Stevo’s back!! and he’s got the Knack!! jointly written by Steve Archer and Fergus Elley.   1 comment

BCH ‘Loney’ PHAK 2011 546 Winner of 1st Open ARPF Young Bird Futurity from Levin 2012.

Recently on the 28th April 2012 the Auckland Racing Pigeon Federation (ARPF) very successfully ran its Annual Young Bird Futurity Race from Levin to various Auckland pigeon enthusiast’s lofts.

I am very proud and excited to announce that Steve and Magda Archer of Howick, Auckland won this very prestigious race with their BCH 546 ‘Loney’ with a flying time of 6 hours 19 minutes and 50 seconds and velocity of 1087 m/min. ‘Loney’ won by a slowby (time needed to win) of almost 3 minutes so must have done everything right including the home leg into East Auckland. ‘Loney’ beat 335 ARPF birds flying from 34 ARPF lofts from a total of 641 Futurity rings sold.

Steve and Magda Archer at the Futurity prize presentation.

The birds were basketed at the Pearce St Hall, Onehunga on the evening of the 26th April and the loft Auction and socializing was at the Onehunga Bowling Club which turned out to be an excellent venue.

The ARPF is composed of fliers from the 7 Auckland clubs who live as far south as Meremere and as far north as Matakana. A distance range of over 70 miles, north to south. The ARPF is divided into 2 sections, East and West until races reach further than Christchurch to Auckland (which is a race between the 2 Islands of New Zealand for the uninitiated of between 450 and 530 miles depending on loft location).

The birds were driven down to Levin which is the racepoint for the ARPF Annual Young Bird Futurity Race. It was too wet to let the Turangi toss birds go on the way down as it rained a lot on the Friday. The race birds from Auckland, Hamilton, South Waikato, Taumarunui and the Manaia Club from up north, all went down together but only the Hamilton and South Waikato birds went up together on the Saturday.

The liberation for the Auckland birds was delayed until the light conditions had changed from poor at 8am to excellent to the north with blue sky at 9.30am when the birds were liberated.

I was expecting a fairly quick race of maybe 50 miles per hour going off the metservice.com weather site, as the birds had a pretty good start. As it panned out, perhaps the inexperience of the birds as a flock in flying through patches of showers threw a good portion of the birds quite a bit. We all know that Young birds can panic when faced with challenges that Old birds would by and large just plough through.

The winds were in general westerly and brisk apart from the home straight into Auckland from somewhere in the Waikato where they were brisk south-westerly. Perhaps on meeting the only significant obstacle in the flight path (after about a half hours fly) i.e. a 10 to 15 mile north south very wide band of light showers, panic might have set in. Perhaps a lot of birds went with the westerly side wind for some time and tried to run around the showers, who knows, but inexperience probably meant some birds made a meal of the situation.

What we do know for sure is that Steve and Magda Archer’s little BCH ‘Loney’ was smart enough to take the right course for home and at a good clip. It was a very good effort from her and she had scattered showers throughout the King Country to contend with as well i.e. the middle of the race with westerly quarter winds there too and likely chilly.

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A little about the winning hen. Steve says “The winning BCH  PHAK 0546 was hatched 24/10/11 and bred off DCPC 161 WUAK 04 X BCH 003 HAM 04 and was a single nester”.

“The sire of 546 is from ex West Section Flyer John Wells. The Dam is the Marilyn line Janssen blood from Andrew Reyland in Hamilton and I believe the West Section winner of John Stavert was an out of area bird bred by Richard Stratton which also had Marilyn bloodlines”.

“161 the sire of 546 was off RCC 555 x DCH 820. The Sire of 555 was a RCC Busschaert / Janssen cross off the bloodlines of Mike Fleming. The dam of RCC 555 was a BCPH Busschaert / Janssen cross from Eric Billington. DCH 820 was a Busschaert / Janssen cross”.

“Two sisters of sire 161 won 6 and 4 races each”.

“RCC 555 won a WU Yearling Derby from Otaki 2002 and was 2nd in the Avondale 500”.

Steve also says “I started to race pigeons in 1966 when aged 14 for the Northern Club which had their premises under the old Railway Station in Auckland City. Living close to Sacred Heart College out East Auckland in Glen Taylor (in Glen Innes) it was quite an effort to train birds let alone basketing them. Being a keen lad I used to walk half a kilometre with two crates of birds and my Toulet timing clock. Then I loaded the crates into the pram bay of a bus and took the 40 minute ride into the downtown Bus Depot where I then walked approx 2 kilometres to the Northern Club. After basketing the reverse would happen unless I could obtain a lift and sometimes Peter Whitmore would drop me off home. If I wanted to train this process would be repeated but sometimes my mother or brother would run me in depending on when dad needed to be picked up from work”.

“The Old time fliers like Hootens, Eaton, Frazer, Walker, Liltherland, Alexander, Howarth, Billington,  Reiman, Whitmore, Tucker,  Campbell, Harvey, Reed and more were very competitive and as a young lad I managed to win a couple of 3rd places in the Club and receive a card. This was a big deal for a kid competing against the likes of Alexander who had his birds trained by carriers many times a week to the end of the motorway”.

“During this period the North Shore Club was founded with Jim Howarth at the helm and they had 4 or 5 young lads my age racing as well”.

“My father was super supportive with his building of the loft to my design, purchasing feed and obtaining birds. These were from George Walker of Te Atatu who gave me a cock bird with a damaged leg from his top breeders for stock. Breeding a RCH from this cock proved to be the most consistent young bird in my loft”.

“Sadly I picked up bird fanciers lung and being a top sports person at school it came as a shock that I had to give up the pigeons. The correct medical term is Avian Alveolitis and is so called because of the allergic reaction affecting the Alveoli in the lungs when the body’s immune system over reacts to protein antigens in the pigeon droppings. They did not know this in those days and all the info they had was that it happens to skinny men less than 30yrs of age!”

“I had 2 major operations done by Barret Boyes A team when 17 and 20 and were told the only thing that would restrict me in life were sky diving or scuba diving”.

“So a few decades past along and even though I noticed a loft in Pitcairn Place when we moved in, my wife at the time forbade me to even venture to say even a howdy. That loft belonged to Ted Tierney. But ya canny keep a good pigeon man down so it was a blessing when the young 17 year old lad working for me came and said that there was a pigeon under my boat. After catching it and finding out that it belonged to Ted and approaching him, he said he was moving out and that the said bird was sold at his dispersal sale to an Indian guy. After phoning the Indian he said he did not want it and he had another one if I wanted it as well. As a result the garden shed was commandeered, modified and after joining the Avondale Pigeon Club and meeting the members, Ferg Elley said “there were birds from a mate of his which would be good for stock and to get your skates on before the local cats had them for dessert”.

“Flying again was great and some handy pigeon men were at the fore including the back marker Fergus, front marker BMW, Stavert, Ghio, Stevens, Smith etc. It took me awhile to hit my straps but in the first year back won the

WURPC  2 Bird Trophy Christchurch 1995.

Bill Abercrombie Memorial Trophy for Yearlings from Christchurch 1995.

Next season I won the

Avondale RPC Champ of Champs Christchurch 1996.

WURPC Single bird Nominated Christchurch 1996.

Fred Tucker Memorial Trophy Christchurch 1996.

ARPF West Section Winner Christchurch 1996.

ARPF West Section YOUNG BIRD NATIONAL 1996—-3rd place.”

“I started to race the 1997 Young bird season but gave the birds away as I was becoming heavily involved with coaching kids sport and with 3 budding sports minded children there was just not enough hours in the day to do the birds justice”.

“Move forward 15 years, remarried and living again out East, we decided to have some sort of birds in our life. Magda my new wife used to breed Cockatiels and after sorting the attic out and finding the box of trophies won by the pigeons, Magda got keen after I hung the National Ribbon above the workbench in the garage and suggested we get into it”.

“So we joined the Howick/Pakuranga Club last year 2011 and started to race the Young Bird Season 2012, winning our first Club race from Raetihi in early April and recently winning the ARPF Overall and East Section Young Bird Futurity on the 28th of April . It was a great thrill for both of us and immensely rewarding after all the hard work we had done to once again join the Great Sport of Pigeon Racing”.

Now back to more commentary on 546 alias ‘loney’. Steve says “It had a full wing, the 10th being pulled late January”.

“The Futurity race from Levin (256 miles) was her 7th start of the season. Her first 3 races from Pirongia, Te Kuiti and Mahoe were not great, finishing amongst our tail enders. Next start from Raetihi she showed vast improvement and after a short break was our first bird from Bulls (226 miles) on a SE wind giving us 3rd Club and 26th Combine”.

“We backed her up to Raetihi the next week as she looked great and the race was not going to be too hard to flatten her for the Futurity. She again was our first bird giving us 2nd Club and 28th Combine”.

“By the time of the Futurity she was a ‘stand out’ looks wise and always rearing to fly and trying to nab other hen’s mates. Funnily enough, no cock bird took a fancy to her. We even tried a few late bred cocks, but nay”.

“Having no old birds as yet and returning the original prisoner breeding stock there was no way to put her with an experienced cock bird which would have relished the opportunity”.

The Archer Loft.

“Our loft has 3 compartments and is 3.2m x 2.4m with 2 sputniks. It is designed for no more than 30 pigeons and we have 26 at present, losing 4 this season. Of those, 5 are earmarked for stock. We obtained most birds from 3 fliers with 2 auction birds as well’.

“The loft was a kitset from Franklin which we modified for the birds. It is fully insulated with a double glaze mid section clear roof. Because of room, we could not face it north so the landing board faces south and the 3.2m side with windows, face west. Not the most ideal but with sliding windows we can control the loft environment and it is warm with good bottom ventilation, which escapes out through a drilled horizontal plastic downpipe which runs the length of the loft high up at the rear. The birds certainly seem happy enough and bathe regularly outside the loft on the patio”.

“The birds receive 3 types of grit and vitamins on an ad-lib basis. A treatment programme is in place and the grain is hand mixed to different recipes depending on what is happening. The feed is weighed out and a strict regime is kept”.

“Having a team of 12 late breds means a lot more work and most have had 2 races up to now”.

“Our idea is to test all of the birds in the Young and the Old Bird season to find out what we have and to build our own family around the proven ones. A lot of fun we think and we can’t complain so far!”

“I personally have done alot of research and reading/experimenting and realise that one has to be careful with all the information taken in, so it does not bamboozle the brain too much. Once you have found what works for you it’s then a matter of trying to keep it simple, with attention to detail”.

Steve also says “Loney had a fortnight off after the March 31st Raetihi, her 4th race. Then she had a Huntly toss (50 miles) on the 7th April and a Te Kowhai toss (60 miles) on April 11th before the Bulls race (226 miles) on the 14th April”.

“The following Wednesday after the Bulls race she went  to Te Kowhai before the Raetihi race and then tossed her from Rangiriri (40 miles) the following Tuesday. We then gave her a single up on Anzac Day Wednesday after the Dawn Parade from 6 miles on our line of flight from Murphy’s Bush”.

“Her second race from Te Kuiti she was well behind coming early afternoon and from her 3rd race i.e. the hard Mahoe she returned early Sunday. The next Raetihi she was 50 minutes behind our first bird. So you can see she was not an early standout by any means. But that fortnight off freshened her and she came into form and kept it for 3 weeks looking a picture of health and that look one notices when birds are in peak form”.

“We mix our own grain and she had a light carbo feed on race return, with protein mix early in the week before carbo loading up later in the week”.

“We toss Mercer, Huntly, Te Kowhai and if Huntly has bad cloud we stop at Rangiriri. She had 2 tosses from Clevedon in her early education as well as the other compass points before a Drury, Mercer, Huntly and into the first race from Pirongia”.

Back to Fergus now; I think Steve has found success quickly on re-entering the pigeon game for a number of reasons. His athletic passion from yesteryear at a high level i.e. high jumping Auckland champ helps him focus on achieving his ‘pigeon goals’. His dedication to perfection from years of learning discipline from his craft of steel working means his pigeon duties are performed with precision and in a timely manner.

Lastly it is pure team work and many of us look forward to the keen competition Steve and Magda will offer and believe it not, Steve’s passion is long distance racing, so be warned, this win is merely just an appetizer for them and remember, “You heard it first from me!!”

Also least we forget, thanks again to Don and Tira Campbell for all the hard work for this race, the Onehunga Bowling Club people, Jim Cater and Fred Van Lier and his assistant in transportation Bronnie. It was an excellent 2 course meal and plenty of laughs were had with the opportunity to catch up with out of area fanciers.

The happy Archer couple with trophies outside the winning loft.

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One response to “Stevo’s back!! and he’s got the Knack!! jointly written by Steve Archer and Fergus Elley.

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  1. Great that you’ve taken on the Futurity Secretaries job Steve.

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