Archive for the ‘Auckland Racing Pigeon Federation Old Birds 2013.’ Category

Catching the wave……….   Leave a comment

Catching a wave!

Catching a wave!

Most of us will have enjoyed riding the surf at the beach somewhere in the world whether it be on a surfboard, bodyboard or simply straight out body surfing. Over here in the ‘Land of the long white cloud’ i.e. Aotearoa aka New Zealand we have such awesome beaches for surfing. I can remember one of the best body surfing days I’ve experienced and it was at a West Auckland beach just south of the famous Piha beach with its Lion Rock, namely Karekare Beach.

Karekare beach, West Auckland.

Karekare beach, West Auckland.

I was in my late twenties and more in shape to handle the pounding of the rough breakers than nowadays and gee could they dump you! I’m sure some people get knocked out when their head is thumped into the sand below and their ears are ringing, but when you are young, there’s certainly nothing like the adrenaline rushes and thrills that nature provides for free!

Like surfing where a really good ideal wave will come along if one waits patiently enough, so too in the sport of pigeon racing is the art of timing the peak of the ‘wave of form’ with the key race(s) we desire to win with our pigeons. Those that are familiar with this blog or who simply know the Auckland pigeon racing scene won’t have too much trouble guessing which fancier I would rate highly at being a master of timing the lofts wave of form to strike when they basket for our annual Invercargill to Auckland race. Yes, that’s right; Mr Mac Armstrong is that man!

Mac and Dimitri.

Mac and Dimitri.

How then does he manage annually for seven straight years to accomplish this extraordinary feat? Remember, that’s if you follow my blog, that Mac uses no forms of flock medication treatments for his pigeons apart from internal parasite treatment. There is no canker treatments, no antibiotics to treat or prevent respiratory pathogens such as Chlamydia, Mycoplasmosis or enteric gut syndromes caused by pathogenic species of Salmonella or  Escherichia coli. No coccidiosis medicines, not even a drop of the very popular cider vinegar, nor garlic or iodine or other antiseptics in the drinking water. No vitamins are used either as the grain has ample says Mac.

Mac uses very little supplements, just grit, some pick stones and an electrolyte solution which aids recovery in particular. So how does Mac do it? We have covered previously that Mac’s sole aim above all else is to race the annual Invercargill and win it. This is what thrills him and that is all he aims for!

I’ve heard Auckland fanciers inquire if Mac races widowhood i.e. either cocks or hens? No, it’s not that, he races separated sexes to the perch i.e. celibacy. Lesbian hens are removed to a different section to deter this. The only incentive the pigeons have is their love for the loft and its environment, that’s it!

I have mentioned in a recent article that last year Mac was the least confident of all the past seven years in which he has won this race. Nothing like a man with humility and Mac was even saying things like I hope you win it to me and how great that would be! He really felt that with the information now on this blog that someone was bound to be really difficult to beat other than his loft.

Mac also seemed to be behind the eight ball as far as getting his pigeons going last year, it can’t be easy when you are 83! There were delays in getting everything sorted with his electronic clocking system which meant he had to use rubbers on the pigeons in the build up races. This was a big hassle and doubled the stress.

I remember talking by phone with Mac last year and at the time I would have thought that he would have started training his pigeons including the latebreds, but he hadn’t. It was almost a third of the way into the season! The first Fed race was the following week. The weather had been fickle as it often is over here and so Mac hadn’t started training. However, when Mac told me that the pigeons when out were picking up nesting material and darting to and fro I knew that he was definitely still on track for a win! Hens out one day, cocks the next, the pigeons fly themselves fit and can be jumped almost to the first race as its only 180 miles or so. When hens also are picking up bits of twigs and so on when it is their day out then I think this is a very good sign indeed.

I guess it could be also said that perhaps Mac also times it so he peaks himself and hasn’t worn himself out both physically and mentally too far before the main event. As I always say, it ain’t easy as an octogenarian and a lot of the time I feel the same myself, if not worse and I’m only early 50’s!

It surely is an art preparing a team of pigeons for these long distance events, with Mac, ‘no stone goes unturned’, everything is calculated with extreme diligence to win from 730 miles or so, it has to be! However, I think the boys up here will be keener than ever to try to ‘knock Mac and his team of very good pigeons off their perch’ later on at year’s end. However, like any form of wave surfing, watch out for the ‘wipeouts’!

Any questions for Mac either in the comments section below or email me at ferguselley@gmail.com

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Latebreds, are they worth breeding?   6 comments

This subject has been a hotly debated one at times and so I thought it was about time that I did a blog article on it. Last year in 2012, I deliberately bred the latest I have ever bred as I had decided not to fly Young Birds. I’d had a pretty stressful year, in fact the most stressful for 13 years. It was time to have a break from the sport for eight months, especially from the shit stirring and gee did I enjoy the needed break! I had got quite depressed over the winter, which is unusual for me as despite the chronic nature of my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the restrictions it places on my body I am in general usually fairly buoyant in the emotional department.

Unfortunately some people use the system for political and personal means and it is my opinion, that particularly in the case of chronically ill people that these attacks should not be tolerated by pigeon racing administrations. However, it takes a strong, wise, resolute, forthright President to deflect them. I think that our current ARPF President, Mr Alan Flannigan is such a one and I’ve enjoyed seeing the progress he has made particularly in the areas of pigeon welfare and ARPF financial prudency and expertise. Nothing is ever perfect and I’d expect that Alan, like myself, would acknowledge as most of us would about ourselves, that he is ‘a work in progress.’ It is also very good to see him at basketing and strike offs whether he is racing or not, he is there!

Now let’s return to the interesting subject of breeding late breds. The advantages that I see in breeding youngsters from the first month of summer in the northern and southern hemispheres are firstly that the weather is settled and generally nice and warm. The days are also progressively getting longer until the Summer solstice, but even in the following two to three months the days are also of a good length and generally very pleasant. I will add that one should be careful the breeding loft doesn’t get too hot, is well ventilated and the cleaner the better in these warmer months to help keep the birds at minimum stress levels. Of course, you need to have room for these youngsters or you may end up with health problems in the race loft!

Youngsters bred at this time of year have the opportunity of having full crops for longer periods of time and thus grow at an optimum rate. The breeding pigeons are likely to be in tip top shape and although it is possible that some of the hens may’ve laid in a lesbian relationship with the separated stock hens prior to pairing, this won’t hurt them and even when new pairs are brought together they usually pair up and get to nest very quickly. The quality of the eggs may also be better. Incidentally, I would never pair a pair of pigeons if they were not in super health, making allowances of course for an older pigeon, say nine or older whose body condition and vigour may not be exactly the same as when they were more youthful.

Breeding ability can also depend on the strain/bloodlines of the pigeons e.g. some cocks are done and dusted for breeding by the age of 12, whereas others are still going strong as old as 17 to 20. I personally found that the pigeons imported into New Zealand in the 1990’s or their straight bred offspring when cocks were often not much good by 12 years of age. Not only would they go infertile or sub fertile but their joints would start going and they’d start hobbling around, whereas I’ve had hens from the old lines of Vandies which have still looked great and laid at fifteen and were still alive at 20!

One of the biggest advantages of breeding latebreds here in New Zealand is that by the time you race them in September they are eight months of age, haven’t had to be trained or raced during the body moult, are perfect in the feather, can be trained in cool conditions (unlike young birds) and on my system of just dosing for internal parasites they are in general fairly tough as far as the challenges of wet canker and respiratory diseases e.t.c. go. I had my summer breds out nearly every day as I live in the country, so they could be out all day until 3 or 4pm enjoying the fresh air and whatever nature served up to them as far as weather conditions went. They got very fit and developed very well in their musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems.

One does not get into problems with the primary wing flights i.e. the end ones being in the wrong positions, as these late bred pigeons do not finish the wing moult in their first year. Many years ago with Young Birds (which is a separate season here) I used to pull the tenth flight around Christmas. Some people pull both the ninth and the tenth. When you think about it, I guess there could be some pigeons that will be in an unfavourable flight position for a Classic race, but what are the odds of them being a winner even if the flights were pulled at Christmas? Is every pigeon a middle distance winner, obviously not!

In fact they say of random new pairings that only one in five bred are a good pigeon which perhaps might give you a good fly from a longer young bird race. However, unless that pigeon is in great form at the time it has favourable flight positions and luck is on its side too, it probably won’t do well. It might be instead that two or four weeks later that it is in better form, so there is some luck involved here. I guess if you’re going to pull the ninth and tenth flight then you might as well do the whole 30 or 40 which you may’ve bred which are old enough for young bird racing.

My philosophy is that rather than pull the flights, don’t send a pigeon if the flight position could affect its flying ability i.e. to a young bird middle distance race. Often you can tell by observing them flying around home i.e. is the pigeon flying freely. Of course, a pigeon can drop a flight once basketed for your classic race, but then again, they often hold them too, pretty hard to predict! I’m of the opinion that other pigeons can ‘put their hand up’ if one is kept back and the key here is to have quality breeders and if you haven’t got them, go and get some! Quality breeders will breed you more not only just good pigeons, but more very good pigeons and hopefully if you are lucky an extraordinary pigeon whose performances ‘paint the skies’ with brilliance!

I was pleased with the performances of my better summer breds in 2013 old birds. As a team they did very well, including that I sent four January hatch youngsters to our second longest racepoint Timaru, about 525 miles airline to me, not an easy race too (47 of 111 sent ARPF total birdage on the results sheet at 7pm the second day) and three homed in race time and the fourth after I had left for strike off. Only nine pigeons were home on the day for Auckland lofts including two in the hours of darkness. I clocked two pigeons on the day and the second was a Sumer bred cock which scored 7th Open Timaru ARPF. My 1st pigeon was a two year old hen which was 2nd despite having over flown a long way. The late bred cock had also shown up from Ward, our first South Island Federation race where I dropped six in the front bunch to score 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th, he was 3rd. I wasn’t set up for that race, I just had the clock on but no sections were open for birds to go in and I was lucky that I had just moments before walked down that way i.e. the pigeons did a super velocity.

Do you breed some summer bred late breds?

What tips do you have for their management?

How far do you send the better ones in their first year?

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.

Auckland Racing Pigeon Federation Update 2, Old Birds 2013.   2 comments

In part one of this series of articles I promised to write next time about the two ARPF Federation races which we have had recently, here is the first one.

At basketing for the Auckland Racing Pigeon Federation (ARPF) on Thursday night, 3rd October in the Pearce St, Onehunga Hall there was a lot of buzz and excitement. Having not flown the Young Bird Season earlier in the year I was pleasantly aware that there were new faces aplenty which is fantastic for pigeon racing in Auckland! John Muir, Colin Chang, Sugi Wanto, Alois Verstraeten to name just a few fairly new fanciers.

Interestingly enough, two factors amplified both the sound and the scene of the fliers in the crowded room. It was a smallish hall and sounds echoed extremely well. Secondly, it must also be a dancing hall, as the back was mirrored, quite naturally giving the impression of a vast number of fliers i.e. double the number. In fact, Kerry Frazer made a joke about that! But regardless of this, it was a great atmosphere; people were turning out to have their pigeons compete for the top North Island trophy in the ARPF Flock and Yearling Champs from both the East and West sections.

The Raumati ARPF race was scheduled to be held on Saturday the 5th of October this year, however the liberator wisely held the pigeons over and indeed talking to the driver the following night at strike off, a Mr Fred van Lier of West Auckland said ‘due to the very low cloud, drizzle and general murk that he doubted whether the pigeons would have cleared’ i.e. it was totally closed in! Had it been a delayed liberation between 10 and 11am I doubt very much that the day returns would have been very good, perhaps half at best, so you might say that a pigeon friendly liberation decision was made and good on the liberator, well done!

Interesting enough, there were several fliers which I spoke to at strike off who wished the pigeons had gone up in what I would describe as ‘pea soup’ and there may have been up to a hundred miles of it (or variations on a pretty murky theme). Some pigeons would have hit wires, trees, deer fences e.t.c. so once again, what a great decision by the liberation team!

Surprisingly enough there was a liberation by a Federation to the south of us from Blenheim the same day Auckland pigeons didn’t go up. To their credit the liberation was delayed until 9.30am (presumably anticipating the murk in the lower North Island to clear by late morning), the conditions over the Cook Strait were fair, i.e. high cloud, however the pigeons may have had up to 100 miles of poor visibility conditions to go through soon after crossing. The question that comes to my mind is, ‘is that good?’

Some fanciers around the world believe that if you don’t release the pigeons when there’s this sort of weather enroute and instead holdover, then the pigeons suffer as a consequence since they get less experience flying through this type or similar ‘pea soup’ drizzly conditions with very poor visibility. What do you think, are they right? Or, should we set limits, other than just holding over when there are very bad storm conditions in which the pigeons are not liberated? Certainly food for thought and I’d appreciate your feedback as the world is changing and with PETA on the prowl, what therefore is fair and indeed ethical to a flock of pigeons when considering liberation?

Incidentally, the feedback I had for day returns for this particular out of Auckland liberation was at the best only half and some a lot less on the day, with distances ranging from around 260 to 290 miles (420 to 490km), so not really a long way.

On the flip side, which some of you will already be thinking, those pigeons in the race will have benefited from the hours on the wing for later long distance races and all credit to the winners too!

Getting back to the ARPF liberation which became a Sunday lib and note, on Saturday morning, Sunday’s liberation forecast was no better for Raumati and the lower North Island up to as far as Whanganui. One might think that it may have been tempting to attempt a liberation on the Saturday as the other Fed did from Blenheim.

However, 24 hours can bring considerable changes and weather forecasting is not yet an exact science, so on Sunday morning the weather in Raumati was improving and Kapiti Island could be seen. So fortuitously liberation was achieved without the ‘pea soup’ conditions. Sure, there would have been fog and low cloud and patchy drizzle enroute, but the pigeons were able to get a good start and day returns were excellent, a great liberation and yet a good steady fly, likely favouring the back markers as it was beautiful in the Waikato and in Auckland by the time the pigeons got up there, so easier flying conditions at the home end and light winds enroute all the way in general.

From the ARPF website at aucklandracingpigeonfed.com I have selected the following- Liberation Report: Auckland Race Pigeons, together with those from the Whangarei and Manaia Long Distance Clubs, were liberated at 8:00 a.m. Sunday at the Raumati race point. They cleared away up the coast very quickly.

Obviously those of us that truly love our pigeons as extensions of our families and not mere chattels to ‘reward our egos’, were particularly pleased to hear this good news. Others may not have been so pleased as it likely would cut out the ‘luck’ factor of a poxy race and it wasn’t going to be a ‘last pigeon flying race’, which some give the impression they like. Can’t really fathom that if that’s the slightest bit true!

This reminds me of the comment I heard from one pigeon flier (somewhere in the world) about a middle distance race whilst they were waiting for pigeons to return. It was raining quite heavily and the pigeons had to come through strong headwinds and heavy showers/rain. His comment was, ‘that he was thinking, rain more!!’ That’s what he wanted, bucket down even more! I can’t really comprehend it myself, that sort of comment doesn’t fit in the 21st century we live in rather it echoes from the time of the Vikings, Genghis Khan or maybe even prehistoric times!

Will the pigeons learn any less than in a liberation involving enroute poxy weather conditions for a substantial part of the flight path, I doubt it! But you may have a different opinion, I know people do, however, shouldn’t the welfare of the pigeons come first and some fanciers ‘ego’ and perhaps ‘callous philosophy’ never, ever, be taken into consideration for a liberation decision? Won’t the pigeons be getting tested enough when the races get to 500 to 800 miles airline under any conditions?

In New Zealand this is especially true, as it’s seldom possible to have easy weather conditions the entire flight path from 500 miles plus and even rarer from 7 to 800 miles as the topography and variable nature of our climate seldom allows it.

Enough of that, down below is the race results in abbreviated form. You will see that in Auckland there are two sections, the East and the West. I flew in the West from 1990 to the end of 2002. The West section is tiny now. People in the East, especially new fliers, regularly say to me, why don’t the East and West combine, there are so few fliers? If you’d like to comment below feel free. Perhaps eventually they will combine and have a percentage clubs prize money like the East has. Although they adopted that when I flew in the West, in fact it was 75% going to the clubs in the end in the Western Union and the West Federation races so that even when I got the first ten prizes in the race that I could only win 40% of the prize money. This was totally gutless in my opinion. They even had club pools to prevent monetary losses to my loft too. I guess that this has happened to many fliers around the world. Interestingly enough, within 20 months of the Elley’s moving to a lifestyle block in the East Section, the West changed the rules to open slather and they’ve remained the same for about ten years now, although the likes of Barry Wilson of Hillsborough has given them a run for their money at times (near where I last lived in the West).

East Section ARPF Flock 6th October 2013 lib 8am 27 lofts 362 pigeons

Plc

Loft

No

Distance

Clock

Var

Flying

Pigeon

Velocity

Needed

1

Paul Millar

39

430969.7

14:11:24

6:11:24

SARPC-12-2392 BC C

1160.3923

0:00:00

2

Paul Millar

39

430969.7

14:11:29

6:11:29

SARPC-12-2393 BC H

1160.1320

0:00:05

3

Neale Maxwell

13

425132.9

14:08:08

6:08:08

SARPC-11-2098 BB H

1154.8340

0:01:46

4

W Arnold

20

420835.3

14:05:04

6:05:04

SARPC-12-2152 BB H

1152.7629

0:02:24

5

W Arnold

20

420835.3

14:06:46

6:06:46

SARPC-12-2174 MLY H

1147.4197

0:04:06

6

W Arnold

20

420835.3

14:06:57

6:06:57

SARPC-11-2584 RC C

1146.8464

0:04:17

7

Elley Family

45

400033.7

13:49:06

3

5:49:09

PUK-10-0250 BB H

1145.7359

0:04:25

8

Longvilla Lofts

11

418431.2

14:05:30

6:05:30

SARPC-12-2247 BB H

1144.8186

0:04:54

9

Elley Family

45

400033.7

13:49:53

3

5:49:56

PUKE-12-0328 BB H

1143.1712

0:05:12

10

Elley Family

45

400033.7

13:50:43

3

5:50:46

PUK-10-0231 BB H

1140.4553

0:06:02

11

Elley Family

45

400033.7

13:50:45

3

5:50:48

PUKE-12-0311 BCWF C

1140.3469

0:06:04

12

Elley Family

45

400033.7

13:50:47

3

5:50:50

PUKE-08-0436 BC H

1140.2386

0:06:06

13

Elley Family

45

400033.7

13:50:53

3

5:50:56

PUKE-12-0339 BB H

1139.9137

0:06:12

14

Rata Lofts

17

427710.2

14:15:27

-1

6:15:26

SAIPC-10-1109 BC H

1139.2441

0:06:51

15

Point View Lofts

4

441916.3

14:27:58

1

6:27:59

PHAK-09-3890 RC H

1139.0085

0:07:09

16

Neale Maxwell

13

425132.9

14:13:27

6:13:27

SARPC-11-2099 BB C

1138.3931

0:07:05

17

Point View Lofts

4

441916.3

14:28:28

1

6:28:29

PHAK-09-3887 BC H

1137.5425

0:07:39

18

Rata Lofts

17

427710.2

14:16:07

-1

6:16:06

ARPF-11-1191 MLY C

1137.2247

0:07:31

19

Tui Lofts

13

431157.8

14:19:17

6:19:17

EU-12-0158 BB H

1136.7697

0:07:43

20

W Arnold

20

420835.3

14:10:18

6:10:18

SARPC-11-2555 BCP H

1136.4712

0:07:38

Paul Millar took the winning honours here. Paul is a lovely guy. Paul has a fairly marked health disability. One of the features of his illness is a very limited vision which is of the tunnel variety and means he now cannot drive. I asked Paul the other day if he has someone else who cleans his loft (like I have due to my CFS). I expected to hear that someone in the family does this for him, but no, Paul still can do this chore and I got the impression he enjoys it! Not an easy life for Paul, but he loves his pigeons and his friends in pigeon racing help him with getting to the club and with some training of the pigeons.

What a great testimony to the sport, not just that Paul has the help of the community of fanciers, but rather that Paul has an outlet for his interest in animal life in the form of pigeon racing. Health situations like Paul’s and my own (due to CFS in my case) are indeed sobering facts that PETA need to ponder if they ever consider attacking pigeon racing anywhere in the world again. PETA U.K.’s efforts to malign the pigeon racing scene over there in my mind gave the impression that they were somewhat ignorant of ‘the sport’ to put it mildly and politely! But if you are a fancier reading this, feel free to think less positive thoughts about PETA as I would not blame you, especially if you race in the U.K!

I mention Paul in earlier blog articles, indeed he has had a pretty good year with his feathered friends and long may you enjoy it Paul, you are a true gentleman. Indeed pigeon racing is a great sport for people with different health challenges including older fanciers as their bodies lose the health of their younger years.

Win Arnold who often flies well also was right up there in this Fed Raumati race. Win won the ARPF Futurity this year. Win and Paul are good buddies. Neale Maxwell had an early pigeon too and he often does well, nearly always with a smaller team of pigeons with a good percentage of early pigeons on the first page of the ARPF East results.

East Section ARPF Yearling Championship 6th October 2013 lib 8am 23 lofts 158 pigeons

1

Paul Millar

7

430969.7

14:11:24

6:11:24

SARPC-12-2392 BC C

1160.3923

0:00:00

2

Paul Millar

7

430969.7

14:11:29

6:11:29

SARPC-12-2393 BC H

1160.1320

0:00:05

3

W Arnold

10

420835.3

14:05:04

6:05:04

SARPC-12-2152 BB H

1152.7629

0:02:24

4

W Arnold

10

420835.3

14:06:46

6:06:46

SARPC-12-2174 MLY H

1147.4197

0:04:06

5

Elley Family

15

400033.7

13:49:53

3

5:49:56

PUKE-12-0328 BB H

1143.1712

0:05:12

6

Elley Family

15

400033.7

13:50:45

3

5:50:48

PUKE-12-0311 BCWF C

1140.3469

0:06:04

7

Elley Family

15

400033.7

13:50:53

3

5:50:56

PUKE-12-0339 BB H

1139.9137

0:06:12

8

Tui Lofts

4

431157.8

14:19:17

6:19:17

EU-12-0158 BB H

1136.7697

0:07:43

9

Rata Lofts

12

427710.2

14:16:24

-1

6:16:23

ARPF-12-2495 BC H

1136.3686

0:07:48

10

Neale Maxwell

6

425132.9

14:14:09

6:14:09

ARPF-12-2356 BC H

1136.2633

0:07:47

11

Elley Family

15

400033.7

13:52:05

3

5:52:08

PUKE-12-0331 BC H

1136.0291

0:07:24

12

David Moors

9

436974.9

14:25:23

1

6:25:24

SARPC-12-2286 BC H

1133.8217

0:08:49

13

Rata Lofts

12

427710.2

14:17:16

-1

6:17:15

ARPF-12-2344 RC H

1133.7580

0:08:40

14

David Moors

9

436974.9

14:25:25

1

6:25:26

SARPC-12-2301 BC H

1133.7237

0:08:51

15

Tui Lofts

4

431157.8

14:20:46

6:20:46

SARPC-12-2022 BC H

1132.3412

0:09:12

16

A and K Lofts

11

433244.8

14:22:48

-1

6:22:47

SARPC-12-2051 BB C

1131.8278

0:09:25

17

Sterling Lofts

8

432955.6

14:22:50

1

6:22:51

SARPC-12-2099 DC C

1130.8753

0:09:44

18

J and G Lofts

8

420069.1

14:11:59

1

6:12:00

SARPC-12-2419 BC H

1129.2180

0:10:00

19

S and M Archer

5

446325.8

14:36:03

1

6:36:04

PHAK-12-2189 MLY C

1126.8956

0:11:26

20

K Malone

11

400853.8

13:55:56

-2

5:55:54

SWPC-12-0592 BB H

1126.3102

0:10:27

As you can see above, Paul’s first two pigeons were yearlings, so they took out honours in this leg of the Raumati race too. Two of Wins three early pigeons were yearlings too and they were entered in the Yearling Championship. Elley family had three good yearlings which may’ve been in leading bunches. Good to see Steve McCluskie (Sterling Lofts) with a reasonable yearling time. Steve is a fairly new flier.

ARPF West Flock Race from Raumati 6th October 10 lofts 160 pigeons

1

T and M van Lier

32

452879.7

14:41:56

1

6:41:57

WUAK-11-0247 BC C

1126.7066

0:00:00

2

T and M van Lier

32

452879.7

14:42:00

1

6:42:01

WUAK-12-0337 BB H

1126.5197

0:00:04

3

Jim Cater

14

449175.8

14:39:12

6:39:12

HENAK-12-0301 BB C

1125.1899

0:00:32

4

T and M van Lier

32

452879.7

14:44:10

1

6:44:11

HENAK-11-1069 BCP H

1120.4809

0:02:14

5

Jim Cater

14

449175.8

14:41:49

6:41:49

HENAK-11-1221 BC H

1117.8625

0:03:09

6

Ted Smith

8

444955.9

14:38:35

6:38:35

WUAK-12-0315 BCP H

1116.3435

0:03:40

7

Odeon Lofts

27

443688.2

14:37:35

2

6:37:37

WUAK-11-0017 BCP H

1115.8692

0:03:49

8

D and T Campbell

23

461701.2

14:53:50

6:53:50

WUAK-11-0255 BB H

1115.6694

0:04:03

9

Odeon Lofts

27

443688.2

14:37:40

2

6:37:42

HENA-12-0328 BB H

1115.6354

0:03:54

10

Odeon Lofts

27

443688.2

14:37:47

2

6:37:49

WUAK-11-0566 BB H

1115.3082

0:04:01

11

T and M van Lier

32

452879.7

14:46:22

1

6:46:23

WUAK-12-0333 BB H

1114.4150

0:04:26

12

T and M van Lier

32

452879.7

14:46:24

1

6:46:25

WUAK-12-0338 BC H

1114.3236

0:04:28

13

Odeon Lofts

27

443688.2

14:38:34

2

6:38:36

HENA-12-0185 BC H

1113.1164

0:04:48

14

Eric Billington

13

455996.3

14:49:47

6:49:47

WUAK-12-0260 LBC H

1112.7741

0:05:04

15

T and M van Lier

32

452879.7

14:47:17

1

6:47:18

HENAK-12-0157 SLT H

1111.9069

0:05:21

16

D and T Campbell

23

461701.2

14:56:34

6:56:34

WUAK-12-0100 BB H

1108.3489

0:06:47

17

T and M van Lier

32

452879.7

14:48:53

1

6:48:54

WUAK-12-0016 BC H

1107.5561

0:06:57

18

Jim Cater

14

449175.8

14:45:43

6:45:43

WUAK-11-0518 BMLY H

1107.1170

0:07:03

19

D and T Campbell

23

461701.2

14:57:07

6:57:07

HENAK-12-0034 BC C

1106.8874

0:07:20

20

Eric Billington

13

455996.3

14:52:19

6:52:19

WUAK-12-0263 SLTP C

1105.9371

0:07:36

Theo van Lier who flies in partnership with his wife Monique took the honours in this Flock race and they were 1st and 2nd in the West Yearling Championship too. Theo is the most consistent pigeon flier in the West and was good competition particularly in these North Island Classic races when I was there up until the end of 2002. He wins a lot of these Classic races and he won both the Henderson Classic from Christchurch (roughly 500 miles) and the Federation Timaru (heading up towards 600 miles) last year also. Jim and Theo live relatively close, only 3.7km separating their airline distances.

ARPF West Yearling Championship Race from Raumati 6th October 7 lofts 66 pigeons

1

T and M van Lier

14

452879.7

14:42:00

1

6:42:01

WUAK-12-0337 BB H

1126.5197

0:00:00

2

Jim Cater

5

449175.8

14:39:12

6:39:12

HENAK-12-0301 BB C

1125.1899

0:00:28

3

T and M van Lier

14

452879.7

14:46:22

1

6:46:23

WUAK-12-0333 BB H

1114.4150

0:04:22

4

Odeon Lofts

6

443688.2

14:38:34

2

6:38:36

HENA-12-0185 BC H

1113.1164

0:04:45

5

Eric Billington

12

455996.3

14:49:47

6:49:47

WUAK-12-0260 LBC H

1112.7741

0:05:00

6

T and M van Lier

14

452879.7

14:47:17

1

6:47:18

HENAK-12-0157 SLT H

1111.9069

0:05:17

7

D and T Campbell

17

461701.2

14:56:34

6:56:34

WUAK-12-0100 BB H

1108.3489

0:06:43

8

T and M van Lier

14

452879.7

14:48:53

1

6:48:54

WUAK-12-0016 BC H

1107.5561

0:06:53

9

D and T Campbell

17

461701.2

14:57:07

6:57:07

HENAK-12-0034 BC C

1106.8874

0:07:16

10

Eric Billington

12

455996.3

14:52:19

6:52:19

WUAK-12-0263 SLTP C

1105.9371

0:07:32

Those two pigeons neck and neck in this West Yearling leg too.

Next time we cover the start of the South Island Federation series with a race from Ward. Recently the ARPF sent club pigeons down on the small truck and trailer which Peter Longville senior and Win Arnold looking after the pigeons. Pigeons were dropped off at Blenheim (I presume the trailer was left there at the liberator’s) and Peter and Win drove onwards to Christchurch. Both the Ward race of the 19th October and last weekend’s Blenheim and Christchurch races were pretty quick flies.

Last weekend also a Westport race was cancelled due to insufficient numbers by the cut off date which disappointed some fliers, most of which simply sent their Westport candidates to the Christchurch race. Perhaps next year this race will be organised in a different way on a separate weekend.

Henderson had their Henderson Classic Race from Christchurch the same weekend with 14 lofts competing. Theo and Monique van Lier won, so that’s two years in a row now. Hopefully sometime in the future this race will be opened to the whole of Auckland in a way that is workable, indeed food for thought.

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!