Tuesday, July 29, 2008

July 29 2008

6:15-7:00 am
Going out to the field, noted overcast, high clouds, light breeze out of north-east; some rain on windshield.

For not wanting to waste helium, I deployed one of the leaky mylar balloons. Topped it off and tied kite line to the fill-up value, then anchored at north-west corner of field. Nice and shiny.

Not sure if I will deploy HK due to possible rain.

Note that the north end squawker still not operating.

Observed 6-8 robins in fld, w/a group of 9 that just entered, 4 finches, no starlings. 90% of birds are concentrating in an area of the berries at the northern 150' of the field. As far as I can see, the rest of field south, is free of any birds.

6:40 am

I did go ahead and deploy 1 HK. This between the north-west corner of the field and my woods, tied off to corn stalk with the unit out to a 3/4 length. I didn't want the HK to come down in berries should it rain before I got back, so kept the other in box.

Moved eagle to north end.

Berries are very ripe...some fall to light touch, 99% ripe-blue definitel ready to pick.

An OpEd, sidebar - -

Even though yesterday's bird pressure changed dramatically, and I worried that all is about to be lost, or was about to get much worse, we still won. The strategy did work! We were successful. Why?

Primarily because we got the fruit to maturity with only 1 or 2 days of significant starling pressure (50+ present yesterday). We avoided the large flocks or feared hoards. It could have been much worse. Until yesterday, the number of Starlings observed in the field from 7/4 to 7/28 were less than 10. That's success in my judgment.

Yes we had Robins. As I indicated in yesterday's post (July 28 2008), even direct, up-close, repeated blasts from a shotgun, even THAT does not deter them. From my observations in the field for the past 3-years, this confirms similar resistence to visual or auditory repellents by robins. They are tough ole birds! Their daily numbers ranged from 10-30 or so. If their damage is of concern to the grower, and we know these repellents do not work, then the only options left are: netting, or using taste repellent like Migrate or a sugar spray application.

Okay so we got the berries to full ripe condition. Now they need to be harvested. I understand some of the logistic struggles the grower (actually any grower) goes through, facing a significantly diminished labor force, and the trials with using a mechanical picker. It's going to take another week or so to get this fruit off the bush. THIS is now the most vulnerable time. So for now, this year, in this field, it really behooves the grower to provide someone to monitor the field at least for the early morning hours and late afternoon hours. This which will allow him to respond to any major Starling threat. It's much better security than wishful thinking an unmonitored automatic Lp cannon (or any form of unmonitored strategy) is doing the job.

I have some thoughts on what we could have done differently, or better, but that will come in a subsequent posting.

Now back-to-the-ranch.

7:03 am

I left the field w/apprx 25 robins still present.

7:45 am

Came back and took down HK and balloon...cause rain is moving in from the south.

Apprx 15 robins in field, again concentrated in the last 100' of the north end.

Hearing only 1 single hot cannon in distance ... Seems like most growers are monitoring and responding according to actual conditions in the field. Bravo!

1:15 pm

Drove north end of field.

Observed 5 robins, 4 finches, no starlings.

5:45 pm

Grower monitoring.

6:15 pm

Had light rain, with moderate winds out of the south for a while.

Drove north end of field.

Observed 3 finches...that's all. Saw a Coopers hawk over woods and my house circling westward.


REMEMBER: The villain is the Starling. It is not the grower.

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