A week ago Saturday I had a fantastic reading/presention of LIFT in Southern California. It had everything a reading should have: old friends, family, falconers, a Brittany as chaperon…and Cooper’s hawks. It wasn’t my plan to do hawk transport, but a seven hour drive back home just sounded better with a hawk in the back of the truck. Honestly, just the thought of it made me a little giddy. So I agreed to chauffeur and when I joked about keeping the hawk myself, I found myself transporting two hawks.
I haven’t flown an accipiter since I was in Australia. I did pretty well with my Aussie brown gos. We took a decent amount of game considering we only had three months before I released her. That was 12 years ago now, though.
I read back through my notes to see what I could recall. I wondered a little bit how much could be relevant, really, when passages read like this:
“Caught huge blue-tongued skink (but only until it bit her). Good chases on a couple of bunnies….Found a nest of butcher birds and ate all the nestlings (4?). Took quite a while to get her down…”
What I did remember in the reading was her tendency to grab first, think second, the amazing speed at which she could change her mind about direction and how much I loved her, even if she was nothing but amygdala.
The notes are wonderful to have as sparse as they are, but it’s the hawk in my living room that is bringing the experience back in a flood. I’m surprised how much a remember. A chitter and sideways look and I’m standing in the bush, praying that the displaying emu won’t charge me when the hawk bates. A bath and a pulled up foot and I’m remembering sitting in the ferns, tucking a rabbit into my vest while the goshawk feaks and balances. I know a tiercel Cooper’s hawk is different, but I’m not exactly the same myself. And then again so much of everything is the same.
There have been days lately when I wonder if there is anything new and blissfully startling left for me. Finding a “first” anything that I would love to risk failing at isn’t as easy as it used to be.
So I’ve stopped looking.
I’ve gotten lazy.
I didn’t think I wanted a hawk this summer and this little hawk has questionable history. A brancher kicked from the nest with a brief stint in rehab, he might be a little too fearful. I might be a little too rusty at training a new hawk. I might just end up giving him a chance to learn his footing and send him on his way. Or I might be about to have more fun hunting quail than I’ve had in years. Hell, who am I kidding. I’m already in love. I’m probably in it until the bitter end.
What I do know for certain is that I have wasted more time thinking about falconry, spent more money on falconry equipment and experienced more adulterated falconry glee than I have in years these last 8 days.
And I’m grateful for that.
PS– Is there anything more wonderful than watching an accipiter take its first bath….?