Sunday’s Outing

It’s been a rough fall. Sunday marked our first serious falconry outing of the season. Between colds for Diane and I, extra work and various other complications, things only came together this past Sunday. We had made a couple of brief outings to a nearby nursery where there are lots of rabbits, but also loads of rabbit holes, too.

Beka, our mini-dachshund, hasn’t quite figured out what exactly is happening, but she is showing some promise. She mostly followed Ritka, our Vizsla. At one point, she flushed a rabbit. Beka is not yet interested in going down rabbit holes. She’s seven months old now, so there’s time yet for her to figure it out.

Rusty and Shelby were ready for action. Rusty actually grabbed a rabbit after about twenty minutes in the field. Diane made in and pulled out a rabbit leg to give to Rusty. Unfortunately, Rusty let go of the rabbit and it departed at high speed — to its hole about fifty yards away. Rusty used to make sure someone had the prey item in hand, but it seems that we need to make certain that’s under control before making the food visible.

More text and pictures below the fold.

I was moving slowly. I still have lingering effects of a cold, including cough, congestion, and general fatigue. We managed to tromp across a quarter mile of field or so, and the hawks gave chase at various points, but weren’t connecting. It was during that part that Beka managed to flush a rabbit.

We were actually headed back closer to the van when Rusty and Shelby flew on ahead of us, did wingovers, and disappeared into the brush. It took me three or four minutes to get in the vicinity of where they had gone, working my way through brush here and there and over tussocky uneven ground with snow in some places and ice-fringed puddles in others. About twenty feet away from me, Ritka came bounding through, and the hawks yelled at her. I hadn’t seen them until that point. Rusty was perched on a rabbit, and Shelby was staking a claim to it, too. I made in and got my left hand on the rabbit. With the right, I tried to keep Beka from just barging in and going for the rabbit. Fortunately, Rusty and Shelby have no interest in Beka as a prey item, even though she is not much bigger than the rabbits we’re coming across. Unfortunately, it was pretty uncomfortable kneeling on the cold ground with my hands occupied waiting for Diane to arrive and come up with food for the hawks. That was the end of the expedition. The hawks and dogs slept well that evening after the workout.

I was trying out a different camera and lens combination for the outing, a Fuji S2 Pro camera (ISO 800, daylight white balance, aperture priority at f/11) and a Sigma 18-200mm f/4.5-6.3 DC lens. The post-processing was done with a couple of different ways to use ImageMagick. For some, the “-normalize” option was used. If the pic shows a cyan sky, that seems to be a common side effect of “-normalize”. I did some of these with an “autolevel” script. I’m liking the “autolevel” better, but it is quite a bit slower in operation than “-normalize”. This could benefit from some “unsharp mask” being applied, which I may add into my script next time.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

2 thoughts on “Sunday’s Outing

  • 2008/11/26 at 1:25 am
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    It’s real nice to see Ritka out and having a good time after her bad spell a while back.

  • 2008/11/26 at 6:22 am
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    I haven’t mentioned it yet, but Ritka finished off her conformation career in August, getting her first championship. She’s now CH Snowridge Ritka Baywing OAJ NA TD CGC NA3 FDCHS TDI. The alphabet soup following is various titles for agility, tracking, Canine Good Citizen, NAVHDA natural ability, flyball, and Therapy Dog International. Before Ritka’s bout with DIC (Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation), she only had the Canine Good Citizen title. There was at least one judge in conformation who passed over Ritka and cited her scar as the reason. When Diane told her competitors about that, they took up a boycott of the judge, since the Vizsla standard specifically states that honorable scars will not be counted against a Vizsla in conformation. Diane has been working Ritka toward championships in field trials, agility, and tracking.

    Beka at seven months of age has a performance title in tracking, so she’s got the TD like Ritka.

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