July 16th - The forecast
was for a mix of sun and cloud with the 60% chance of showers and the risk
of a thundershower. The predicted high was 29 C with UV index of 8
or very high.
The birds were basketed the night
before as they have been for the last couple of tosses. This
morning at 6:00 am it was overcast and some light rain fell during the
next couple of hours. After 8:00 there were signs of clearing.
Many of the clouds were a light yellowish color indicating that the sun
was trying hard to penetrate them. I waited until 9:00 when blue
patches of sky appeared and then made the decision to take the birds for
a training toss. On the way to the 40 km release point it was
mostly overcast, quite bright with the sun's outline visible for a good
part of the way.
The birds were released at 9:45 under a large patch of
blue sky and no wind conditions. They seemed to be confused upon
release and temporarily kitted into 2 separate groups and after a few low
short circles decided to become one group. They slowly starting
circling in the direction of home. It was obvious that no one was
taking the lead to break. One time they almost returned to the
release area before turning back in the right direction. I watched
them circle for 7 minutes before they disappeared to the north over the
trees. In the distance I could see smaller blue patches and sporadic
high fog-like clouds passing through. On the way home it was
mostly an equal mix of sun a cloud. The fog-like clouds persisted
all the way home. At the loft it was mostly sunny and getting very
hot and humid.
The first 4 birds trapped at 10:43.
Three of them were birds that had some health issues and I would assess
them as 80% fit. The fourth was one of my third round birds which
fit the same description. I had bad feeling about this toss just
from the manner the birds left the release area. The next 20
minutes felt like an eternity. Shortly after 11:00 while I was in
the house feeling sorry for myself the main group arrived and the first
bird trapped at 11:05. This was an excellent learning experience
for the birds because the release conditions will probably be very
similar if not worse out of Halifax. Halifax has the dubious
distinction of being one of the foggiest cities in the Maritimes.
Anyway I am glad this one is over. At this time I haven't
decided whether to go back to the same release point or go on to the next
one at 70 km. The prediction for tomorrow looks slightly better.
July 17th - "TODAY SUCKED" Last
night I basketed 132 birds for a 40 km training toss this morning .
At 6:00 am it was mostly sunny and looked like a good day for toss.
As well, it was mostly sunny on the way to the release point except for
the last 10 km where a heavy fog lingered. I waited for about an
hour and the fog remained so I called Margie to see how the weather was
at the home. She said it became very overcast and she could hear
thunder in the background. My decision was easy to make even if
didn't like it.
The birds were released in front of the loft. A half dozen
landed on the loft the rest went up for some exercise. Except for
about 25 birds, the group flew strongly around the loft for close to 45
minutes. It thunder showered off and on for most of the day.
The prediction is for similar weather tomorrow so I will try to give
them a toss on Wednesday.
July 19th - Yesterday was a fine day for
a toss but the weather prediction was for unsettled weather so the birds
stayed home and were loft flown. As soon as they were let out at
least 100 birds disappeared immediately and only returned 30 minutes
later. The rest made short circles around the loft and had to be
flagged to keep them up. The flag kept them flying for 30 minutes.
When the main group returned they flew briskly around the loft for
another half of an hour before they landed and trapped quickly.
Today was a great day for a toss so the birds were released from 40
km in cool, calm and almost cloudless skies. Before the release
the birds were unusually calm. Upon being released they flew low
and in small circles above me for a good minute. At one point they
actually started drifting in the wrong direction toward the south.
Eventually they rose quite high and began slowly flying in the right
direction but still making short circles as if they were confused in
which direction home was. Finally they disappeared high in the sky
and in the right direction.
The birds arrived home 65 minutes later, made a few short circles,
landed and without my interference trapped quickly . Tomorrow'
forecast is for similar weather so the team will be tossed from 70 km, a
spot just north of the Miramichi River.
July 20th - Around 8:00 yesterday evening I
was in the Le Tour loft making preparations for this morning's toss.
I took a few minutes to study the birds. They were very active;
hardly a bird was on a perch resting. Many were flipping around in
their area of the loft while others were flying from one end to the
other twisting their tails. As the frolicking continued I could
hear the sweet sound of the air whistling through their flights.
The birds sounded very light and buoyant. I was very pleased with
what I observed.
It was a beautiful morning for a training toss; it was calm, cool and
almost cloudless. At 7:40 the birds were released at the 70 km mark. At first there was some minor agitation in 3 of the baskets
but within a couple minutes the birds became very quiet and waited
patiently through the 15 minutes prior to the release. That
changed as soon as I opened the first basket. There
was a mad rush to get out. The team made a few low circles and
disappeared in the wrong direction above the tall trees behind me.
Today, I promised myself that I wouldn't worry about what the birds did.
Seventy-five minutes later the birds arrived in the yard and made a few
short circles and trapped without my involvement. They looked very
relaxed and content to be home.
July 21st - This morning's training toss
was cancelled due to unstable weather. A tropical storm was
passing through the Maritimes. Instead, the birds were loft flown.
Except for a dozen birds, they disappeared for 30 minutes then flew
around the loft for a good 10 minutes and disappeared again. This
behavior continued well into the 90 minute mark. At this time I
checked the loft and only 4 birds were inside and they were all ebanded.
There were some stock birds relaxing in the aviary but in the aviary
loft on the east side, the spare hens and late breds where huddled in
the perches. This definitely suggested that an unwanted visitor
was around. Also I heard the crows squawking in the trees to the
east of the loft.
At almost the 2 hour mark the birds appeared and looked like they
were preparing to land when out of nowhere a hawk appeared from behind
the loft and awkwardly flew through them as if it wanted to join the
kit. They did not scatter but remained in a tight group and they
seemed to confuse and overwhelm the hawk. There were over a 100
young ones in the group. They flew away again and in no big
This hawk is definitely a juvenile and probably mentally
challenged which is just the way I like them. This morning he was more of a nuisance then a threat
and the bird's behavior suggested that. Eventually, just past the
3 hour mark the birds returned and a few whistles brought them down.
They began trapping immediately. The team did not appear to be
very stressed or alarmed but they were cautious as they looked over
their shoulders trapping. Eighty-one (81) out of 84 ebanded birds
were in the loft by 10:20. After over a 3 hour exercise period the
team appeared to be more hungry than fatigued.