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Old Aug 29, 2014, 05:55 PM
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United States, NY, Buffalo
Joined May 2013
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My own personal hawk

Sometime in May/June of this year, I noticed a small grey hawk flying around the schoolyard where I fly my sailplanes. It was a juvenile red-tailed hawk and it made a ton of noise up there in the sky. You could tell it was testing its wings and checking out the lay of the land. I flew numerous times with that hawk, following it around the sky and just watching it fly.

Fast forward to today, that very same hawk has now grown up quite a bit and I still see it flying around the schoolyard practically every day that I am there. The last several times I've been out flying my DLG with the hawk in the sky, it always streaks across the sky and tries to "intimidate" my plane. I'd estimate that it has "attacked" my plane at least a dozen times or more in the last month. Every time it's the same deal: streak across the sky towards the DLG, flutters its wings and stops near the plane, then continues on in my thermal and circles happily along with my plane.

Today I spent maybe 5-10 minutes following it around the sky just having fun. Occasionally, it would fold back its wings and dart across the sky to another area. I would go into full reflex mode and follow it, then resume circling somewhere else in the sky in a new thermal.

Every time I go out to fly, I'm by myself. But I guess I'm not really "alone." I'll be sad if the hawk doesn't return to my field next spring. I've really come to think of him as my own personal hawk and I look for him every time I head out to the flying field.
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Old Aug 29, 2014, 06:09 PM
Out of helis, sanity returning
Tallahassee, FL
Joined Feb 2009
2,080 Posts
A couple of fields I fly at have Martin houses, and I'm always sad to see them go at the end of the season. Martins are absolute experts at finding low level thermals, and I'm and expert poacher when I see them in one. They will attack sailplanes, and the film covering on some of my planes bear beak marks from Martins.
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Old Aug 29, 2014, 06:17 PM
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United States, NY, Buffalo
Joined May 2013
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I've checked my planes for damage and haven't noticed anything yet. I think the hawk stops short of actually making contact with my plane. He just tries to "scare" it.

Funny thing is that I seem to out-climb the hawk in thermals quite often. I always just assumed they were so awesome at thermalling that it would be impossible to "beat" them. But in reality our little planes are no slouches. Many times I find myself starting lower and ending higher than the hawk after only a few minutes in a thermal.

That being said, they are still better at FINDING thermals than I am. When a hawk is circling, you just know it's a boomer. Even if I'm already in decent lift, I still leave it and fly over to the hawk if it's in a thermal, because I just know his thermal is better
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Old Aug 29, 2014, 09:03 PM
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United States, HI, Kailua
Joined Aug 2014
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Hawks are awesome, no doubt. They'll show you their claws and make threats and sometimes act on them. Coastal ridge soaring a hang glider, I can only assume that I was near a nest or something when a red-tail gave me the here-are-my-claws flip a couple times and, when I didn't leave, smacked me a good one. Came in from above and behind and >bang<. I found it the hawk left a razor-like 3/4" slice in reinforced HEAVY dacron.

Figuring I should be going, I dove...and the hawk followed. The little stinker chased me over 2 miles until I got to an area where there were people. Wow.

And as for climbing, I was thermalling a Cumic even with a mountain launch and thinking I was showing a hawk a thing or two and then realized there was a swarm of something that must have been edible or attractive in the lift and he was staying there at the buffet. Once he was done, he cranked into nice flat circle and left me in the dust.

Amazing pilots, those hawks.
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Old Aug 29, 2014, 09:23 PM
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United States, NY, Buffalo
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Yeah, I'm not going to pretend I'm some sort of big naturalist who wants to be "one with nature" or soar with the eagles, but in all honesty it is just really neat to fly around with hawks/vultures as if they are your friends up there in the sky, showing you the way.

I also like the fact that they're out there searching for thermals just like I am. We have a common goal. I've been in thermals where turkey vultures have flown from pretty far away just to join me. And likewise I've joined them and hawks in their thermals. I just think that's neat.

I've also noticed that hawks are pretty solitary birds, while turkey vultures are more social. Turkey vultures tend to congregate in a thermal (I've seen more than a dozen in a single thermal), but it's really unusual to find more than 1 or 2 hawks in a thermal. It's really amazing to see turkey vultures appear seemingly out of nowhere to join a thermal with other vultures.

Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever seen a turkey vulture and a hawk flying in the same thermal. Weird.
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Last edited by DrewV; Aug 29, 2014 at 09:29 PM.
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Old Aug 29, 2014, 09:23 PM
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Louisiana
Joined Oct 2005
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Lol....if they're not going up, it's because they don't want to.
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Old Aug 30, 2014, 08:52 AM
Out of helis, sanity returning
Tallahassee, FL
Joined Feb 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrewV View Post
(EDIT) I've been in thermals where turkey vultures have flown from pretty far away just to join me. And likewise I've joined them and hawks in their thermals. I just think that's neat.

I've also noticed that hawks are pretty solitary birds, while turkey vultures are more social. Turkey vultures tend to congregate in a thermal (I've seen more than a dozen in a single thermal), but it's really unusual to find more than 1 or 2 hawks in a thermal. It's really amazing to see turkey vultures appear seemingly out of nowhere to join a thermal with other vultures.

(EDIT)
Turkey buzzards are shameless poachers, but pretty easy to fool. Even if you aren't in a thermal, if you start circling like you have one, the buzzards will come over to investigate.

I've seem thermals with hundreds of buzzards in them down in central Florida. I think it has something to do with migration, and believe it or not, a large group of buzzards in a thermal is called a "kettle" of buzzards. Don't ask me- I would have said a "flock" or "flight".
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Old Aug 30, 2014, 07:44 PM
Sailaire brethren
United States, KY, Bowling Green
Joined Aug 2013
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A kettle is a group in flight while a vulture group seated as in a tree is called a committee.
Insert your own joke

Can't remember where my keys are but recalling this is not a problem
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Old Aug 30, 2014, 09:13 PM
Out of helis, sanity returning
Tallahassee, FL
Joined Feb 2009
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A group around a carcass is a "wake of buzzards". I would have called it a "buffet", but what do I know?
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Old Aug 31, 2014, 04:27 AM
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ROTA-CADIZ-SPAIN
Joined Jan 2008
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Hi buddies, nice birds of prey stories..., one of my own it is that near my hometown runway there is one of the biggest colonies of Grey Eagles in Europe and from time to time; we always try not disturb their lives, and even protect them from furtives and all that stuff, but anyway, ocassionally, one have the the oportunity to share the same thermal with them...
Regards.
Manolo.


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Old Aug 31, 2014, 05:51 AM
dare to thermal
Mannheim, Germany
Joined May 2004
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Here in germany im flying at an inland slope and i too love to be in a thermal together with some buzzards, red kites or falcons. Its always a special feeling. The bird here are never attacking the planes - sometimes we join their thermal sometime they join ours... just take care to fly in the same direction during thermaling. Two weeks ago i had the pleasure to fly together with four buzzard. I joined them in about 90ft, then we specked out together. One of these moments you will never forget :-)
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Old Aug 31, 2014, 07:24 AM
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Absolutly.....-
Manolo.
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Old Aug 31, 2014, 08:47 AM
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Yup, my hawk was around again yesterday as I was flying. Same routine -- came over at warp speed, stopped short of my plane, then appeared happy enough to just join my thermal. For about 5-10 minutes it would circle around, then leave to check out a new area of the sky. I would follow it, then it would follow me. Eventually it just bugged out and took off.

It really makes it interesting when I get a chance to fly with the hawk. It sort of gives me something to do rather than just fly my plane around.
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Old Aug 31, 2014, 02:43 PM
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San Diego area
Joined Jul 2006
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It is also exciting when your plane is very high and suddenly you notice one or two or three specs near your spec. They seem to suddenly appear out of nowhere.

Hawks seem to like to join in at high altitude.

But then you have to concentrate and fly the correct aircraft.

Craig
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Old Aug 31, 2014, 06:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by craigrrr View Post
It is also exciting when your plane is very high and suddenly you notice one or two or three specs near your spec. They seem to suddenly appear out of nowhere.

Hawks seem to like to join in at high altitude.

But then you have to concentrate and fly the correct aircraft.

Craig

I agree! I've been flying up pretty high (2000+ feet) and I've noticed that there are specs WAAAAAY up in the stratosphere that are much higher than my plane. You can tell they're birds (not planes), but man, they are REALLY high up there!
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