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

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4 responses to “South Island Liberations II

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  1. Looking at Fergus’s comment from the outside, I would have to agree with it, the North east wind is not fit for man or beast and it is exactly the same here in UK, we always suffer a bad race in NE winds, sure a few game pigeons seem to get through OK but the majority don’t. Generaly the Convoyers here would hold over with this sort of weather forecast until the weather improved although occassionally they get it wrong. An example this year was the National Flying Club race from Cholet my distance is 284 miles, the forecast was for fine weather with a light NE wind less the 10 mph however the wind picked up with gusts of 50 mile an hour and I only got 3 home on the day from 9 pigeons entered.

    Brian Batchelor

    • Hey Brian, that’s brilliant. Interesting how the nor-east stuffs things up in other parts of the world. Wish you were here so that you could view my Invercargill candidates. Plenty of peanuts and small seeds. My first goal is to clock in race time. Anything in the prize list of which Mac is again sponsoring would be a nice bonus. Good to hear from you!

  2. Hi Ferg!

    As you know I am not much of a pigeon expert – I’m just someone who loves all kinds of birds very much. So it’s sad to hear that the birds were sent out when it might have been better to keep them safe for a little longer. Is there any chances that some more birds will find their way home?


    • Yes Kimmie, in New Zealand we have a very good network of organisations that people can contact e.g. PRNZ, Bird Rescue, even the Auckland Racing Pigeon Federation. People catch the tired birds and report to these sorts of organisations or Vet Clinics e.t.c.
      Sometimes a finder may know where there’s someone who keeps pigeons as they’ve seen them flying around.

      So it’s a little bit like ‘pigeon search and rescue’)).

      Yesterday I was talking to a pigeon fancier from Taumaranui who flew pigeons in the same race and after a while I asked him if he had any strays i.e. lost pigeons and he said yes. It was a nice surprise to hear the 2 birds identity rings were mine, very nice!!

      I’ve even had a bird return from this same racepoint just under a year later with a healed broken wing, I’ve kept the bird because I’m a softie and it flew better than half of them)). So it is now in a ‘pigeon retirement village’)). Maybe I will even breed from it.

      Finally with pigeon liberations sometimes even on very good fine days there can be not so good returns e.g. due to sunspots affecting the magnetic fields the pigeons home in on. Liberators never plan for more than acceptable levels of non returns. Hopefully most of the non returns will have a good life and even get home like the bird above.

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