Archive for January 2012

Blackpool Show 2012.   1 comment

Brian Batchelor with Terry and Jane Williams from the Somerset 1 loft stand.

Hi All,
This year three of us travelled up to Blackpool from Surrey; Tony Dann, Mick Tuck and myself, it was a very wet and windy drive up with Tony at the wheel and Mick riding shotgun, myself in the back having a snooze as I had worked early in the morning before we left. A good deal of banter was had all the way up with the result Tony missed the turning for the M40 and the toll road by passing Birmingham so we arrived about an hour later than planned but still in plenty of time. Over the weekend we caught up with lots of old friends and made some new ones which for me is what makes the long trip worthwhile. As a scribe for the BHW I am invited into the Scribes room behind the BHW stand where as usual we were made most welcome by the hosts Helen and Netty with a steady supply of tea and biscuits. This is a nice  sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the show and a chance to sit down and have natter with the other scribes and visitors passing through.

Some of the crowds around some of the trade stands at the Blackpool 2012 show.

The crowds were heaving around many of the trade stands who were doing a roaring trade as usual, however we understand due to the recession in Europe quite a number of the previous suppliers had fallen by the wayside and various items normally on display were not obtainable. We managed to find the only supply of tobacco stalks that we use for nesting material and these were all sold out in seconds. Luckily we happened to arrive at that stand just when the trader opened up his pack of them. Nest felts were also hard to find but we did eventually manage to find what we wanted.  My list of purchases included PMV Vaccine, Loft Book 2012, scraper, some DeWeerds medical supplies, Unicon chip rings, telephone ID rings, Pick pots from Natural, Versa Laga special feed supplement and so on. The main loft builders had demonstration lofts on display and I took a liking to a new design from Echo Lofts that had all the features I would like to have in a loft so I came home with their brochure to ponder on for the future. We also had a good look at some of the feed suppliers stands, our club have recently changed to a new corn merchant “Countywide” who have a nice selection of corns for every season and type of racing be it sprint or long distance and everything in between, while at their stand we put the hard word on them to supply a prize bag of corn for our Futurity race which they agreed to.

Mick and Brian overlooking the main show hall where you can see the show cages in the background.

There were of course thousands of pigeons for sale and the major studs were present, Louella, Ponderosa, Axleholm and a few others, there were also several auctions that took place in various venues around the city. We attended the auction sale of pigeons from Ed Sittner who we understand is retiring back to the States after putting up some excellent performances from his loft in Belgium. The base strain of these being Kees Boshua, the pigeons were all of a similar type and looked the part for middle distance, however being a long distance man these did not interest me. What took my eye were on the Axleholm stand where they display some of their stock birds along with some birds that were for sale. They had a magnificent pair of Supercracks on display and the hen is the dam of one I purchased from them 2 years ago. Louella had some lovely Jan Ardens for sale that I would have liked if I had the space to house them and the funds to buy them, one Dark Ch Pied hen in particular stood out for sale at 1500.00 GB Pds.  The show pigeons as always looked amazing and I can’t imagine how the judges manage to sort out the winners as they all looked immaculate to me. All too soon it was all over and we were winding our way back to Surrey.

Tony centre, Mick right relaxing at our Hotel.

On the home front although we are still very much in winter, the days are gradually starting to lengthen out and by and large it has been a mild winter with only a few heavy frosts, last week we had one of these when it was minus 8 deg celsius. After Blackpool many fanciers will begin to pair up for the coming season and I am no exception, I only have a small 6ft x 4ft breeding loft with 4 nests and all going well I will pair up my 4 breeding pairs this weekend. As mentioned in my previous article I have to be careful not to over crowd my equally small 12ft x 8ft race loft so with some reluctance I sold my original pair of Eric Cannon stock birds that are now 8 years old and will be moving some of their offspring into the breeding loft. These have all flown well for me out to at least Tarbes 560 miles and it is time they had their chance in the stock loft. The first round will be going to the Somerset 1 loft race and I will keep the 2nd round plus a few late breds. I haven’t decided whether to let the race team sit a round of pot eggs before racing starts but still have plenty of time to do so if necessary.

Brian Batchelor
Elstead UK

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Posted January 28, 2012 by ferguselley in Brian's Brit Blog, U.k. news items

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Brian Batchelor Raptor attacks   1 comment

The Gentleman Flier Brian Batchelor of Elstead.
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Brian Batchelor and his good mate Keith Mott in 2008 after a very successful racing weekend for Brian.

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Just a little background information on Brian Batchelor of Elstead, Surrey, England. Brian is married to Jean and has 3 grown up children and a swag of grandchildren. He has been in the U.K. about 10 years and in Elstead where he and his wife own and manage the Elstead post office for about 8 years. This is a rural Post Office and Newsagents business. Brian is formerly from New Zealand and many kiwi fanciers know him and no doubt ‘he is becoming famous’ in the U.K.)). Brian suggests that maybe it would be fairer to say ‘up and coming’ and we wish you luck Brian. Elstead is about 30 miles or 50 kms airline southwest of central London, basically a 45 minute drive. Portsmouth on the South English Coast is about 50 kms airline southwest of Elstead, just to put you in the picture if you’re a kiwi reader.
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He’s a very good and knowledgeable pigeon fancier whose business only has 2 non working days a year, that is, the post office (which is on the ground floor of his premises) news agents section and shop is open every day bar 2 a year!! His residence is above this and the small 12 foot by 8 foot race loft containing 32 old birds at the moment is in the backyard. His location is in the Surrey Hills and is mainly an area of woodland with some unique Nature reserves.
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The result he is most proud of was clocking two pigeons VINO and SOLO in the top 100 in the 2010 Grand National Tarbes when the British convoy of 2833 pigeons were liberated in conjunction with the International Race. When a pigeon is placed in the top 100 it qualifies towards a merit award. A merit award is earned when a pigeons is placed 3 times in the top 100 in a National race. Very few ever make it this far, the late Eric Cannon had 5 such pigeons and 1 more that almost made it being 103rd on its last attempt. As far as he is aware no one else has achieved this many merit awards and this is one of the reasons why he and many others value his strain of pigeons so highly.
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I spoke to Brian this morning by phone and he tells me that his 4 pairs of stock birds are also currently in the race loft as the 6 foot by 4 foot breeders loft doesn’t have water heaters and in that loft the drinkers would ice over this time of year.
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Brian is always up for a good ‘chin wag’ about the pigeons and I guess I’ve known him for about 20 years. He’s the type of loyal friend that you’d want ‘in the trenches’ or any other kind of everyday life’s difficulties. We bought a few good Jansens together in the mid 90’s when imports weren’t banned into this country and shared them and did very well with them. The ‘Hardluck hen’ and the ‘Stamvater hen’ were ‘Supers’. I still have an out of area trophy that his bird won about the time he left for England in 2002 still in with my collection. “Brian, does your post office do pay on arrival postage”? i.e. you’d be paying)). Knowing Brian he wouldn’t be too worried about the trophy and we’d both forgotten about it and along with all the others they’re gathering dust!
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You may have read in other articles that Brian will start breeding seriously in February and racing in April. One thing about Brian that I always appreciate is that he isn’t scared to tell you what he thinks when it comes to the pigeons. His advice about pigeon numbers is something a number of us need to hear and often. So if any of you want a free bird, sing out!
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Brian also told me about a pair of goshawks that live nearby in the woods that were coming regularly to his small backyard for a feed on his birds. Brian has manged to knock this one on the head to a degree by placing nylon bird netting in the gap in the hedge they were coming through. The hawks no longer have the element of surprise and so far the pigeons have been able to escape when they do attack. He also put his young birds in with the race team hens and the hens teach the youngsters to be hawk wise and this also helps.
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Apparently the goshawks are the biggest and the peregrine does the most damage to the birds during racing or training. Terrible problem over there, we really only have it to a smaller degree in much of our country. I don’t think I’ve ever lost a pigeon to the local harrier hawks but I don’t mind the local magpies as they chase the hawks away. But to be honest, it is quite likely that I wouldn’t know if I’d lost a bird to a harrier, a New Zealand native falcon or the much more rarer peregrine falcons, assuming the later are up this far.
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Brian Batchelor brian.batchelor@mypostoffice.co.uk
12/21/11
to me
Hi Ferg,
Your mention of the ferret attack on my birds in Redoubt Road, while devastating at the time it was totally preventable and my own fault for leaving an opening that allowed them to get into the loft. This is nothing compared to the raptor attacks we suffer here and which we can do nothing about.
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Goshawk.

Northern Goshawk.

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I lose about 10 percent of my birds every year to Goshawks, Sparrow hawks and Peregrine falcons. All my surviving Old Birds have been attacked at one time or another, some have been hit more than once and returned with injuries. One 5 year old cock is very wary going out for a fly. He is the last to go out and seems to watch the others flying around before flying off and he is usually the first back in the loft. Twice he has been badly hit, the first time as a 2 year old from a 30 mile toss he was found 5 days later 7 miles from home with a small injury on his neck but he was completely flown out and must have flown who knows where in panic. The second time he homed late with half his tail missing and a broken foot that was badly infected.
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Sparrowhawk

I had another one that was reported on a Deep Sea trawler up in the north sea off Denmark with obvious peregrine injuries, he went missing from Tarbes in the south of France and the distance to the north sea would be over 1000 miles. I had a stray in this year from a well known London fancier he had tossed 40 pigeons that day from the coast about 30 miles to me and when I phoned that night he told me a
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Peregrine falcon.

Peregrine falcon diving courtesy- wpclipart.com

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Peregrine had hit them as soon as he released them scattering the birds to the four winds, he only had 6 home that night from the 40. My Old Cannon cock the foundation sire of my loft was taken by a Goshawk, these are the battle tanks of hawks and will pluck a pigeon off the lawn or loft roof and carry it away so fast you can hardly see it. The Old Cannon cock is the only pigeon I have ever had survive such an attack, how he escaped and got back to the loft I will never know but it shows something of his guts and I believe why he has bred me so many good pigeons. See the photos.
Cheers
Brian
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Old Cannon Cock in better nick than below.

Brian Batchelor’s  Canon Cock 2008 , you can hardly recognise him from this perfect Keith Mott photo.

Brian Batchelor hawked pigeon 2008 (The Canon Cock), you can hardly recognise him from the perfect Keith Mott photo above this!!.


Posted January 9, 2012 by ferguselley in U.k. news items

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Brian Batchelor news January 2012 featuring Bullen -1st International Pau 2011   Leave a comment

Not too much is happening here in UK at the present time it is mid winter and the only activity is in the show pens. Unfortunately I have missed  two of our local shows due to other commitments but will be showing this weekend January the 8th. Editors note a few days later, Brian entered 2 hens and 4 cocks  and  was pleased to pick up 4th prize in the Young cocks from a class of 81 with one of his young Supercracks.

4th YBC show, 2012, not bad for a shot from Brian's mobile phone.

I will be making the annual pilgrimage to the  Mecca of pigeondom in UK the BHW Show of the Year at Blackpool on January the 21st & 22nd.  A few of the early breeders will have squeakers in the nest as the 2012 rings are available from the first week of January, however I like the majority of fanciers will not be pairing up until February, some even wait until March to pair their race team so that the birds moult is delayed and they are carrying a near full wing for the long distance Nationals and Classics in June and July. The general consensus is that you do not want your race birds to have dropped more than their 4th flight for these events.
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In my own loft after things not going according to plan in 2011, I have made a few changes, firstly I have improved the ventilation system and I must say I am pleased with the results so far the pigeons look a picture,tight feathered, buoyant and they are flying about the loft with some vigour. As the saying goes the ‘best pigeons and fanciers are only as good as the loft environment in which the pigeons live’. If the fresh air exchange is not right the pigeons will never be right and it has been a difficult problem to get right in my own loft. Secondly I have reduced the numbers a bit and will only breed a small young bird team this year to avoid over crowding.
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I have entered a team into The Somerset One Loft Race which will absorb some youngsters and will pit them against the best in what is one of the toughest Young Bird One loft races in Europe.  Along with this I realized my team was spread too thin to race in all the clubs I belonged to so I have resigned from two of the four clubs, one is the mid week club that I only sent to once last year and the other being the BICC. I originally joined the BICC to race in the Internationals but having only a small loft and team I only managed to enter three races in four years.
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I sent one pigeon to the PAU International and finished 9th Open British section, one pigeon to Perpignan and finished 33rd Open and two pigeons to Barcelona and had one return just out of race time. However last year I never managed to send to any BICC races and I missed nearly half my local club races so I will now concentrate on my local Club racing the Godalming & Distrcts Flying Club which is one of nine clubs in the Surrey FED which itself flies in a Combine programme with the Three Borders FED. I will also remain in the National Flying Club,the premier club for National racing. So I have more than enough racing to keep me and my pigeons busy during the coming season. Here in the south of England we have had a very mild winter so far mainly wet and windy but not cold and no sign of any snow but our electric power has been knocked out a couple of times.
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This time I am also attaching an article written by Terry Peart on the remarkable performance of D Bullen and sons pigeon named “Ilsas Rainy Day Boy” in the PAU International. I would add to Terry’s report that this PAU International is competed for by the elite of Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Germany. Aside from the Barcelona International it is the most prestigious to win and as the entry fee is the highest only the best pigeons are sent. So for a modest back yard loft in England to win it and by such a margin considering the bad weather at the home end really something else against such illustrious competition. Yet in spite of this plus the other two International wins by British pigeons in 2011 the world still beats a path to Belgium and Holland to buy pigeons, I know where I would rather buy pigeons from and at more modest prices.
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Dave (Wicky)  and Kirk Bullen 1st International Pau 2011 article and photos kindly used with permission from the author Terry Peart, thanks on behalf of all readers Terry.
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Dave (Wicky) Bullen and son Kirk

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Dave (Wicky) Bullen and son Kirk produced what is so far probably the best International win so far in the U.K. 1st Open International Pau. A great big performance from a small loft of 14 racing widowhood cocks plus a few racing hens. This truly remarkable performance from this small back garden loft must surely be the most outstanding International win by a British pigeon so far. We must take nothing away from the other U.K. International winners but this was more of an individual performance as this winner “Isla’s Rainy Day Boy” completed the race as an individual pigeon having no help from any other British pigeons on his return to the British coastline. With a velocity of 1431 m.p.m. he was not only 31 metres per minute in front of the next International pigeon he was also an incredible 213 m.p.m. in front of the next British arrival with over 8,600 birds competing in the race. Flying a distance of 556 miles to his home loft in New Addington I.R.D.B. was clocked at 16-23 i.e. 4.23pm having homed to the loft in a storm with torrential rain that had persisted for most of the day. This was not the first top performance by this wonderful 3 year old athlete of the sky having previously scored 1st section 3rd Open B.I.C.C. Narbonne 582 Miles in 2010 as a 2 year old plus he was also 27th Open B.I.C.C. Tarbes. The main blood lines of this champion pigeon are Van Wan Roy with a little Stoffel and Janssen.
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Wicky has been racing pigeons virtually all his life starting off as most fanciers helping his father who was also a top fancier. Kirk has followed in his fathers footsteps, also starting at a very early age and was in the loft as soon as he was able to walk. Having known Wicky for over 40 years most of which have been very successful for him, it has enabled me to collate a rather nice collection of photographs not only of Wicky as a young man but also many of Kirk as he has grown up with the pigeons. When I write the full loft report on this partnership I will undoubtedly be embarrassing them by publishing a few that go back several years. The Bullen name over three generations has been associated with all the top pigeon Nationals, Classics, Combines and Federations. Since I have known Wicky he has flown his pigeons from four different loft locations and has never failed to score top positions from either of them even with pigeons that had been broken to a different loft. One of these that come to mind is when the loft won 1st Section Perth in the mighty N.R.C.C.when flying to a loft in his mothers garden many years ago. The result list of this partnership is unbelievable for such a small team of pigeons racing both North and South road winning many major honours, all of which will be highlighted in the full loft report. Although the loft houses just 14 cocks, a dozen hens and 4 pairs of stock birds, every single pigeon in the loft is related in one way or another, so that the winning genes are prominent in every pigeon, winners breeding winners and breeders to breed winners.
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“Isla’s Rainy Day Boy”is a superbly bred pigeon, bred to win this type of race. His sire, bred in 2004, won 2nd open B.I.C.C. Alencon from 2,532 birds, 3rd club Messac, he also flew Barcelona plus 2 x Perpignan and Pau. The sire of this cock being the grandsire of I.R.D.B. is another of the lofts stars “Reggie’s Boy” a fantastic pigeon, a top racer and breeder. “Reggie’s Boy’s” racing record is second to none which included, 1st Sect. E. 1st Open National Flying Club Dax, 5th Open International, 3 hours in front of the N.F.C. second arrival. 1st club, 5th Amalgamation Bergerac, 1st club Tours, 1st club, 2nd Federation, 65th S.M.T. Combine Bergerac. 27th Open South East England Combine Tours, 38th Open L.S.E.C.C. Tours, 65th Open L.S.E.C.C. Guernsey, 1st club Tours, plus several other positions. This wonderful cock bred down from Ponderosa “Black Giant” lines is also a remarkable breeder being sire and grandsire of several top performance pigeons.
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The dam of I.R.D.B.was also bred in 2004 lightly raced but still managed a few good positions that included 58th Open B.I.C.C.Pau, her dam was also a good race bird winning 3rd Open L.S.E.C.C. Pau when only 6 were recorded on the day. Six weeks later this great hen went on to win 50th Open N.F.C. Pau. A daughter of “Reggie” 1st. sect. B.I.C.C.Alencon when the loft was 1st, 2nd & 3rd section. A grand son 7th Open B.I.C.C.Falaise, as was another grandson 1st Sect, 5th Open B.I.C.C. Falaise, the list is endless but all will be revealed in the full loft report, this will be an in-depth article that will cover the past 30 + years of all the winning pigeons, the racing and feeding systems plus much more, should be very interesting!
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Dave (Wicky), Sue and son Kirk Bullen.

Posted January 9, 2012 by ferguselley in Brian's Brit Blog, U.k. news items

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News from Terry Williams of somersetoneloftrace.co.uk   2 comments

This blog is based on information that Terry sent me to give the U.K. picture and we thank him.
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The Club Liberation
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Liberations in the Uk are a mixed bag, there are pigeons going all over the place. We have North roaders going South and we have South roaders going North and we have East and West birds going across them all. You could have over 100,000 pigeons in the sky going home and all the conveyors are trying to get the birds up early!! How it works here is the transporter goes to the liberation site and he calls to say he has arrived and gives a quick weather update and receives the home end report as well. He waters and feeds the birds and the next morning he is on the phone to his home end to find out what is what and gives his weather report his end. In between these two are race advisers who are around the line of flight. These advisers are people who have friends or pigeon fancier friends that can give weather reports in their area and that is all they can do. The club race controller has to make his/her mind up if it is safe to release the birds in the weather they have in front of them. They also have to watch out for clashing, which is a nightmare to chase and will never really be prevented. The last call is for the race controller to speak to the driver and conveyor as to the updated weather at the liberation point, it is then agreed to hold over or release the birds at a set time. As far as people are concerned it is the birds which are thought of. Now if there is a bad race everyone is to blame and nobody puts their hands up as there is a string of people on the line of flight telling their view. If the conveyor lets the birds go because he thinks it is good to go and he is wrong, he then must talk to the race controller who is in contact with the race advisers on the line of flight. In a nut shell the conveyor is there to release the birds and to keep them watered and fed for as long as is needed. The weather and wind make the race possible, the bird has to prove itself and perform. Hold overs should not be a problem as the transporter should be geared up for it. A pigeon in the basket will rest and be waiting for ‘the shout’ that they will be going. Thirty odd years ago we were in a National (that is my father and I) and the birds were heldover for 2 weeks and a person in our area won the race. The problem today is the fancier has worked hard to get the bird in condition for the race, as not many are put in condition naturally, the conditioner is now out of the system!!!! Some people lose their best birds, but if 50% are home in the clock then it is the bird that failed and on a hard long race if the conditions are right it is up to the ‘pigeon’ to be in the best ‘condition’ as well. That is why you sent it to ‘win’. “There is always something to blame.”
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The One Loft Liberation
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We could have 100 or 1000 birds to race, more if we could. As soon as the birds are in the loft the entrants are watching the progress every day on the website, so from the start the pressure is on!! Once the birds start training everyone is watching the whole thing, time, place, feed, basketing, the lot! Starting off is just the same as any training and of course we go on the weather, it is the ‘big factor’. We watch it well, as the miles go on we have to make sure there is no large club racing in the week as this is now a big thing as people are racing midweek to miss the Saturday rush!! We are going across country so we have to know ‘who is going from where’ and we also have the ‘ones’ that don’t tell anyone. So we can have a problem as ‘some’ see good weather and decide to have a big training toss!! Anyway, with the liberations we watch and ask people in the area we are going to if there is any problem. So we too have our ‘line of flight advisers’ in place. On the ‘Hot Spots’ not too much of a problem, just have to hope there’s no real big clashing. However when we go over the water into Belgium a totally different tack is taken. We watch the weather pattern a month before our final race to see the different pattens of the wind. Of course we know it won’t be exactly the same, but you have to see the English Channel to believe it, it changes from day to day, so we ‘watch and listen’ to where the wind is ‘coming and going from’ and we take note of the state of the sea etc. As the race day approached we cancelled the race due to high winds and rain coming in, (we can do this as we are racing to one loft). We went the following week, no real bad reports of weather only for later in the day. Had the birds up early (6.45am) and expected they would have a good race. All the advisers said a good day, no problems, so ‘up went the birds’ and that was the last we saw of the birds and the race was a disaster. The weather changed in a matter of an hour or so. We have advisers on the coast line of Belgium and England and we have a camera on a buoy in the Channel. The best is the advisers on the coast. I ring them and I am in contact with the conveyors and I make the decision. So no one is to blame, an adviser is not going to tell something it ain’t! It is the weather that changes the race, wind, sea conditions, even the weather forecasters get it wrong, (more times 2011), common sense is a must in conveying pigeons along with ‘good advice’.