We did have a contingency plan in place for inclement weather, but didn't exercise that option, and in the end the weather dominated the latest Nebraska Falconers' Association field meet, held this past weekend in Kearney and neighboring Elm Creek. A mix of mist, drizzle, rain, sleet, and snow kept things varied, but uniformly damp, on Saturday. We actually found good numbers of cottontails, but had little success catching them with wet hawks. Of the five redtails and one goshawk flown, only one redtail—Oliver, a passage tiercel flown by first-year apprentice Adam Jones—caught a rabbit, and that was after a hunt of less than two minutes.
Adam let Oliver take his time feeding on the kill, so the rest of us took a break and snacked on homemade spring rolls, brought by associate member Don Nguyen. After flying a few more hawks—and visiting with Bob Noble, down from Long Pine for his first meet in several years—we dined at Luke & Jake's Bar-B-Q in Kearney, then retired to the meet hotel, where guest presenter Kirk Hohenberger screened Raptors At Risk and gave a brief talk on raptor electrocution and power pole safety.
Some members left on Saturday evening, despite the worsening weather, and that proved to be a good decision. Those who left late Saturday night or on Sunday morning faced a harrowing drive home, thanks to icy roads and white-out conditions which prompted numerous road closures across the state. For the few of us who remained, with winds steady at 30 mph and gusting even higher, hawking was of course out of the question, but we did gather in Greg Mikkelsen's room to watch hawking videos shot by Kirk in his home state of Montana and on holiday in Scotland.
I'll leave you with a few photos I took on Saturday, despite the wet conditions.
[Adam Jones and Oliver]
[Chris Podraza with passage merlin, still in training]
[Chris Remmenga with Krieger, passage goshawk trapped in Minnesota]
[Krieger in flight]