Auckland Racing Pigeon Federation Update 1, Old Birds 2013.   Leave a comment

In Auckland we have had two Federation races so far this Old Bird season, the last being our first South Island liberation of the programme from Ward, which is just south of the Marlborough Sounds which the Cook Strait ferry travels up enroute to New Zealand’s capital Wellington.

In the build up to these two Federation races there was a race from Bulls and a race from Raumati which was brought back to Otaki. Both these races had some peculiar aspects and many did not fly the latter due to the poor weather forecast that weekend. However, most of the fliers in the west of Auckland flew it as they had a special race on.

Here is the first result tabled below with the first 20 pigeons recorded into Auckland (condensed from the Combine which Peter Longville senior collates independently). There was a weak front in the Tasman, which may’ve affected the visibility at the race point. Winds at the race point were only light nor-west. The liberators report was that the pigeons after liberation split into four bunches. One of these bunches hung around the race point for quite a while.

Please note, if you are using a large font on your pc screen then you may not see all the information in the below two tables including the velocity and the time needed i.e. you may need to reduce the font size. Which is what I do due to waning close vision! Further, I race as ELLEY FAMILY for those new to this site.

ALL AUCKLAND COMBINE:  BULLS  350klms

DATE: 07.09.2013

BIRDS SENT: 883      LOFTS: 36

LIBERATION:  7.30am

CONDITIONS: N/W WIND, SHOWERS

Clocking

Corrected

Time

Pos

Flyer

Entries

Distance

Time

Time

Ring Number

Velocity

Needed

1

DAVID DRIVER

17

440508.559

14:12:59

6:42:59

MANAIA-11-0607 SLT H

1093.12

0:00:00

2

WIN ARNOLD

54

340262.838

12:44:27

5:14:28

SAIPC-10-1390 RC C

1082.03

0:03:11

3

ARNOLD GEORGE

23

358437.077

13.03.15

5:33:15

MKU-11-1414 RP C

1075.58

0:05:21

4

JIM CATER

47

371448.471

13:16:18

5:46:16

HENAK-12-0122 BC H

1072.72

0:06:28

5

T & M van LIER

61

375498.917

13:22:15

5:52:16

WUAK-12-0333 BB H

1065.95

0:08:46

6

DAVID DRIVER

17

440508.559

14:41:05

7:11:05

MANAIA-11-0620 BCWFH

1021.86

0:28:06

7

ADRIAN CHAPPELL

32

447017.058

14:50:55

7:20:55

HARB-12-2860 BB C

1013.84

0:31:59

8

WIN ARNOLD

54

340262.838

13:11:09

5:41:10

SARPC-11-2554 BC H

997.35

0:29:53

9

KERRY FRAZER

34

333451.959

13:05:47

5:35:46

PUK-11-1201 MLY H

993.11

0:30:43

10

DAVID MOORS

22

357518.902

13:30:30

6:00:31

SARPC-12-2286 BC H

991.69

0:33:27

11

RATA LOFTS

27

347434.275

13:22:28

5:52:30

ARPF-12-2495 BC H

985.63

0:34:40

12

ELLEY FAMILY

116

319877.522

12:56:23

5:26:25

PUK-11-1170 BC H

979.97

0:33:47

13

ELLEY FAMILY

116

319877.522

12:56:45

5:26:47

PUKE-12-0360 BB H

978.87

0:34:10

14

ELLEY FAMILY

116

319877.522

12:58:04

5:28:06

PUKE-12-0341 BC C

974.94

0:35:28

15

TONY THUM

19

366952.613

13:46:29

6:16:28

PHAK-12-2271 BB C

974.73

0:40:46

16

KERRY FRAZER

34

333451.959

13:12:22

5:42:22

PUK-11-1227 BB C

973.96

0:37:19

17

ADRIAN CHAPPELL

32

447017.058

15:09:31

7:39:31

HARB-12-0757 BB H

972.8

0:50:35

18

S & M ARCHER

15

366192.324

13:46:33

6:16:33

PHAK-12-0727 DC C

972.49

0:41:33

19

DAVID DRIVER

17

440508.559

15:03:25

7:33:25

SARPC-12-2224 BC C

971.53

0:50:26

20

KERRY FRAZER

34

333451.959

13:14:27

5:44:27

PUK-11-1211 BB H

968.07

0:39:24

 

David Driver, our second most northern flier won this Combine which Peter Longville senior collates independently from the Auckland Racing Pigeon Federation (ARPF). Often our releases also contain pigeons even further north outside our Federation i.e. from the Manaia Long Distance Club and the Whangarei Federation and Peter puts these results in his Combine too. Sometimes these further north fanciers pigeons put in some very credible performances.

Dave Driver told me that his first pigeon above from his team of 17 hens sent ‘came a really good line’ and she has done it all on her own. Dave was open holing (open lofting) the hens and had been giving them plenty of training pre season, so the hens were very fit, especially given that when Auckland fly Raetihi, a distance of around 150 miles (about 240km) to me, his pigeons have to fly around another 80 miles (130 km), so loft fitness is attained a bit earlier than most other Auckland lofts as a consequence.

My opinion in this particular race was that not only was Dave’s pigeon at the top of the sheet, it deserved to be, since the winds picked up from the westerly quarter during the race i.e. a side wind for all lofts (as we fly the ‘south road’ here in Auckland), so his slate hen 607 not only had to do it on its own for at least 65 kms further but it had more chance of the fatigue factor setting in.

Dave also said that the hen 607 ‘looked a million dollars when she landed, as if she had just come from Warkworth’ (a close town) and ‘that the ones later would need a few days to recover’.

Dave is an Englishman of extract, of interest to our U.K. readers. In New Zealand we have quite a few English chaps in our sport, a few Dutch and as South African and Asian fanciers migrate over here, their numbers are on the increase too, which is really good to see.

Dave has a home business, loves fishing and loves pigeons even more! He was telling me earlier this year of his battle against both dry and wet canker of recent years and he eventually came to the conclusion that harsh selection was the only way and it seems to be working! He has also gone away from the regular dosing against the Trichomona canker organisms.

Dave, like many, is very passionate about the pigeons and very keen too that the northern lofts needs are thought of in any Federation race or training liberation and we certainly can’t blame him for that, as we are ‘all in this together’ here in the Auckland Federation. Everyone’s pigeon’s needs are important and the aim therefore is to meet these needs the best way possible.

So in the result table above you can see that there were five much earlier pigeons which have somehow got ahead. Until we have the technology to track them from distances of longer than 50 miles or so and the rules allow it, then we can only speculate how pigeons manage to do this sort of thing. It maybe in this race that they broke at the liberation point or soon after, as even though three of the four bunches cleared alright, one never knows what these bunches do once out of sight. But the fact that there are a lot of valleys and hills in New Zealand and that there was patchy drizzle and low cloud enroute throughout the line of flight, may lead one to conclude that these five pigeons and maybe a few more that fell off the pace later on somehow managed to bypass a particularly murky, drizzly, low cloud area, as I said, it’s all speculation, albeit interesting!

By the time the South Waikato, Hamilton, and Hamilton Invitation Club Pigeons were liberated 45 minutes later at 8:15 a.m. there was light drizzle, however, the members from these clubs reported that their pigeons had a good run, so all good.

The Auckland day returns were not as good in general as the latter southern clubs liberation. We have had a lot of unsettled weather this Old Birds season, which is often the case. Last weekend with the Ward race was our first weekend of settled weather for the 2 day basket longer races. Things are drying out and hopefully another drought is not on the way as last year’s was a bad one. However, this more settled weather is better for pigeon racing and makes the liberation coordinators job an easier one. Notwithstanding that some more challenging races are good for the pigeons that will have the more arduous task of flying from distances of around 500, 600 and 800 miles. The long distance pigeons seem to need in general one stiffer 2 day basket race in their build up to the long distance series.

This brings me to the hardest North Island race this season, not a Federation race, but a Combine race scheduled for Raumati but brought back to Otaki to better weather conditions. Many Auckland fanciers including myself did not fly that weekend due to the poor weather forecast. However, most of the fliers in the west of Auckland flew it as they had a special race on.

Here are the first twenty places from the Combine Peter Longville senior collated for this race.

AUCKLAND CLUB COMBINE  OTAKI DOMAIN  430klms

DATE:  21.09.13

BIRDS SENT: 445     LOFTS: 29

LIBERATION:  8.45am

CONDITIONS: NORTH WIND HEAVY RAIN

Clocking

Corrected

Time

Pos

Flyer

Entries

Distance

Time

Time

Ring Number

Velocity

Needed

1

D & T CAMPBELL

34

445245.276

18:38:10

9:53:11

HENAK-12-0040 BC C

750.6

0:00:00

2

ERIC BILLINGTON

9

439519.429

18:31:42

9:46:43

WUAK-12-0138 BCWF C

749.12

0:01:10

3

ODEON LOFTS

31

427047.859

18:20:10

9:35:11

WUAK-12-0008 BC H

742.46

0:06:14

4

KERRY FRAZER

31

396223.24

18:12:07

9:27:07

ARPF-11-1102 BBP H

698.66

0:39:14

5

T & M van LIER

57

436350.345

19:28:14

10:43:15

HENAK-12-0170 BC H

Hours of Darkness

6

TUI LOFTS

11

413614.519

19:12:38

10:27:06

SARPC-11-2327 BB C

659.57

1:16:04

7

ODEON LOFTS

31

427047.859

19:35:22

10:50:23

WUAK-10-0145 BCP H

Hours of Darkness

8

KERRY FRAZER

31

396223.24

18:56:43

10:11:43

ARPF-12-2303 SMK H

647.72

1:23:50

9

TUI LOFTS

11

413614.519

22:46:24

14:00l:49

SARPC-11-2300 BB C

Hours of Darkness

10

FARSIDE LOFT

8

565598.177

10:27:58

15:43:58

WHG-10-1205 BC H

599.17

3:10:26

11

T & M van LIER

57

436350.345

6:59:23

12:15:24

WUAK-10-0428 BC H

593.35

2:34:04

12

ADRIAN CHAPPELL

3

508376.462

9:16:49

14:32:49

HARB-10-0540 BB H

582.46

3:15:32

13

MOUNT TIGER LOFTS

19

561336.291

10:54:45

16:10:45

MANAIA-11-579 BB H

578.25

3:42:54

14

MOUNT TIGER LOFTS

19

561336.291

10:55:08

16:11:08

MANAIA-11-594 BC H

578.02

3:43:17

15

T & M van LIER

57

436350.345

7:23:08

12:39:09

WUAK-12-0337 BB H

574.79

2:57:49

16

T & M van LIER

57

436350.345

7:23:08

12:39:09

WUAK-12-0337 BB H

574.79

2:57:49

17

D & T CAMPBELL

34

445245.276

7:44:22

13:00:23

WUAK-12-0229 LBC H

570.55

3:07:12

18

TED SMITH

8

428244.113

7:17:57

12:33:57

WUAK-12-0313 RC H

568

3:03:25

19

D & T CAMPBELL

34

445245.276

7:50:48

13:06:49

WUAK-12-0227 BB H

565.88

3:13:38

20

BMW LOFTS

5

427398.773

7:21:28

12:37:27

WUAK-10-0165 BC C

564.26

3:08:02

 

As you can see, there were 9 day pigeons including three in the dark from a liberation release totalling 445 pigeons. The first three pigeons in this race are owned by West Auckland fanciers with Don and Tira Campbell taking the winning honours and 1st in the Western Union race.

Due to poor weather at the scheduled liberation point of Raumati it was decided at 8am to drive north to clear weather and as a result the pigeons were liberated at 8.45am at Otaki domain.

I wisely (also perhaps fortuitously!) did not send pigeons to this race as I had sent a whole swag of summer breds and experienced old birds to the Bulls race a fortnight before and it had turned out a stiffer challenge than expected and I could see examining the online metservice weather forecasts for this Raumati (on the day of scheduled basketing) that it was likely that a liberation would occur on the Saturday i.e. it looked like the pigeons may get a clear run by and large apart from rain in the centre of the island. But the winds were forecast to be quite strong headwinds, as a front was about to go through, so I thought it the wiser plan, seeing that the pigeons had already had a really good work out from Bulls to have a weekend off from racing. The first Federation race would be two weeks later and the start of the South Island series four weeks later, so there was plenty of time still to prepare pigeons the proper way (alternatively read, my own proven way for my bloodlines), for these future events.

However, some fliers were really happy with this race and we have to say each to their own! If there is a really hard one, then it is better to be from the North Island, as usually the pigeons after six or seven hours flying quite likely take a break, have a drink, find shelter and just simply sit the wet weather out and then return home the next day. They do this in batches of differing sizes as they negotiate the flight path.

However, not everyone was happy, some complaint letters went into the Federation and there were lively discussions about liberations at a meeting held soon after the race.

My take on things is this. Those organising the liberation and the transportation, feeding, watering and general care of the pigeons did things at least half right. These races that turn out to be poxy weather ones are not easy to get the liberation completely right always. The liberators intent is always to achieve good day returns even in headwinds with rain and showers from the middle distance. These low day returns from the lower North Island are a very rare thing indeed, particularly in Old Bird racing in the ARPF in the 24 years I have been in pigeon racing again.

The good thing was that the pigeons were driven back to clearer weather, much more suitable for liberation and there has been some serious discussion afterwards as to how to help improve things, which I feel is very good. Some rule changes have been muted which will address the option of driving north earlier than has been possible under the current rules. So this is all good for pigeon racing.

So why were the day returns so low, as quite naturally this was not the intent of the liberator. Well, we’ve just talked about hours available to cover the course. The other main reason is that just prior to liberation it was forecast for the middle of the island to be just showers, with moderate headwinds. Unfortunately this forecast wasn’t 100% accurate and a band of rain and showers about 30 miles wide and 100 miles long tracked down into the flight path of the pigeons probably about an hour after liberation i.e. it didn’t remain over Taranaki e.t.c. So a worst case scenario eventuated as far as the weather conditions were along the flight path.

However, despite thunder and lightning in the night with a period of heavy rain, most of the pigeons returned to fanciers lofts the next day. So from that aspect, all good. It is likely that some of these pigeons will excel from the long distance later in the season, as this race surely was a hard workout. Sure, some pigeons won’t achieve what they would have after this race; to some degree it depends on how the fancier manages them in the days and weeks after the race i.e. making sure they build up well in the body after the event and only sending them to another race when they are in good order.

The other factor is genetics. Some genetics just don’t handle the rough stuff too well and some individual pigeons just don’t ‘cut the mustard’, they haven’t inherited enough good genetics that enable them to be dual purpose pigeons that can both sprint and slog (when required) from the short and middle distance, yet alone the long distance! We do tend to be a hard country to race in, both with the hilly and mountainous topography which at times may be murky and clouded in and the fickle weather conditions at times. A tough pigeon with silky and very good body feather cover is certainly required.

Next time we report on the first two Federation races flown in the last fortnight or so and hopefully I’ll be able to bash something out on the keyboards in the next couple of weeks, health permitting.

I will add, that Alan Flannigan, our 2013/2014 ARPF President is a great bloke for the welfare of the racing pigeons and like me, they are like extensions of the family. He has recently told me that he endorses wholeheartedly this blog site, you’ll see him in the comments section occasionally, his comment on a possible solution to the raptor problem is an interesting one albeit with a tone of sarcasm I’d expect! However he does have first hand experience of the native falcons decimating pigeons in the Upper Hutt in the Wellington district, New Zealand years ago when he lived there. The week before last he was liberating our Raetihi pigeons for the ARPF and three falcons took out three pigeons. Quite sickening really. Last I heard Alan and Peter Longville our Transport Manager (same guy who independently collates the Combine) were planning a trip down this week to look for a safer release site. I’d expect native falcons can be anywhere nowadays here in New Zealand, they’re protected of course, so in general we just have to live with it and put up with it like other parts of the world. Currently it would be breeding season too for these native falcons. So we seem to be heading towards the U.k. scourge of raptors as the years go by, but hopefully it will take a long time to get that bad!

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