After collecting ‘Bert‘ my male Finnish goshawk on the 10th August 2008 the 3 hour drive home was very daunting. The commitment, determination and sacrifice needed to fly a goshawk is a partnership that few people are willing to enter into.
The training began after a couple of days getting used to his new surroundings where Edmund Bert’s waking method was the preferred route, as in my opinion I didn’t want to create excess stress with other prolonged training methods, thereby reducing the risk from aspergillosis, as I learnt on the recent veterinary course at Neil Forbes’ practice. During the training I instantly noticed his laid back temperament. A friend of mine was training a highly-strung German female goshawk at the same time, and we would be on the phone most nights comparing their temperaments.
He was entered two weeks later, and shortly after I could definitely see he preferred feathered quarry. I wanted a versatile partner so for the first few weeks we concentrated on rabbits to get his footing and confidence. I then introduced more aerial flights into the equation, and this is where I had the privilege of witnessing him going from strength to strength; wood pigeon, pheasant, partridge, magpie, duck and even woodcock were all on his menu. He did pull off a few cock pheasants in his first season but with hard work and conditioning flying strong mid-season cock birds he soon got his confidence, and these are now regularly taken in fine style.
The first season we were booked on the Welsh Hawking Club Field Meet at Llangollen. I had only been flying him for 21/2 months so was a little apprehensive, but even at this early stage he showed great courage and determination.
The following seasons with him have seen him going from strength to strength in his regular 600yd flights into the abyss. We have been on numerous local and national B.F.C. field meets where he consistently performs, regularly taking pheasants out of the air in front of speechless spectators.
As if his awesome field performance were not enough, he is a real pleasure to handle. He is regularly handled by various other people and has never once shown any aggression on the glove or on kills. A lion in the field, and a pussy-cat in the mews, his third season is now drawing to an end, I cannot wait until the next.
Pheasant – 54
French partridge – 5
Rabbit – 6
Mallard – 4
Teal – 2
Wood Pigeon – 3
Magpie – 5
Brown Hare – 1
Woodcock – 3
Moorhen – 4
Other – 6