Archive for December 2011

Keith Mott from the U.K.   2 comments

Keith Mott.

KEITH MOTT (CONVOYING). Special thanks to Keith Mott and our U.K. expatriot NZ friend Brian Batchelor for forwarding this.

At the end of the 2008 season Keith retired after eight good years as chief convoyer of the London & South East Classic Club, which took him to all the major race points in France, including twice Tarbes (560 miles) and six times to Pau (550 miles). He says he loved convoying and could write a book about his experiences while driving the pigeon transporter on the continent, but maintains he would never go to Guernsey for a holiday as he took the Classic young birds there 15 times and has had enough of the place. He has been writing in the fancy press since 1972 and enjoys doing his regular pages every week in the pigeon fancy press. Keith has appeared eight times on the television with the pigeons, the first time in 1984 and has made over ten appearances on the radio. His favourite appearances on the TV were two of his most recent, BBC ‘Inside Out’ in 2007 and Channel 5 ‘Extraordinary Animals’ which was screened in June 2008 and then repeated in February 2009. Keith has made many films on pigeon racing and showing, which have been used by all the major television companies and he tells me he thinks he might have the biggest archive of pigeon articles, photos and films in the pigeon world.

The Transporter.

Keith loved convoying the pigeons through France to places like Bordeaux and Tarbes, but says it is very hard work, and it is a young man’s game! He retired from convoying at the end of the 2008 season, as he thought at 58 years of age he was getting too old for the pressure and sleeping rough in lorries. He had no intention of ever doing ‘big time’ convoying again, but the Central Southern Classic Flying Club chief convoyer’s job was offered to him at the end of 2009, which involved no driving and the prospect of the luxury of the use of one of the premier transporters in the country. Keith had convoyed South and North Road inland, but the main enjoyment for him was convoying the pigeons to France and it gave him a great buzz to produce good Classic racing from over the English Channel. He says. ‘It must be the ‘gipsy’ in me that made me accept the CSCFC job in the 2010 season, which gave me the opportunity to visit some new liberation sites in France, including, Messac, Carentan and Bergerac. I must say that in my time as a convoyer, I’ve never seen a perfect pigeon transporter or been to a perfect liberation site. We don’t live in a perfect world and we can always find something to criticize! I personally like the old fashioned baskets, the like of which we used in the L&SECC for many years and were used by Catterells Pigeon Transport of Blackpool who served our sport so well for many years, before packing up about six years ago. When you are in France with the pigeons it’s nice to know you have a good team behind you at the home end and was lucky enough to have my good friend Steve Appleby doing my weather for me! I think convoying racing pigeons, whether it is for a big Classic or small club race is the most responsible and demanding job in the sport! The only advice I can give to any youngsters who have dreams of becoming a racing pigeon convoyer, is when you are away with the pigeons in France be your own man, with your utmost priority being the bird’s welfare and producing the best race possible, with the situation you are presented with that weekend. When you are at the long distance you have to read the situation over the couple of days in front of you and if it is a head wind, or indeed any wind direction and there is any dodgy weather on route you don’t liberate. Do not be influenced by outside voices or follow club rules if you think it will be detrimental to the welfare of the pigeons in your charge. Your paramount priority when convoying is the welfare of the birds!’


Posted December 30, 2011 by ferguselley in U.k. news items

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South Island Liberations III   3 comments

Well it is good news that the Invercargill birds are not up today but it definitely looks great for tomorrow with that northern low and its rain moving off the North Island today and the rain today on the West Coast off the South Island forecast to dissipate. More settled weather is on its way, so fingers crossed for tomorrow!
Thought I might share some extracts of email correspondence with the U.k. with you.
“Yes Brian, I agree with the possibility of all those arguments. My 3 late 2nd day pigeons were definitely not in the North Island on Saturday. The thought of a lot of birds perishing at sea is not a pleasant one. I am very attached to my birds and all the yearlings had a heap of potential. How would you feel about me putting your email I’m replying to on my site (or extracts), is it too inflammatory, only thing we need to try to tell what we see might be the truth and you are a respected flier. The fact that my 2nd bird 274 came home covered in oil at 7.11am and Laurie Hill had one with oily feet covered in down feathers at 7.22am suggests they camped out to sea on an oil well off New Plymouth and kicked on late Saturday after a rest and were close on the day.

Pretty sure (though of course can't prove it) that this boy 274 landed on one of the Taranaki Oil and Gas field structures out to sea on Saturday 10th December while attempting to get home to his loft. He arrived around 7am Sunday. This photo taken Monday 9 days later still showing evidence of the oil, although his feet are now clean, his wings and back aren't and white dust adheres top head.

 Unfortunate that the pigeons had such a bad start and the night before I was very concerned about the next mornings liberation. Hopefully we will put protocol in place for the future as its total carnage to have so many good pigeons lost wherever they may be. I just had a thought. Could you ask Keith Mott to do a short article on factors determining a hold over in his experience of racing and conveying/liberating in the U.K. perhaps with a few photos supplied.Thanx for asking, have enjoyed chatting lately.fergie”
On Sat, Dec 17, 2011 at 9:00 AM, Brian Batchelor <> wrote:

“Hi Ferg,
Thanks for the results CHCH and Timaru, Peter normally sends them but nothing had come through for these races. It certainly seems the birds ran into trouble alright, my own theory is that the NE wind pushes them out to sea when they leave the western tip of the south island and many run out of daylight before they make landfall in the north island and consequently perish at sea. Those of us racing here in the southern part of England and Wales have this problem with the English channel as the pigeons arrive at the channel crossing late in the day and our NE wind pushes them toward the widest crossing point ie to Cornwall over 100 miles of sea to cross. Your pigeons would have to cross the Taranaki Bight and unless they hit the NI at say Wanganui or New Plymouth they are in trouble and getting tired may drift further out to sea. Some of the later pigeons that homed may have been behind earlier and not crossed Cook Straight until the next day. This is all supposition and difficult to prove, but racing pigeons are very much dictated to by the wind. In other words the preparation before the race may not have been the deciding factor and some otherwise good pigeons have probably been lost.

This email has been scanned by Westcoastcloud.

Same pigeon 274. Oil mark on white flights, head and grey/blue body.

Fergus Elley
Dec 18 (1 day ago)
to Brian
“That’s a very good observation Brian. Alright to post that one in an article perhaps on the Invercargill to add a bit of ‘ex patriot spice.’ Great, Brian, thanx fergie”
Fergus Elley
11:45 PM (9 hours ago)
to Brian
“Hi Brian, I’m off to bed soon, but may do another distance blog in the morning. You have said that it’s o.k. to use this email below on my blog, right? Also when you mean run out of daylight would you think more for our recent Timaru and further races like Invercargill given moderate nor-east or easterly winds rather than Christchurch as I would imagine the better birds got to the top of the South Island in about 5 hours last Saturday i.e. about 11.30am and even if it took 3 hours to get to Taranaki that’s 2.30pm. For the birds that tried to fly race point to loft over the 100 miles or so from around Golden Bay to somewhere around Taranaki or the Taranaki oil and gas fields to the south and west then unless they left the South Island late perhaps some of them just got too tired and dehydrated and drowned in the sea. We’ve all seen birds come home ‘tied up’ and there’s a very good chance this happened. However I’d agree with your comments in your last email that they could have been all over the place in the South Island due to the difficult nature of the race, but you’d think more of the last years National performance pigeons would have come home as they were the leading pigeons then i.e. I lost last years winner and 3rd place and other excellent pigeons.I think that apart from hitting wires e.t.c that they got stuck in the Alps or perished at sea. They were too good pigeons e.g. a sister of this years 14 hour 6 minute Timaru winner doing 1063m/min. My best cock in 2010 who came with the other top 3 winners in this race last year.Thanx, fergie.”
“hi Ferg,
OK to use what you like from my comments.
Regarding the Christchurch race, the level of losses would indicate that something very bad happened enroute, with the only weather info I have to go on being from your blog where you say there was a NE wind with low cloud and drizzle up the Kaikoura coast and likely that similar conditions prevailed inland along the line of flight.  Without seeing a weather map or knowing the strength of wind or how widespread the low cloud and drizzle was it is a big guess as to what might have happened to the the convoy. Clearly it was split up probably early in the race, so individuals and small groups would have been feeling their way up through the valleys of the rugged terrain of the inland Kaikouras or even further west depending on the strength of the wind and the extent of the drizzle in any case I surmise this would have been slow going and may have taken a lot longer than you suggest. Anyway my theory is that those that did push on exited the SI further west and later than would normally be the case and the wind continued to push them further west so that they missed the normal land fall south of Mt Taranaki and continued north bound by flying over the sea on the west side past the south and northern Taranaki Bights. Note that when flying over the sea there is no respite from the force of the wind so they would tend to get tired sooner than normal and would be taking a zig zag tacking line of flight to try and maintain the correct direction again all this means a much longer flying time. Exactly where they made land fall in the NI is hard to pin point but it may well have been up as far as Raglan. Going on the recorded flying times of the day birds 14+ hours and early 2nd day birds, my theory is that many of the birds would have stopped for the night as soon as they made landfall however some of birds may have drifted further west into the Tasman sea and did not make it to land before night fall. As their fate it is anyones guess a few may have struggled on and eventually made it to land but would be pretty well exhausted and taken some time to recover before they got moving on to home. Others may simply have gone down in the sea. With the late second day birds the indications are that they came across Cook Straight on the morning of the second day.  Our Grand National from Tarbes this year was a little bit similar although there was no low cloud or rain the NE wind was a bit stronger than expected and from the convoy of 3290 pigeons only 7 pigeons were timed on the day, 5 on the SW coast and two made it to the central area about 30 miles inland from the south coast. The actual race winner was timed early the 2nd day into the NW of England and obviously was in UK on the first day. I got my first pigeon just after midday on the second day and lost 3 from my entry of 7. One of these was my best cock named ERIC (pooled right through) who I had timed twice previously  right on darkness to take a top position. About a week after the race I had a phone call from a member of the public who had found him dead ie his remains on a beach in Cornwall on the SW peninsular. My guess he made to across the Channel and landed on beach very late on the first day and stopped there, but during the night a wave, possible a bow wave from a passing ship came up the beach and swamped him. Had this not happened he would have been an early second day bird well up in the result and in the money. The bird I did eventually time obviously did not cross the Channel until the second day, although only lightly pooled she still picked a 60 pounds in pool money which shows how scattered the returns were and again some otherwise good pigeons were lost including a half brother to ERIC who was just as good a pigeon in my opinion although less experienced than ERIC.
Best Regards

A 3rd shot in the series of 274 taken Monday 9 days later.

“Brian, yes I agree with that possibility too and we are merely speculating. It was likely that many birds had a hell of a time in the South Island and the strange thing is that our pigeons have been treated much better in the North Island liberations. (editors  note- we have to acknowledge the fact as we all know in the Auckland Racing Pigeon Federation that our liberations are always performed with best intentions and it is not an easy job).

However it is very good to have Terry and your viewpoints, it is very much appreciated. I guess the bottom line is the birds must come first! We need to look at ways/protocols to reduce the risk or the sport will get itself in trouble with the public e.t.c. before too long.

I’ll give you one line of Terry’s email from last week On Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 10:11 PM, Terry Williams <> wrote:

Another from the same series of 274 but a little closer. When he actually returned his cere (above beak) was covered in oil.

“Good Day Fergie,
Hope you are well , we are sorting some photo`s out for you and we will send them on, i have attached the forms we are using this year, for your people to have a look at if you want, it explains all we hope will happen !!!  Keep up the good work, do you know anyone in Aussie that might send over 4 rings to put on our charity birds, it would be nice to have some from NZ & Aus, we have them from Spain , France, Portugal and Canada, we are hoping for a lot more !

until later , Oh I have read your article very good, and very true, the problem being is fanciers don`t like being told different that they do now! most will sit down and say its right and the hard nuts will stir it up , every fancier knows the birds come first

It’s all too true, without judging anyone in particular anywhere in the world)).

Sorry to hear about Eric, I think I recall you telling me about his loss. I guess the only safe place for them is in the loft unless you have a ferret problem like when you lived here in the 90’s at Redoubt Road, at least you knew then what had caused their fate.

Kind Regards, fergie.”

Back to the blog now. I was looking online at the Taranaki gas and oil fields and if you look at this site  then you will see a schematic of the operations in the Taranaki Seas.

I have also emailed the company’s site to advise their workers to report stray racing pigeons.

Food for thought but I’m convinced that some of my experienced birds went down in the sea when they ‘tied up’ and ran ‘out of gas’ last Saturday. If you are a member of the public reading this you can take note that I and others are working at changing release protocols for racing pigeons in New Zealand.

Evidence of this is currently seen in the care that is being taken to get good weather for our Invercargill race which had been scheduled for release last Friday and the birds are still being cared for in Invercargill awaiting liberation. Perhaps tomorrow weather permitting. There have been examples of brilliant races overseas when the birds have been held over for 12 days. Indeed the last couple of years this race wasn’t released until the Tuesday i.e. 4 days after the scheduled release day and the Auckland fliers praised the people involved in organising the races liberation.

Final thought for the day is that I really liked Terry from the somerset1loftrace comments about the ‘hard nuts’. Ladies don’t read on for a minute, but I thought that something else was supposed to get hard!! However, perhaps people around the world sometimes are ‘poles apart’ on pigeon welfare, pun intended!!)). Perhaps those around the world who know they are ‘hard nuts’ can ‘stick it’, again, pun intended!!

As Terry says ‘every fancier knows the birds come first’

Final close up shot of 274. Bit blurry but that's oil on the back and top of head.

Posted December 19, 2011 by ferguselley in Auckland Federation Racing 2011 Old Birds

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Auckland Racing Pigeon Federation Invercargill Races 2005 to 2010 part I   Leave a comment

The last time that I attempted to fly the above race was 2005. I sent 7 good birds. One was an overall Christchurch National winner at a velocity in the early 1100’s m/min. I never saw a feather, ever. There were no birds in race time for any flier. A real disappointment!

A very experienced flier said when I gave him the weather for the South Island that morning ‘that he didn’t like the sound of it’. In general they seem to need an easier start. I’m sure it was fine at liberation, it possibly deteriorated up in the Southern Alps. I’m sure the liberator released the birds with good intentions. This is pigeon racing. The best year for returns since then was 2009 when there were south westerlies most of the way, 33 out of the 73 birds entered were on the result sheet by the strike off time late on the 3rd day and there were 4 day birds.

My opinion is that we should always wait for a southerly push to start them off because for Auckland fliers the distance is around 750 to 830 miles. I feel that at this present time that it is just not ethically right not to give the birds the best start possible. This opinion is shared by one of the best fliers in New Zealand and my club mate Kerry Frazer. Manaia birds are going up this year with our Invercargill birds and Bruce Cosson’s distance is about 1400km or around 870 miles whereas mine is around 750 miles, only!! Yeh, right, tell that to the birds).

I have won 2 Federation Dunedins, both hard ones. One of which I got the only bird in race time i.e. sundown at the end of the second day living at Waterview, the other 1st and 2nd together on the 3rd day around 8am at Waterview. Now after the recent very hard Timaru where the birds had a hell of a hard time I have won 3 Open Timarus all by good margins. The year I enjoyed most was clocking before Alex Castle when Alex lived at Mercer and I at Waterview).

However the Invercargill has always eluded me and from memory this is my 6th attempt. I had one gutsy red cock that flew it 3 years in a row to Three Kings and I lost him on his 4th attempt but I was foolish that year as he had already had 2 Christchurchs that year, one a hard 2 day event. I also had a BBWFC around that time that had flown Invercargill twice to Three Kings too. He had the same preparation as the red cock and I dorked him in that smash too. I was unwise and perhaps even cruel but I have changed my ways since then and although I like to get the best bird and win the race I am flying mainly nowadays just to find the best bird in my loft and to educate them from the shorter South Island points to build up a distance team for Timaru onwards.

Preparation is everything in these marathon distance events. Have I prepared the 4 cocks and hens right for the soon to be raced Invercargill. I don’t know. They are very well like last weeks Christchurch birds. 3 hens have a small youngster and 2 of those had been doing the ‘family chores’ since their mate was lost in last weeks race. So I have one hen and 3 cocks to the perch although one of those cocks was lining up one of the single hens I’ve sent. The other cock has small youngsters. Don’t worry non pigeon people, I’ve shifted any youngster that are currently ‘temporarily’ and hopefully not ‘permanently’ orphaned.

Getting back to the races, 2005 was a smash i.e. a disaster race.

2006 was the same and a refund of $1.77 per bird was offered each flier. 10 fliers flew and 30 birds were sent.

The next year 2007 was a bit better. 12 fliers sent 50 birds. Louie Nel sent a team of 6 and clocked the first 2, they were both yearlings i.e. around a year old, the oldest they could be is 17 months, so pretty damn good effort. Frowned upon by some fliers nevertheless you certainly can’t take it away from the bird(s) and Louie.

That race was on the 23rd December. Winds were variable. Nel got 2 birds so was 1st and 2nd. Mac Armstrong’s 3 year old cock was 3rd and he entered only 8 birds.

Nel’s BCH was clocked at 9.14 at night on the day of liberation and its velocity was 1420.337 m/min. We should note that a flier’s distance is calculated through foxton trig breaking point rather than direct race point to loft. So it speeds the race up from direct race point to loft measurement. But non pigeon people the pigeons don’t fly in a straight line they fly in curves and arcs and the wind dictates things a lot of the time.

The flying time was a whisker under 15 hours, quite incredible, one bird way out on its own like that. His next bird was also a yearling hen and was a second day bird at 4.58pm and a flying time of 26 hours 30 minutes and 39 seconds (we take the night hours off non pigeon people, it is more complicated than that but that is the gist of it). The velocity was 803.115 and it was 11 hour 31 minutes behind Nel’s first bird.

Mac’s 3rd place bird was clocked 6.56am the 3rd day. A flying time of 32 hours 11 minutes and 33 seconds. Velocity 654.08 m/min.

So there were just 3 birds in race time of 50, however no doubt a few stragglers limped in over the following weeks and the odd one was reported as is the usual chain of events. In a smash they often take 3 to 4 weeks to return.

However the following year was even tougher. 68 birds were entered for the 12th December 2008 race. We don’t have the number of fliers. Fliers by the way to non pigeon people are the people who enter their birds from their loft i.e. pigeon house, some of which are very flash! The winds were nor-east, ah!! those dreaded nor-east winds!! Is it a coincidence or are we onto something here as it was a smash but guess who won it?? Come to think of it I vaguely remember the 2005 Invercargill which I flew was a nor-east start but I can’t be sure.

Anyway, the one bird clocked was by non other than a Mr Mac Armstrong and that was the start of his roll of 3 in a row wins from Invercargill. From the flying time of 54 hours 32 minutes and 19 seconds it looks like Mac clocked his bird at 2.50pm on the 4th day would you believe it! I’ll have to ask Mac if that 4 year old Mealy cock was tired, maybe he’ll say ‘just a bit’. Phew!! What an effort from that bird! He sent 27.

Next time we’ll talk about the last 2 years which as mentioned above were super in 2009 and o.k in 2010 considering all the other bleak years. Bill Beattie was the liberator the last 2 years of 2009/10 and the liberations were held over until the Tuesday following a Wednesday basketing.

To me this was the key and Beattie obviously looked after the birds super well and along with Peter Longville of Auckland assessed the weather perfectly, waiting for that window of opportunity to ‘strike to the summit’ i.e. it’s like mountaineering, you have to respect ‘mother nature’ and the ‘pigeon gods’ and the ‘One’ I respect would be a good idea too!! Don’t some of you think?

Somersetoneloft race update 17th December 2011   Leave a comment



Barn Owls, East Town Lane, PILTON, Somerset BA4 4NX

TEL: 01749 890109 MOBILE: 07980895275



PROBABLY THE BEST ONE LOFT RACE TO BE IN”                       


With the growing Interest in what we offer and the friendly way the set up is run we want to offer nothing but the best, this is because the route we fly East to West into Belgium and with the dreaded North sea to cross. The Final race from Ypres in Belgium 268 miles is on a direct line for the birds to try and get home, as the channel is a notorious place for the birds, it is still the biggest challenge for a young bird to fly, the wind is mostly always West and on their nose. We have training and Hot Spot racing along the way and they are exciting for all who enter. The birds will have the best from start to finish, once the basket training and the tosses start, the birds have to prove them selves from day one and they are all equal right from the start. We pride our selves on giving value for money and we try and keep you all up dated as well as we can, we have updates on our web site nearly every day so people can see the progress the birds are making. We now have interest from all over including Europe, and that side of it is growing and the International side is gathering pace nicely. The Final race is as tough as it can get for the young birds, but it is brought to them fairly and they have to show their true colours all the way through, that is why you are sending them to race here, “For the ultimate Test” We have had two hard finals and none worse than 2011, that is why we have moved the lib point, but they will still have the biggest test for a young bird “The Channel”  it can change from nice and peaceful to a blustery headache!  That is the challenge. The health of the birds is Paramount to the lofts and we want all the birds to have the best and to go on to race for you, but for us to start right the birds have to be in good condition from the day they arrive. We have our own intake weaning system in place which works well for us and the birds.  We also vaccinate the birds for PMV, we then monitor the birds progress, and if there is a problem with a bird you have reserves in the loft, and they have been through every thing from the start and hopefully keep you in the race. For the Olympics we want to offer some thing different and we have our ”OLYMPIA CHALLENGE” race to open the games and our Final is to close the games! So we really do want a top race and entries, and hopefully £50,000 could be yours. For a challenge and honest racing come and test your pigeons in Somerset.  Thank you.

Terry & Jane




As 2012 is Olympic year we are holding a special race year where we want to have the biggest pay out in the UK and even Europe. Our reputation as the fairest set up is offering you the best payout ever, but we need your support to do so. The challenge is for your birds and with the Olympics in England we have the chance to reward them and you for the toughest race, The Olympics are the biggest sporting event in the world so let pigeons be part of it, we pay what we say win or lose! .The Olympics are here to enjoy so let our sport enjoy the best pay out for a fair and tough race. If we had 1200 paid pigeons we promise to pay out £35,000 to the winner, that is the biggest payout in the UK, but if we had 1500 paid pigeons we promise to pay out a massive £50,000 to the winner, the biggest in Europe. To get to these figures we need all the support we can get from every one and your birds stand as much chance as any ones in here as all are treated the same and all are equal. We will be limiting the intake for 2012 as the interest is now gaining pace, as the racing and training progress the birds have to work hard for their perch this is because we want them to get to the final and because of this we are giving you reserves on top of your entries to help cover your team, The excitement that this race generates is brilliant and more people are watching how we do things, we have non pigeon fanciers who just love the racing and are always encouraging there hopefuls, we also run our popular Gold Ring system, £10 per bird and the winner takes all on the Hot Spots good bit of fun, last year we had a Junior league for under 15s and for the first year it proved quite popular we want to see this grow this year and it gave a lot of fun to the children they also had their own prize fund. Another unique thing we do is if you want your young bird back after the final race then you can” free of charge”, as we believe it is your bird and you own it, but if you want we can enter it into our yearling race for the following year, and again if it returns from that Final you can have the bird back free of charge, but if you don’t need it we can auction it as required ,but to us if it finishes the 2 finals then it is one of the best birds in the country by far. Our race is gaining more interest every year as we are the only ones to test the birds over the channel , the entrants want to have that little bit of a challenge with a difference, and that is what we offer. As we have already said for two years we have had difficult finals but we have stayed in Belgium to Ypres 268 miles and a straight line for the birds to cross the channel, and we are sure this is the right way as we have the right temperament and mix in the lofts to make it work and we wish you well in the racing. Please enjoy the racing as we enjoy your birds racing here. This is surly the best test for a pigeon in One Loft racing

The intake of birds is from 4th February to the 30th April 2012


Mon     9th July Winchester   55 Miles
Fri      27th July Haslemere (opening of 2012 Games)   85 Miles
Thurs   9th Aug Royal Tonbridge Wells 122 Miles
Sun    19th Aug Folkstone 165 Miles
Sun      9th Sept Ypres (Closing of Paralympic Games) 268 Miles

Training will be in between the races. Liberations may change if needed.                                                                                                                     

                                            Race options for 2012  

OPTION 1: 1 or 2 birds + 1 reserve                                                         £ 140.00  Each

OPTION 2: 3 Birds + 1 free all activated + 2 reserves = team of 6         £ 405.00 per Team

OPTION 3: 6 Birds + 2 free all activated + 4 reserves = team of 12       £ 810.00 per Team

OPTION 4: Junior League 1 activated + 1 reserve.                                 £   50.00 per Entry

If you require bigger teams please get in touch. The reserves will replace any lost pigeon up to the 1st Hot Spot any inactivated reserves must be activated by the 1st Hot Spot at £100.00 each. We will run the Junior League again for the under 15s at 1 entry per person at £50.00 entry + you get 1 reserve, to do so you must have an entry in the main race. One Loft racing is a different challenge as the birds are all on the same level and have exactly the same treatment to progress and once the training starts it is up to them to show there true worth we want your birds to go to the final and race for you and we really do want to pay out the biggest prize in Europe only with your support can we achieve it. The challenge is here, and we want to reward you for entering our One Loft Race. £50,000 could be yours”.

Please phone or email in for all POOLS, GOLD RING Nominations must be in before the 1st Hot Spot , We have online banking phone for details,  Swap Shop birds for sale on the scale below.

Upto the 1st Hot Spot         £125.00

Upto the 2nd Hot Spot        £150.00

Upto the 3rd Hot Spot         £175.00

Upto the 4th Hot Spot         £200.00

Final race to liberation       £250.00

…cut……………………………………………………………………cut……………… …………………………………………………………………cut…

APPLICATION FORM         ( We have online banking please contact us for details)


NAME………………………………………Syndicate  Name…………………………………………….





ENTER OPTION…………No of birds………..…£50.00 per activated birds deposit £……………

JUNIOR RACE for under 15s…….. £50.00 1 bird + 1 reserve (one entry per named Junior)

Total amount sent £…………………….  If paid in full enter amount £…………….….

Send to: Somerset One Loft Race. Barn Owls, East Town Lane, Pilton, Somerset BA4 4NX                                                                                                                         
























We want to bring you glory and your birds are there to try the Ultimate Test

We want to make your pigeon the top performer in a challenge, we want it to be




£50,000 IS A BONUS!!


            ONE LOFT RACE                  Tel: 01749 890109      


                                                                Web Site –




                      New Zealand  Charity Donation


  This Year our given charity will be for “SENSE” the Deaf Blind Charity


We thank you for your donation of 2 Birds, In support of this very worthy cause.

The birds will enter the lofts and then train and race for this charity, any prize funds won in the Hot Spots will go into the charity fund. These donated birds can race under your name as the sponsor up to the last Hot Spot Race and then we will hold a auction for the donated birds with the proceeds going to the charity. The New Owners will then race these birds in their names for the Final Race. Any of the birds winning a Prize in the Final will donate 10% of there winnings to the Deaf Blind. Your support is very much appreciated. We are also having rings donated from around the world to put on birds, with the same rules as above Thank You


We will be opening the lofts for the arrival of your young birds from the 4th February, 2012 with a closing date of the 30th April, 2012. Ideally we would like the birds to be between 28-38 days old. A quick phone call would be appreciated prior to delivery of the birds. We thank you for your support and trust you have a successful year. Good Luck.


Please Note: We will vaccinate all birds on arrival at the lofts.


Please Remember: Transfer Forms for all Birds Please


Organiser and Loft Manager  TERRY WILLIAMS  01749 890109 or mobile 07980895275.




                      Would please fill out the form and send with your birds Thank you



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Please tick way of delivery      By Hand………… By Courier…………..


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Posted December 16, 2011 by ferguselley in Somerset, England One Loft Race, U.k. news items

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Will Mac Armstrong and his birds remain Invercargill Kings this month?   3 comments

Well that’s the 63 million dollar question. 63 is my beloved wives Helen’s number of exaggeration.

And how good it was to have her take me over to the Pakuranga Clubs rooms for basketing last night. Pakuranga club rooms are small but it is very homely and for some reason my 2 kids liked the toilet for some strange reason which I must checkout next time). Maybe at srtike off which I have to go to whether I get birds or not to do the Tauris Clocks.

Looked at the weather an hour a go online at 5am and it’s still looking promising for a Saturday liberation which would only be a one day holdover. Pity Chris Wilkinson’s not racing again this week cos gee, didn’t she fly well last week, 51 minutes ahead on the slow by, her pigeon certainly blasted the field!

Re weather forecasts being what they say let’s just wait and see! Moderate southerlies or southwesters are forecast which I like. I have never won this race, usually get my arse kicked but Mac has won it 3 times, in fact the last 3 years in a row, so can someone knock him off his perch?? Getting birds home is the first milestone.

Next report I will have all the specific race entry details from the man on the ground working hard for pigeon racing Mr Don Campbell. If the birds are held over then us Invercargill fliers with the internet might need a bit of ‘something’ to read to pass the time of day. Last race of the long season by the way, yippee!!

I’ve known Mac Armstrong for most of the time that I’ve been back into pigeon racing i.e. 22 years. I also know his son David from Massey University days where I trained to be Veterinarian from 1979.

Mac is a hell of a nice guy, humble gentle and very kind man. In fact we have $1000 prize money donated by him for this race. Mac is in his early 80’s, a retired very successful businessman and lives in Auckland Central on a lovely property with his wife Mary. He has two sons. Mac and Mary have traveled the world a lot and of recent years that means that Mac has started the Old Bird Season late.

He normally starts the season with about 80 birds to race and keeps the cocks and hens separate and flies to the perch. His lofts have about half grill floor and he employs someone to clean all his lofts out everyday. Wouldn’t you mind that!! He doesn’t flock treat his birds apart from a treatment for worms 4 times a year. Twice 2 weeks apart with moxidectin 4 to 6 weeks prior to the main event then 6 months later the same, boom, boom to clean them right out. Trisul may be used for individual bird dosing so Mac’s keen on allowing birds to develop a strong solid immunity. I will add for foreign viewers that we do not have as many ‘nasties’ here. We are to a certain extent an isolated country with very good border control partly due to our agricultural and horticultural industries. We don’t have to treat by vaccination against paramyxo virus as it’s never been diagnosed here nor for Salmonella i.e. paratyphyoid although Salmonella is endemic in New Zealand in it’s many serotypes. Fliers I know also don’t vaccinate for pigeon pox.

Mac also uses 2 teaspoons of glucose powder/litre water on return from the race. He also uses an electrolyte which his son David’s company in Australia produces.

Mac gives his birds a lot of open lofts and loves to see his birds free flying particularly when they’re darting around the sky full of energy. Mac spends up to five hours in the pigeon loft a day mainly looking at the birds. He doesn’t handle them as a rule. He observes them very keenly. He keeps meticulous records of all their races and other details and looks through past years when he is planning his programme to ‘nail’ the Invercargill race again.

Mac has gone into this race not confident and I have had 4 or 5 discussions with him by phone in the last month or so in preparation to write a series of articles on his birds and their management. Regardless of whether Mac wins this time I will be doing at least one loft visit next year so we’ll have some photos and an in depth analysis of birds and loft management details next year.

My friend and ex Auckland flier Brian Batchelor has emailed me an old article written for a British pigeon magazine. Brian is a very good pigeon man and humble in fact ‘God fearing man’ like Mac. So below I use several lines of his article with his permission.

The Auckland Federation Invercargill race is from the bottom of the South Island to Auckland near the top of the North Island. To fly the Invercargill to Auckland race on the day the birds would have to take a fairly direct line of flight and this would take them across the Southern Alps which are snow peaked all year round rising to 3754 meters and run virtually the length of the South Island. Secondly they would need to make the Cook Straight sea crossing between the South and North Island’s.

In recent years the Invercargill race has been flown on the day on three occasions although this is the exception and the 2010 race was a very different affair to the previous year when there were day birds. Long distance Ace Mac Armstrong who had three on the day in 2009 showed that this was no fluke by winning in the 2010 event 1st, 2nd, 4th,5th,6th and 7th.  The pigeons were liberated at 06.15 on the 14th of December 2010 into a light tail wind however as they moved up the south island there was a shift in the wind direction into a head wind. Needless to say there were no day birds on this occasion and the first two pigeons were timed by Mac at 11.35 and 11.38am on the second day with a flying time of 21 hours and 21 hours 3 minutes respectively. These were two blue Chequer hens one being a 4 year old  and a 2 year old. I will say here that Macs favourite birds for the Invercargill event are 4 and 5 year old hens to the perch. For security reasons I have not published the specific ring identities of these birds. Mac has very good security, but a long time ago had birds stolen by some scumbag. However in general I will not publish ring details in any of my articles.

Mac is a great advocate for long distance racing and has encouraged many others to have a go at the Invercargill race. Macs family of pigeons originated from some imports from John Hansen’s Blenhaven stud (Australia) in the mid 1990’s and were Janssens and Buschaerts, however these have been worked hard and through strict selection been moulded into Macs own world class family of distance pigeons that would take some beating anywhere.

The imports have adapted to their new environment and by careful selection the range of the supposedly sprint/middle distance families has been extended to fly longer distances without compromising their speed and orientation abilities. Janssens for example are winning at up to 550 miles.

So how does Mac do it considering he’s an Octagenarian?? He only races certain parts of the year and does incredibly well to get the birds going so very well from the long distance. Talking to Mac I begin to realize what previously I had assumed in that he’s extremely meticulous. He often looks at his lists of what his birds have done the previous years to help work out the plan for that bird. He is much keener to win the Invercargill than the ChristChurch i.e. Old Bird National.

The last few years he’s finding that the birds are really reproducing a lot of good ones and the sort he likes. The better birds are often recognizable in the loft of being so by showing character and intelligence. Mac may bred off his breeders from late Spring but he also breeds off his successful Invercargill birds in January and will breed up to April. Even these April hatch ones have to show their metal and there is no ‘molly coddling’ and each has to earn it’s perch and at least show it’s potential. Most of these late breds have to fly the ChristChurch 480 mile race in their year of birth i.e. as young as seven months of age. So this is very harsh selection but will progressively reap benefits as he ‘crafts’ the early maturing ability and stamina into his lines of birds. There are some exceptions though, as I know his April born late bred this year which flew ‘damn well’ as Mac would say was spared from flying further so it was let off with only having to do around 360 miles from Ward with a flying time of 9 hour 38 and only 8 minutes behind on the slow by. I’ll have to ask Mac if he’s going to breed off that hen this season. I’d expect he may say ‘too damn right’!! or ‘hell yes’!!

Mac does race his birds hard but he does give them chances. Sometimes he finds that getting lost and reported gives the bird a bit of a shock and he had a bird like that some years ago that turned out a brilliant racer after such an escapade.

When Mac did move to Auckland after being a very successful flier in Hamilton he thought that he would ‘show those Aucklander’s how to race pigeons,’ but he admits that it was not as easy as he expected!

Mac doesn’t live in a position that is favourable for the prevailing westerly winds we have in Auckland but I see his name on the Young Bird Open Futurity Cup and the Old Bird National ChristChurch trophy.

Mac certainly lives for the long distance and he finds like many fanciers the world around that being with the pigeons is very therapeutic. Watching them bath, watching a couple of cocks fight for a while, observing the social interactions just fulls him with a sense of calm and well being and I’d expect that you the reader if a pigeon person can relate to that. He says he comes out of the loft reenergised, so pigeons are Mac’s ‘natural high.’

Well part 2 seems beckoning as I’ve written long. So much more to write about this delightful man whom I wish there were more of his type and quality around in the sport not to forget the keen competition that Mac gives. In part 2 we’ll look at a summary of previous Invercargill results and Mac’s race preparation details and feeding throughout the year. If you the reader want to submit a question for Mac simply do it through the comments section. Thanks for reading).

Somersetoneloftraceupdate December 2011   1 comment


Barn Owls, East Town Lane, PILTON, Somerset BA4 4NX

TEL: 01749 890109   MOB: 07980895275


Web site :          


                                   PROBABLY THE BEST ONE LOFT RACE TO BE IN

Hi every one,

Hope all is well down under, I would like to put a little bit of info from here in England just to keep you all up dated as to what is happening etc , first off we are starting to get ready to pair up for the 2012 youngsters, some have paired already and we hear  of one lot got eggs last week , so they are hoping the 2012 rings arrive before the end of December, as last year was the first year the rings were out before the new year so they are hoping they arrive early this year, at the moment it is blowing a gale and freezing winds with it so the lofts have to have the right conditions for the birds to even feel like having a go, I mean how would we like it if the old bits were not up to it because of the cold !! the same for the birds!, I know how hard it is for you in NZ and Aus to get the up to date bits and pieces and the best type of birds, but believe you me you are better off without some of them, it appears the Young bird sickness is now getting hold again, and in our Lofts for the One Loft race we have to keep a real sharp eye open just as you should all do, most of us know and when it raises its ugly head, and as for club racing it arrives once the young bird racing starts, the naughty problem is most do jab for P.M.V but there is some that don`t , is it the ones that don`t jab that cause the problem or not ! who can say yes or no, but I really do think that the jabbing should be carried out by some one who has been taught to inject properly, I have seen people set up to jab the birds and have been in all sorts of problems, first off they do not clean the birds area of injection ( some jab in leg muscle) the area should be well cleaned with surgical spirit this also gives you a clear area ie neck with lots of flesh to see then pinch a bit of skin and put your needle in about ¼ of inch or 5mm, once you have jabbed clean the area again with the surgical spirit, then the bird will get no cross contamination, the needle should be changed after 15/20 birds have been jabbed, that is why they send you plenty of needles, we found that some people have blood squirting out all over the place and miss the spot and some birds even have 3 / 4 jabs because they miss, now if you had some one who really knows and cares how it is done it will take no longer to take the birds down the club or where ever on a certain day and have a mass jabbing session, then we all have been done if they don`t turn up then no racing when you keep live stock you have to work at it , no rule for one and a rule for another, we have to do so do it properly, and then look at your birds with interest afterwards for a bout a month to check they are OK. In our Lofts we have a mixture turn up from all the UK and Europe and we have to be right on top of the birds to help them , we have noticed that problems start about 2/4 weeks after the jabbing this is a pain as there is not a lot to do except give them plenty of vitamins and what ever recovery mix you put in the water make sure you give them it often they really need you to nurse them with the best you think is best, but I must say you can give the birds the best and most expensive mixes drinks etc and nothing will do the trick, this tests the birds immune system , if we do not dope them up too much they can pull through, I do believe we use too many concoctions today and it does the bird no good at all, once the weaning side is going well the birds are on a protein food to help them and they can eat as much as they want at this age as they need the food to grow , you should give them vitamins etc that you use most are all the same, we use a lot of Cider vinegar in the water 2/4 times a week , and also Orego Stim ,this is a natural water based item and is a gut and health product that works some use every day , but 1 /2 times a week is good as you then have time for just clean water ! A lot of problems with young birds is the stress side of it, most birds are fine but one or two are weaker and we all think they are all ill, most birds will pull through a illness if looked after well , we all can give them antibiotics but that should be the real last thing to do, not the first, if a bird is really sick nothing will save it and if it does scrape in it will not race for you properly, most of us have our way of thinking and dealing with our own birds, but sick ones we only guess at as we are not vets, but listening to different ways helps draw right from wrong and we all make our own verdict right or wrong that is what we do, one time I had 3 sick birds I contacted the vets , and was told to send them some dropping samples  and a mouth swab, which we did, a day later the 3 birds died , the report came the following day and they told me there was no sign of a problem from the tests, I rang them to say there must be as they have died !! we have to control what we know about are own birds the best way forward is observe the birds and act before the nasty bits get a hold, As we run a One Loft we have to handle lots of different Pigeons from different countries etc and the make up of the birds is all so different , small big, medium sized birds but most of all they all have the same thing a brain and heart and it is the one with the best ones that will survive till the end and good racers are trying to prove the birds they keep are the best, that is why you buy a certain type of bird, it suits you, and you will try and make that bird in to a champion, now if you swap and change around a lot, then the top is a long way off, as pigeon fanciers you should suss your birds racing skills from the start as it is you that is bringing the birds up in your loft, if you buy a bird for a small fortune most expect its off spring to win from the start, some do! But they will only perform if you treat them right from the start, and you have a system that they like, a system is a big part of good racing the same thing day in day out, the birds get used to it and prefer it,  take widowhood a simple system but some make it so hard, basic widowhood, for cocks or hens, but the biggest thing we all do wrong is keep going in to the lofts to see if they are OK , widowhood cocks should be seen once a day 2 times max, they should be fed  and watered in there boxes and left alone to sort them selves in to condition with the oblivious motivation needed by you at the right time, that is the management side,  once the birds are in the groove as to speak it is you that gets them to race home a simple system made far too hard by many ! You have to make the brain and heart work to the full, then you may reach the top with the best birds.

We are now preparing for 2012 intake which will begin the Fist week in Feb and finish end of April, we don`t know how many birds we will get but at the moment we have over 300 booked in for this time of year that is good as most wait till after the New year or just turn up with birds, they may get a sudden gush of money or may just decide to have a go, but for 2012 we really want to put on a show with lots of birds and a huge payout to match , we want to pay £50,000 to the winner but we need 1400 birds to make that happen and with the world in a bit of a mess money wise that is going to be hard to get but we are still hopeful ! If you want a full look at what we do please look at our website We race the birds on the Route East to West a tough road for the birds as we have mainly West winds but this is the challenge we want and it seems people who want a  challenge like about it , “The Challenge” we also have the nasty North sea to cross as well as the Final race is from Belgium this year 270 miles for the birds, for the last 2 years we went to Brussels 310 miles ,a real toughie to think about let alone race, hands up we had 2 years of stinkers from there it seemed just to much for the birds with the weather changing and gusting at that time of year it’s tough picking the right day let alone predict the weather ! so this year we have returned to our first race point near Ypres in Belgium and we hope a good move , the birds are trained to get there and we hope to get back as well, we are hoping for a large entry this year as we are running along side the Olympics which we hope will go well , we have a Hot Spot to Open the Games and our Final race will close the games at the end of the Paralympics . Also we have our own Junior League where the juniors have there own prize fund and they win prizes in the Hot Spots with the last Hot Spot there Final , the birds can then be activated for the big final, a real good bit of fun , also this year we are helping the BLIND DEAF charity as all charities have their own heart stopping moments, but this is a cause that I feel I could not or want to be in a position to handle myself brave clever children/ people surviving and enjoying what they know a pleasure to try and help, for this we are hoping to get 2012 rings (bands) sent over from different countries and we will put the rings on our stud birds and  the birds that are in for the Final will be auctioned off and the proceeds will go to the charity, we have also asked the top studs in the UK to supply some birds as well so it could end up with a good turn out. I hope this little write up helps Fergus new bit get under way as it is a huge task he is trying and he can only get it right if we join him, thank you all for your time and I hope we can help to motivate the people to keep racing pigeons as it is a terrific sport, and remember “ Keep it simple”


Terry & Jane                                                                                 

Posted December 14, 2011 by ferguselley in Somerset, England One Loft Race, U.k. news items

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South Island Liberations II   4 comments

There is much debate about whether the Auckland Federation birds should have gone up last Saturday from ChristChurch given the weather forecasts.

We must learn from this for the future that when the easterly quarter winds are moderate and particularly nor-east on a particular given race day that poor returns are likely. Sure some fliers will get quite good returns but when most get well under half their birds back after 3 days that is a very poor result in my book.

I think that the thing that stuffed last Saturdays race up the most was that the forecast the previous 2 days for the Canterbury plains and Kaikoura Coast of nor-easterlies with cloud and possible drizzle did actually eventuate. In fact that was the forecast when I looked at the site at 5.30 am Saturday morning. If the east coast north of ChristChurch wasn’t going to be good then surely the higher ground from Hamner Springs through the Nelson Lakes National Park to St Arnaud onto Motueka and Nelson might also have been somewhat similar. Some of those peaks are 2000 metres high. One only has to use logic since the pigeons compass guides them to fly race point to loft.

As it turned out the driver on returning to Picton said that the Kaikoura Coast was in very low cloud with patchy drizzle. For the birds sake we must prevent this from happening again but acknowledge that the liberators have done an excellent job in the past.

The reasons for this are obvious as most fliers keep only small teams of birds and their teams have been hammered two weeks in a row. I believe that about half the birds that are still missing from last weeks ChristChurch shouldn’t have been lost and they got trapped in the murky mountains attempting to fly race point to loft by their sense of the magnetic fields. If not that then they used up a lot of gas trying to get to the top of the South Island and onwards to their homes.

What fliers must remember is that many of the birds that have limped home will be useless as race birds in years to come. Pigeons aren’t machines and there were other options such as waiting to see what the weather  was like in ChristChurch the next morning whilst checking the forecasts for the South Island thoroughly for Sunday and the Cook Strait. Alternatively the Auckland Executive could have requested that the driver drive to for example Ward sometime Saturday afternoon in time to give them their afternoon feed there and a liberation from Ward reassessed early the next morning. This is clearly within the rules. My guess then is that 80% of the birds would have returned home then within 2 days and Manaia club lofts and Adrian Chappell would have clocked on the day. What happened to the good philosophy of giving the backmarkers the best opportunity to get birds on the day in races as far south as ChristChurch. That would have been only fair to their birds and their enjoyment of the sport.

I do not either buy into the philosophy that certain fliers had super returns and therefore the fliers that didn’t mustn’t have had their birds right. There were just too many fliers affected for that argument to hold any water at all and what we should all do is admit that despite the best of intentions at liberation the end result was below average race returns . What I am saying there is not that the weather at ChristChurch was poor at 6.30am but that the forecasts which nowadays in my opinion get it close to right most of the time possibly weren’t heeded enough.

Once again I say easterlies especially moderate nor-easterlies with expected poor visibility and drizzle are not a good recipe for a modern day ‘pigeon friendly’ liberation. Let’s at least be consistent as in the North Island we don’t even take the truck to Raetihi if we think the weather is wet. Also the argument that some pigeons entered into the ChristChurch National race hadn’t had enough work could well be true but we’re ‘pussyfooting around’ with them in the ‘one day baskets’ at times and hence not giving them enough time on the wing. Remember you can’t argue it both ways. If we put them on the truck then shouldn’t we go to Raetihi if that’s the liberation point? Just as we go to ChristChurch which is significantly much further.

Obviously I am not saying that we need to wait for a howling southerly tail wind but we should perhaps lean a bit more on the conservative side in the future given similar forecasts. Now if any of you have any objection to what I write this is an open forum and you certainly have the ‘right of reply’ in the comments section attached. I will even edit this article if you can give me solid, tangible evidence that what I am writing is incorrect because that is only fair especially to the liberators. Actually from time to time I re edit my blogs to improve the read.

We have an Invercargill boxup tonight and scheduled liberation for Friday the 16th of December. The forecasts yesterday were bad however this morning things look a bit more positive for a weekend liberation at least looking at the forecasts for the lower South Island. Overseas I have heard that birds have been held over for as long as 12 days with a super result! Interesting!

Perhaps we need to start flying the pigeons down to ChristChurch for these key races and arrange a liberator who in the event of a holdover is set up to look after the birds for many days if the weather is not forecast to be favourable or of a type where we have had poor returns before e.g. moderate easterly winds in the South Island with murky conditions up the track.

Anyway, it’s going to be good in the future to discuss last weekends race and workout better protocols for the care of the pigeons and guidelines for liberation.

Please remember always that I am speaking up for the pigeons who cannot speak for themselves and ensuring just treatment for them’. i.e. being kind to them. So look, certainly feel free to comment, as that is what this blog is about, it is for all of us and the pigeons.

However it would still be nice if there was at least an admission that perhaps the liberation was a bit ‘risky’. There are a lot of Auckland fliers complaining and those of us on the Committee for the Auckland Racing Pigeon Federation should all take a step back and be thorough in how we improve our liberations.

I also believe that by using this forum to communicate it may improve the accuracy of our liberation decisions which has got to be good for all in sundry including the pigeons.

Finally, I’m sorry, but I don’t buy into the argument  that the liberators are ‘damned if they do and damned if they don’t’. We can’t expect 100%, but we should aim for it, what I mean here is reasonable race returns. However as mentioned previously we need to adjust our protocol for South Island liberations and have stricter guidelines for liberations in place by the time the South Island races start again late next year.

Posted December 13, 2011 by ferguselley in Auckland Federation Racing 2011 Old Birds

Tagged with

South Island Liberations   3 comments

Well we’ve had two South Island races to Auckland Federation lofts. One from Timaru and one from ChristChurch. Both resulted in many lost birds. So we’ll start with the Timaru.

These birds from Auckland Federation lofts, 88 to be exact were basketed on Tuesday the 29th of November and released on the 2nd of December. The birds were liberated at 6.30am. See site for further info. We thank those involved in the care of the birds including the transport supplied by the Palmerston North Racing Pigeon Club which took them down from Palmerston North and others who helped get them to Palmerston North.

Now for out of Auckland people Timaru to Auckland lofts is from about 560 to 640 miles depending on who is flying. So even on a good day with tail winds much of the way it is a good test of the birds character, intelligence, stamina and orientation abilities.

In the past I have found that for my loft about half the birds find their way home within a day or two from release. Although these returns are not perfect the problem for fliers is that we don’t know whether a bird is capable of flying that far on it’s first attempt. Also not all pigeons can navigate that far. Normally a bird has had a solid buildup to the event with preferably a 10 hour fly in the last 5 or so weeks, either 3, 4 or 5 weeks from the event and then steady flies up to around 3 hours after they recover from the 10 hour event i.e. 2 or 3  weeks later. Nowadays I simply use the Federations big truck and I thank Fred and Ron for their services there throughout the year. This year 3 of us had a National Park toss on the Friday seven days prior to the Timaru liberation. We are thankful that the truck waited around 45 minutes prior to release as it was drizzling at National Park. A good opportunity for Ron to have his lunch and eventually it cleared and the birds had a good steady 3 hour plus run which helped them immensely because Grant Annette and myself had the only two birds on the day from Timaru. I gave my 6 candidates (3 of which are photographed in a previous post) a 10km short toss on the Sunday then out for a few hours Monday morning, however the hens stayed out much longer and is possibly why none of them turned up from Timaru. However genetics could well be a greater factor but they probably needed more weight on them which is mandatory for most flies of that distance regardless of weather encountered en route. One of the cocks (the blue chequer) was a heavy cock and I’d sent him the week before to Raumati which was just over a 5 hour fly for him. I hummed and haa’d about sending him to Timaru and as usual the race turned out harder than anticipated and to date he hasn’t made it home. The Blue barr cock 421 did though in fact he flew 14 hours and 6 minutes and he was flying to about 14 day eggs. The Blue barr white flight cock 330 struggled home early monday i.e. the 4th day. Both these birds had a little weight on them. Because we have had a very hard race last Saturday from ChristChurch I think I will put 330 to stock as well as he was very consistent this year and had a top prize from Ward last year (about 330 miles). He probably wouldn’t race any good again anyway as he is still skinny and was flown out. The hen I got on the day from ChristChurch 10th December I will mate to 421. She was 4th East Section National (about 450 miles) but about an hour off the pace of Chris Wilkinson’s bird which ‘raced a race of it’s own’. Chris won the Overall on that race and it was indeed an incredible fly and she had 2 more birds on the day also so must have had her team in excellent order.

Getting back to the Timaru. Probably with the north-easterlies at liberation and the fact that if you draw a line from Timaru to Auckland the birds have to go over the Alps and find the right valleys. Probably most of the birds gave it a go but some probably couldn’t find their way through or spent a lot of time and energy trying. The top of the South Island had moderate north winds and the Cook Strait was gusting up to 60km with decent sized waves so a real test for the birds that had the guts, ability and a little bit of luck to have got through the Alps in good time with energy to spare to cross over the water. There may have been a little bit of a respite for those that crossed in the early afternoon north of Wellington but the head winds being a north-easterly which mainly picked up from around Taihape and from 3 pm onwards there were a lot of showers to go through from Taihape north of. I expect in between the showers the visibility would have been hazy with that low cloud you get especially on the volcanic plateau but also on any cool ground where a front is around.

It was nice to have my youngest daughter Cassie to keep me company in the hour prior to the birds arrival. She even brought my dinner down and I’d just started it when at 8.36pm with light fading, zoom over our heads ‘a bird’ what a thrill! He was tired and stayed on the inside ledge above the electronic pads for about 5 minutes before I let him in to his compartment. I think the low light and his fatigue made it hard to see clearly, but next morning he was back on his eggs which have now hatched.

The following night we had strike off and this year I had decided not to tell if I had birds so no one knew. Others had already had a go at working out the positions prior to strike off, can you relate to that if you are from overseas or out of Auckland!! I honestly didn’t expect to win as I thought that there’d be more day birds as my birds were up against some stiff competition including Colin Webster of Rata lofts who had won it 3 years out of the last 4, an incredible record. He finished up 4th bird clocking 10am second day. Grant Annette’s Grizzle hen which had been raced lightly was the other day bird and must have been with mine up until somewhere in the Waikato i.e. 50 to 100 miles out but 421 made 13 minutes on it. However hats off to Grants bird which arrived in the dark at 8.47pm. Incidentally  Colin Webster bred that bird and it is off two Timaru winners including his grizzle hen which won a very hard Timaru.

Finally there has been some speculation amongst fliers as to whether or not the feeding and watering was adequate for the birds. Firstly there were only 8 birds per standard wax box so there was plenty of room. Also given the fact that each box had secured containers in each corner  so that 2 food containers were at one end and 2 water containers at the other end and they were changed at least daily I think all is good. I will point out that the Waikato and other North Island Clubs that use the Palmerston North Transporter have also 4 secured containers, one in each corner but one food and one water is at each end and the same at the opposite end. I doubt this difference could be that significant. From the conversation I had with one of the 2 drivers that did the trip together I can definitely say that our birds had excellent care! There was definitely plenty of water.

Also apparently a pump is used to remove the old water and fresh pumped in. Pigeons are intelligent and I think it is more the distance of the race and the hurdles of the Alps and it’s 2000 metre heights and probably misty valleys, the Cook Strait’s strong head winds and not much respite from a difficult fly for most of the North Island with showers and headwinds. A bird had to be really right with perhaps a little bit of luck at not getting trapped up some blind valley in the mountains to get through on the day or even the second day. At strike off at 7pm on the second day there were only 8 birds clocked from 88 so a very difficult race. So far I have heard of only 15 home including the odd reported one in Whanganui and Palmerston North. All credit to Dave Bunker at Pointview lofts who had 3 home at strike off out of his 12 and his first bird was third clocking at 8.18 am the second day. Rata lofts, Theo Van Lier and Don Campbell also got a bird. Joe Edwards bird was late the second day and was given a clock reading the next basketing night, he only sent 2 so good fly Joe. Pointview lofts also had a late one second day.

The winning velocity was 1063 m/min. Here’s his photo again

This pretty Blue Barr Cock is a son of the mother of 577 to a different sire. He was 2nd Old Bird National ChristChurch 2010 coming with 1st and 3rd to my loft. I have had alot of success with brothers and sisters including the gun Blue hen in 2009 Young Birds which won 1st Open Futurity, 1st Eastern Union and 4th Jack Longville Race.

Posted December 13, 2011 by ferguselley in Auckland Federation Racing 2011 Old Birds

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Old School vs New School   6 comments

Are you an Old School or a New School pigeon flier or a hybrid of the two?

Why am I asking you this you may ask? Well, with the long distance races almost over and a couple of hard ones from Timaru and ChristChurch to Auckland Federation Lofts it may be interesting wondering who has more traits of the Old School or New.

Old School fliers look forward to the hard races from ChristChurch i.e. 450 to 530 miles or Timaru 560 to 640 miles for Auckland Federation lofts. They want to sort their birds out and 38 mph or below is the speed they want for the winning birds to help ‘lose the crap’. Well we all need to reduce our numbers one way or another but I think that the

New School pigeon fliers are much softer and so are hybrids of old and new. Like the Old School fliers they don’t want to lose their best birds however when they win yet also lose 2/3rds of the birds they sent they feel it for the ones lost. Where are they? Which ones have perished in the mountain ranges of the South Island? Which have been picked off by falcons, cats, dogs or shot? Which have drowned at sea, which have hit wires and injured themselves or died? Which have starved to death, which have eaten poisoned grain left out by farmers for the feral pigeons? Which are in someone else’s loft or care and haven’t been reported?

In fact the New School flier would rather the birds are bought back to a shorter less risky distance because not only do they care for all the birds welfare but they are building a long distance team for the future and don’t want their team smashed to pieces because they enjoy the challenge of patiently building a long distance team up. Old school can’t see the point of having a race shorter than the allocated 5, 6, 7 or 800 miles. It’s just not a challenge for them as fliers and they call New School fliers soft.

The flier with more New School traits doesn’t mind waiting for better weather for their long distance liberations even if it means waiting for one week.  The flier with more Old School traits doesn’t want the hassle of waiting all those days and says flippantly ‘get them up’, ‘get on with it’.

If the liberator has more New School traits they will tend to go out of their way a bit more for the birds. Birds always come first.

New School fliers care about all their lost birds from the very long races and not just the “good ones’ or ‘favourites’ like those the Old School flier tends to only miss.

New School fliers are very quick and efficient at contacting the public when a stray is reported, the Old School flier may not be so quick especially if it isn’t one of their ‘favourites’ or ‘good ones’.

The Old School flier doesn’t like it when New School fliers stand up for the rights and welfare of the racing pigeons. They don’t like questioning of their procedure if they are an official and quickly try to ‘shut up dissenters’. The New School flier is proactive and listens to the viewpoints of all but is not scared to speak out when neccessary. They stand ‘with and for the pigeons’ and not ‘with the crowd of the Old Schoolers’ whose birds are coming home over rugged mountainous terrain while they are inside nice and warm without a ‘care in the world’ thinking ‘that’ll sort em out, I want to lose some!’

The New School flier is always trying to promote the sport and attract fliers into it. They go out of their way and visit schools and talk to people about the fascinating sport of pigeon racing while the Old School flier has given up on getting anyone new into the sport.

New School fliers are usually kind and soft and thoughtful/mindful of the needs of others. Old School fliers are only mindful of themselves and their close nit circle of mates.

Old School and New School fliers are seldom close friends as they are too different and clash on bird welfare in the racing, especially the long distance.

So enough of Old School and New School and their differences. We’ve all got to get on together and find the middle road. Don’t think I’m getting at anyone in particular. We’ve all got a bit of the ‘Old’ and ‘New’ School in us and sometimes we don’t even recognise it! Sometimes even the Old School flier is right, but not when he encourages the ‘bashing’ of the pigeons by encouraging racing when race conditions favour only the very best, fittest, strongest and luckiest if he is traversing the cold misty Mountain Ranges of the South Island while the Old School flier is warm and cosy and not even worrying about their birds.

Don’t know about you but I know who I’d want as an owner if I was a racing pigeon, a New School flier!! And hope that the liberators are more New School than Old School!!

Footnote-if you are an Auckland flier please comment as we’ve had a couple of difficult weekends racing and it is healthy to discuss these matters so please use this forum, I don’t mind if you vent your spleen!! We all need to take a mature attitude to these liberation matters and listen carefully to each others viewpoint and not become too polarised.

We also need to be proactive and set systems in place to prevent the bashing of pigeons without ‘bashin’ the people who have given us poor liberation outcomes in the recent past, even if its unintentional.

Race reports on the Timaru are in editing and last weeks ChristChurch also. I haven’t finished interviewing Mac Armstrong but I do have the Invercargill results from 2005 which was the last time I sent birds to it. 2005 and 2006 there were no birds in race time, but the last 4 years has been much better.

My health restricts the time I can spend on this blog i.e. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (see otherwise known as Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome i.e. my immune system is overactive caused by severe glandular fever when I was 16 and perhaps a genetic predisposition to an overactive immune system. This is common in some Scottish people who evolved in very crowded cities where disease was rampant and thus people with very strong immune systems were selected for.

In the Packard believes this overactive immune system has developed in poorer communities by being inherited over generations.

He claims that children with more aggressive biological defenses were better able to survive potentially deadly Victorian-era diseases such as measles and so were able to pass on this trait to their own children.

This has led to large swathes of deprived communities who have lived for generations in the same area, now suffering from high levels of immune activity. While this can provide protection during childhood against diseases, it causes additional stress to the body in adulthood, which causes it to age far faster.

However in saying this my father’s father who I probably inherited it from had crap health but lived to the ripe old age of 94! So you pigeon fliers in Auckland might have to put up with me and my upfront outspoken nature for a lot longer!!

Posted December 12, 2011 by ferguselley in Food for thought

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