VadimGorbatov

American Travels  With Vadim Gorbatov as
Fidget’s Freedom Receives an International Reception

A Roving Raptorial Report by Peter Reshetniak: Beginning November 5th, REF is pleased to host Russia’s premier wildlife artist as he visits America.  Vadim is the wildlife artist who has taken on the creative challenge of illustrating the story of Fidget, a peregrine falcon as she begins her life in the wild after being bred in captivity.  With the first book completed, Fidget’s Freedom has set a very high standard for children’s natural history books.  Visit these pages to travel with Vadim as REF officials introduce him to the American West, while he researches people and places for the next two books in the Fidget series. 

Nov 24, 2006: Because of an arduous traveling schedule, we have had to revise our publishing agenda. With little spare time for all the work to edit and publish images from our trip, plus limited internet connections, we will be developing  Vadim’s story in the coming days and weeks.  Meanwhile, here’s a little taste of the exotic part of this journey where over 100 international guests made Kearney, Nebraska the place to be if you were into raptors and falconry.  Russian was just one of the languages you would hear as you walked through the Holiday Inn which hosted the North American Falconer’s Association (NAFA)  annual meeting and the International  Association  for Falconry (IAF) meetings as well. 

Besides the large contingent of American falconers, visitors at our booth hailed from Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Austria, France, Spain, Mexico, Japan, Bulgaria, Turkmenistan (pictured left), Kazakhstan, Australia, Argentina, Slovenia, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, and immediately gravitated to the outstanding vision and talents of Vadim Gorbatov on display with a wide selection of his signed prints and their first copies of Fidget’s Freedom.  Visitors lucky enough to find Stacey Patterson, the author, and Vadim at the booth got autographed copies of Fidget to add to their personal collections. Several dozen visitors got that lucky, and even luckier yet, were a few that had their books remarqued on the spot. A remarque is an original sketch drawn onto one of the pages by the artist. Stacey Patterson, Fidget’s Freedom author along with Vadim present Kent Carnie, curator of  The Archives of Falconry housed at the Peregrine Fund’s Boise headquarters a signed archival copy of Fidget’s Freedom. But last we heard, Boise is not in Nebraska?  Oh yes, a very generous donation from the Emirate’s Falconer’s Club, along with the dedication and hard work of Frank Bond, NAFA’s legal counsel, provided a chartered 737 jet (see below) to fly all the international delegates and other invited guests to the Boise facility and back in one day….meals included! Vadim also donated a complete set (25) of the prints he had carried from Russia to the archives collection in Boise. Here Kent listens to Vadim relating some historical notes involved in the research Vadim compiles on all of his historic falconry pieces. 

Vadim is currently working on a series depicting  oriental falconry practices, which is why he was keenly aware of the invaluable asset the Archives of Falconry represents.  Kudos to Mr. Carnie for the persistence of his efforts!

In return for Vadim’s generosity, Kent donated  a copy of John & Frank Craighead’s book, Life With an Indian Prince, which Vadim perused intensely when time allowed.  This contained extensive visual and written information of great import for Vadim’s future works.

 

Vadim's Work

One of the treasures at the archives (there were  many ) were two Japanese scrolls containing the working drawings for the Mirror of Hawks publications, which were featured in 5 booklets depicting the exquisite drawings of the artist, Kyosai  Kawanabe (1831-89). These masterpieces comprise what is probably the single most comprehensive look at Japanese falconry and the high level of art it had attained.  As fortune would have it, Zenjiro Tagomori, the 17th Grandmaster of SUWA hawking school was also present to translate through an interpreter what we were seeing on the scrolls…see below.

Vadim's Work

One of the exquisite study drawings by Kyosai Kawanabe depicting a tail mounted adornment for a goshawk.

photo by Anne Price

 

Vadim's Work

Zenjiro Tagomori (immediately left), Stacey Patterson, and Mr. Tagomori’s interpreter, Noriko Otsuka also a falconer with Vadim far left, after having finished viewing the first scroll. From Russian to English to Japanese back to English, then to Russian.  Our group gathered a large crowd around as the scrolls were unrolled. Total length of both scrolls was said to be around 54 meters.  The paper was hand made from mulberry bark with crushed mica imbedded and then strengthened with a separate sturdier backing. The mica added a remarkable shimmering quality to the background as if glitter had been used to coat the surface. The dancing light brought a magical quality to the beautifully delineated drawings.

 

photo by Anne Price

Vadim's Work

Anne Price and Stacey Patterson pose in front of  The Archives of Falconry with the city of Boise behind them down in the valley. The Peregrine Fund is nicely situated atop a ridge with beautiful views on all sides. Frank Bond, NAFA general counsel (center) introduces the two representatives of the UAE royal family, who made the entire trip possible for all the international delegates. 

Vadim's Work

 

photo by Anne Price

Heading for Boise, REF’s crew on board: starting with Stacey Patterson, Fidget Freedom’s author sitting next to Fidget’s illustrator, Vadim Gorbatov, and monitored by Anne Price, REF’s Curator of Raptors. Anne did a lot of monitoring, with over 30 raptors (including her own) two kids and a dog, she is really good at monitoring–everything!

Anne also brought her own Merlin to the falconry meet, where her swift little falcon wowed international guests as it battled with a herd of dairy cows for her daily starling…see below.

One Magical Merlin

A truly international contingent of witnesses saw Anne Price’s magical merlin take another starling from the midst of a herd of dairy cows.  This was the second spectacular flight for Anne’s Merlin in which she busted a flock of starlings which were using a herd of dairy cows for cover (they sat on the ground beneath the cows), but one persistent Merlin kept stooping to flush them out and it worked: another starling snack for one hungry Merlin.

From left to right: Claude: Switzerland, Adrian: Mexico, Jose Antenio: Peru, Anne Price: USA, Fernando: Spain, Stacey Patterson with Anne’s Merlin: U.S.A, Manfred: Spain, Elodie: Spain, Ron: Washington state.

photo by Anne Price

Vadim's Work

In the pink, so to speak- Anne with her magical Merlin, which Vadim has so rightfully depicted below as “Cowgirl.” “Cowgirl Tish”  Vadim’s tribute to Anne’s Magic Merlin…see note below about caricatures.

Vadim's Work

Back in Kearney: From Russia, (Vadim), with Assylkhan Artykapaev of the National Ecological Society of Kazakhstan (hat), and Ata K. Aberdayev, the Chairman of the Turkmenistan Falconry Society (see first picture above), with love….developing.  And yes, there were many cool hats! 

REF’s booth was quite popular with the international delegates as many of them were familiar with Vadim Gorbatov’s outstanding falconry paintings depicting many different cultural relationships between people and raptors that go back thousands of years.  Vadim and his son, Andrei, had printed a representative cross-section of Vadim’s paintings in a print series which sold very quickly.  One delegate from Holland came up to the booth,  and when he saw Vadim’s prints, he simply bought one of each, 25 all together. These were signed prints and it was the first time they were available to an American audience.

An image from the Turkmenistan Falconry Society calendar gifted to REF by Ata K. Abedayev.

 

Photo by Vadim Gorbatov

Vadim's Work

Assylkhan Artykapaev in full native falconry regalia poses with Jackhammer, one amazing male golden eagle, whose name implies both a threat and a promise. Jackhammer’s current season counts 70 hares (jackrabbits) taken up to this point with a lifetime total approaching 400. They are some “wild and crazy guys.” Developing….

 

Vadim's Work

Honestly, no alcohol was involved and no human was harmed during this picture session. Joe Atkinson, Jackhammer’s master gives everyone a wonderful moment as he does some cross-cultural dressing…it was a good thing the eagle was hooded. Joe Atkinson and Jackhammer were also included in a piece on PBS’s Nature program called Raptor Force.

photo by Anne Price

If you think we were out there just driving around and partying, well that would be a small part of it.  Vadim was also researching settings and contexts for Fidget’s Folly and Fidget’s Family, the next two books in the Fidget series. Come and see what Vadim has been doing to record his experiences as he travels across Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Nebraska. Just click on 

 Vadim's Work

The man from Massachusetts with one amazing Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis). We extend thanks to Richard Morrison for for taking us out with his wonderful bird, so well trained that I could reach in while it was plucking its bunny, and it had no interest in footing me.

Photo by Vadim Gorbatov

On the very first leg of Vadim’s journey into the American West, we were hosted by the exemplary natural history writer, Stephen Bodio and his wonderful wife, Libby, in the wilds around their Magdalena, New Mexico home.

P.S. if you ever get a chance to sample any fare from the Bodio kitchen, DO NOT pass it up, and do not miss reading  Querencia, one of Steve’s most brilliant books.

Steve and Libby took us to a remarkable find, a nest fabricated almost entirely from wire fencing materials- including barbed wire.  One of Steve’s biologist colleagues was pretty certain that a local Ferruginous Hawks (Buteo regalis), had decided it was into the heavy metal motif.   

Lee Henderson’s vast ranch housed not only the metallic nest, but numerous other species- all firsts for Vadim, and then Steve and Libby took us to the Spur, the local (and only) pub hangout in Magdalena where we met numerous friends the Bodio’s have acquired over the years including Lee himself. 

Looking like a vision out of the old west, Lee’s great mustache, weathered jeans, boots and cowboy hat, had Vadim asking me in Russian, ” was this dress and appearance just for tourists?”  And when a young, good-looking classic, tall cowboy walked in complete with spurs, Vadim repeated the questions. This prompted Lee to walk out and return with his own hand-made spurs and the story behind how he acquired them over a $2.50 bar tab- but you would have had to have been there.  Numerous shots of vodka and “Mexican vodka” i.e., tequila were offered up as toasts flew back and forth across the bar.

” Petro, are you sure this is not just for tourists?” 

“Nyet touristov zdec!”

Photo by Libby Bodio

About the only thing not metallic about the nest, is the jumping cholla (genus Opuntia) supporting structure.  Are we looking at an evolutionary imitation/adaptation of  the Very Large Array just west of Magdelena?  The X- Files is still alive and well in New Mexico.

 

Vadim's Work

Steve and Vadim pose with two of Steve’s Tazi hunting dogs. Steve has the only Tazis in America and imported them from Ukraine and Kazakhstan where they are renown for their graceful swiftness  in pursuing game across the vast steppes of this wild and remote country. Steve took Vadim to visit the Water Canyon peregrine eyrie, which has been active for over 25 years just south of Magdalena before we had to head back north to Denver and the subsequent parts of Vadim’s itinerary.

 

Vadim's Work

On the way north to Denver, we spent one night and part of the next day at the 36,000 acre Bar NI ranch adjacent to Stonewall, Colorado. Here Vadim got a chance to see his first Mule Deer.  Numerous pencil sketches were produced.  As we left the ranch towards Cucharra Pass and back to Denver, a flock of turkeys also made themselves available for study.  Unfortunately, the large amount of elk on the ranch kept themselves hidden (the hunt was on) so Vadim would delay seeing these magnificent creatures until later in his trip. Wyoming and grouse hawking

 

Vadim's Work

photo by Anne Price

Working together, dogs, gyrfalcon, and everyone gets a bite.

Vadim's Work

photo by Anne Price

 

 

photo by Anne Price

Sam Crowe and one of his gyrfalcons pose with Vadim amidst the heavy sage brush cover where Vadim saw some great flights, herds of pronghorn antelope, lots of golden eagles, and too much more to simply write about- his paintings say much more. Developing…

photo by Anne Price

Vadim's Work

Dr. Eric Rattering, DDS, from Wisconsin came to visit his old friend, Vadim, with Eric’s beautiful Siberian Goshawk.  This captive bred specimen was an exquisite example of  “Teterevyatnik”, described in Birds of the USSR, “In the extreme northeast of the USSR, nearly white specimens are occasionally found.” For the extreme northeast, imagine the Kamchatka Peninsula.   Eric brought this beauty to the meet, and she had yet to have her first kill.  This was to be her debut, and from what Eric told us, she was magnificent in her first pursuit of the first jackrabbit she had ever seen.  She pursued it, and pursued it, claiming her prize, and then having the hare escape, and then reclaiming it several times before this giant white killer took her first wild meal. 

photo by Anne Price

This ain’t like any Goshawk you may have thought you knew….Legend has it that they take red deer, brown bear, and dentists. Their eyes remain yellow, instead of turning garnet-red like the Northern Goshawks in America.

 

Vadim's Work

photo by Anne Price

The final leg of our long journey took Vadim to Rocky Mountain National Park to see Colorado’s famous elk. Here, the Moraine Park herd consists mostly of cows- a vast majority of the bulls have gone off after the rut in bachelor groups.

 

photo by Anne Price

We were able to get Vadim close to  the herd so that he could get an opportunity to sketch the animals for the first time.  At one end of the herd a few very young bulls were still part of the larger cow herd.

 

photo by Anne Price

 I’ve seen and studied the work of many artists in a variety of genres.  In the field of wildlife art I discovered years ago that only the very, very best can do what Vadim has so beautifully done with the caricature on the left representing one of the experiences he observed. Deftly drawn with pen on paper, Vadim captures the end of the hunting day in our journey to the Sandhills of Nebraska.

Drawn from memory, Vadim left several of these behind as gifts to a lucky few.  P.S. this is a general caricature, so the identities of the participants have been protected, including yours truly.  Peter Reshetniak

Unless credited otherwise, all photos are by P. Reshetniak

November 30th: Farewell to Vadim– It had to happen- Vadim’s journey in America came to an end.  I took him to Denver International Airport where we spent the final two hours recounting his journey across parts of the western U.S. Because of REF providing consulting services at the airport, I have security clearances to get into the “sterile” areas, which allowed me to escort him right to the gate. On the way , I showed him one of the DIA Bubos, and again he exclaimed how good it was to see wildlife living in such close proximity to humans.

Throughout his trip two impressions kept reoccurring: how clean our countryside was, no matter whether we traveled in big cities or little towns, and the ready smiles that greeted him everywhere. Our last relaxed moments were spent in the Cowboy Bar on concourse A.  On the walls were mounts of mule deer and bison plus a lot of  shiny manufactured cowboy trinkets, which brought us back to the wonderful time we spent with Steve and Libby Bodio at the Spur (bar) in Magdalena, NM., and the real cowboys with real spurs and real lives creating a life within the context of America’s sparsely populated west. No reality TV needed. There were still some wild and free spaces epitomized by the like’s of Lee Henderson and the Bodio’s as they release their Tazis across those vast spaces that enable some souls to lift themselves free of unwanted conventions.

While we walked to the gate for his departure, up ran Assylkhan Artykapaev of the National Ecological Society of Kazakhstan. He  greeted both of us effusively.  We learned he was just coming back from lecturing in San Francisco, and was to be on the same plane with Vadim.  A strange world indeed.

I was reluctant to leave, but Vadim suggested I should as he might also let slip his own tears, which I had already released.  On the way out, both great-horned owls were sitting together, quite alert as the sun slipped behind the mountains, and the sub zero temperatures cracked the dusky curtain settling around them.

Winter was back.

 Fidget’s Folly was now fully informed and awaiting Vadim’s magic to come to life.

Peter Reshetniak

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Our stay at the NAFA/IAF convention in Kearney was memorable on many fronts.  Many thanks to Tom Muechler and Kevin Thompson  from Montana for taking us to watch their gyrs fly on prairie chickens in the Sandhill country of Nebraska. Our sincere gratitude to Frank Bond, William Johnston, and Kent Carnie for arranging the tour to The Falconry Archives. We wish to thank the numerous people who stopped by our booth to share memories and experiences from all over the world, especially  Dmitri Saksa,  from Estonia trying to organize a raptor protection organization in his country.  We wish him all the best.  We wish success to Dave Thomas and Deanna Curtis, who have taken on the historic attempt to train a pair of Swainson’s Hawks (Buteo swansonii) for falconry despite a great deal of skepticism from fellow falconers- opening new doors is never easy. Many thanks to Sylvia Redling for contributing her enthusiastic help at our booth and with her wonderful cocktail hour delights.  And to all of those whose names escape me at the moment, thank you!  Peter Reshetniak

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