Brian’s Brit Blog July 2013.   Leave a comment

My seven year old 'Hardluck cock' showing damage from a peregrine falcon strike.

My seven year old ‘Hardluck cock’ showing damage from a peregrine falcon strike.

Well, another old bird season has been and gone and it has been a difficult one weather wise especially on the channel racing, with head winds most weeks, cold and wet in the early part of the season and extreme heat at the back end. My two target races the NFC Tarbes National and Combine Bergerac turned out badly. With the Tarbes race, the pigeons were held over for three days and and they had an afternoon liberation on the fourth day. The first pigeons arrived on the south coast of England about 2pm on the 2nd day, but arrivals were sparse. My first and only bird home to date from four sent, arrived in the afternoon of the third day, it was my seven year old blue cock named “Hardluck” and he lived up to his name, homing for a third time minus half his tail and some wing coverts from a peregrine falcon attack somewhere along the way. I accept some of the blame for the loss of the other three, as I sent them much too light weight for the prevailing  race conditions, having kept them on the light depurative diet too long, plus not giving them enough shorter channel racing prior to the event.

The Bergerac was a similar story, the build up race was from Saintes the same weekend as the Tarbes National and this turned out a tough race. I only got three on the day from eight, although the other five turned up the next day, but it had taken the sting out of them and they were not ready for the Bergerac race. I did however send one cock back, even though he was not quite right, but again it was a stinker of a race with only four birds timed on the day in our area, all to my friend Mick Tuck (I will report on this at a later date). Returns were few and far between on the second day and the majority of fanciers never got a bird home in race time. My single entry arrived at 6 am on the 3rd morning, which wasn’t a bad effort considering his preparation.

Sometimes a pigeon can do something against all the odds and accumulated wisdom of pigeon lore on how pigeons should be raced, such a case occurred a couple years ago with one of Mick Tucks pigeons. He was basketing his team for the Tarbes National, when checking each pigeon, one had broken a couple of flights and could not be sent. As the entry fee had been paid in advance as per the NFC rules, he looked through the rest of his race team for a replacement, but nothing was ready to go, then glanced in his young bird section and spotted an old stock hen that had been loaned to Darran McFadden for two years and had been locked up in Darran’s stock loft for all that time. She had been back in Mick’s loft for about four weeks and had been flying out each day with the young birds and had paired up with a young cock and laid eggs in the corner. Anyway, Mick picked her up and she felt o.k. so in the basket she went. Well, you guessed it, it was a very hard day, only two birds made it home on the day in our section and this old hen being sent without any training, was 1st clock station and 9th open National!!

We start our young bird programme next week and from the original 17 young birds I had, one was killed by a sparrow hawk, a peregrine had another three, one hit a wire and one has been lost training, leaving eleven for the start of racing. From all accounts, this is a better average than most, one of our club members is down to 22 from 110 having lost 45 in one toss when peregrine falcons hit them!

One loft that has done well this year is that of D & D McFadden and a loft report on their performances can be viewed below in ferg’s blog here.

Editors note-reading of the tremendous result of Mick Tuckers excellent hen, which had only been out for four weeks, flying daily I might add, having been locked up for two years, illustrates the point that a fresh, experienced pigeon, may be the better option than a tired, past its peak pigeon for a race like Tarbes, which incidentally is well into France. In fact, Tarbes is about 30 miles north of the Spanish border and about 15 miles north of the Pyrenees Mountains. Tarbes is about 15 miles due east of Pau. Perpignan and Barcelona are the only two longer British long distance race points. So Tarbes, Perpignan and Barcelona are similar ‘ballpark’ airline distances to an Invercargill to Auckland, airline pigeon race.

The above example goes against the grain of the argument ‘that we need to have a middle distance race liberation from such and such a race point this weekend to set the birds up for the longer distances’. What I illustrate here, is that pigeons can be bought back to a shorter race point that will suit the bulk of the pigeons in any given liberation, that is, if only two days are being considered for a liberation i.e. the pigeons don’t need to be bashed to build them up for the long distance events. Of course, I’m not talking about Auckland’s release protocol here. Holding the pigeons over till the worst of the ‘shit’ weather is through, is what we here in Auckland do thanks to Jim Cater, our liberation coordinator! Good on you Jim! However, the option of driving the pigeons back a bit towards home, to be fair to the pigeons liberated, also happens here in Auckland when required.

Auckland Federation are pigeon liberators of the ‘new millenium’ and have a release protocol to match this statement which is second to none, believe me!

Brian informs me also that the NFC transporter is state of the art with air conditioning, automatic drinkers and feeding troughs that insert into the crates which have wire bottoms to keep the birds off the floor. Sounds like the NFC has excellent transportation facilities, which certainly make a big difference if the pigeons need to be held over to give them a fairer run!

Posted July 30, 2013 by ferguselley in Brian's Brit Blog, U.k. news items

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