big dip. The beaters walked towards the dip from their end. Way out across the huge lower field we could see several hares cavorting about. These were well within range of a golden eagle with this height advantage and Travis kept urging me to slip them. I kept the hood on, I’d seen a hare sitting below in the dip and waited for the line to put it up and sure enough up he got. This hare was running fast, he was below me and running from my left to right. I slipped Zeus and as his hood came off he locked onto the drove of hares way out in the distance! Typical! As he powered away gaining height as the ground fell sharply away beneath him the close hare now ran almost underneath him, Zeus noticed it now! He folded his wings and went vertical, missed and pulled back up still carrying most of his momentum. On he powered and on he went still with height and across the field ahead. As he closed the distance between himself and the drove the hares noticed him and took action; some ran off away to the far hedgerow, some sat and vanished amongst the two inch high wheat and a couple seemed not to care a fig. These uncaring hares actually had their own tactic; to jog along and watch the eagle. Zeus picked a jogger and again folded into this time a shallow angle of attack. The hare was ready; he stopped and sat up, and waited, and held his nerve and waited. Just at the point of impact he launched away side ways and Zeus just stopped himself from hitting the sodden mud. The big bird carrying the momentum was now flying fast and low he had seen one of the sitting hares and was locked on once more. The eagle closed fast and I was willing the hare to run (I do not want Zeus to catch a sitter it just encourages bad habits) As Zeus closed to ten feet the hare broke, Zeus swerved left and reached out with one long leg and snagged him! The impact caused the bird to face plant into the mud! The hare wriggled violently and broke free. Good! Homing in on sitters is poor falconry. I walked to get Zeus and ran the last eighty yards incase he got up to go searching!
I waddled across the mud, it’s consistency that of melting bubble-gum, and sat down with my back to the hedge. The party were now way in the distance at the far side of the higher field. It was the hybrids turn next and I wasn’t going to walk all that way to help beat! The best bit of my day then unravelled.
As I sat quietly in the rain watching the guys to see if they had any sport, I saw five hares re-emerge from the hedge far away opposite to me. What a pleasure to see them cavorting with each other, obviously a prelude now to courtship. I watched them and soon they had covered half the fields distance towards me. There was what appeared to be another hare sitting in a form; a tell tail bump in the land. All the hares trotted towards this bump and I expected another hare to pop up and join their ranks, as it was two of the hares sniffed the bump of mud but no one was home or else the occupier wasn’t playing! Onward they cavorted once more. They were now heading my way after playing and running almost the whole fields length, closer still they came. I sat tight and just watched their antics, closer they came. All these hares were soon within fifteen yards of my position and now of course very close to the hedge behind me. They ran circles and pirhuettes around each other and then three of them went through the hedge, a couple more trotted my way. By now the distant party of falconers and beaters were shouting to me ‘Daaave take the sliiipp’. I ignored them, and again as they shouted twice more. Two hares were now just a few yards away, one stopped and decided to follow its friends through the hedge. The last hare came closer still… My phone rang ‘Dad, the guys said take the slip there have been hares right in front of you!’ .My reply simply: ‘Yes I know that! I can hear you all! Im not slipping as the naturalist in me has overided the hunter and I’m now looking a Hare in the eye at eight feet away, see you when you get down here, and by the way I can hear you all talking from here and so can the hares in the next fields!’. My hare was now sitting up tall, long ears erect. I hadn’t moved and he couldn’t see me but had of course heard my whispering conversation. He sat still, sniffing, looking and listening. He decided the fat lump posed no danger and ambled closer to me, at just a few feet distance I could truly marvel at his beauty and design. Those beautiful big eyes so well adjusted to seeing movement and judging distance and speed, the rather exquisite light and dark patterning around his eyes and sides of his face, maybe he was a she and had put her make-up on before her morning courtship?! Those long ears and the somewhat undersized head that hares seem to posess. Her beautiful coat of fur in subtly contrasting shades that make these creatures somehow invisible against any shade of earth! And of course the long legs, the hind ones bent underneath somewhat to hold her body horizontal until take off! I stood up slowly to enter my world once more and without particular care the hare trotted away and it too went into the hedge. That was my favourite part of the day!
I see on social media almost daily, comments and articles written about animals/nature/wildlife by extreme animal activists, militant vegans (I have no problem with my vegan and veggie friends, that’s their choice of diet for their own morals or tastes), people that are anti-pet keeping or anti-zoo. Of late such comments and opinions broadcasted out to all are truly starting to irritate me! These fools are so detrimental to the welfare of animals and the countryside itself it worries me.
Such people spout such rubbish and ‘non-facts’ for other narrow minded people to lap up. And these do so, without having real care for the animals they think they are protecting. In fact so little care they don’t research the facts for themselves. Just this week such a militant dimwit, ranting about dairy products proceeded to spout on a well known social media site, how each cow is sexually abused by a vet as said vet sticks his arm into the cows anus to inseminate it?! Really? And this guy apparently knows all about animals? Good god he doesn’t even understand basic biology!
Anyway I digress… It is such people that are anti-hunting and yet once again these are the very same people that understand nothing of hunting or a true hunter. A true hunter will know far more about his quarry than anyone else, most hunters are also knowledgeable and fascinated naturalists and are by far and away the best custodians of the species they hunt, fact!
Rant over and back to today! My friends and acquintances were now in the same field as I and were at the opposite side walking down towards me. Blow me down, within a few minutes one of ‘my hares’ popped out the hedge and ran more or less straight towards the line of humans in the distance! Travis unhooded his long range missile of a hawk. The hawk was pumping its wings flat out and the hare was running straight towards the hawk! For now hundreds of yards separated them but it was making for a head-on impact. The gap shrank in seconds and the two animals collided with a flash of white underwings. Mr Hare shouted loudly at this injustice and wasn’t going to take it lying down either! Travis was running, well actually ‘mincing’ down the hill (someone videod it, he was definitely mincing, maybe its an Essex thing?) as he got to the mixed up ball of predator and prey Mike shouted ‘Happy Birthday Trav’ And the hare broke free and ran away audibly giggling as it left the hawk wet and muddy and more importantly grounded! You have to revere the brown hare! They are machines! Poor Trav it actually was his birthday.
By now everyone was soaked and it had stopped raining for about fifteen minutes and no more. We walked on and both smaller hawks put in some more good efforts, getting fur but not holding anything today. I think credit to my son’s hawk for shear will. Even upto the last few minutes of the day she was flying really hard after hares and yet she was soaked, how she got upto hare matching speed only she could know.
Whilst both smaller hawks definitely deserved a hot meal for their efforts throughout the day, Zeus did not! This was his day of the season to be ‘off form’, he was awful. The weather really was as bad as it could be for this huge bird, his primaries soaked after his first flight and muddied too, combined with totally still and soaking air, he was getting zero lift from the elements.
I had two back to back flights from a perfect set-up. I was high up on a man made hill, the highest point all around and I had the line working the fields below me. Two hares got up at once and ran together towards the furthest corner of this field, Zeus was away. He flew as far as the beating line, way above the people and then turned around and came back to the (empty) glove. Hmmm. A few more minutes and ‘HARE!’ was shouted again. This one ran away in front of the beaters and was running below me from right to left. A long slip but utterly perfect with this setup. Zeus was away for the second time. He flew out, ignored the hare, turning away from the beaters and flew a long way around the field before settling and awaiting me to collect him. I could only put this down to him feeling he couldn’t get to the high impact speed these birds use to take down their prey hard. I was not happy; today with an audience was not the day for this.
Another field and two hares were far off having a play about. It was my turn again. I jogged a long way to shorten the slip for Zeus (everyone thinks I’m a bit mad the amount I run carrying this guy, maybe to get up a hill or ahead of the line on windy days) and unhooded him and launched him airborne! Zeus was shifting and heading for the hare that hadn’t legged it back to safety; he flew true and then to my astonishment passed straight over the hare! He carried on; he was locked onto another sitter! Damn him! I willed it to get up and run, this it did ten feet from impact and Zeus winged over on it, snagged some fur and it was free.Thank goodness! All I was seeing today was an eagle taking only the easiest option after his feather wetting first flight.I was truly demoralized and cheesed off, hawking in awful weather with an awful eagle!
There is however a twist to this behaviour. I didn’t get a slip again untill the last but one field, a long field. I stayed on the high side of this field, top of the line that stretched down level with me. We walked to the very end without anything but about thirty pheasants breaking. I walked to the hedge gap in the corner to go through into the next field and saw a big muntjac running down our side of the dividing hedgerow. The hood was off, I pushed Zeus up as hard as I could to help take off. Zeus scooped up the air in deep wing beats and the sound was terrible! His wings sounded like soaking wet cardboard for the first few beats. ‘MUNTJAAAC!’ someone shouted in rather a delayed announcement!
He powered upto maybe twenty five feet and kept on scooping the air with what looked like slow deep wing beats on such a large bird. He was locked on and had a heck of a lot of ground to make up. Worse still the little piggy deer was heading towards a road if it carried on its current course. I broke into a run. Now I am not fit and have a stinking cold that’s hit my chest so I’m not really up for a bit of cross country! I ran down the hedge and seeing the eagle change sides I pushed and fell my way through a gap, slid into the ditch and hauled myself out and carried on running. The ground was sticky mud and sucked at my wellies, the telemetry and hawking vest was heavy and ungainly. I was heading for the only gap that took me from this field onto the road. My body really really wanted me to stop running, I saw Zeus, thankfully now across the road, fold his wings and fall vertical headfirst. The Muntjac protested loudly. Oh deer/dear, I had to keep running! My snot choked lungs were going on strike but I had to help Zeus. I got over the gate, ran across the road and saw Zeus out in the field looking cheesed off and bedraggled. Two of my companions were close behind and were as disappointed as I was!
I walked closer and recalled him, He flapped wildly to get airspeed, got eight feet from me, looked scared and swung past and flew very fast to land a fair way off. I pulled out a rabbit back leg and held this on show as I again got near to him, he came in.There was one strand of Deer fur on one talon.
After the other two birds had another failed flight each we were back at Icarus Falconry drinking tea and coffee. Everyone but me had enjoyed themselves so it was worth it, but hard.
I have noticed for whatever reason Zeus seems to be wary of things lately. Especially blue clothing. When he baulked at the hares from the hilltop his correct course would have taken him towards a guy wearing a bright blue jacket. When I recalled him at the end either he spooked at my soaked jacket? Or the two guys standing fifteen yards behind me? Strange behaviour today for sure.
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  #873  
Old 04-02-2018, 11:19 PM
Sharpster Sharpster is offline
Dave Sharpe
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Default Re: Zeus- a muddled diary in pics and words!

Couple of pics not of success....
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  #874  
Old 11-02-2018, 08:13 PM
Sharpster Sharpster is offline
Dave Sharpe
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Northampton
Posts: 1,595
Default Re: Zeus- a muddled diary in pics and words!

Midweek outing:


Weight 8lb 8oz (unfed for two days after a big feed of Rabbit recently)

I get asked a lot why I would want to fly a Golden Eagle. Indeed it’s a comment you hear behind your back too from other Falconers. After all they usually comment their hawk catches hares and weighs less and costs just a few hundred pounds to buy!
There are two reasons I, and I must say many Falconers fly a Goldie; Firstly the lifelong dream and the amazing opportunity to work with these rather unique falconry birds. And the challenge and hard work they are to fly and get right and get success with.
Today that the second bit hit home and the first bit lost its shine! Once again this bird made me feel like an inadequate beginner, leaving me very cheesed off indeed.
My son and I plus the pup went out with Zeus late morning. We headed over the better side of the estate, although leaving the best fields for hawking day guests Tom Morath has booked in at the centre for the weekend. The weather was such a change; blue sky and sunshine with just a light wind, although it was rather cold. In fact it was the sort of winter weather one longs for.
Out across the fields, Auxi casting left and right ahead and my son walking ahead too; downwind of me and the big bird. For the first three fields we had moved two hares, both of which got up out of position, uphill of me. I kept the hood on for now.
My son said he would push through a copse and see if anything flushed ahead of him and out into the field at the woodlands edge. I took a strategic position and waited.I was crouched at a corner of the wood and from here could see into the field to one side and the field at the end of the copse. I heard loud crunching and crashing of undergrowth; no doubt a muntjac, but it didn’t break. The a hare came flat out through the rows of baby Christmas trees that line the end of the copse, and was away along the lower edge of the field. Zeus flew along the ridge of the field using the air more than powered flight to gradually allow him to gain ground until level with the hare running below. The field strectched away from me and sloped, as I looked at it. Down from right to left along its entire length. The eagle was riding the updraft as the wind hit the slope. Once level with the hare Zeus floated out across the drop off and as his position was almost above the hare the hare panicked. It sat up and then jumped this way and that as though not sure of its best course of action. Zeus pulled his wings back into fighter jet mode and went vertically down and commited fully to the attack. The bird hit the deck hard and the hare saved itself by just millimetres, very close indeed. A good effort at the end but it really didn’t look like Zeus was trying; his mode of attack almost worked yet looked very half hearted to begin with. After all he could have flew hard diagonally down the slope straight into the hare.
The next field had a small corner of rough grass that hasn’t been touched this season so I sat the dog and my son walked it through while I waited just out from the grass edge. Sure enough a hare broke and ran out along the hedgerow to my right, exactly what I had expected as the ground sloped up a bit along here. The hood was off and Zeus locked on. Very different bird with this closer hare (fifty yards away as the hood came off) Zeus put on a show to really please. He was on the ground-rockets tail very quickly and the pressure was on. Almost tail to beak the hare had to go into full cours mode, left to the hedge, swerve hard right, oo nearly there for the eagle, but again tight left from the hare, and right again in a fast run for your life zigzag, left hard and under the hedge, followed by a crashing ball of dark feathers. The hare ran out right next to the bird who now under the hedge could do no more! Superb effort and that hare deserved his freedom for sure, what a spectacular animal.
The downside of this flight was the pup…
After sitting obediently Auxi decided that she should help catch this hare and at the point it ran back out from the hedge away across the open field the pup decided to ignore my instruction and give chase! I blasted the whistle so hard my teeth ached afterwards due to biting the whistle out of anger as I blew! Auxi ignored me completely and eventually came back under her own steam. She was berated harshly indeed. But this made no diference.
We soon spotted a sitter. I sat the dog again, this time with her lead attached. I walked into an upwind position of the hare and he held tight. Kyle walked across and flushed the hare and he ran perfectly for the eagle. The dog was already away and giving chase, Zeus too was in pursuit. The eagle having the best advantage ever to catch up, simply held back and followed the hare with the dog hot on its tail. The dog was now getting the blame for her bad behaviour and the eagles! I walked downwind and recalled Zeus.
Soon my son spotted a sitting hare some distance away across the short wheat. I walked the big bird around the hare and into a better slipping position. As I approached the now vanished hare’s position I signalled to my son ‘where is it?’ He gestured to walk further to my left. As usual I couldn’t believe this large animal had now completely vanished into two inch tall wheat. I walked a few more paces and two hares materilaized from the wheat just exactly as if Captain Kirk had ordered Scotty to beam them down! I slipped Zeus at the best one running downwind, he blanked them both. Zeus did a circuit and came back into the empy glove. I was now seething at how badly things had gone wrong with the hawks mental attitude.
We walked to the rough field corner in the next field that has been productive so far. A hare broke ahead instantly and Zeus was again slipped at a hare that offered all the possibilities of a fair pursuit. Zeus blanked it as if he needed and urgent appointment with spec-savers. He lifted up above the hedgerow to my right and vanished from sight.
Myself and my son walked back through the gap into the next field, Zeus was on the deck with ahuge hare bouncing about wildly. I tried to convince myself that he had chased it but the fact the hare was bouncing about like mad with loads of unspent energy already made me think the hawk had taken it from its form. I ran over and dispatched the very large animal. I fed Zeus up well in the hope it would re kindle his desire to earn a hot meal. His manners were top notch indeed. After picking him up Kyle and I spiralled out from the position to see if there was a form here. I was relieved to find none. Moments later my heart sank as just a few feet from the kill site was indeed a fresh form, my thoughts confirmed; Zeus had blanked the hare I had slipped him at in order to go off scanning for sitters. And his plan had come to fruition.
I told my son I was sick to death of both hawk and dog today and now the dog would be leashed and we would just slip Zara the Harris’ Hawk.
We headed for the ‘fruit bowl’ field as it would be full of hares even if hard to approach. A hare cavorted in front of us, along our side of the hedge that bordered the ‘bowl. I whispered to Kyle and Zara was unhooded and away. Now we witnessed a determined hare hawk!
Zara flipped over the hedge into the fruit bowl and was in pursuit of the hare that had slipped through the hedge ahead of her, she was on a mission. Zara flew on wings that blurred and she stayed low and fast, into warp drive. It seemed incredible to see her fly this hare up a slope and within seconds make the gap between then vanish, she flipped over onto the giant rabbit thing and missed, she got airborne again and closed down another fifty yard gap and made her attack, the hare just somehow held onto his freedom. Zara watched it run away out into the centre of this giant field. She was airborne again, this time fast wingbeats interspersed with set wings allowing the wind to assist her, she was tired. Soon once again she was predator and the hare was prey, the hare once more jinked perfectly, Zara was grounded. Kyle had already been running and as he neared her position up she got again! The hare was miles away nearing the far side of the field, Zara flew and flew and flew, now over into a distant field, she missed again. This hawk has determination and prey drive beyond belief. Kyle covered quite some ground himself trying to keep up with her as more hares moved in this field. Many of these hares running uphill and into the wind and offering no chance of Zara killing them, yet she pursued them anyway.
Zara failed in the end yet her determination without doubt made her ‘hawk of the day’!
Back at the van poor Mr. Hare was put to more use as I dragged him on a line way ahead of Zara. Kyle unhooded her and she flew down the hare way faster than my tired legs could cope with, she was fed well on the still warm rocket-fuel meat. She deserved every mouthful.
My moral is not high right now. The pup will not be my companion for the last four outings of the season, the bird alone is enough trouble.
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  #875  
Old 11-02-2018, 08:36 PM
Sharpster Sharpster is offline
Dave Sharpe
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Northampton
Posts: 1,595
Default Re: Zeus- a muddled diary in pics and words!

Piccies
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  #876  
Old 11-02-2018, 08:43 PM
PaulUsHilarius PaulUsHilarius is offline
Paul MacDermot
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Wessex
Posts: 726
Default Re: Zeus- a muddled diary in pics and words!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharpster View Post
Midweek outing:


Weight 8lb 8oz (unfed for two days after a big feed of Rabbit recently)

I get asked a lot why I would want to fly a Golden Eagle. Indeed it’s a comment you hear behind your back too from other Falconers. After all they usually comment their hawk catches hares and weighs less and costs just a few hundred pounds to buy!
There are two reasons I, and I must say many Falconers fly a Goldie; Firstly the lifelong dream and the amazing opportunity to work with these rather unique falconry birds. And the challenge and hard work they are to fly and get right and get success with.
Today that the second bit hit home and the first bit lost its shine! Once again this bird made me feel like an inadequate beginner, leaving me very cheesed off indeed.
My son and I plus the pup went out with Zeus late morning. We headed over the better side of the estate, although leaving the best fields for hawking day guests Tom Morath has booked in at the centre for the weekend. The weather was such a change; blue sky and sunshine with just a light wind, although it was rather cold. In fact it was the sort of winter weather one longs for.
Out across the fields, Auxi casting left and right ahead and my son walking ahead too; downwind of me and the big bird. For the first three fields we had moved two hares, both of which got up out of position, uphill of me. I kept the hood on for now.
My son said he would push through a copse and see if anything flushed ahead of him and out into the field at the woodlands edge. I took a strategic position and waited.I was crouched at a corner of the wood and from here could see into the field to one side and the field at the end of the copse. I heard loud crunching and crashing of undergrowth; no doubt a muntjac, but it didn’t break. The a hare came flat out through the rows of baby Christmas trees that line the end of the copse, and was away along the lower edge of the field. Zeus flew along the ridge of the field using the air more than powered flight to gradually allow him to gain ground until level with the hare running below. The field strectched away from me and sloped, as I looked at it. Down from right to left along its entire length. The eagle was riding the updraft as the wind hit the slope. Once level with the hare Zeus floated out across the drop off and as his position was almost above the hare the hare panicked. It sat up and then jumped this way and that as though not sure of its best course of action. Zeus pulled his wings back into fighter jet mode and went vertically down and commited fully to the attack. The bird hit the deck hard and the hare saved itself by just millimetres, very close indeed. A good effort at the end but it really didn’t look like Zeus was trying; his mode of attack almost worked yet looked very half hearted to begin with. After all he could have flew hard diagonally down the slope straight into the hare.
The next field had a small corner of rough grass that hasn’t been touched this season so I sat the dog and my son walked it through while I waited just out from the grass edge. Sure enough a hare broke and ran out along the hedgerow to my right, exactly what I had expected as the ground sloped up a bit along here. The hood was off and Zeus locked on. Very different bird with this closer hare (fifty yards away as the hood came off) Zeus put on a show to really please. He was on the ground-rockets tail very quickly and the pressure was on. Almost tail to beak the hare had to go into full cours mode, left to the hedge, swerve hard right, oo nearly there for the eagle, but again tight left from the hare, and right again in a fast run for your life zigzag, left hard and under the hedge, followed by a crashing ball of dark feathers. The hare ran out right next to the bird who now under the hedge could do no more! Superb effort and that hare deserved his freedom for sure, what a spectacular animal.
The downside of this flight was the pup…
After sitting obediently Auxi decided that she should help catch this hare and at the point it ran back out from the hedge away across the open field the pup decided to ignore my instruction and give chase! I blasted the whistle so hard my teeth ached afterwards due to biting the whistle out of anger as I blew! Auxi ignored me completely and eventually came back under her own steam. She was berated harshly indeed. But this made no diference.
We soon spotted a sitter. I sat the dog again, this time with her lead attached. I walked into an upwind position of the hare and he held tight. Kyle walked across and flushed the hare and he ran perfectly for the eagle. The dog was already away and giving chase, Zeus too was in pursuit. The eagle having the best advantage ever to catch up, simply held back and followed the hare with the dog hot on its tail. The dog was now getting the blame for her bad behaviour and the eagles! I walked downwind and recalled Zeus.
Soon my son spotted a sitting hare some distance away across the short wheat. I walked the big bird around the hare and into a better slipping position. As I approached the now vanished hare’s position I signalled to my son ‘where is it?’ He gestured to walk further to my left. As usual I couldn’t believe this large animal had now completely vanished into two inch tall wheat. I walked a few more paces and two hares materilaized from the wheat just exactly as if Captain Kirk had ordered Scotty to beam them down! I slipped Zeus at the best one running downwind, he blanked them both. Zeus did a circuit and came back into the empy glove. I was now seething at how badly things had gone wrong with the hawks mental attitude.
We walked to the rough field corner in the next field that has been productive so far. A hare broke ahead instantly and Zeus was again slipped at a hare that offered all the possibilities of a fair pursuit. Zeus blanked it as if he needed and urgent appointment with spec-savers. He lifted up above the hedgerow to my right and vanished from sight.
Myself and my son walked back through the gap into the next field, Zeus was on the deck with ahuge hare bouncing about wildly. I tried to convince myself that he had chased it but the fact the hare was bouncing about like mad with loads of unspent energy already made me think the hawk had taken it from its form. I ran over and dispatched the very large animal. I fed Zeus up well in the hope it would re kindle his desire to earn a hot meal. His manners were top notch indeed. After picking him up Kyle and I spiralled out from the position to see if there was a form here. I was relieved to find none. Moments later my heart sank as just a few feet from the kill site was indeed a fresh form, my thoughts confirmed; Zeus had blanked the hare I had slipped him at in order to go off scanning for sitters. And his plan had come to fruition.
I told my son I was sick to death of both hawk and dog today and now the dog would be leashed and we would just slip Zara the Harris’ Hawk.
We headed for the ‘fruit bowl’ field as it would be full of hares even if hard to approach. A hare cavorted in front of us, along our side of the hedge that bordered the ‘bowl. I whispered to Kyle and Zara was unhooded and away. Now we witnessed a determined hare hawk!
Zara flipped over the hedge into the fruit bowl and was in pursuit of the hare that had slipped through the hedge ahead of her, she was on a mission. Zara flew on wings that blurred and she stayed low and fast, into warp drive. It seemed incredible to see her fly this hare up a slope and within seconds make the gap between then vanish, she flipped over onto the giant rabbit thing and missed, she got airborne again and closed down another fifty yard gap and made her attack, the hare just somehow held onto his freedom. Zara watched it run away out into the centre of this giant field. She was airborne again, this time fast wingbeats interspersed with set wings allowing the wind to assist her, she was tired. Soon once again she was predator and the hare was prey, the hare once more jinked perfectly, Zara was grounded. Kyle had already been running and as he neared her position up she got again! The hare was miles away nearing the far side of the field, Zara flew and flew and flew, now over into a distant field, she missed again. This hawk has determination and prey drive beyond belief. Kyle covered quite some ground himself trying to keep up with her as more hares moved in this field. Many of these hares running uphill and into the wind and offering no chance of Zara killing them, yet she pursued them anyway.
Zara failed in the end yet her determination without doubt made her ‘hawk of the day’!
Back at the van poor Mr. Hare was put to more use as I dragged him on a line way ahead of Zara. Kyle unhooded her and she flew down the hare way faster than my tired legs could cope with, she was fed well on the still warm rocket-fuel meat. She deserved every mouthful.
My moral is not high right now. The pup will not be my companion for the last four outings of the season, the bird alone is enough trouble.
Thank you. Great write ups!
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  #877  
Old 12-02-2018, 10:48 PM
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Dave Sharpe
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Default Re: Zeus- a muddled diary in pics and words!

Thanks Paul
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Old 13-02-2018, 07:36 AM
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Default Re: Zeus- a muddled diary in pics and words!

Chin up Dave, you know you will never stop! Falconers are gluttons for punishment
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Old 13-02-2018, 08:25 PM
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Default Re: Zeus- a muddled diary in pics and words!

I know Steve! hehe

12-02-2018

Weight 8lb 6oz
I Have been bringing weight down gradually since last times mugging to see what effect it has on Zeus’ drive.
We were out at the weekend to assist Tom Morath with a hunting day booked at the centre. My son and Zara had spent the morning hawking over ferrets for the two guests and they had had some sport resulting in a rabbit in the game bag.
I arrived at midday with two eagles in the van. Whilst the guests were having lunch in the lodge I flew the young Bald Eagle. Worzel did OK and is at last learning that after all the straight line recall work I actually want him not to do that and instead go up and fly some circuits before coming in for a reward! It was a pleasure to see him up above tree height and learning about wind and how to handle it! These are no Golden Eagle and I find Worzel who’s an imprint and his parent reared sister Nina a little psychotic, par for the course with Baldies it seems.Very much a lovely playful, even affectionate animal one moment but in the next they seem keen to remind you they are not your friend by trying to damage a bit of your face. By the time Worzel was called back in it was time to kit Zeus up for hunting.
The clients were a couple and both agreed they were fit enough for a few miles walking sticky muddy fields, so we set off to begin our afternoon. On the way to the start point I introduced our guests to Zeus and explained alittle about how we hunt with eagles in this part of the world and how the ridiculously powerful wind would influence our sport.
Kyle was along to walk the line and also with Zara as back up (she had been well rewarded for her rabbit efforts but still room in her crop to hunt on) Today the wind wind was truly howling once more and it was interesting to see how many hares got up in unslippable positions, I once again explained to our guests why I hadn’t slipped at all these animals.
As we approached the end of the first field a hare number four broke out into the next field along, Zeus was away across the wind. The hare had a long head start and it was way into the field before the bird had gotten on terms however before he could press home his attack the hare had turned uphill and into the strong wind, Zeus was blown wide and finally ditched. Another hare got up six feet behind him and ran off uphill.
I asked three of the walkers to go across to the end of the next field we were to try and the man of the couple with us to follow me to the opposite end of the long field. We would get into position of the big dip (as described in a recent outing) and ring the others to walk the cover strip aling the fields lower edge up towards us. As we walked to position five more hares broke ahead of us uphill and into the wind. The hood stayed on and I found myself again explaining why slipping at them would be a waste of time. Soon having ourselves pushed ahead through the powerful wind we were in position. Hares broke away into the ‘fruit bowl’ field below and ahead of us, the wind making these unfeasible today. Another hare broke but was again no good. We were walking backwards to keep the right distance from the line below and as we neared the fields end we were no longer on high ground and what would have been a perfect hare sprang up from no-where and ran off already steeply up hill of where we now stood.
I sensed Tom’s guest was a little frustrated and again found myself explaing and making excuses for the weather conditions. On one’s own the weather is taken as it comes and made the best of, when you’re trying to provide sport for guests it is very frustrating if conditions are against it. You would think being ‘paid’ to practice real falconry would be the best job in the world, I would rather be paid to fly hawks at country shows and keep the falconry just for me, for sure.
The theme of the day was set and for the most part it was hares getting up and the eagle’s hood staying on or the eagle being slipped at long range hares and then using the wind to self hunt for sitters. We tried a change of tactic and myself and the two guests waited on the corner of the small wood (Baby Christmas trees in front) If anything broke through the Christmas trees it would be difficult but anything coming out into the field on the left of the wood offered a downwind flight at least. My son and Tom pushed through the wood as we waited. First a Muntjac poked its head out to the left, saw the guests and went back in. Next a couple of hares did the same. Then another hare came through the small trees infront of the wood, it too sensed us and went back into the undergrowth. The deep indigo cloud to our right decided to burst and the three of us huddled like Emperor Penguins against the horizontal blizzard of sleet and hail. We couldn’t look to see if any animals were breaking from the treeline as the contents of this mini-blizzard stung our faces as though we were trapped inside an industrial sand blasting chamber! It hurt! A few minutes later the hail and sleet had stopped but the freezing wind was still blasting from right to left. A hare came out from the woodland edge and ran fast away to our left; Zeus was away and managed to clear a tree in his path before turning straight downwind behind the bluring form that was a hare. As he closed fast the hare did a ninety degree left turn under the hedge he was running parallel with, Zeus matched him and slammed under the hedge, the hare came out the other side and the big bird also came out under the hedge and re-chased. I told the guests I’d be back soon. Making my way downwind I rang my son and told him to hold position in the wood but it was too late they had already finished and were chatting to the guests. I collected my hawk and turned back uphill and into the raging headwind, walking over awful sticky mud. Just a few hundred yards but it seemed like one of those bad dreams where you’re running from something evil but each step is in slow motion. Head down I trudged on and finally was chatting with the group.
We walked two more fields towards the centre and hot mugs of tea. Both fields with the line below me seemed to offer good opportunity; but nothing moved. Back at the centre I asked the couple how their legs were, the young lady told me during the last two fields her’s had started to feel like jelly! We had done six miles of walking on heavy sticky muddy fields in seriously windy conditions, its hard going.
Two thirds into our mini-adventure I had walked across a huge field to retrieve Zeus after he had flown downwind a long way. I had rang Kyle to say I would await them all and to fly Zara at any hares they may put up. They did put up a hare and Zara had chased it and missed and instantly re-chased and again failed as the hare made the safety of the hedgerow. I didn’t witness this but everyone said it was the best slip of the day by far. She’s a determined hawk for sure.

Couple of pics ;
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  #880  
Old 14-02-2018, 07:41 AM
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Steve Vaughan
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Default Re: Zeus- a muddled diary in pics and words!

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Originally Posted by Hardcore Hawker View Post
Chin up Dave, you know you will never stop! Falconers are gluttons for punishment
I Rest my Case another good write up though Dave, I was almost feeling the frustration.
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