MAC II   2 comments

Mac and Mary Armstrong, extreme distance champs

Mac and Mary Armstrong, extreme distance champs.

The champ at his loft.

The champ at his loft.

Macs loft from the swimming pool showing those big trees which cool the lofts down.

Macs loft from the swimming pool showing those big trees which cool the lofts down.

An aviary doesn't go amiss!

An aviary doesn’t go amiss!

Smash Invercargill winner for Mac Armstrong 2008.

Smash Invercargill winner for Mac Armstrong 2008.

Smash Invercargill winner for Mac Armstrong 2008

Smash Invercargill winner for Mac Armstrong 2008.

2nd 2011, 7th 2010 and 10th 2009 Invercargill, a full brother of the Mealy Cock, the smash Invercargill winner for Mac in 2008.

2nd 2011, 7th 2010 and 10th 2009 Invercargill, a full brother of the Mealy Cock, the smash Invercargill winner for Mac in 2008.

The Invercargill winner for Mac Armstrong 2009.

The Invercargill winner for Mac Armstrong 2009.
Cheq hen - the Invercargill winner for Mac in 2010

Cheq hen – the Invercargill winner for Mac in 2010.

Invercargill winner for Mac Armstrong 2011.

Invercargill winner for Mac Armstrong 2011.

Invercargill winner for Mac Armstrong 2011.

Invercargill winner for Mac Armstrong 2011.

In this second article Mac Armstrong answers questions from New Zealand fliers about how he prepares his birds to fly Invercargill to Auckland. He also answers questions on the breeding of his birds which have won from Invercargill to Auckland, a distance through a lower North Island Foxton breaking point of 780 miles i.e.

‘THE NEW ZEALAND BARCELONA!’

But first a quick recap about the races challenges. Invercargill is at the bottom of the South Island with Stewart Island below it. To fly the Invercargill to Auckland race on the day the birds have to take a fairly direct line of flight across the Southern Alps which are snow peaked all year round rising to 3754 meters and secondly they need to make the Cook Strait Sea crossing between the two Islands.

Mac normally starts the season with about 80 birds to race and keeps the cocks and hens separate. He flies to the perch which results in the birds being much calmer in the basket.

Mac never sends yearlings or latebreds to Invercargill. Although he adds that if the programme suited and there was sufficient gap between the latebreds’ 480 mile Christchurch race and the Invercargill race, then if a yearling was particularly right then he may send it after weighing up the weather forecasts. He usually chooses to send 2 year olds (in their 3rd year) and older pigeons, particularly liking 4 to 5 year old hens.

His lofts have about half grill floor and he employs someone to clean all his lofts out everyday.

Mac breeds off his successful Invercargill birds in January and will breed until April. 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.

QUESTIONS FROM FLIERS.

What is the breeding of your 4 winners of 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. i.e. the MC, the BCC, the BCH and the BBC?

The Mealy cock which won Invercargill in 2008, being the only bird in race time is off the original vos Blenhaven Jansen import pair. The BCC which won Invercargill on the day in 2009 is of Blenhaven Jansen bloodlines as well. The BCH which won late morning on the second day from Invercargill in 2010 is also of Blenhaven Jansen bloodlines. The BBC which won Invercargill in 2011, arriving around 6pm the second day is 7/8 Jansen and 1/8 Vandie bloodlines.

What is the breeding of the RCC which was 2nd 2011 and 7th 2010 and 10th 2009?

He is a full brother of the Mealy cock which won the smash race from Invercargill in 2008.

Would you like some of your birds to have a go at Stewart Island to Auckland?

Too right I would!

If you don’t put a bird to stock that has achieved Invercargill greatness, does it usually do the Invercargill race each year?

Yes, it will be prepared, but only sent if all the indicators of form and health are there, it must be right!

What signs in a bird do you look for in not sending a bird to Invercargill even though you might have prepared it?

 While discussing this question with Mac, I realised it is easier to consider what Mac likes to see in his prospective Invercargill candidates at basketing. Mac says that he looks for very silky feathers, a full wing and abundant body feather cover as New Zealand is often wet. The eye tells a lot to Mac and he calls it ‘the window of the soul’. It should be super clear with lots of rich hues in it and must shine, indicating the bird’s super health and form. He likes a quick responsive pupil to different light intensities and the bird must have a ‘quick blink’ only of the eyelids. The muscles need to be just right with plenty of spring and not hard deeper in, corky like soft rubber, deep reddish pink with clear skin from the birds’ regular baths. He doesn’t think that there is anything in the ‘blood spot’ along the keel, he doesn’t look for it. Mac also emphasizes that the vent bones must be tight, even in the cocks. The vent bones are preferably short and thick.

 Mac picks up a lot about ‘where a bird is at’ by how it carries itself and behaves in the loft; he doesn’t handle the birds a lot. The hens could be eager to try and get into the cocks’ section when they are out. The cocks often enjoying parading around, walking, stamping, turning, flying off and clapping around. The weight of the bird is very important too. Earlier in the season Mac likes the old birds to be quite heavy, since they know the ropes and it gives him something to work with in the roughly 2 month preparation race schedule the candidates have. Sometimes his birds are very heavy at basketing for these ‘over the water’ 350 and 480 mile races. However, at basketing for the Invercargill most of this weight has been worked off and the birds are ‘corky’ with just a little weight. Other features Mac looks for are clear throats and noses although he doesn’t flock medicate apart from for worms 4 times a year.

Finally, do you think we race our Young Bird Season at the wrong time of the year, and would he agree to the same method that Australia race?

I am happy with the way we race both Old and Young Birds here in Auckland, New Zealand as separate seasons. I usually nowadays don’t race any of the young bird season. I usually start up in Old Birds about 6 weeks into the season. I have a lot of commitments that keep me busy throughout the year and tire me out at times! I do very much enjoy seeing others do well and enjoying the sport in all its different forms and seasons.

Well, that’s the wrap from Mac for this time. On behalf of all the Auckland fliers we wish him all the best for this year’s Invercargill in December 2012. Thanks to all those that have emailed me questions from New Zealand however we can’t cover them all this time. Many thanks also to Kim Anisi my photographer for visiting Mac and Mary last May.

If any readers have any questions for Mac please feel free to email me at ferguselley@gmail.com

 

Advertisements

2 responses to “MAC II

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Thanks Fergie, Nice photos. Brian

    Brian Batchelor
  2. Thanx Brian, Kim did a good job and her camera is a very good one.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: