Birds like Dogs!

I used to have a whole photo section called that, but Daniel reminded me of it when he sent these pics of his girl pup Maggie playing with Bramble, the falcon. He writes:

“She plays rough with the other dogs (this is a ‘doggy’ bitch, for sure), but never touches the bird.

“He is quite confident of his ability to put a dog in its place, either footing the dog in the snout or nipping  the nose – even then he pulls his punches.”

 Look at that TAIL.

Ours start early…

And some birds– well, one bird– actually fed the dogs in the summer after he grew up, during the time he would have fed nestlings. We had  to move him to where he could not reach the dogs, though he would call to them through the fence.

But then he grew up like this…

Tom McGuane on Raptors

Novelist Tom McGuane, while noted for his horses and pointing dogs, has always had a feel for birds of prey,  notices them, and on occasion writes lyrically about them. There is a vivid set piece in the novel Something to Be Desired, in which which the protagonist, LucienTaylor,  takes his young son, who does not live with him, to lure a Prairie falcon in to trap on a pigeon, using a falconry practice to band the bird to study. The child is frightened, startled  by the bird’s falling from the sky like a hammer onto the  luckless bait bird, but Lucien is ecstatic, with the emotions of a true hawk trapper.
“There were feathers everywhere, and the hawk beat in a blur of cold fury, striking at Lucien with his downcurving knife of a beak and superimposing his own screech over the noise of James. “We’ve got him, James!” James, quiet now, looked ready to run. The hawk had stopped all motion but kept his beak marginally parted so that the small, hard black tongue could be seen advancing and retreating slightly within his mouth. ‘It’s a prairie falcon. It’s the most beautiful bird in the world. I want to come back as a prairie falcon.’ “

This is a man who has been there. Here is another lyrical piece, from the more recent Driving  On the Rim:

Woodcock Here and There..

Well, not really here. The only Woodcock I ever saw in
Magdalena was a storm-blown starving vagrant that some neighbors brought
me and that died of starvation by the next day–being 500 miles off
course does not bode well for birds.  No, I mean in the US, and in the
traditional haunts of ‘Cock in Europe, where the birds are more than
twice as big as our US species. As they are the most delicious bird that
exists, if cooked right, this is a Good Thing.

I have written about the dense cover New England Woodcock inhabit,
to the mild amazement of my Western and European readers. Hers is Gil
Stacy’s pic of GEORGIA Woodcock habitat. There really is a dog in there,
though you have to look hard. (Double or right click to enlarge). Suffice to say that I would not walk or
put a dog in that cover without frost first–it is PERFECT for eastern
diamondback rattlesnakes, the largest venomous snakes in the US.

But they do well.

Of
course, like mine, his dogs are very disciplined. He wrote: “One thing I
find important in training dogs for woodcock is no coddling or
spoiling.  Human contact should be at a minimum except for feeding and
canine work in the field.  It also pays to harden dogs by leaving in
kennels with concrete floors, especially in the cold.  A spoiled dog is a
ruined dog.  Here are Abby and Willa in their kennel contemplating the
hunt.”

Gil’s
partner in the hunt is the sporting wood carver-sculptor Floyd Robbins.
He doesn’t just make images of LIVE birds– he carves dead ones good
enough to fool me.

My e- friend Djamel Talha runs the fine gun blog La Chasse et les Fusils Fin Here are a few of his pics from a Woodcock hunt in Brittany, with a fox and a Red- legged partridge.. 
 

He wrote: “I was invited by my two friends Patrice Eyrolles, a real purist passionate woodcock and Patrick Morin, a Brittany Spaniel world renowned trainer, in the homeland of the latter, namely, Brittany, a region woodcock ultimate. My wife and I spent a memorable week!

“Woodcock on the photo, it is me that I shot. With the help of the formidable Irina female dog of  my friend Patrice; she just two years and at the edge of a wood, it successively traverses three hurdles surrounding an adjacent field, taking care to have a good side so that the wind brings him fumes. Observation justified by the sudden immobility of Irina on the hedge on my left. Arrived at ten meters two woodcocks off from the other side of the hedge under the nose of the dog. However I could follow their eye off well and I deduced that they would seek refuge down below, on the edge of a wood. As soon as we come to this place a few minutes later, I see Irina petrify, then I follow the flight of Beautiful, to finish the action with a superb shot from about 60 meters, leaving the bird fall by the Holy Spirit to provide the little spaniel pleased to report his trophy.”

Kirk Hogan, who shoots in Normandy, adds this link.

 And for old times sake, me with Woodcock and Parker, ca 1975.

New Dutch

Dutch Salmon has a new collection of outdoor tales: Country Sports II: More Rabid Pursuits of a Redneck Environmentalist.  (Available from High Lonesome Books, PO Box 878, Silver City NM 88062).  I think it is his best and most varied yet. I don’t think I can “review” it any better than to use my introduction, which I volunteered- for free, for the record.