Brian’s Brit Blog April 2012   Leave a comment

Here we are it is Easter already it only seems the other day when it was Christmas. This weekend heralds the first race of our Old Bird racing season and right on cue the north-east winds have arrived. It was interesting to read Leo Turley’s comments on the NE wind in the last issue and he is quite correct in that it all depends on your location and the direction the pigeons have to fly. For us it means our pigeons fly up from the SW so the NE wind is a head wind, right on the nose and this time of year it is born in Siberia and cold. As I start to write this article much of the British Isles are covered in ice and snow brought in by this NE arctic wind and last night April 5th we had a 7.5 degree frost. In these NE conditions the experienced fanciers do not risk too much, yearlings are especially vulnerable and easily lost. However March was generally warmer than normal so I have been able to train a few spare (unmated) birds mainly yearlings and some late breds. The late breds are always fickle, I train them separately as I would do with young birds. I started with eleven and lost two on the first toss, the remaining nine carried on well until the 5th toss when they ran into trouble, only one homed on the day, three more the next day and one a week later with four lost. A week later the five survivors had another bad one, again only one homed on the day, the same pigeon as the first toss (a promising pigeon for the future), eventually all five returned, one minus half the feathers on one wing as shown in the below photo, a typical Peregrine strike. Late breds simply do not have the experience to cope with raptor attacks, however the survivors will have learned a valuable lesson for the future.

Hawked Late Bred

Hawked Late Bred

Our breeding season is now in full swing, the fanciers who breed early will already be finished and by now will have youngsters starting to take to the wing. My first round from the four stock pairs were scheduled to go the Somerset One Loft Race but I only managed five as the eggs from my good cock VINO got chilled in the cold snap in February when night temperatures dropped to minus 15 degrees celsius. The bad luck with VINO continued when his second pair of eggs were due to hatch I found his nest bowl overturned on the floor and both eggs smashed, hopefully it will be third time lucky. The 6th squeaker had been pecked on the back of the neck when it left the nest so could not be sent away. Luckily I had a further eight pairs down in the race loft from which I can make up the other three for the Somerset one loft entry.

I see in the last APJ that Geoff and Catherine Cooper paid a visit to Australia, they and their pigeons are at the pinnacle of pigeon racing both in England and indeed internationally, there are no better fanciers nor few equal. They are among the elite along with Mark Gilbert, Brian Shephard and now Wicky Bullen who have beaten the best in Europe by winning an international race against the top lofts in Europe and many thousands of birds.

As I mentioned above, March was warm and dry and indeed our winter has been one of the driest on record to the point that water restriction regulations were introduced across the S E of England on April the 6th. That seemed to send a signal to the heavens so that the traditional April showers arrived on April the 7th and were very much-needed in the gardens and on the farm land but not too conducive for pigeon racing. Nevertheless our first race kicked off from Blandford Forum April the 8th 65 miles to me, I don’t normally start my birds until the 2nd week of May but this year I threw caution to the wind and sent 3 spare yearling cocks and one 2010 rung cock that was a late bred last year. The weather was not the best with a cold NNE wind and occasional showers. The 2010 cock came first but he is a very nervous type so after a couple of circles landed on my house roof, then after a few minutes he went over to a neighbours roof then back to ours before being satisfied there were no cats or hawks lurking in the vicinity of the loft before coming down to be clocked,  losing the best part of 10 minutes. Needless to say he was well down the result list at 19th but not last. Two of the yearlings arrived soon after but the 3rd yearling never turned up until the next day, all members had some pigeons out that night. The race was won well by Wally Cable who had a widowhood cock well out in front, the best yearling was at 14th showing how difficult it is this time of year for yearlings and most fanciers won’t race them until later in the year. Wally told me last year he started 18 yearlings in the first race and by the 5th race 16 were lost so this season he is only racing the early events with two year or older pigeons.

On a final note it was sad to read last week that the surviving Janssen brother Louis was in hospital at age 99 and the remaining 30 pigeons from 6 Schoolstraat, Arendonk had been placed in hiding pending sale on the PIPA auction site. Certainly the end of an era and an important chapter in pigeon racing worldwide as their pigeons have had an impact wherever pigeons are raced. Yet in spite of the constant demand from the world to purchase this remarkable strain of pigeons they always retained the breeding core of the family and resisted the temptation to sell all. We salute them for their dedication to their pigeons that have benefitted so many others.  


Brian Batchelor

Posted April 11, 2012 by ferguselley in Brian's Brit Blog, U.k. news items

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