Day 15—Flyin’ High

Today was the red-tailed hawk’s final creance session. I was assigned the task of attaching the leg straps and jesses. Although I have helped with this task during the other two sessions, today I had complete responsibility for it so I was a little nervous. One needs finger dexterity in order to attach the straps and jesses so gloves cannot be worn. When I failed to hold the first leg strap correctly, in a flash, three of my bare fingers were in the grip of those incredibly strong and sharp talons. My first instinct was to jerk back but that merely results in tightening because the talons ratchet closed and cannot readily reopen. Thankfully for me, our team leader today, Liz, is an experienced falconer who remained calm and managed to slowly pry the talons off my fingers. I don’t know how deep the talon went into the pad of my baby finger but thanks to those dang baby aspirin, blood gushed everywhere. What a way to start the session! I rinsed my hand off, stanched the flow of blood, and twisted on a bandaid that Liz brought to me, and we left the flight chamber.

Despite my earlier hiccup, I worked as the handler for most of the session once we were out in the field. Our little hawk did great. We launched him high today and he shows that he can fly strongly and is ready for release. When it was my turn to serve as recorder, I took a few photos and set the camera to Shutter priority and the shutter speed to 1/640. The shots aren’t great but I’m managing to get the hawk in the viewfinder and, my focus, while not perfect, is better with the higher shutter speed. While I’m learning the creance technique, I’m also starting to understand what I need to do to capture a bird in flight. I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it.

Focal Length 18mm
ISO 100
Cropped and Curves