For a project– does anyone know where I can find a copy of the 1971 made- for- TV movie (the second Movie- of- the- Week ever!) “Harpy”, starring Hugh O’Brian, Elizabeth Ashley, and a big serious falconry- trained Harpy eagle?

I believe the bird was trained by Jim Fowler, protege of Marlin Perkins. Lots of strange connections there I may lay out someday.

I don’t think it’s on a commercial tape, and I know it’s not on DVD.

Getting Out..

… is most of what I have been up to.

I have found a mysterious nest made mostly of lengths of various kinds of wire, with some sticks and cholla joints woven in…

Some curious caterpillars…

Can anyone identify it? Is it a Dysschema howardi? I saw some of those there recently…

And the girls are regaining their girlish figures as they begin to hunt. Puppy and other dog pics soon– these courtesy of Jutta, visiting from Germany.

I am also starting a new book project– more when I know more.

Quiet Please

A sign from the flight line at Santa Barbara Airport. The airport has been here since the 1920s, when it was surrounded by lemon groves and pasture. Now that those have been replaced by UC – Santa Barbara and suburbs, people complain about the noise. Like they didn’t know the airport was there when they bought their houses.

An Unexpected Benefit

It’s supposed to be fun. Anything you do for yourself, as a hobby or pastime, is supposed to be fun. So why do we need this reminder? We shake our heads at angry Little League fathers and puzzle over Prima Donna chess players. Probably there’s a brooding and hostile Tiddlywinks champion out there, a big chip on his shoulder.

Distressingly often, I am this way about my falconry.

I can leave to hunt in a sour mood and sometimes sink deeper if the day goes badly. I’m not violent, but I’ll blame and fume and curse and carry on. I wonder what that’s all about.

In moments of clarity I know: Falconry is not a hobby. It is everything you are (or need or have to offer as a person), but in a hayfield. You will do it angry or sad, or tired and resigned, as you might eat a cold supper in an empty kitchen. No one eats only when he’s happy.

Yet there is happiness in hawking, tremendous heights of it—Laugh-out-loud moments and many little opportunities to smile. These, and not the lowest ebbs, are what make you wonder why your hobby is not more consistently fun.

This year I’ve started hawking with a partner. Not the hawk—Smash is mercenary, more an ally of convenience. I mean my green new dog, Rina, who is much closer to a daughter. I surprise myself to write that, but true: Taking Rina to the field raises many of the same concerns as taking my daughters hunting. I worry more about the heat, the bugs, and snakebite; moreover, I wonder… Is she having fun? Does she understand what we’re here for? Will she resent it someday?

Silly. She’s a dog. She loves to hunt! Closer still, she lives to hunt. She was, in fact, born to hunt. But when she holds back before leaping a ditch or hesitates in a patch of briars I hear myself encouraging her; speaking softly and smiling in my voice.

“That’s a girl. You can do it. Come here, sweetheart.”

And so she does, and we continue. She high-steps around the next briar, and though I clearly need her to go through it, I’m smiling at her choice. When she spots a bird and runs around to flush it from behind, I am exultant. I am, at all times in the field with Rina, a little softer in my manner, and more patient. Strangely, I do not find this at all an intrusion. I find it makes me happy.

El Morro

One of our vacation stops was El Morro National Monument east of Zuni pueblo in west-central New Mexico. This striking mesa has been a landmark along a heavily used travel route for hundreds of years.
Rainfall and snowmelt from the mesa top drains down this channel and waterfall into a large pool, also providing incentive for travelers to stop here. Native American, Spanish colonial, and historic Anglo passers-by have etched petroglyphs and inscriptions into the soft sandstone on the sides of the mesa.

There are many Spanish colonial inscriptions dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. Almost all include the formulaic phrase paso por aqui – “passed by here.” This is the earliest and most famous of those, left in 1605 by Don Juan de Onate (afraid my keyboard won’t let me put the ~ over the n) the leader of the initial Spanish colonization of New Mexico. As you can see, a Native American petroglyph was later done over his inscription.
There are many Native American petroglyphs all around the mesa. Here is a shot of some of these.
This petroglyph was Connie’s favorite: a fat quail, complete with feather topknot.

Airport Adventure

Unlike a number of airports and military air bases here in Southern California, the Santa Barbara Airport doesn’t have a full-up airshow. Don’t know the reason for this, but our airport does have what they call Airport Adventure, consisting mostly of static display of aircraft and airport equipment. This year’s was held last Saturday, and I stopped by, as I’m always interested in seeing historic aircraft.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the F6F Hellcat pictured above. It was the first one I had ever seen in flying condition. This was the US Navy’s front-line carrier fighter in WW II from early in 1943 until the end of the war. Though my references tell me something like 12,800 were built there aren’t very many around anymore, even non-flyables in static display.

Here is the obligatory P-51 Mustang, arguably the finest ground-based fighter of WW II. If you exclude the Nazi jet fighters that is, but the Mustang certainly had more effect on the outcome of the war. In contrast to the poor Hellcat, there are many of these around in flying shape. Lots of enthusiasts and racers maintain and fly these planes. The father of a friend of mine made his living as a used aircraft parts broker, specializing in P-51 components. My friend has a funny story he tells about how back in the 1960s, his father once bought half the Nicaraguan Air Force for parts. This P-51 really looked cherry.

The Marine Corps brought up two CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters from San Diego. They were from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron HMM-163. These helicopters have been in the inventory since 1964. I don’t know when these two were built, but I shudder to think how many thousands of hours are on these airframes. They looked tired.

This squadron’s nickname is the “Evil Eyes” and all their aircraft have these eyes painted on the front, a tradition beginning in the Vietnam War.
Finally, the Coast Guard came by with this search and rescue helicopter that they base in Ventura. Afraid I don’t know the model on this guy. They did a simulated over-water rescue and here you can see their simulated rescuee being winched up into the cockpit. Anybody who goes to the beach much around here has seen this helicopter zipping along the coast.