I have been a fan of Marshall Telemetry for as long as I have been using telemetry in falconry. Sunday, I just became a much bigger fan.

I was hunting my 13 year old goshawk Angel in a small spot along a blocked off road that I like to use to get hawks and dogs warmed up. Its loaded with rabbits, and the cover is small and contained so the same rabbits can be bumped around over and over. It still is western washington, which means the cover consits of blackberry briars. I am suffering from a weak dog team this year, and having a tough time getting my dog power warmed up.

I was walking along the road, waiting for my dog to find something interesting with my hawk hooded. When the dog finally hit some hot scent, I unhooded the hawk and carried her on a pole perch hopeing for fun.

A few minutes later, she left the pole perch and flew up to a power pole. As I watched her climbing, I was amazed once again at her power of flight - she was standing on her tail and climbing to the top of a 40 foot pole that was 10 yards from where I was standing, an impressive rate of climb. Just before she landed, my attention was drawn to the pole she was landing on - and my stomache sank as my intuition screamed about trouble brewing. The pole had three lines - one on the top of the pole in the center, and two on a horizontal bar spaced at most 18 inches from the center of the pole. Big risk of a fried hawk.

After weighing the options, I decided the best course of action was not to call her down immediately and risk her touching wires on her way down, but to hope I got lucky and wait for her to move. I kept a very close eye on her as I tried to draw her further down the pole line by moving the dog and beating the blackberries.

After several minutes, Angel anxiously hopped around on the pole, repositioning herself. It was a very tense moment, but everything came out ok. I turned to check on the dog for a minute, then looked back and Angel was gone. I didnt hear her bell ring, and in looking around couldnt see her perched anywhere.

I rushed to the pole, expecting the worst, and looked around the base. There was an electric livestock fence keeping me from getting to the acutual base of the pole, and there was a lot of tall grass around the base which further complicated the search. And then I saw the worst sight I had seen in a very long time.... my goshawk lying lifeless in a clump of grass at the base of the pole.

After a bit of mental self abuse, I tried to figure out how to get to her without getting shocked. While looking through a way through the fence, I noticed some motion near Angel's body. I looked closer and saw she was mantling and then she started plucking something in her feet. A few minutes later, she walked out of the tall grass and into the short cropped grass that the livestock had been mucnhing on, and preened the scout transmitter on her back (mounted in a trackpack), which I never have seen her do, for several minutes.

I tried calling her to me, but she wouldnt respond. Now throughly confused as to what happened, I found a gate through the fence and walked over to Angel and picked her up to a rabbit leg on the glove. I was immediately overcome with the smell of burned feathers - and noticed that the feathers around the scout didnt look right. I also noticed that there were several goshawk body feathers on the ground where I first saw her. I examiner Angel quickly, and found a small wound in her back, right below the antenae of the transmitter.

I realized she had been shocked by the pole, and most likely knocked unconcious. As I walked back to the car I decided that a lost transmitter was a small price to pay in this dangerous encounter. Angel and I have been together since she was 21 days old. I'd gladly trade dozens of scout transmitters to keep her around.

When I got to the car, after I put angel into the giant hood I turned on my reciever just to confirm that the transmitter was toast. To my utter amazement, it was beeping.

I drove home and had my wife cast Angel while I looked her over. There was a ring of singed feathers around the scout about 2 inches in diameter. I dont know exactly how the transmitter was sitting when the shock happened, but the small wound I saw earlier was where some skin had been burned away, and the feathers were most damaged at that location. The feathers were less and less damaged from that wound outwards. I cut the trackpack off so that it wont interfer with her wound while it heals. Pity, she has worn it for 4 years.

No other sign of wounds - feet, wing tips, tail - all looked good.

Angel and I are very fortunate that this did not happen the day before. Feathers are very good insulators when dry, and excellent conductors when wet. The day this happened it was barely raining (meaning you'd be wet after standing out in it for an hour or so). The previous day it was dumping.

After putting Angel up, I took a closer look at the transmitter. Other than the nail polish I put on it to make it easier for me to identify, it looks like the day I took it out of the package when I first recieved it. No wear at all. Even the magnetic switch worked perfectly - after several tests.

I am very grateful that Marshall put all the time and effort that they did in designing a transmitter with a shorter antenae to reduce electricution risks to begin with, but I am tempted to think there is something else designed into this.

As a side note, I was talking about this with my friend Steve Layman shortly after I examined Angel, and he commented that it would be great to come up with a way to mount the transmitter onto something that kept the hawk insulated. I responded with "You mean like the plastic that the trackpack is made of??" We both had a good laugh over that.

Apart from the wound, which is healing, and the lost feathers Angel is acting completely normally.

Looks like I got lucky. Not as lucky as I initially hoped, but lucky just the same.