Kill Bill a Finnish male goshawk was collected at 18 days from M & J Raptors and was my first attempt at social imprinting; Bill was to provide a new learning experience from my other previous efforts with male Finnish goshawks. At the age of 7 weeks he was flying and entered during the hot month of July on crows at 1-11 ?, during initial rearing he wasn’t allowed to go fat and at 1-15 still provided instant lure response – with all food offering governed by lure response, the penning weight was also his flying free weight but needed reducing to a lower weight of 1-11 ? for determination and effort on the difficult early crow flights.
The first weeks soon showed his potential at feathered quarry with every other day progress could be evident, taking numerous crows, magpies and woodpigeon during the initial few weeks of hunting. I’d never managed to catch a woodpigeon in flight before but Bill took 5 and flew others for hundreds of yards before breaking off the pursuit – at this early stage it was evident that long flights with maximum effort even with failure to catch difficult quarry wouldn’t dampen his spirit or effort. This led to a very high level of fitness before the partridge season opened on September the first and things looked well for the coming months.
The partridge season opened and he went on to take 19 wild grey partridge during the month of September and the first two weeks of October. The quality of the flights on partridge far exceeded previous season’s efforts; the style of the flight being the highlight of what flying a goshawk is all about – a powerful unrelenting wing beat near to ground level then rising to bind to the partridge. One flight still stands out in my mind; he took on a grey partridge from a point and cleared the surrounding fields taking the partridge through and over a housing estate. The goshawk and partridge could be seen in the distance rising and falling over the roofs as the pursuit continued, I finally tracked him down to a terraced houses’ small front garden plucking the partridge – words don’t do the flight justice.
This high level of fitness combined with the earlier successes enabled him to take pheasants in a similar style, with long slips and flights being the norm. Bill flew on many invites and field meets throughout the country and never disappointed in style or determination. Continued to take pheasants at 1-15 ? until January when family and work commitments brought the season to an end. The season wasn’t without difficulties but looking back the quality and style of the flights made it worth it.
Quarry taken during the season –
19 Grey Partridge
1 Red leg Partridge