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2011 / 2112: Seventh
Season for Cisco – 2nd (last) for Elbert; Introducing
The birds started to molt in early April of
2011. That ends the 6th season.
The previous season log can be found at Cisco's
Newest updates towards top of page, except for field meet
logs, where order is reversed
Please email me. Click on hypertext below, or copy
and paste address using your email client.
two hawks can be seen via web cam during most weekday
daylight hours here: Cam1 & Cam2.
Cisco in Katy, TX, hovers - January 2011- In my opinion
this picture by Bob Dalton is one of the very best taken
of Cisco ever.
Ms. Elbert in Abilene, Texas, January 2011 (Photo:Bob
Dalton) The beautiful photograph above was the cover photo
of Bob Dalton's World
of Falconry, Issue #7, July 2011. Below is a
picture by George Nalbandian taken in September, with
Elbert's having a starling on my fist. She had
molted into her stunning adult plumage. Unfortunately, MsE
got very aggressive, and I had to release her on
New Harris's hawk I acquired from Keith Denman right after
the NAFA meet. I call her Farrah.
Elbert at her best, with a starling, a month or two before
I released her.
3/21/2012 – Season Finale
An email to Lynne Holder:
Vegetation is just exploding. I’ll bet
I picked up ten chigger bites (or spider or poison ivy) on
Wednesday. Cisco soared over the woods, the Barbary went
over the horizon, and Farrah chased just one
squirrel. I tend to write my journal in my head as I go
along. For a few minutes, it was, “Cisco was last seen
soaring off, mostly unencumbered, with only his anklets, a tail
bell, and a loosely fitting Track Pack carrying his
transmitter. I’m sure he’ll do well in the wild.”
Then I heard his bell. He really doesn’t like to wander
An email to Jeff LeCompte and Matthew
Mullenix, edited slightly for this entry:
calling it good. Vegetation with lots of poison ivy is
growing all over the place, the HH caught a pregnant rabbit
last Saturday, and I’m running out of steam. Wednesday
in about five hours of hunting, I picked up a bunch of chigger
bites, and none of the hawks (I flew Mike’s Barbary) caught
any game. Farrah did the only chasing, trying to catch a
squirrel in the heavily leafed woods. I started
last August, early season hawking with the red-shouldered
hawk, picked up a very nice female HH over Thanksgiving, and
caught a lot more game with my hawks than I expected to,
especially given the drought. In Amarillo on the
way back from Vernal, Cisco chased and caught his first jack
rabbit, a six pound black-tailed. Two chases, one
kill. Since 12/20, the day of the HH’s first catch,
Cisco and Farrah were neck and neck in putting game in the
freezer, with 22 head between them, mostly rabbits and
squirrels; it was roughly 50/50 mix, with a couple of cotton
rats thrown in. I’m looking forward to flying Farrah
next season. Other than the fact that she hates
everybody but me she’s a great hawk and a sweetheart.
3/17/2012 - "I don't know how a hawk can catch a rabbit in
said Jim Ince, just seconds before Farrah grabbed a cottontail
that ran upwind along the thick brush by some RR tracks in
Bellaire. The best looking rabbit flight from her
yet. Of course as Jim modestly pointed out, we would
have caught nothing without Jim's fine job of flushing those
rabbits. Actually it's true - Jim was up on the RR
tracks and the rabbits didn't want to run up there and across
to the other side.
in the day, in the woods, Farrah had some good squirrel
flights, but couldn't connect. Then the day warmed up
and she became less interested. Joe Philabaum was with
me in the morning. I had a veterinary appointment at
1:00, so hunted until I had to leave. The HH has been
favoring her left foot. Wiegel and I have looked at it
several times, but haven't seen anything. Dr. Mark
Peckham concurred that there was
nothing obvious, but told me to keep an eye on it.
Farrah sits on her right foot about 90% of the time.
I needed to get Cisco to the vet anyway - a follow up
from some treatment for internal parasites. All was
negative with the float, as was Farrah's. I was in
Bellaire, so called my friend Jim. I hung out with him
and Carol for a while and then called my apprentice, Daniel
Rasi; he told me that his RT, Alice, had caught a rabbit
by some RR tracks in Bellaire today. "Tons of rabbits,"
Daniel said. I asked if he minded if I gave my hawks a
shot at it. No.
wanted to go hawking, so we headed over to the spot, not more
than ten minutes from Jim's house. We flew Farrah
first. Cisco had been at the high end of his hunting
weight this morning; he rode hooded in the car most of the
day. Upon release, the HH followed us along for just a
few minutes before we flushed a rabbit, not seconds after
Jim's not too prophetic statement. She shot after it,
chasing it upwind in breeze. Farrah flew hard and fast,
catching the rabbit which didn't dart into the protective
brush that runs along this strip. A great flight with
some distance to it. I traded her off with a huge chunk of
rabbit - it was so large that I had to coax her the
fist. Normally she's on the fist instantly after her
field portion. We headed back to the car. On
the way back we flushed another rabbit, which she started at,
even with her immense crop. "There's Cisco's bunny!"
put the Harris' hawk back in her box, and got Cisco ready.
It was breezy. He flew to some power poles and
followed loosely for a bit, then saw a wild RT. This
always results in a delay. Cisco flew about a quarter
mile away, got things settled and came back. He
started following a rabbit ahead of us and had a nice flight
with a near miss. We proceeded along farther, when he
suddenly headed back toward where we started.
Initially I thought it may be another RT encounter,
but no. I found him looking intently into the brush
below, and flushed a rabbit. It took off into the
wind, but this time ran out wide, along a wire fence.
Stress. Cisco handled it perfectly, catching the
buck cottontail under the wire fence, without any harm to
himself. A great day. Daniel showed up, we
chatted briefly, and headed back to Jim's house.
3/12/2012 - After work
cotton rat for Cisco
I took my mother with me today. This is the first
post-DST hunt; I no longer have to take a hawk to work with
me, since I have an extra hour to hunt. We went to Gold
Fire, and parked in front of the church. The nice folks
there even brought some coffee for Mom. A month or two
back I gave a woman there a tender young cottontail, which
Cisco caught earlier that evening.
Cisco flew to the trees, then across the ditch, almost
self-hunting, but really he was following a swamp rabbit and I
was lagging behind getting my gear. He settled in
following, and flying from T pole to trees, and back.
Recently he has begun using the very tall power pole by the
tollway, and has taken several rabbits from its top.
This is new behavior for him. I think the last time he
flew up there was six years ago late one evening. Now he
knows its value. Today there were few rabbits
around. I flushed one while he was atop the power
pole. He pursued, but in a three stage descent. It
was obvious the rabbit had found cover, but the flight was
pretty. At the north end of the field he found a very
large cotton rat, which I let him eat.
I now had little time, since he had a full crop. After a large
cotton rat, I figure I have about twenty minutes of hunting
before I need to get him secured on my fist. I walked
along the ditch on the north side; he followed on all right,
and put in one long flat pursuit, but then it began to get
late. I called him to the fist, and let him eat a chick.
You can barely see him on the top of the power pole - he
has caught several
rabbits from this perch this season.
Eating his cotton rat
How Farrah Got Her Groove Back (from an email)
Farrah, an enthusiastic squirrel chaser, has been in a
slump. As good as she looks chasing squirrels, the last
catch was in early January. This season has been slumpy anyway.
Yesterday at De Soto, Cisco grabbed a big swamp rabbit.
The rabbit barely screamed, but handily kicked off the
hawk within about 20 seconds, and escaped. Cisco rarely
loses them like that, but it does happen. He has caught two squirrels
in the last two weeks.
This morning I fed the Harris' not expecting to hunt today
given the nearly constant rain we've had. Late in the
day I changed my mind; the weather cleared a little, and even
if she weren't red-hot, she would get to fly. She
weighed in at 828 grams, more than 1/2 ounce heavy, but a lot
of that weight was DOC and mouse breakfast. I took her
near the park where she hunts squirrels. The creek had
overrun its banks and I could barely get in with my vehicle.
I released the hawk and Farrah spotted a squirrel
immediately. She chased it around in the trees using her
close-engagement HH style. Today the advantage was to the
hawk. The squirrel couldn't bail out of the tree because
there was too much water below, so had to stay in the
branches. The squirrel jumped from a high to low branch,
and the brief delay it had moving after the jump was all the
hawk needed. She grabbed the squirrel and parachuted
down immediately. Right into a foot of water! She
held the squirrel under water, and when I pulled it out with
her on it, she had a good solid grip on the head. This is
her ninth kill, and fourth squirrel this season.
3/3/2012 - It's the
kill, not the flight
An email to Rob Evans
in response to his asking if we'd be hawking out near him:
Shoot - missed you and we were out
there most of day. Cisco caught a squirrel - didn't even
see the flight, and we spent most of afternoon tracking
Daniel's big 'ole PFRT. She finally settled east of the
park in those trees and Daniel manged to coax her down.
My car is messed up -think it's a short in the ignition,
but will maybe take the HH for some rabbits out your way.
Will borrow my old Taurus from Mom. Farrah has
some foot issue, favors the left most of the time, but I see
no nasty looking inflammation. Will take her to
vet's next Sat. and keep her away from squirrels in meantime.
Her foot issues may be why she dropped two squirrels
last week. I don't know when I'll head out your way, but
will call. This may end up on my site............
Atul Chopra and wife, Haley, met us at Denny's this
morning. Farrah has been getting some R&R so we took
Cisco. He was a little too efficient, catching a squirrel
across the creek, with no view of the flight. I found him under
a bush with the dead squirrel. There were few squirrels in
the woods today, but he found one. We spent a good four hours
chasing Alice, Daniel's RT. She wanted to soar, but stayed
within about a mile radius of the woods.
An assortment of pictures..........
Cisco with his invisible squirrel on Saturday
Farrah in my backyard on Saturday
Matthew Mullenix with Jeff LeCompte's RT, called Alex
Jeff with Alex (Matthew Mullenix)
Farrah last season with swamp rabbit (Keith Denman)
Dart with a cotton rat Friday (Lynne Holder)
Chris Manzano's very efficient RT, Chaos (CM)
Another picture taken next day (CM)
Bill Rinehart's intermewed western RT (called Jaguar) with
Yet another picture of Alex in Louisiana (Jeff LeCompte)
2/26/2012 - Sunday
Squirrel - a long day for Team Cisco
was the antithesis of yesterday's. In the woods behind
Ron Wilson's house on Saturday, neither hawk was very
good. The Harris' was too heavy, flying at 818 grams,
and repeated some behavior that she pulled earlier in the
week. This is her driving squirrels out to the spindly
branches in the trees, where they would be vulnerable, then
flying off. She did that twice on Tuesday. After
she repeated it again on Saturday I decided it was weight
related. The RT, also a little heavy at 931, was about to take
a squirrel, then spotted a wild red-tail on the horizon.
Off he flew and that was pretty much the end of his hunting,
though he put in a feeble chase or two afterwards. Mostly he
sat in trees showing little interest in squirrels.
birds were at weight today. Farrah came in under my
target (810) at about 800 grams, which is the high end of
where Keith flew her last season. Cisco was at 928 this
morning, so I planned an afternoon hunt. I took the HH
to the woods; she never looked better. She pursued
squirrel after squirrel and soon grabbed one, but lost it as
she hit the ground with it. Discouraging, but her
pursuits were thrilling. She was panting hard at
times. Mike Wiegel called asking if I wanted to join him
and Nancy for lunch. I decided it was time for a break
so headed back to the car. On the way, minutes later,
Farrah caught another squirrel, but also lost this one as she
hit the ground with it. This is a hawk with a grip
comparable to a red-tail's. I couldn't believe it.
After lunch, I took Farrah to some woods near the restaurant;
I didn't see any squirrels, but apparently she found
one. She quit following, flew off and crashed into the
vegetation. She returned a few minutes later with blood
on her foot (mostly from earlier tree abrasion) but there was
a small fresh puncture wound on the fat part of her big
toe. That was it. I fed her up, treated her feet
and headed home to get Cisco.
was excited, obviously ready; he now weighed 922. Mike
Wiegel, who wanted to come along, met me at my house. We
drove back to the same woods where Farrah caught the squirrels
earlier today. Cisco exploded into the woods, finding
the first squirrel about 50 feet from the car. After a
number of attacks, the squirrel bailed out into the ground
vegetation and disappeared. Cisco entertained us for the
next hour with some interesting and close chases, but it began
to look like he would also go home without a squirrel.
He was panting and beginning to tire. One of his nearest
misses was spoiled when a wild red-shouldered hawk hit him in
the middle of his stoop at a vulnerable squirrel. That
was one I believe he would have captured otherwise.
This RT is nothing if not persistent, and he finally got a
squirrel just where he needed it. He smacked it about 30
feet high on a branch and quickly parachuted down. I
held my breath momentarily as he hit the ground hard with it,
though Cisco has only lost one squirrel in six seasons of
squirrel hawking in this situation; this wasn't the one.
At the end of a long day Cisco salvaged the hunt.
of flights, this was a great day, but I am a little concerned
about Farrah and her footing. She much prefers chasing
squirrels to rabbits, though she seems to be a good rabbit
hawk. Farrah needs to improve her ability to hold
squirrels. Keith caught a lot of fox squirrels with her
last season, but she got chewed up a little on the last day of
the season. She has only caught three squirrels with me,
all in one week in early January. Her aerial skills, and
her ability to corral the squirrels are impressive. But
she needs to figure out how to use that crushing grip of
hers. I will keep her weight down in the low 800's -
that certainly made a difference today.
A tired Cisco with his squirrel. I have my knee on
the pole, pinning the squirrel so Cisco won't wander off
Cisco finishing off the head
2/19/2012 - Triple Play
on Bob Bunnies
Daniel put me onto a new field where he had seen
rabbits. The rabbits were there and I put Cisco out
first. He flew to the top of a power pole; below him was
a disabled transformer. He began watching the rose
bushes, then flew out over the field, hovering and wheeling.
It was the most beautiful flying, followed by a tear drop
stoop, and the capture of a small rabbit. From here on
out, these will be called Bob Bunnies, in honor of my friend,
Bob Dalton; he likes to give me grief about the size of
Cisco's rabbits. See hand illustration below. That
is the size of a Bob Bunny. Cisco gobbled the hapless
creature down, and I put him in hawk box in car.
was Farrah. She was flying at 831 grams today, and flew
to same pole but landed on an insulator below the top. I
was very uncomfortable, even with the transformer disabled, as
there was still a hot line there. She flew to my fist
for a mouse and we then began to chase rabbits around the
field. We ended up back where we started, and flushed
another Bob Bunny, caught and eaten. A rabbit that can
be eaten by a 831 gram female Harris' can't be too big.
Lowe's shopping for a lamp a few hours later, I got a call
from Lynne Holder. You guessed it. Dart and
Lynne's dog, Max, had teamed up to catch yet a third
one. A big day for Team Cisco with the Bob
Bunnies. Dart, flying at 621 grams today also ate the
Harris's hawk with Bob Bunny
Red-tailed hawk with Bob Bunny
Team Cisco out to weather a few weeks ago at Mike Wiegel's
house. Dart at left, Farrah, and Cisco in foreground.
2/12/2012 - Sunday Update
Cisco caught a rabbit
today at Gold Fire, very quickly. The rascal has
learned that he can easily catch rabbits from the tall metal
power pole, and flies up there to watch for his victims,
which he nails. Has not missed since he began doing
this a few weeks ago and is now three for three. He
has caught probably 70 to 90 rabbits in this field over
seven seasons, and just started this. Cisco never
hunted from that pole before. Old hawk, new tricks.
It's almost too easy for him, and he knows it. Today he labored up there,
spent a few minutes looking around, and down he came,
smashing a buck eastern cottontail. Jim Ince, Ron
Wilson, and Mike Wiegel were all with us.
2/11/2012 - Harris'
Hawks on Saturday
Farrah caught a cotton rat
by the park, which she carried off, while Dart caught a
cottontail - Lynne Holder brought him to Houston, and we
hunted in Katy. Lynne was quite excited as Dart has
had a quiet season so far. Cisco goofed off, being
fat. Pictures by George Nalbandian to be inserted later.
2/4/2012 - Farrah's
I took Ron
Wilson with me out to Gold Fire. Farrah was at hunting
weight, and now knows how to hunt this field. Initially a
little slow to follow, she flew from a tree by the church,
over to the T pole. Within minutes she was sitting high in
the trees, and shortly caught a rabbit. Apparently an
eastern cottontail, it was a pregnant female which I hate
to see. Nevertheless, the Harris' hawk's performance was
excellent, almost too good, as we really had little
hunting time. Of course she dragged the head under a bush.
In future I will use a different technique for trading her
1/29/2012 - Cisco and
A great day in the field after about nine or ten day slump.
The last game caught by either hawk was the big swamp
rabbit that dragged Cisco about thirty feet into a big
Cherokee rose bush the week before last. Since then,
lots of flights on some days, then yesterday in the woods,
neither hawk had a single squirrel flight.
Today was different. I went back to
Gold Fire, having not
been there in a month at least. I planned to let Farrah
fly first, but Cisco began squawking (hooded) in his box
when I started fooling with the gear. I let him fly
first - he was definitely ready. He started
hunting in the little grove of trees by the church, then
rode the T pole, as I crossed the ditch. He flew
back and forth from the pole to the little trees, then
flew to the top of of a big power pole that sits at the
edge of the tollway and field. He attacked one
rabbit, but missed, then flew to the lowest of the three
phase power wires on that same pole. He looked
intently down for a few minutes then caught a swamp rabbit
at the end of a nice stoop. It was very efficient,
and he was looking so good that I wished that he had more
time in the field, at the same time glad we finally caught
some game. I let him eat the head, and gave him the
organs and a chick. If a swamp rabbit, certainly not a
huge one. Time for the Harris' hawk who has really
been in a slump, though generally doing everything right.
In early January she caught three squirrels in one week,
and nothing since.
Farrah was also charged up, very excited. Normally
she is so-so about hunting rabbits; her real interest is
squirrels. Today she chased repeatedly around those
bushes, once flying right into the bush and disappearing
while the rabbit took off through the side entrance.
Another time today Farrah walked under a bush
scaring the rabbit out the other side. Too bad I
didn't have a flying ferret. She'll learn.
Maybe Farrah figured that if she flushed the rabbit,
I'd catch it. Or maybe she's just a knucklehead. All
her enthusiasm was not paying off, so I walked to the
ditch that leads to Highway 90A. She followed,
landing on the T pole. I walked along with her
riding, then she flew across the ditch to a tree on the
other side. A rabbit flushed behind her, following
her up the bank. Farrah was distracted, but just
managed to see it as she turned around to face the ditch.
The rabbit ran and she clobbered it. It was
now dusk. The best day best day in several weeks.
1/18/2012 - A swamp
rabbit takes Cisco
In Amarillo last fall Cisco stopped a six pound
jack rabbit dead in its tracks. Today after work out
at De Soto Street Cisco grabbed a cane cutter that didn't
even slow down, taking Cisco deep into the heart of a
Cherokee rose. I have never, in seven seasons, seen
Cisco so out of control. He had the rabbit by the hind
leg and it had every intention of scraping him off. It
was an old rabbit that didn't even scream until I reached
in. Cisco was stretched out on his back, mouth agape,
and wings spread, but would not let go. I dispatched
the rabbit, and had to cut the bush to let Cisco out.