Interludes: Main Course

There comes the day in every young Australian Hobby’s life that it must learn about serious hunting on the wing.
Grasshoppers and dragonflies are great food, but real protein is needed for them to grow.
Dad is not going to be there as a free Uber-delivery for ever.

And so we ventured out on a day when he was getting serious about the training program.
First step was to get them good and hungry.  So his regular callbys with quick top-ups, seized-up faster than tripod legs immersed in seawater.

When he did come by they had two new lessons to literally ‘grasp’.

The first was taking the prey from him as he did his best to remain stationary in the sky, holding the latest Fairy Martin.
Then after a few attempts at that he would let the Martin drop, and watch as the young bird followed it down and quickly managed to secure the meal.  He also invariably rolled over in a small stoop to pace the tumbling meal, just in case anything should go awry.  Needless to say on the attempts we saw, it was 100% score all round.

By the end of the morning, the young were now quite capable of chasing, if not catching the dwindling Fairy Martin fraternity.

At least one came back after a rocketship foray, and if there was a food exchange I missed it, but the young bird came in high and fast so I concluded that it was a successful strike.  (If not, no doubt by day’s end their score would have been gaining an impressive run total, just like the Australian Cricket team.)

I suspect this will be the last close quarter encounters with the young. No doubt they will be fed far less and make their own field trips and return with food.  All that will happen well beyond the tree line where we currently are working and then… Before we know it, the paddock will be bereft of the young.  The parents will move on to other territory and we’ll not see them regularly until next year.
Not sure who has learned the most, but we have certainly gained some interesting anecdotal insight into their growth and development.

Ready to for the next foray
Fast chasing games, would help them learn the necessary turns and forward thinking of a mobile prey.

Holding Pattern
Successful exchange, no crashing, or overshooting any more.
All secure and away
Lining up for a food drop.

Following the prey down just to be sure that all is ok. He outstrips the dropping carcass and can casually watch from below.
Coming in on fast wings from a great height with a meal.
I’m not sure, but I think this is self-caught. Those wings are raked back for speed.
My guess is this not only only fresh caught, but also self-caught.

 

8 thoughts on “Interludes: Main Course

  1. An amazing series of images, David! What a thrill and privilege for you to be able to witness the training like this!
    And thank you for sharing this wonderful story with us.
    Looking at the weather forecast it looks like there won’t be much opportunity to get out in the field for the rest of the week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. G’day David, Yes, I think I’ve had the best of the weather and also the best of the young birds. From now on they will be fast and long-distance. It happens so quickly, not like the Black-shoiuldered Kites or Brown Falcons that stay in the nesting area as the adults maintain territory.
      These birds seem to move on to other areas within weeks

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    1. Hello Eleanor, it has been a pretty hectic couple of weeks. It only seems that they have been on the wing a few days, and already they are well on the way to being their own complete bird. Fascinating.

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  2. Another amazing series David, your research and study of these birds is quite astounding and your images beautifully depict the stages. Those tail feathers are so stunning in the light, and the added blessing of a blue sky background makes it all so perfect. The training program the parents use shows that they have a life parallel to ours and seek the same kind of results we do for our children. A Wonderful post and love your narrative 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ashley, I reckon I anthropomorphise the whole process a bit, but most readers will have settled to that by now.
      How much the male really works a plan is of course a bit debatable but none-the-less, he certainly keeps the young ones busy and on the wing.

      As most people rarely see these birds close up or for more than a few moments it has been pretty special to have spent some real time and watch them as they grow.

      Looked at the NSW numbers today and my blood ran cold. We have a testing location about 500m up the road from here and all the roads were blocked with cars this morning both ways as people struggled to get into the testing site. in the end, the Police came and moved most of them along and the site was suspended for the rest of the day.

      I think its only going to get worse before we get any real improvement.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Fascinating reading with top class illustrations, David. I wonder how much time you have spent with this very energetic, beautiful family.
    Thanks for sharing your passionate research!

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