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Thread: ptarmigan teaser

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    Member Burke's Avatar
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    Default ptarmigan teaser

    Last week I easily saw two hundred ptarmigan in one large mountain valley. I had never seen that many before and I had never heard them quite so vocal nor had I seen them be so flighty. It was clear example of how one could spot and stalk ptarmigan. For some reason they were "chuckling" and moving about pretty much all day long for five straight days. The problem was, I had had a caribou tag in my pocket, no dog and a rifle! I can tell you lots of drool was spilled over my lip :-) I saw numerous groups of 15 to 30 birds and one larger group of 80 to 100. I was able to walk up these groups in succession so I know it wasnt all the same birds just splitting out. As I sat on ridge tops glassing caribou I could see multiple groups moving from spot to spot. It was almost constant.
    Pretty cool....
    I did not take the time to take as many photos or videos as I could have, but have one to share with you...it is one of the smaller groups I saw.
    I also watched a Northern Harrier trying to collect a meal. It was also there for the whole time.

    <embed width="600" height="361" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowFullscreen="true" allowNetworking="all" wmode="transparent" src="http://static.photobucket.com/player.swf" flashvars="file=http%3A%2F%2Fvid1204.photobucket.c om%2Falbums%2Fbb404%2Fdhsweets%2FPtarmigan9-11-121_zpsaef9446b.mp4">



    Not sure the best way to post video...hope it works.

    For a small finders fee (the cost of the 18 mile horse ride), I will divulge the exact location...maybe ;-)

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    Member MaxBaglimit's Avatar
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    Very cool! I love it when they are turning white and the ground is mostly brown. I saw a good flock last weekend in 13.

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    Now that is very cool! Having shot caribou before, I wish I were there with camera, dogs and shotgun. It appears you stumbled upon a pile of willow ptarmigan gathering together and moving toward wintering grounds. And going in there with horses, now that's cool. Your horses? I'm down to one very old (30+) saddle horse, too old to ride. I miss them...sometimes.

    Have a great season.

    Jim

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    Member JediMasterSalmonSlayer's Avatar
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    Nice teaser!!
    http://www.myfishingpictures.com/watermark.php?file=133776
    Jedi Salmon Powers Activated!
    www.alaskansalmonslayers.com


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    Quote Originally Posted by Burke View Post
    Last week I easily saw two hundred ptarmigan in one large mountain valley. I had never seen that many before and I had never heard them quite so vocal nor had I seen them be so flighty. It was clear example of how one could spot and stalk ptarmigan. For some reason they were "chuckling" and moving about pretty much all day long for five straight days. The problem was, I had had a caribou tag in my pocket, no dog and a rifle! I can tell you lots of drool was spilled over my lip :-) I saw numerous groups of 15 to 30 birds and one larger group of 80 to 100. I was able to walk up these groups in succession so I know it wasnt all the same birds just splitting out. As I sat on ridge tops glassing caribou I could see multiple groups moving from spot to spot. It was almost constant.
    Pretty cool....
    I did not take the time to take as many photos or videos as I could have, but have one to share with you...it is one of the smaller groups I saw.
    I also watched a Northern Harrier trying to collect a meal. It was also there for the whole time.

    <embed width="600" height="361" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowFullscreen="true" allowNetworking="all" wmode="transparent" src="http://static.photobucket.com/player.swf" flashvars="file=http%3A%2F%2Fvid1204.photobucket.c om%2Falbums%2Fbb404%2Fdhsweets%2FPtarmigan9-11-121_zpsaef9446b.mp4">



    Not sure the best way to post video...hope it works.

    For a small finders fee (the cost of the 18 mile horse ride), I will divulge the exact location...maybe ;-)
    Hi Burke,

    Have you ever seen a Gyrfalcon or Goshawk snatch one up out of the flock ? You were in Gyr country no doubt as that is the prey of course for the gyrfalcon. I am a falconer and love the Gyr ! smiles

    best,

    Gary Hampton,

    Fairbanks

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    Member Burke's Avatar
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    Gary, I have seen raptors take birds out of the air in Montana and Idaho, but never had the pleasure of seeing it here in Alaska. I did see on that trip what I thought was a Northern Harrier following the flocks and making several attempts but never saw him connect. I am sure he did at some point because I saw evidence on the ground in a couple spots, but I did not witness it first hand.

    I once watched a red tail (I think) try to catch gophers in Montana...it made several attempts and it would hit the ground so hard it would sit there dazed for a few moments before it would return to its perch in the cottonwood trees.

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    Member Burke's Avatar
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    Actually Gary, I have seen it happen in Alaska, but not with wild birds. I have seen a Goshawk take chukar that I use for training birds out of the sky...once just as I was about to pull the trigger...he swooped in and took the bird right out of my sights. They learn quickly where those "easy" targets are!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Burke View Post
    Gary, I have seen raptors take birds out of the air in Montana and Idaho, but never had the pleasure of seeing it here in Alaska. I did see on that trip what I thought was a Northern Harrier following the flocks and making several attempts but never saw him connect. I am sure he did at some point because I saw evidence on the ground in a couple spots, but I did not witness it first hand.

    I once watched a red tail (I think) try to catch gophers in Montana...it made several attempts and it would hit the ground so hard it would sit there dazed for a few moments before it would return to its perch in the cottonwood trees.
    Hi Burke,

    I bet you were watching a gyrkin , male gyrfalcon, they would do that very thing as you describe. Northern Harriers generally eat small rodents, maybe a bird or two but there feet are such they would have it difficult to be sucessful often with Ptar. I was up on the haul road near DeadHorse the other day and a female harrier (brown with white rump) flush two flocks of Ptars but with no chase. Male marsh hawks are grey with a white rump., Just sharing. If I knew how to put my picture in my posts you would see a gyrkin on my fist with my dog and a Ptarmigan he caught. Maybe I can post that and some pictures of my hawk taking Hares.

    best,

    Gary

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    Member tod osier's Avatar
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    Whoa, I didn't realize that was a video and couldn't see any birds . Wow, cool video, amazing to see the flush. Yes, I'm excited to see that for myself.

    Thanks,

    T

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    Quote Originally Posted by Burke View Post
    Actually Gary, I have seen it happen in Alaska, but not with wild birds. I have seen a Goshawk take chukar that I use for training birds out of the sky...once just as I was about to pull the trigger...he swooped in and took the bird right out of my sights. They learn quickly where those "easy" targets are!
    LOL, you got that right !! I love goshawks , they are AWESOME ! They are tremendous falconry birds, super fast off the fist to take upland game, ducks and hares.

    I lived in Nome for about 9 years and Ptars became my favorite game bird, they were so plentiful on there up cycle. I hunted them with a goshawk off of a snowmachine in March, that was a blast.

    good day,

    Gary

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    Member Burke's Avatar
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    Gary, I would love to see pictures...better yet would love to see your team (dog, bird and yourself) in action. I met a falconer in Montana but he was in between birds (having his first child, human child) so I never got out in the field with him.

    I thought it strange to think the Harrier was actually going for ptarmigan and being at that elevation, but It was brown with white rump band...maybe she was just playing head games with the ptarmigan???? :-)
    Must have been something else that left the evidence of ptarmigan dinner.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Burke View Post
    Gary, I would love to see pictures...better yet would love to see your team (dog, bird and yourself) in action. I met a falconer in Montana but he was in between birds (having his first child, human child) so I never got out in the field with him.

    I thought it strange to think the Harrier was actually going for ptarmigan and being at that elevation, but It was brown with white rump band...maybe she was just playing head games with the ptarmigan???? :-)
    Must have been something else that left the evidence of ptarmigan dinner.
    I'd like to see that as well. Can a pesron buy a falcon for hunting or do you have to capture one?

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    Burke, The raptor you described actually sounds like a Northern Harrier to me. I see them all over the hunting fields here in the interior, especially where I hunt sharptails.

    Armymark, You have to (thankfully) go through a long training and certification process with a licensed falconer prior to getting your own permits and licenses to have and to hunt a bird.

    I know one falconer here in Fairbanks. This topic gives me an idea for an article. I'd like to watch and photograph such a hunt.

    Jim

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    Member Burke's Avatar
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    As Jim said to become a falconer is lengthy and stringent process...I looked into when in Montana. Even had a guy that would sponsor me...but I am here now....

    Jim do you know the falconer in this thread, Gary? I believe there is another gentleman on the forums who is a falconer in Anchorage....Oats is his moniker and I think there is one somewhere around Cantwell....
    I would love to go along with a falcon/dog team...an article would be great Jim.

    I look forward to seeing it...be sure to let us know when it happens :-)

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    Burke,

    I don't believe I know this gentleman. The only falconers I know of these days are Randal Compton (the artist) and Bill Tilden, both gentleman living here in the interior. Bill took me out into his falcon barn one day a long time ago because I love raptors, and I was in total awe. He had a pile of goshawks and peregrines and I think one gyrfalcon. They were beautiful to look at and to be around. Amazing creatures. I've found a peregrine nest within a day's drive from Fairbanks and hope to photograph them next spring.

    Jim

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    Interesting subject. I had to google it and it seems that it takes about 7 years to become a "Master Falconer". Here is the link I found. There are clubs all over the world.

    http://www.n-a-f-a.com/WhatIsFalconr...ome_a_Falconer

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    Back in my Trooper days I heard F&W Troopers talk of falcon poachers stealing peregrine and gyrfalcons from nests up north, and selling those birds to filthy rich Saudi falconers for loads of money. I don't think that occurs much, or at all, any longer but not sure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Burke View Post
    Last week I easily saw two hundred ptarmigan in one large mountain valley. I had never seen that many before and I had never heard them quite so vocal nor had I seen them be so flighty.

    Many years ago I ran into the same thing here in the Kenai Mts. I was sheep hunting around the first part of Aug. and when I dropped down off a mountain to cross the valley below, as soon as I hit the base of the mountain they were getting up all over the place. It seemed as though groups of 5 to 50 birds would get up at a time. There had to be hundreds of them. I could only guess that I has stumbled onto a nesting area.
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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