Mac scores six in a row with the first seven places!   Leave a comment

The South Island of New Zealand's Southern Alps.

The South Island of New Zealand’s snow capped Southern Alps. Stewart Island at the bottom and Invercargill just above.

The recent TV series ‘New Zealand from above’ describes the Southern Alps as a barrier to the West Coast of the South Island, New Zealand. On the 9th, 10th and 11th of December this year 21 out of 22 Auckland pigeon fanciers found this out to be very much so!

The winner, Mac Armstrong has other articles written on him on this blog under the category ‘Annual Invercargill Race to Auckland Racing Pigeon Club Lofts’. Mac again sponsored this race to the tune of $3000.

Mac has now won this prestigious pigeon race from Invercargill (at the bottom of the South Island) to ARPF lofts 6 years on the trot. This year he was the least confident ever, perhaps that’s why he booked in 60 pigeons and ended up sending 50 to this race. However, to take the first seven places is no mean feat. Please see below. Five on the second day, two on the third with Dave Bunkers pigeon reaching home on the fourth. What more can be said. Is it numbers? I don’t think so! Why aren’t most of the other fanciers getting pigeons home in the four days race time?

ARPF Open Race from Invercargill 9 Dec 2013 Lib: 6:10 am (Mainly fine, variable wind) – 22 Lofts – 164 Pigeons – Airline measurement.

Plc

Loft

Club

No

Distance

Day

Clock

Var

Flying

Pigeon

Velocity

1

Mac Armstrong Nth Harbour

50

1186920.0

2

11:28:54

-1

20:55:53

MKU-09-0203 BC H

945.0878

2

Mac Armstrong Nth Harbour

50

1186920.0

2

12:48:54

-1

22:15:53

MKU-11-1215 BBWF H

888.4908

3

Mac Armstrong Nth Harbour

50

1186920.0

2

14:22:51

-1

23:49:50

MKU-11-1209 BB H

830.1107

4

Mac Armstrong Nth Harbour

50

1186920.0

2

15:29:13

-1

24:56:12

MKU-11-1231 BC H

793.2897

5

Mac Armstrong Nth Harbour

50

1186920.0

2

15:55:14

-1

25:22:13

MKU-11-1226 BLK H

779.7313

6

Mac Armstrong Nth Harbour

50

1186920.0

3

17:19:32

-1

42:23:31

MKU-11-1236 BC C

466.6453

7

Mac Armstrong Nth Harbour

50

1186920.0

3

17:32:20

-1

42:36:19

AKO-01-0173 BC H

464.3087

8

Point View Lofts Pak/Howick

11

1187110.8

4

13:24:13

-1

62:28:12

PHAK-09-3891 BC C

316.7149

WINGS Software by Polytimer Ltd – Licensed to Auckland Racing Pigeon Federation

Mac and Mary Armstrong, extreme distance champs again.

Mac and Mary Armstrong, extreme distance champs again.

The pigeons had been scheduled to be released as early as possible Friday the 6th of December, but were held over until the following Monday. There was fog at the racepoint Friday. The Waikato Federation pigeons were with the same liberator, Bill Beattie (as part of the PRNZ liberation). The PRNZ pigeons including 33 Waikato Federation pigeons sent from ten Waikato fanciers were liberated at 10.30am that Friday once the fog had cleared. The Waikato fanciers had five pigeons return in race time with Ron Simonsen (a very good long distance fancier) having three return in race time from five sent. Reid Lofts won with a 4 year old hen at 6.53am on the 3rd day i.e. Sunday doing 699 m/min, distance being 1156km through a Foxton Trig breaking point. Reid’s hen beat Anderson Lofts three year old hen by 47 minutes on time needed. Conditions for the PRNZ liberation pigeons were a steady challenge of headwinds particularly over the Cook Strait, so these five pigeons which homed into Waikato lofts have done extremely well.

The main reason the Auckland pigeons were held over Friday were the weather conditions in the Southern Alps. It is thought that the Auckland pigeons need to cross the Alps, perhaps around the middle of the South Island just north of Mt Cook, but until we can track them from such long distances we are only speculating. The Southern Alps are snow peaked all year round and rise to 3754 metres, running virtually the whole length of the South Island.

Mt Cook, known in Maori as 'Aoraki'.

Mt Cook, known in Maori as ‘Aoraki’.

So do the Waikato pigeons have to cross the Southern Alps somewhere? Certainly on this particular weekend I’d think that some might, perhaps a bit further north than the Auckland pigeons and the winds were variations of north (at times nor-east) mainly in the South Island on the Friday and the Saturday, so it’s likely some did cross the Alps. Very well done again those five pigeons!

Some Auckland fanciers maybe wishing the Auckland pigeons had gone up mid morning Friday too, however we’ve had races in the past where in nor-east winds one or no pigeons return from Invercargill in race time.

So it was very much the right thing to wait until at least Monday and I’d expect everyone hoped for a good number of pigeons returning by the end of the second day, but we must always remember, this is Invercargill!

Why were the returns in race time so measly? Well the winds were light at liberation but a glorious day. Heat was not likely a factor in the South Island on the day of liberation Monday. It was forecast for moderate south winds in the Alps around the Southern Lakes area; however the pigeons may not have been anywhere near there. Still conditions can be difficult to get over mountainous terrain in and yet the Bar-headed goose flies over the foot hills and passes in the Himalaya’s (and perhaps sometimes higher) in its annual migration which is much, much higher even than Mt Cook’s 3754 metres. It’s likely the pigeons spent a lot more time coursing through the valleys, hills, foot hills and Alps of the South Island. It’s not likely that many made it into the North Island on the day, but who really knows!

Bar-headed Goose in flight, light years ahead of our extreme distance racing pigeons.

Bar-headed Goose in flight, light years ahead of our extreme distance racing pigeons.

Mac won with a four year old hen which was second the year before in this race. Last year’s winner didn’t turn up in race time for Mac, I’ll have to find out if she has returned yet. Mac mainly clocked two year olds, first time down as far as Invercargill and six of the seven were hens.

I think we seriously need to consider the genetics we send to these races. Perhaps the price needs to be increased from $15 to say $25 a pigeon to narrow the field to mainly the elite. Also Auckland cut out the Dunedin some years ago so we don’t have an intermediatory point between Timaru and the Invercargill race points. Waikato do race both Oamaru and Dunedin and to their credit from this year’s Invercargill received five out of 33 pigeons home in race time with no doubt more home by now. Note, the three fanciers who clocked pigeons (Reid, 1, Anderson, 1 and Simonsen, 3) just sent 16 pigeons between them. As said before Ron Simonsen clocked three from five sent and likely has the other two home by now. Certainly no mean feat given the challenge!

However, some pretty experienced long distance fanciers sent teams of well prepared pigeons to this year’s Invercargill to Auckland race and you’d think that they would have the genetics and they’ve won Invercargill before. Considering the laws of average, if Mac sent 50 and got seven in race time, shouldn’t those of us that sent eight or more get one? I was happy to have one of my eight entries almost make it home on the afternoon of the 3rd day. It made it within 6km. I had no choice but to pick it up and was pleased to get her home, even if she did have a day and a bit of the race time left. I will breed off her in the New Year and she’s doing really well, obviously was about ready to throw the towel in, good pigeon all the same.

For those in Auckland, what did you think of our Invercargill race this year? If you were to choose an intermediatory race point (could be a new one) what place would you choose?

Would having a Westport make the big difference in getting more pigeons home in race time? Or would it be better to have a new race point e.g. well west of Timaru on the east side of the Alps so they might learn to traverse them from a shorter distance say five weeks before the Invercargill?

I wonder where this is? Any ideas?

I wonder where this is? Any ideas?

Do you think these more difficult Invercargills e.g. 2010, 2011 of recent years could be avoided by delaying basketing until the Alps may be clearer and there might even be the chance of an initial southerly, tail wind start, or do you think that the hold over makes little difference to the races outcome?

Apart from Mac, who would you go to for better extreme long distance pigeons here in New Zealand?

If you would rather remain confidential you may wish to consider emailing me your thoughts/questions to ferguselley@gmail.com and they can be used confidentially in a future blog.

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