Out today gulling with the local pest control crew. Bloody marvellous! Super set-up, beautiful birds, fascinating insight - learned loads and had a brilliant time! You know, I'm a lucky bugger really. I get to meet some really interesting people and to experience stuff that other peeps would probably give their proverbial for. Today it was flying falcons to scare off gulls.
Arrived on site and was introduced to the birds...
Tubs - a female Peregrine x Saker cross
Archie - a Gyr x Barbary cross
Bert - young male Lanner
SO, first up, the absolutely gorgeous Tubby. Falconer in residence J, popped on her hood and she hopped on to his glove ready for weighing. Popped her on the scales and she was just the right weight for flying. J chatted to her as he took off her swivel and jesses and gently replaced these with a couple of bright orange flight jesses and a small radio transmitter. I was curious how the telemetry was gonna be attached. I'd fitted radio harnesses myself to Goosander many moons ago and watched my mate do a far more professional and quicker job with Hen Harriers not so long ago, but both took time. Even tail mounting wasn't an especially 'portable' process in my experience. Working bird telemetry though was simplicitty itself - leg mount, cable clip - sorted. Elegant and efficient. Impressed!
Took Tubs out. Showed her where to go and let her fly. Off like a shot on to roof of a nearby office block. About 20-30 gulls, mostly Lesser Black-backed with a few Herring Gulls thrown in spotted her immediately and one or two LBBGs decided to have a pop. Pretty tame stuff though, despite their racket... a few fairly long distant swoops in her general direction. I can see why they didn't get closer. Tubs is a big bird. Powerful. And J told me she'd taken Lesser Black-backed Gulls before. I could easily believe it. Somehow I think the gulls knew too. She took off on a low sweep across the roof top where the gulls had come up from. More erupted from its depths... 40... 50... 70... 100. They were pretty freaked. She landed on the roof briefly then dropped out of sight - cue mayhem. the gulls behaviour changed immediately. We couldn't see Tubs, but the loud steady beep...beep... beep... from her transmitter was telling us she was still on the roof. Suddenly gulls began to dive bomb her position in a steady stream... she'd got something! For a few minutes gulls rained down on where the Yaggi was telling us Tubs had settled. Then gradually they eased off. The signal stayed strong and the gulls drifted away - she'd made a kill.
Or so we thought. A little while later she reappeared. Low along the roof line then banking north toward us. I thought she looked heavy. Full. Not so. Tubs alighted on the nearby roof and J quickly got to work with the lure. A few skillfull swings and she was on the ground. If she had indeed whacked a gull on the warehouse roof, as their behaviour had suggested, it had gotten away because her crop was empty. J fed her a chick as she hopped onto his glove. Good girl.
Bert on the lure
Me in Tubs