The Auckland Racing Pigeon Federation (ARPF) held its first Federation race of the South Island series on the 18th of October 2014. At basketing some fanciers were already picking that the weather would be pretty bad for Saturday if the pigeons were let up. However this wasn’t the forecast for perhaps the first 25 to 30% of the race depending on whether one was a back marker or a front marker.
The problem that some people could see was that a ‘weather bomb’ might hit the race birds in the later part of the race. For back markers that could be about 220km i.e. 35% of the race and for front markers considerably less, about 100km i.e. 20% of the race.
Of course weather forecasts do change and this was Thursday night. Weather forecast viewed just prior to liberation can also be wrong in some instances.
The night before the anticipated Saturday liberation I viewed the metservice rural and 3 day rain forecast to see how things were looking. It actually appeared like there might be a narrow window of opportunity for a race that produced a fair percentage of pigeons home on the day i.e. 50% on average to ARPF lofts. Call me ‘optimistic ferg’, but I think many of us are naturally of this ‘ilk’.
The next morning I rose early and assessed the weather online and thought, there is a possibility that the pigeons would be let up, however, for the mid and back markers pigeon’s sake, it could be seen as a bit risky. Of course the first 25 to 30% of the race was highly likely to be good weather (including the treacherous Cook Strait) and a later video of the Ward liberation shows that the pigeons went up in sunny conditions with plenty of blue sky in a light nor-west wind. So one could surmise that the most important box i.e. reasonable conditions over the Cook Strait was indeed definitely ticked.
When later a post was made on the Federation site my eyes and mind misread it, it said AUCKLAND – HAMILTON AND MANAIA LIBERATED AT 7.15AM, but I had to do a double take as I did not see the word Auckland the first time. I had been convinced that the Auckland pigeons probably would not go up. However, at the same time I could see that there was still a possibility of a fair race to the liberated pigeons. Perhaps those involved with letting the pigeons go had seen something others including myself hadn’t.
So, I hoped that it still would be a good race and that there wouldn’t be too many empty perches that night for everyone. On the closed Facebook pigeon chat site I wrote “Good luck everybody! 7.15am lib. 8 hours to my place maybe i.e. 3.15pm, earliest 3pm but very unlikely, more likely 3.45 to 4.15pm i.e. 8.5 to 9 hours. Keep watching the rain radar but they would have had a good start for several hours or so. Get your gumboots out!”
Well this is what transpired at my place that Saturday afternoon. By 2pm it was raining at my place, but just light. From 3pm it was on the light side of moderate. Also by 3pm my back was wet through (even though I was wearing a thick coat) as I was looking to the south and the wind was from the north. At 4pm the skies turned dark grey/black to the north about 8km away and the wind picked up to moderate to strong northerlies. At this stage I thought that we are now in for a shit dunger and that only a few pigeons would make it home on the day, even to my loft and I was the front marker in this race! It would depend how far down this ‘weather bomb’ was tracking and when family came down the farm I asked my wife to look at the rain radar. When she returned with a hand drawn diagram I could see it was down as far south as Pio Pio and even parts of Aria i.e. about 140km from my place in Onewhero.
After a while I started looking north, sitting down all the time since by this stage it had worn me out. Sure enough a few minutes before 6pm a pigeon could be seen a long way in the distance coming back from the due north and obviously it had gone through with other pigeons and likely once it had got to the other side of the Waikato River somewhere it then realised that it needed to turn around. That was a 2 year old BCC 314; he finished 5th Flock East Section. Another two pigeons came about a minute apart about 10 minutes after 314, they were both hens. Both pooled, the first hen 1118 had scraped her wing, so she had done really well.
So for me, just the three home on the day from 50 sent and it was an early rise the next morning to greet each pigeon that came home. In the end I lost 12 of the 50 sent. Usually I don’t lose any from this racepoint. Apart from the weather conditions enroute my losses can be explained also by a number of features.
Firstly the Federation programme had cut out the usual first Bulls two day basket race. We had had a not so good for quite a few pigeons Bulls race the previous Old Bird season and this had put some people off having Bulls on the programme. Secondly, (and I agreed with the principle of this decision), the first scheduled two day basket i.e. the 7th race on the Old Bird programme was cancelled due to a bad storm forecast for that weekend, so in my case the pigeons got nothing that weekend and I am not able to train them. However, full credit to the ARPF team they arranged a Bulls race the following weekend in addition to the scheduled shorter Raetihi race. Some Federation members took advantage of this and raced the Bulls. I didn’t as the first Federation race from Raumati was the following weekend and I didn’t want to flatten them. As it turned out we had a good Federation race from Raumati and that got a lot of pigeons off to a good start.
Here’s some food for thought, an alternative way to proceed with racing after a key race weekend is cancelled would be to race that racepoint the following week and thus return to the scheduled programme. This would lengthen the season by a week, however, I think it is something worth discussing in meetings by those with the health to attend them (until the ARPF provide video conferencing for the infirm like myself). Race fitness is attained by the steady, gradual build up of the distance. To me that would be a better method than putting a two day basket on the week before the first Federation race.
Jim Cater, a West Section flier had the best returns in the results after the two days allowed for this Ward race. The West had raced from Raumati the weekend of the storm when Auckland racing was cancelled. They hitched a ride with the South Waikato pigeons. They had a good race, as the weather, although showery, allowed a liberation on the Sunday. This obviously helped the West pigeons reach a better level of match fitness for a hard race like this Ward race was.
Full credit to Steve and Magda Archer’s pigeon which won this Ward race by a long, long way (almost an hour). The East Section Futurity Yearling was won by Peter Longville senior and Jim Cater did the double in the West Section which meant he had won 6 West trophies by this stage (and he wasn’t finished yet!). In fact, if there was an overall result, Jim Caters pigeons would have taken the next three places after Archer and with further distance to fly than many, an excellent effort!
Please have a look at the results for the East and West Sections of the ARPF Ward by scrolling down to the Ward result blog on the 28th December last year.
As far as the East result goes, of the 328 pigeons sent, there were just 13 pigeons home on the official result sheet on the day i.e. 3.9%. In the West Section, 5 pigeons from 198 i.e. 2.5%, of course in general their distances are greater, although not the greatest.
I think that everyone participating in the race would agree that this is not brilliant; however, it is likely that not everyone would have been in agreement as to whether the pigeons should have instead been held over. There is no way of knowing for sure that day returns would be so bleak for a race ranging from 505 to 626km’s i.e. it was not really a long distance race at least in my mind, even for the back markers, so perhaps the risk of a ‘weather bomb’ was under estimated. All the same, run the race another day with exactly the same forecasting and on that particular day returns could well be much better, so it’s a very difficult one.
I think that there are two key factors why the race did not pan out as expected. Firstly, the misty, showery murk, probably from Whanganui northwards blanketing east to west across the island, with likely mainly less than moderate northerly headwinds and secondly the weather bomb, which perhaps exploded a bit earlier than expected into the final section of the race and travelled further south than expected, acting for many pigeons like a ‘gate’ between Kawhia Harbour and the west side of Hamilton City i.e. Mount Pirongia etc was completely hemmed in and to the south as far as Aria by around 4pm.
However, the bulk of the North Island looked reasonably good on the rain radar prior to liberation. With a front approaching from the north you are always going to get murky, showery conditions extending a lot further down the country. The weather was quite clear from Ward to somewhere perhaps almost as far north as Whanganui, so the pigeons had a good start and it was up to them whether they crossed the Strait with enthusiasm while enjoying the pleasant ferry crossing conditions in only light north winds. They also encountered these over land in the North Island for some time, perhaps to the northern border of the King Country i.e. just south of Aria. However as I mentioned before, there was this likely blanket of murk, mist and showers making it slow going through the many hills and valleys enroute.
I wouldn’t say that the liberation for this race was a poor one, it just wasn’t in my mind a really good one (due to the weather bomb risk factor) and it’s likely that every man and his dog in the ARPF both before and after this race would have an opinion on this one!
It could be that Steve and Magna’s Archer’s 3 year BBH 639 got around this ‘gate’ by taking a route through Hamilton with perhaps some Hamilton pigeons which were liberated with the ARPF’s, or it could simply be that it happened much earlier in the race somehow. All I know is that it was a terrific, gutsy effort by 639 and that all the other pigeons were ‘also-rans’ in this particular race. To win the East section against another 327 pigeons by 55 minutes is no mean feat and we must take our hat off to both the pigeon and the fanciers. Steve is blessed with a wife who enjoys the pigeons and they enjoy the many facets of the hobby together. Good luck to them at their new position over towards the firth of Thames! Also good luck fishing, Steve’s other hobby!
I’d like to thank all those involved in the running of this race. It wasn’t what most of us were banking on but it was another one under their belts for the rest of the South Island programme that lay ahead. I think it also shows that if say for instance when the little truck is down at Christchurch for a club race or the Old Bird National, then Ward is a relatively safe option for a plan b or c when we are presented with unfavourable weather conditions for our Christchurch races over any given weekend e.g. moderate or stronger east or nor-east winds in the South Island, Christchurch and north of, plus or minus one other factor e.g. gale headwinds over the Cook Strait any time during daylight on the anticipated day of release or drizzle and murk/mist along much of the South Island flight path corridors north of Christchurch.
This race showed that if the Cook Strait is good, then many of the pigeons return to their lofts within a few days of liberation, even if a worse case scenario weather forecast pans out as it did in the case of this Ward race. Assuming the overall losses from this race were 20 to 25%, then compared to the likely losses from last year’s Christchurch Old Bird National of perhaps around 75% given just 11.5% (34 pigeons) were clocked in three days from 294 pigeons released in the East Section race, then I think my argument of ‘if in doubt’, after trying for a liberation from Christchurch for two days then the little truck should drive to a shorter release point, somewhere along the Kaikoura Coast or even as far north as Ward for a possible mid morning release after watering the birds.
Incidentally we are looking at an extra 45 minutes or so in day length in late November early December than mid October and although an e.g. Ward race doesn’t guarantee freedom from heavy losses, if the Cook Strait is reasonable, then well over half the pigeons are likely to make it home in a few days. In the Ward race of the 18th October 2014 the figure was 57% to East lofts and that doesn’t take into account the situation where fanciers disconnect their clock well before leaving for strike off and any fliers that for whatever reason, don’t present a clock, even though some pigeons are home.
Your thoughts and wise comments are welcome below in the comments or on any of the Facebook forums this article is published in. Alternatively email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Facebook Fergus James Elley.
Any of you (including overseas readers) who would like to ask Kerry Frazer some questions about pigeon racing, especially the long distance please email them to me or pop them in the comments section below please. There are some blogs in the pipe line on our last year’s Invercargill race which Kerry won along with the Old Bird National from Christchurch.
Closed racing pigeon chat rooms are certainly a big asset to the sport. I actually run one, on Facebook, its ‘Pigeon racers Chat Room, Auckland, rest of NZ and further’. If you are a racing pigeon enthusiast please feel free to request membership. The more members the merrier and remember it is closed. If you have trouble finding it then message me on Facebook, Fergus James Elley.
So, what are the advantages of closed pigeon chat rooms for world pigeon bodies? Naturally, it is a great way of interacting with new people around the world with the possibility of forging new friendships, some of which may turn into life long ones.
Secondly, it provides a bulletin type service when fanciers are in need of assistance with obtaining clocks, new birds, race information and results etc.
Also, the sharing of pigeon articles by members is a great way of adding to your knowledge pool. Facebook’s design is set up so that it is very easy to share links to all sorts of things pertaining to pigeon racing on the internet.
Although I am unable to work and some might think this means I have all the time in the world to locate and digest copious quantities of pigeon information on the net, this in reality is not true. A healthy retiree would have ten times the amount of time to undertake such activities if they would choose to do so!
Another big advantage I see is that when there are contentious subjects to discuss, then such a closed group allows fanciers to do so in a safe and private way. For instance, if some in a said group think that some things could have been done better at times, then due to its closed nature this is an excellent forum for such discussions.
If you like, it is very similar to a closed meeting situation of which, when I was on meds to stabilise the pain and inflammation of my CFS, I would attend at times both at a club and Federation level. Of course the forum of meetings can be one of conjecture and even rowdiness; we only have to turn on the TV and watch our MPs to observe that this is a true statement!
So too, chat rooms may at times get heated. But let us remember that iron sharpens iron and conflict in discussions doesn’t mean that there isn’t something to be learnt or is not valuable to the improvement of the sport. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. In saying this, there is no place for rudeness.
Several years ago, when in better shape and on more meds, I was put in the chair to be acting president by the then Federation President Howard Luff when he resigned. Had I become President I would have welcomed groups like the one which I run on Facebook. However, I didn’t take on the position for health reasons and the greater legal obligations that come with running an Incorporated Society.
Indeed, closed chat rooms are an excellent forum for fanciers to give feedback to their governing body on the many aspects of running a pigeon organisation including races and their outcomes.
Free speech is certainly to be encouraged and within closed groups it can’t really go wrong as there are rules to follow; members can edit their comments, perhaps even apologise or even remove them if need be and so on. Complaints can be made directly to Facebook or the moderator can be written to with a clear intelligent argument from an individual or group of fanciers why they think something might need changing.
Certainly gagging efforts should be frowned upon as they simply curb free speech and may even give those instigating the gagging the appearance of being undemocratic.
Since the inception of the internet, the rate at which public opinions and political movements have formed, have increasingly accelerated and thus public consensus has been achieved and communicated at a much faster pace. Modern political parties have harnessed the political power of the internet for some time now and even pigeon bodies should use it for good and to their advantage without subjecting members to repressive actions.
Most people use the internet and anyone over 13 years of age can join Facebook. So for example, in the case of my closed Facebook pigeon chat room, it is open to every pigeon fancier to join and so have the right of reply and opportunity to participate. If they don’t have a pc or smart phone then they can always visit the library!
However, I would advise not to single out specific people in comments, especially those not in the chat room as it’s unfair and they might get upset. Remember, to only write that which you are happy to have others read and would not like to be said about you. After all, we are only human! Also technology does not absolve one of responsibility.
However, if we are to keep seeing positive changes in pigeon racing around the world then the important issues still need to be discussed. Some of us can’t attend meetings for different reasons and thus a closed group forum is an alternative avenue to discuss ‘the good oil’. Do you agree?
There really are no detrimental effects of discussing pigeon welfare in closed pigeon groups. To me it shows external agencies (we have the SPCA here in nz) that the sport around the world can still be internally regulated since freedom of speech and of expression in the forms of ‘fair comment’ is paramount for the sport’s survival. I personally saw the benefits of this in the Auckland Racing Pigeon Federation from the South Island old bird races in 2012 and 2013. Simply put, ‘they were two glorious, golden years” since rigorous discussion was permitted on this blog around three years ago and even more rigid release protocols instigated and we can really praise those involved in those series of distance races from the South Island in 2012 and 2013, well done!!
In addition, the danger to the sport of the banning or curbing of certain aspects of pigeon racing anywhere in the world are more likely to come from the circle of friends of fanciers who have been within the sport for a long time and know the sport backwards, upside down and inside out. Harassment of such fanciers, especially if they have major health issues may result in their friends deeming them disenfranchised and might just be the straw which broke the camel’s back for those fanciers’ friends who may then instigate whistle blowing to animal welfare agencies and even Human Rights agencies. I would imagine that most people running pigeon organisations around the world would not welcome such actions and really it should not be necessary in a democratic, civilised arena.
The South African Million Dollar Pigeon Race isn’t an event which pleases everyone, even within pigeon racing itself. But one thing I would commend them for is that they run an OPEN Facebook Page which any Facebook member can comment on and critical comments (which might be taken by some as derogatory) from my studying of the SAMDPR page, are left for public scrutiny and surveillance i.e. there is no gagging and free speech is not frowned upon!
One might surmise that South Africa has come a long way given the apartheid history and who knows, perhaps South Africa will lead the way in the future with pigeon rights. Indeed, with the opposition to the SAMDPR from groups like PETA, they may well have to. It is very interesting to see that both Vets and animal welfare groups are welcomed and included in the proper running of the SAMDPR series. It seems the SAMDPR is a long way ahead of many parts of the world in how they present themselves openly to the world, even if it can be a gruelling final race. In general, the checks and balances are there, and we in other parts of the world can certainly learn from them.
The ARPF has an OPEN facebook page titled ‘the Auckland Racing Pigeon Federation’. At the moment, I can’t see the type of open forum discussions, like some of those on the SAMDPR facebook page, happening on the Auckland page for many reasons. Nevertheless, in the mean time, a safer option is for discussions to be in the closed Facebook chat room arena such as the one run by me. Apart from that, there is the opportunity for discussions to be held at meetings. But wouldn’t this be time consuming and would all members be able to attend? Surely we should take advantage of the modern technology that is available and embrace the good things which it has to offer pigeon clubs, Federations and fanciers in general worldwide.
What’s your opinion?
Well firstly all the best for 2015, albeit belatedly!
I emailed the following to a club mate recently who had asked after me by email which was nice, “the last 6 weeks has been a torrid time physically, its called a crucifixion experience and good for my faith walk”.
This is exactly how it is, not even the health to blog. Blogging for me is good for the space between the ears and it makes one feel good about ones self and it is one of the few ways that I can give back to the fancy with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
In reply to the not too long ago blog ‘the mighty pigeon’ a guy called Mike Link who follows my blog wrote the following and I really liked it!
“Fergus, happy Xmas and hope you have a great new year. Those that don’t like your writings don’t have to read them, don’t worry about those that don’t like them there are plenty that do.
Interesting thoughts. Well I agree that the pigeon is wonderful for many, it’s also not for some. I spoke with a bloke of about 30 years Old years ago and for him the pigeon was bad. For him it meant no family holidays growing up or football on a Saturday. After hearing his views, luckily my children were still young, I vowed not to put the pigeons first and since then I have managed to keep a good balance. On the flip side of what you are saying and yes I support what you are saying we must also be aware of the terrible side of pigeon racing, the jealously that some how drives some to burn down a competitors loft, poison thier birds or steal them. Pigeon racing has a dark side too. Pigeon racing also for some reason Seems to attract alot of con men. Leaving all that aside for us genuine fanciers it is truly wonderful. The really truly dear friends that I have collected through pigeons are just brilliant. More so than any other sport I am involved in. One of my best friends in pigeons always says to me that he and I would still keep pigeons if we could not race them. And that is true. There are some that see the pigeon as a tool and these are not the true fanciers, these are the ones that when they decide not to race anymore pack up, and normally have a sale. The true fanciers will never be without pigeons even if they cant race. I love my pigeons so much that I don’t want to race them but to not race them would be cruel. To deny them of thier purpose of what they exist to do would be a travesty and crime against the species. One thing that peta (the animal butchers) will never understand, take away an animals purpose and you make it extinct.
Write on my friend.
I would agree and how many of us pigeon fanciers have put the pigeons before our families at times? Family and friends, they really do matter!
I do find the blogging and running of a Facebook closed pigeon chat group of equal if not more importance than racing and if any of you fanciers out there would like to join it please request membership at ”Pigeon racers Chat Room, Auckland, rest of NZ and further’ on Facebook. The more members the merrier and remember it is closed. If you have trouble finding it then message me on Facebook, Fergus James Elley.
For health reasons I can not be involved with club and Federation admin and even meetings. It is an effort to just get to Federation races which my wife drives me into. For plenty of the 60 or so fanciers in Auckland ‘the penny has not yet dropped on that one’, but the likes of Mac Armstrong, they are onto it, a very difficult illness for most people to understand my CFS!
Friends like Mac Armstrong, Fred and Bronnie van Lier and many others are what keeps the sport enjoyable, even when there are bad races. These are the sorts of people who are less likely to change their take on what constitutes a good liberation decision or not regardless of which people are involved with organising the race.
Yes madmikelink, that’s the wordpress name he goes under, the pigeon is bred to fly and be free, the dilemma that faces pigeon racing around the world is though, what constitutes a fair liberation, it often polarises pigeon bodies and those that organise races need to ‘harden up’ and be thicker skinned when a bit of fair criticism comes their way, after all, we are talking about the lives of pigeons here and they all have the right to a fair go! To me, the right of free speech in pigeon racing, really matters!
It was interesting to look on Facebook at the ‘South African Million Dollar Pigeon Race’ last month. Type in the above while on Facebook and you will get there. This is a controversial race indeed. Unfortunately the returns were sparse this year with just 16 day pigeons from around 2500 with about 200 more the next day. I thought about commenting but restrained myself however it would be very interesting to learn of an exact head count after say 2 weeks i.e. of those returning or being reported by the public. I guess that the SAMDPR don’t need a return like this given the recent threats of the banning of pigeon racing in South Africa. Although poor returns in pigeon racing are always going to be the subject of speculation until racing pigeons can individually be tracked during racing and located if lost or hitting a wire, predated etc there are two main factors given by Facebook members on the site, the heat and the insufficient distance of the build up hot spot races i.e. match fitness development for the over 300 mile event. They race this in Summer to suit the northern hemisphere entries I believe, but perhaps this needs to stop, I don’t know. The organisers of the SAMDPR also give the reason of rain showers affecting the main bunch on their Facebook site.
Check out their website at http://info.scmdpr.com/index/home.php If any of you had the time to write some articles on the history of the race since its inception for this blog I’m sure readers would be interested please email me at email@example.com
Come to think of it, if you are like me with the SAMDPR its not which pigeon won and what country and fancier its from but how many pigeons made it home? To me, that’s what really matters!
Well seeing that my pet subject of ‘what really matters’ is pigeon welfare, then have a read of the following, some will see it as waffle, others with a real heart for the pigeons as ‘really choice’.
Thanks too for the freedoms and liberties our ancestors have fought for, freedom of speech, freedom of expression and so on. From William Wilberforce who succeeded in abolishing slavery to Martin Luther King who was martyred for the Black American cause, Emmeline Pankhurst who fought for British woman’s right to vote and now in more recent times the civil rights movements for LGBT peoples that has swept most of the modern world like a giant Tsunami.
In a recent article ‘the mighty pigeon’ quite obviously I touched on animal rights and in this case pigeon’s rights and where would we be as a ‘fancy’ without the pigeon. I believe that the animal rights movement is the next big movement of the world, of course it is already here and happening! We need to be prepared for it and not be lackadaisical about standards for the transportation and liberation of our pigeons. Otherwise it will come back to bite us in our ‘merry behinds’!
Of course there is always opposition to change and I like the following wise quotes.
“Great spirits have always encountered opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.”
― Albert Einstein
“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”
[Special Message to the Congress on the Internal Security of the United States, August 8, 1950]”
― Harry S. Truman
“You will face your greatest opposition when you are closest to your biggest miracle.”
― Shannon L. Alder
“You see, the point is that the strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone.”
― Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People
“A kite flies against the wind, not with it.”
― Winston S. Churchill
“There is an easy way to silence your critics; just try to do what they say you can’t do. If they are still not content, do more of it! Keep doing it until you become a master. Then look around, and you will see fewer critics and many compliments!”
― Israelmore Ayivor
“I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a period of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
Jesus himself spoke about the material one builds a house (their life) with, remember, the man who used a foundation of sand to build his house on, that house was simply swept away, whereas the man who built his house on the rock (read Jesus or God Almighty), his house stood through the storm.
In the same way we as pigeon organisations must build our organisations on solid rock (ground) because the storms of animal activism will come and lay waste and cause havoc amongst those organisations which do not. Simple stuff and really simple to design transportation and liberation strategies that will withstand the storms and floods that are indeed coming, even as I type right now!
Hopefully the likes of madmikelink and others will be thinking, ‘write on friend’. Viva the pigeon revolution!
Our first race of the 2014 Old Bird season for the ARPF went off without a hitch there being a very good muster at basketing and things were run very smoothly.
One of the great things this year is the use of the screen to feed results to from Jim Cater’s pc. Jim certainly deserved to be commended for his excellent and diligent work and the other members working in well alongside him just like a well oiled machine.
There was a happy atmosphere that night and obviously the novelty of the system used to present the results and the fact that this was the first of our Federation races had much to do with it. A lot of us hadn’t seen each other for about 5 months, so it was good to catch up and talk pigeons amongst other things.
On the morning of the race after liberation the Federation site reported
“Auckland & Manaia Pigeons liberated 8am into clear skies Fresh NW wind
South Waikato 8.30am
And I wrote on my Facebook pigeon chat site
“up 8am, fresh nw and fine, should pick up a sw from King Country so fast finish if 4cast correct, wait and see”.
Checking out the metservice rain radar I could see that there was a good chance of some very big showers especially in the King Country i.e. centre of the race for front markers. Winds were pretty strong west with hail expected and later reported.
For most Auckland pigeons this was their first longer race for the season. For some reason prior to this race the programme this year only included one 2 day basket which are our North Island races of longer duration. Unfortunately due to a storm brewing 2 weeks prior our programmed Whanganui race which is a 2 day basket was not held. This disappointed a number of fanciers. I noticed that some of the later pigeons were pretty tired and either they got a bit lost or the fitness level was below par for this distance, however it was good to get the fly into them and those organising the transportation and liberation of the pigeons did an excellent job. Incidentally, a couple of the pigeons which were about 3 hours behind the front pigeons won for me the Westport Combine 4 weeks later, having been spelled 3 weeks after this race and then given a Raetihi as a ‘pipe opener’.
To new comers, we fly these middle distance races in sections. I posted the results yesterday and all you have to do is click on them and the pdf file will open up for you in that window and perhaps you can keep reading in another. Win Arnold took the first Yearling and first Flock in the East Section and gets his name on the overall trophy. Paul Millar was ‘bridesmaid in both legs. I told him he had to wear a bridesmaid dress the next Federation race but I didn’t see him in one!
I was happy with my 4 together that took 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Flock places. My first yearling came back from the north to finish 6th Yearling.
Jim Cater took the honours in the West Section in both legs of the race. He also took the same places in the Western Union race 2 weeks prior from Raumati, so he had won four trophies by this stage and was flying very well. You could say that he deserved it due to all the hard work he puts in for the Federation races even though he is not on the Committee now. However he did not finish at 4 major wins as you will find out in the weeks to come as I collate the race reports for the season just ended. He had a ‘magic’ season indeed.
Just going back through the East Yearling results it was very good to see Risto Gramov 3rd in that leg, 5 minutes behind on the slow by but he is 36km more than the winner, Win. Seeing Risto with 10 entries, that is a massive team for him, as often he has barely a handful but races quite credibly. Also one of our back markers had a good performance, I think i.e. Dave Driver to take 7th, one behind mine. I give Dave 120KM so Win gives him about 100km; I would say that the pigeons were finishing slower somewhere north of the Bombay’s, so good fly Dave!
Looking again at the East Flock race you can see that the pigeons were a bit split up and Gramov in the Harbour Club just pipped Camry Lofts which is the fancier Ray van der Riet. Other than that, David Moors having a good bird in a wind that is unfavourable for his loft location in the East Section. Elley Family (my family) having 59 pigeons in the Flock race of course having a better chance of getting a few up there and they were 2 two year olds and 2 three year olds and had never done anything at a Federation trophy race level. All medium to large and the sort of body type that can go well in the strong westerly side winds over here and in that particular race, although a few months later two of these went to Invercargill but have failed to return. One (337) was actually reported on Dog Island which isn’t that far from the race point. A government worker had caught him and looked after him and let him go 2 days later in Bluff and then rang Bill Beattie who handles and liberates the Invercargill pigeons when he gets the good to go. When Longville senior gave me the note with the bird’s number on it at the strike off recently he said ‘it’s on its way”, I wondered what he meant and initially thought he was getting brought up, but no such luck! Perhaps 337 thought the bottom of the South Island was the top.
Dad, very clever, extremely articulate, funny man, four degrees, not a dummy.
Would tell me about all the different situations he had to sort out in Presbyterian Churches around the countryside in nz. A good man but a sinner like we all are in need of saving and the precious, abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. Rest in peace until the last trumpet sounds!
I am from time to time made aware that not all members of the pigeon fraternity enjoy my blogs, especially those blogs and posts that stand up for and command respect for ‘our mighty pigeons’. One of the things that is indeed beautiful and liberating is the freedom from having to be right or control; I am of the opinion that these are very dangerous components of human beings. When they are used in ways which are not warranted and violate the human right of ‘freedom of expression’ and seek to put a ‘lid’ on items of ‘public interest’ then we can find in ourselves some of our ‘inner demons’.
But back to the pigeon, why are our racing pigeons ‘mighty’. It is not because they have all won big races because even in the current champs loft the best performers are few and far between, especially when we hit the middle distance and longer. However, I was wondering tonight, how many marriages has the hobby of keeping pigeons saved, how many little children have retained both parents because Daddy has stuck it out for his children with the help of the pigeons as a relaxing and supportive hobby.
My argument is always ‘without the pigeon, you do not have pigeon racing!’ When races go wrong and leadership feels under the gun and react in a feelings first manner with their decision making then there may be reason for concern. Like any situation, should we only keep as a friend someone who pushes the right buttons and says the right things always, certainly not, that would be controlling to the nth degree!
Henk, a nice Dutchman used to often talk about ‘ego’ when discussing pigeons with me in the Manukau Club many moons ago. In hindsight those were very wise words, for if there is a problem with a race or race(s) and many pigeons are missing, then what should be more important, the ego of the pigeon fancier or the missing pigeons themselves, I hear you all saying, “the later’ and of course, you are very right indeed!
If someone is very passionate about the welfare of the pigeons is that a bad thing? Certainly not and it is here that I disagree with some writers who indicate that ‘you can love pigeons too much’. I actually think that the reverse applies myself i.e. you cannot love these defenceless creatures enough and if the heart is missing for the pigeon, if politics and so on mean more than the pigeons, then a fancier is indeed in trouble I think, don’t you?
What would you think the general public thinks of these ideas; would it be any different from caring for your pet dog or cat, maybe not? It intrigues me when there is some sort of commotion in the ‘pigeon world’ e.g. the banning of racing for now in Johannesburg. Of course this simply turned out to be a false alarm, it is really only about the governments there’s concerns of the feral pigeons (and lost or still coming home racers) being a reservoir for both human and avian diseases and I believe it will fizzle out.
This got many people in a flap though and given how some have felt and reacted to that news to me it begs the question, if ten years went by and pigeon racing is banned in many parts of the world due to animal activists campaigning to curb the sport in all sorts of ways, then if we arrived at that situation e.g. in nz or Australia, what key things should we have done to prevent this happening?
I will point out that nz is very isolated from the rest of the world and a pigeon or pigeon eggs would either have to be smuggled in somehow in order for there to be a disease risk, as simply put, no pigeon alive is capable of flying across the huge expanse of the Tasman Sea from Australia. A pigeon would have to hitch a ride on a boat as importations of pigeons have been banned for decades.
That just leaves the situation with the animal activists. Some might think that I am one and I do not choose that label because if I really was against pigeon racing in nz then there are a lot more things that I could do than merely writing on my blog mainly in the off season and running a small closed Facebook chat group, both of which have varied topics.
My mindset is that if we are open and transparent we have a better chance of not being a target for groups like PETA, the logic being that despite their perhaps fundamental goal of ‘liberating all the birds and animals’, that in general they are very content on working to see improvements in the lot of animals e.g. free range broiler chicken and egg farming as opposed to the stereotyped ‘factory farming’ which I will admit that as I have aged I have realised the radical differences in the two practices.
Should pigeon racing be banned in any country? Are liberations out to sea and even as a typhoon approaches good for the sports image? They are probably not. Of course it is not for me to say, but I think within my own country there are many people working to make the racing pigeons lot in general a very good one and I like that!
If I write on this blog or in the chat group in favour of pigeon welfare then I am really only doing the sport and the ‘pigeon’ (which the sport simply cannot do without) a favour, at least that is what I think. Besides which, the blog is just a little ‘stage’ and of course the chat group on Facebook is closed, so what’s the problem? Am I to be gagged for sticking up for the pigeons? My opinion in this regard is that it could be dangerous for circles of people if they attempt to do that, as how does that make them look with respect to pigeon welfare here in nz?
Fanciers also worry about people who might cause the sport, even here in nz trouble, but I think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, maybe I am biased, you can tell me, and I am open to being wrong!
I do know that we need to put a mammoth effort into preserving the sport from the grass roots up. Welfare standards at the home lofts must be excellent and the race liberations under taken in a very careful and considerate way, especially from the long distance, which many people love. If in doubt, hold them over has to be strictly adhered to.
Therefore by attempting to curb intelligent criticism of a pigeon body of any form, whether it be in casual conversations, private emails, meetings, closed chat groups or even on blogs such as mine, is in my mind extremely controlling and just a tad naive, however, I also accept that that is some fanciers views and you are entitled to think that way just as I and many others are entitled to think in a more futuristic, broader way that gives the ordinary racing pigeon much more respect than some give. So I am still convinced that if we are totally honest and transparent with the public and totally open to learn as pigeon bodies how to manage our racing programmes better, then instead of reaping ‘problems’ in the long term with the public, then we will reap a harvest of ‘great things’ with the public and the more that we can get on the radio, tv and in the newspapers for the right reasons the better.
It was a huge shock to the fanciers in the U.K. to be attacked so sensationally by PETA last year and of course I have written three articles on PETA and if I think it would help I will write more, however given that they seem to have settled down I think that it is better to keep any ideas for future articles and videos on the back boiler. I think that they would go after the Australians before nz but I also think that they will have bigger fish to fry, just like they took on Elizabeth the Queen of England and the fancy in the Diamond Jubilee Year, although in essence they want to control and curb the sport, they are very much into sensationalism and of course it is ‘free’ advertising for them when the media do run with it.
Leaving that subject and getting back to the grass roots of the sport in every country, we need to push the exposure of the younger generation to racing pigeons. Every now and then I see something or get sent something on the net about racing pigeons in schools and that is a great thing. In form two at Henderson Intermediate the teacher of the time Ollie Green got me to bring a pair of pigeons to stay at the school in the class in a metre long coop high up below the ceiling and they bred there and we would have them out in the class and there would be the occasional ‘deposit’ on the desks or floor. It was a good, fun thing.
It is easy to get side tracked from the real important jobs that ought to be done as pigeon bodies. Arguing and bickering never achieves anything except for a dry throat and perhaps a headache! Circles of people that run pigeon organisations need to focus on what is important to a pigeon body as a whole and not get lost in the relentless pursuit of ‘ego’ and ‘vanities’. The rights of the little men viz the infirm, the aged, the beginners, those simply just struggling in general and the ‘unconverted’ non fancier public member, these are more important than ‘feelings’ that can run high when people find themselves in difficult situations and revenge would be a lovely past time.
My Father was a preacher to the lost, the unsaved and at times that is my role too. However, in addition I find myself as an ambassador for the ‘mighty’ pigeon and ‘woe betide anyone’ who thinks that racing pigeons at the least are not worth as much and have as many rights as the drug peddlers, pedo’s and other filth in our societies! Do not these scum bags have rights, you bet that they do and so should our pigeons and don’t worry, I’ll keep fighting for them!