Weekly Eagle Journal

Archive for June, 2006

Day 15 Black Widow: 9 lbs

Tuesday, June 20th, 2006 Posted in Journal 2006 | No Comments »

Day 15

Black Widow: 9 lbs

Temp 67’

Wind 0-5mph

Hello everyone,

The temperature has been slowly but surely going from warm to hot the last couple of days — 100′ but fortunately still cool in the early mornings. I drove straight to the new hay field thinking that I would drive all the way to the end of the field in an effort to cut off the jacks that I saw running out the back end the last time I flew here. There is a large stack of bailed hay just as you turn off the paved road and to get to the hay field I must drive past the stack. As I came around the hay stack I saw at least 20 jacks running like cattle going out into the ryegrass field! I drove past where they enter the field and parked, got Widow out much smoother than the last time and quickly entered the field. This is an easy field to walk in but every so often there is a large burm that channels the water into the area the farmer wants irrigated. This seems to be where the jacks like to hide, so I walked down one side and back up the other the entire length of the field. Widow was sort of paying attention. At least she was not fighting a lady bug on my arm, so that was an improvement. I walked along the burm and right in front of me a jack jumped and ran straight down a trail. Widow came off strong and was over the top of the jack, made an attempt at a wingover and went skidding across the ryegrass, missing the jack! Wow, female eagles, particularly young ones, every once in a while give you just a little peak as to the power and quickness they possess. That was close! My guess is that jack is still running! I kept walking, just a little faster after that last attempt. Suddenly Widow didn’t seem quite as heavy and I was eager to find another slip. Widow got real interested in something a good 50 yards out. I turned and looked in the general direction but saw nothing. Widow, however, launched from the fist and flew that way with serious intent. Then I saw a pair of jack rabbit ears moving through the hay. Building speed, Widow went crashing into the bright green hay like a freight train. At the same instant I saw a jack go into warp speed and disappear. I called Widow back and headed back down in that direction. I was maybe 30 feet from the dirt road that surrounds the hay field, and as my foot came down a jack exploded within inches of where my step had landed. Widow left in perfect time with the flushing jack, closed on it, and was coming in for the grab when the jack cleared the hay and suddenly was on open weedless dirt. Realizing, I’m sure, that this was not the place to be, the jack made a 180′ turn just as Widow came crashing in. Dust was flying everywhere. Widow hit the ground and threw out a foot, trying to hood the turning rabbit, but came up with only dust!

This field is funny. The jacks do not hold there very well. They seem to want to run through the field and go out across the open to some place else. I’ll have to take some time and see where they are all going.

Figuring that I had covered this hay field I drove over to the 20 acre alfalfa field, walked up over the railroad tracks, and could see jacks running all over the place. I started working the field from east to west, and in short order found myself in a hot zone. Jacks were flushing every ten steps! Widow was now paying attention. She was looking at anything that could be a jack and was spotting them before they flushed, nearly catching one as it was hiding! She would have except her technique was wrong. She jumped off the fist with her wings spread which, because eagles are so big, lets the jacks see them coming.

All the jacks that I have seen taken while still hiding get caught when the eagle comes off the fist and does not open it’s wings. They just roll off the glove and go down on the jack. In time Widow will learn this. I continued to flush jack after jack and Widow flew them stronger each time.

There were so many jacks that Widow had little time to regain her breath before another jack would flush. Widow was very dialed in and saw something 50 yards away. She launched, flying in the direction of a telephone pole that has a lot of tall grass growing around it. A pair of ravens were sitting on the pole giving Widow an ear full and I thought she was interested in them, but she landed on the ground, sat there a second and pounced on a jack?! I’m not sure if the jack was hiding there or ran into her or what but the end result was she had a 5 lb jack in her feet and it was not going to get away!

Not the most exciting flight but I’ll take it. Widow has now taken a jack the last two times in a row and she seems to be increasing the length of the slips she’ll fly. That is the direct result of  higher weight, better condition, and another primary coming on line, giving her more power.

Hope all is well,

Joe