“I’ve had confirmation from World Vision that it has reached -50 C where I have been hawking at night, and -30 C during the day. I am astounded at the cold – it makes November and December seem like a cake walk.
“But that all aside, the hawking has been good. The eagles seem to relish the weather and the foxes are being found. Though it is difficult to ride horses through drifts of snow on the mountainside, we do find very fresh and telling fox tracks that often lead to a flight.
“I’ve had particular fun this trip. Alema’s footing seems to have improved – whereas in November and December she often would get her feet on a fox that would break loose, that almost never happened in January and February. We hawked a Siberian-esque winterscape. I frequently thought of the arctic when out hawking.
I feel lucky in the number of sheer vertical stoops we’ve had – it really is like waiting-on flying. The eagles power out from the mountaintop, high above a valley where the fox is, then choose their moment and plummet.
“Myself, I’ve changed leaps and bounds on horseback. I came to Mongolia with virtually no horse sense or experience, and little confidence. Its very rough and tumble riding, but boy is it thrilling. Imagine, after your eagle collides with a distant fox, jumping on your horse and whipping it into a gallop across the steppe. The wind in your face, speeding to assist your eagle. Its great. The horse is like an extension of yourself. Or, spying a fox running up and over a mountain, and galloping over as fast as your horse will carry you, hooded eagle with wings half-open in the wind, in an attempt to get a slip. I daresay there are applications for horses in eagle falconry outside central Asia.”