Archive for the ‘nz’ Tag

Fred van Lier RIP.   1 comment

It is with both sadness yet honour that I write this account of the life of our good friend Fred van Lier and his involvement in pigeon racing in Auckland, New Zealand.

I first met Fred in 1992 and my first short conversation with him was interesting. He may well have been long haired, with a beard and resembling a middle aged hillbilly dude, I can’t remember for sure! I’d been back in the sport two or three years and we were both flying the Henderson Classic race from Christchurch to Auckland, or should I say our pigeons were! It was the hardest Christchurch race I can remember in 25 years or more of pigeon racing.

My pigeon, a yearling homed sundown on the second day after enduring gale nor-east winds (a headwind and a dangerous wind from that racepoint to Auckland lofts) and rain for much of the weekend and Fred’s (which came second) around mid morning on the 3rd day. Fred’s comment to me at strike off was a blunt ‘prick’ and at the time I thought that he was serious having not got to know the man yet at that stage.

I guess that memory sums Fred up fairly well; he had a sharp albeit dry wit and was well liked around the New Zealand pigeon racing community. Many pigeon fanciers around the country were very gutted with his recent passing.

Fred loved to drive either of the Federation’s two trucks and after he and Bronie partnered up they would go down together to the South Island with Auckland and other Federations and clubs’ pigeons. Both he and Bronie enjoyed this activity immensely and Fred always looked forward to it.

Fred always kept many different sorts of animals and had an affinity with them, especially those that you could race, such as pigeons and grey hounds. He liked growing vegetables including giant pumpkins for showing and in recent years started bee keeping. His father Wouter started van Lier Nurseries which a younger brother Theo, (another pigeon man) has run for quite some years now. Fred learnt the nursery trade and later on had his own nursery in Hobsonville. There are accounts of Fred’s goats getting into glass houses both there and other places of abode, I guess not a good outcome for the flowers usually!

When Fred shifted to Hillsborough I got to know him quite well. Soon after in April 1998 my wife and I, almost having given up on buying our first home, managed to find one we could get finance on, a state house up for sale in Three Kings under the then National Government who were selling off a few. It had the potential for development and in late 2002 a doctor bought our house and plot of land and developed it thus allowing us to shift into our beautiful 3.5 Ha block and home here in the hills of Onewhero.

Fred built the bulk of my new loft in Three Kings which about four years later got shifted south to my current address in Onewhero. Like Fred, I did shift it with a few pigeons inside but unlike Fred, I paid professionals to shift it and didn’t have problems with the wind enroute and no pigeons escaped, unlike one of Fred’s loft moving experiences……

Fred liked me because I was a straight shooter; we had a lot in common and had some good conversations on many topics. We didn’t always agree on everything, including my philosophy on racing pigeon welfare here in New Zealand and how to go about changing the system within pigeon racing and yet he could see what I was trying to do. I guess that’s what friendships are all about, true friendships are democratic rather than autocratic in nature and free speech is to be encouraged within them.

Around that time I recall one pigeon tossing expedition which I went down with him in his flat deck pickup with our boxes of pigeons tied securely on the back. We got to Pirongia and it was overcast but still bright and we released Barry Wilson’s pigeons. We wanted to go further for ours, somewhere near the start of the Kawhia Road. It was very murky with light rain; we had young birds in our boxes so they needed at least some bright patches in the sky to help get a bearing. Fred said it might be better at Kawhia Harbour so to Kawhia we drove, but the weather was no better there, so we parked up by the Kawhia Maritime Museum and went in for a look-see. After some time and probably some food etc Fred said that we would head back home and see how the weather was enroute.

Back in the pickup we must have headed north up the coast to Raglan which is the harbour two up from Kawhia. We couldn’t let them go anywhere there and headed back east over the Four Brothers hills enroute to Whatawhata. There was a short passing lane in those hills but it was on a windy bit and Fred gunned it to get past a car that was holding us up and I heard a box or boxes fly off the back, across the road in the air and when we had stopped I was relieved that the two boxes in the ditch upside down were both Fred’s and not mine! Fred rushed across (no swearing if I remember rightly); a blood red cock got out as Fred righted the painted wooden boxes which Fred told me later had come home through all the murk. I guess it’s not usually ‘a given’ to share a joke about the departed but Fred and I had talked about that trip a few times and laughed, probably I more than him! After that he took his pigeons all the way home and mine went up at Whatawhata, as they’d been there before and there was one at home when I arrived, a vandie cross cock looking fresh as a daisy and others dribbled in the rest of the afternoon and some the next day.

Our conversations also included religion and for many years Fred wasn’t a believer in the Great I Am, but having terminal cancer can make a lot of people reassess their position on these matters and I believe ex Apostolic pastor Laurie Bull had an input there and I believe that he was also there at Fred’s home when Fred passed on.

Fred was cut down way too soon, only 63, while I being a little younger struggle with my own health issues Ad infunitum. He had a rock solid constitution and would be one of the few who would wear shorts all year around since I have known him the last 25 years or so. That type of resilient constitution is something to be envied by people like myself.

Fred was a bit of a jack of all trades and would give anything a go. He was likable, loved nature, animals, plants and people. He wasn’t a perfect man but that is one thing I liked about him, he didn’t live his life as a facade, was thick skinned in the pigeon racing scene here in Auckland, resilient, durable and very likable. He also worked tirelessly in many club, Western Union and Federation positions.

During his less than a year’s time of diagnosed terminal cancer he lived his life in many ways the same as before. Still helping his aged father Wouter in the veggie and flower garden, driving the Auckland truck down the South Island for our liberations with Bronie his partner whom he married two days prior to his passing and his pigeon racing career terminating with the winning of the last pigeon race he flew, the Old Bird National from Christchurch, a tough one.

Fred lived and died the same sort of person in many ways. I don’t know what his vision for the future was prior to his diagnosis but I do know that likely it would have included pigeons, poultry, plants, friends, family and others whose lives he touched and made a difference in.

Just like Mac Armstrong who passed on also with a terminal illness aged 85 prior to Christmas last year, Fred was a pigeon man who is well worth remembering. Those two were indeed generous with their love for their fellow human beings and I remember them both fondly and with a high degree of admiration. They both won their fair share of pigeon races and loved the long distance racing but really they must primarily be remembered for the quality of people they were and the lives they touched and that they loved people genuinely as the unique individuals they both were.

Some of the catch phrases of Fred.
‘The long and the short of it’.
‘At the end of the day’.
‘For all intensive purposes’.
A funny reply from Fred when we were discussing races where pigeons hadn’t trapped well.

‘If the dog hadn’t stopped for a crap it would have won the race’! He would say that with a big infectious laugh and a beaming smile and eyes asparkle like precious stones as if to say, “Stop making excuses Mr Elley!” He always, for some reason, called me Mr Elley, but whether that was out of respect or contained a glint of satire, one will never know! He loved reading about the likes of famous New Zealand icon Barry Crump and quite naturally they had a lot in common, perhaps I hear a few chuckles…..
Fred passed away at home on the 7th of March 2016, father of Walter and Marie and husband of Bronie, he will be greatly missed!

Now something that I’m sure Fred would laugh at, as he was always looking for the comedy in life. I got this from boardofwisdom.com it’s credited with an ‘unknown’ as the author.

On the first day God created the dog. God said, “Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. I will give you a life span of twenty years.” The dog said, “That’s too long to be barking. Give me ten years and I’ll give you back the other ten.”
So God agreed.

On the second day God created the monkey. God said, “Entertain people, do monkey tricks and make them laugh. I’ll give you a twenty-year life span.” The monkey said, “Monkey tricks for twenty years? I don’t think so. Dog gave you back ten, so that’s what I’ll do too, okay?”
And God agreed.

On the third day God created the cow. “You must go to the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves, and give milk to support the farmer. I will give you a life span of sixty years.”
The cow said, “That’s kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. Let me have twenty and I’ll give back the other forty.”
And God agreed again.

On the fourth day God created man. God said, “Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. I’ll give you twenty years.”
Man said, “What? Only twenty years? Tell you what, I’ll take my twenty, and the forty the cow gave back, and the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back, that makes eighty, okay?”

Okay,” said God, “You’ve got a deal.”

So that is why the first twenty years we eat, sleep, play, and enjoy ourselves; the next forty years we slave in the sun to support our family; the next ten years we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren; and the last ten years we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.

Life has now been explained to you.
RIP Fred; see you at the great party at the end of time! Thank you for being part of my life and of others who read this. We salute you for the good example you gave for us to follow and emulate.

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ARPF Ward Race 18th October 2014.   2 comments

Steve Archer with his hard ARPF Ward winner 18th October 2014, a 3 year old BBH 639 .

Steve Archer with the Archer’s hard ARPF Ward winner 18th October 2014, a 3 year old BBH 639.

The Auckland Racing Pigeon Federation (ARPF) held its first Federation race of the South Island series on the 18th of October 2014. At basketing some fanciers were already picking that the weather would be pretty bad for Saturday if the pigeons were let up. However this wasn’t the forecast for perhaps the first 25 to 30% of the race depending on whether one was a back marker or a front marker.
The problem that some people could see was that a ‘weather bomb’ might hit the race birds in the later part of the race. For back markers that could be about 220km i.e. 35% of the race and for front markers considerably less, about 100km i.e. 20% of the race.

Of course weather forecasts do change and this was Thursday night. Weather forecast viewed just prior to liberation can also be wrong in some instances.

The night before the anticipated Saturday liberation I viewed the metservice rural and 3 day rain forecast to see how things were looking. It actually appeared like there might be a narrow window of opportunity for a race that produced a fair percentage of pigeons home on the day i.e. 50% on average to ARPF lofts. Call me ‘optimistic ferg’, but I think many of us are naturally of this ‘ilk’.

The next morning I rose early and assessed the weather online and thought, there is a possibility that the pigeons would be let up, however, for the mid and back markers pigeon’s sake, it could be seen as a bit risky. Of course the first 25 to 30% of the race was highly likely to be good weather (including the treacherous Cook Strait) and a later video of the Ward liberation shows that the pigeons went up in sunny conditions with plenty of blue sky in a light nor-west wind. So one could surmise that the most important box i.e. reasonable conditions over the Cook Strait was indeed definitely ticked.

When later a post was made on the Federation site my eyes and mind misread it, it said AUCKLAND – HAMILTON AND MANAIA LIBERATED AT 7.15AM, but I had to do a double take as I did not see the word Auckland the first time. I had been convinced that the Auckland pigeons probably would not go up. However, at the same time I could see that there was still a possibility of a fair race to the liberated pigeons. Perhaps those involved with letting the pigeons go had seen something others including myself hadn’t.

So, I hoped that it still would be a good race and that there wouldn’t be too many empty perches that night for everyone. On the closed Facebook pigeon chat site I wrote “Good luck everybody! 7.15am lib. 8 hours to my place maybe i.e. 3.15pm, earliest 3pm but very unlikely, more likely 3.45 to 4.15pm i.e. 8.5 to 9 hours. Keep watching the rain radar but they would have had a good start for several hours or so. Get your gumboots out!”

The Archer Loft. Steve and Magda have shifted since the 2014 Ward race.

The Archer Loft. Steve and Magda have shifted since the 2014 Ward race.

Well this is what transpired at my place that Saturday afternoon. By 2pm it was raining at my place, but just light. From 3pm it was on the light side of moderate. Also by 3pm my back was wet through (even though I was wearing a thick coat) as I was looking to the south and the wind was from the north. At 4pm the skies turned dark grey/black to the north about 8km away and the wind picked up to moderate to strong northerlies. At this stage I thought that we are now in for a shit dunger and that only a few pigeons would make it home on the day, even to my loft and I was the front marker in this race! It would depend how far down this ‘weather bomb’ was tracking and when family came down the farm I asked my wife to look at the rain radar. When she returned with a hand drawn diagram I could see it was down as far south as Pio Pio and even parts of Aria i.e. about 140km from my place in Onewhero.

After a while I started looking north, sitting down all the time since by this stage it had worn me out. Sure enough a few minutes before 6pm a pigeon could be seen a long way in the distance coming back from the due north and obviously it had gone through with other pigeons and likely once it had got to the other side of the Waikato River somewhere it then realised that it needed to turn around. That was a 2 year old BCC 314; he finished 5th Flock East Section. Another two pigeons came about a minute apart about 10 minutes after 314, they were both hens. Both pooled, the first hen 1118 had scraped her wing, so she had done really well.

So for me, just the three home on the day from 50 sent and it was an early rise the next morning to greet each pigeon that came home. In the end I lost 12 of the 50 sent. Usually I don’t lose any from this racepoint. Apart from the weather conditions enroute my losses can be explained also by a number of features.

Firstly the Federation programme had cut out the usual first Bulls two day basket race. We had had a not so good for quite a few pigeons Bulls race the previous Old Bird season and this had put some people off having Bulls on the programme. Secondly, (and I agreed with the principle of this decision), the first scheduled two day basket i.e. the 7th race on the Old Bird programme was cancelled due to a bad storm forecast for that weekend, so in my case the pigeons got nothing that weekend and I am not able to train them. However, full credit to the ARPF team they arranged a Bulls race the following weekend in addition to the scheduled shorter Raetihi race. Some Federation members took advantage of this and raced the Bulls. I didn’t as the first Federation race from Raumati was the following weekend and I didn’t want to flatten them. As it turned out we had a good Federation race from Raumati and that got a lot of pigeons off to a good start.

Here’s some food for thought, an alternative way to proceed with racing after a key race weekend is cancelled would be to race that racepoint the following week and thus return to the scheduled programme. This would lengthen the season by a week, however, I think it is something worth discussing in meetings by those with the health to attend them (until the ARPF provide video conferencing for the infirm like myself). Race fitness is attained by the steady, gradual build up of the distance. To me that would be a better method than putting a two day basket on the week before the first Federation race.

Jim Cater, a West Section flier had the best returns in the results after the two days allowed for this Ward race. The West had raced from Raumati the weekend of the storm when Auckland racing was cancelled. They hitched a ride with the South Waikato pigeons. They had a good race, as the weather, although showery, allowed a liberation on the Sunday. This obviously helped the West pigeons reach a better level of match fitness for a hard race like this Ward race was.

Full credit to Steve and Magda Archer’s pigeon which won this Ward race by a long, long way (almost an hour). The East Section Futurity Yearling was won by Peter Longville senior and Jim Cater did the double in the West Section which meant he had won 6 West trophies by this stage (and he wasn’t finished yet!). In fact, if there was an overall result, Jim Caters pigeons would have taken the next three places after Archer and with further distance to fly than many, an excellent effort!

Please have a look at the results for the East and West Sections of the ARPF Ward by scrolling down to the Ward result blog on the 28th December last year.

As far as the East result goes, of the 328 pigeons sent, there were just 13 pigeons home on the official result sheet on the day i.e. 3.9%. In the West Section, 5 pigeons from 198 i.e. 2.5%, of course in general their distances are greater, although not the greatest.

I think that everyone participating in the race would agree that this is not brilliant; however, it is likely that not everyone would have been in agreement as to whether the pigeons should have instead been held over. There is no way of knowing for sure that day returns would be so bleak for a race ranging from 505 to 626km’s i.e. it was not really a long distance race at least in my mind, even for the back markers, so perhaps the risk of a ‘weather bomb’ was under estimated. All the same, run the race another day with exactly the same forecasting and on that particular day returns could well be much better, so it’s a very difficult one.

Steve Archer outside the Archer's new loft at their new residence (looks impressive!) holding their 2013 ARPF Timaru winner and trophy it won.

Steve Archer outside the Archer’s new loft at their new residence (looks impressive!) holding their 2013 ARPF Timaru winner and trophy it won.

I think that there are two key factors why the race did not pan out as expected. Firstly, the misty, showery murk, probably from Whanganui northwards blanketing east to west across the island, with likely mainly less than moderate northerly headwinds and secondly the weather bomb, which perhaps exploded a bit earlier than expected into the final section of the race and travelled further south than expected, acting for many pigeons like a ‘gate’ between Kawhia Harbour and the west side of Hamilton City i.e. Mount Pirongia etc was completely hemmed in and to the south as far as Aria by around 4pm.

However, the bulk of the North Island looked reasonably good on the rain radar prior to liberation. With a front approaching from the north you are always going to get murky, showery conditions extending a lot further down the country. The weather was quite clear from Ward to somewhere perhaps almost as far north as Whanganui, so the pigeons had a good start and it was up to them whether they crossed the Strait with enthusiasm while enjoying the pleasant ferry crossing conditions in only light north winds. They also encountered these over land in the North Island for some time, perhaps to the northern border of the King Country i.e. just south of Aria. However as I mentioned before, there was this likely blanket of murk, mist and showers making it slow going through the many hills and valleys enroute.

I wouldn’t say that the liberation for this race was a poor one, it just wasn’t in my mind a really good one (due to the weather bomb risk factor) and it’s likely that every man and his dog in the ARPF both before and after this race would have an opinion on this one!

It could be that Steve and Magda Archer’s 3 year BBH 639 got around this ‘gate’ by taking a route through Hamilton with perhaps some Hamilton pigeons which were liberated with the ARPF’s, or it could simply be that it happened much earlier in the race somehow. All I know is that it was a terrific, gutsy effort by 639 and that all the other pigeons were ‘also-rans’ in this particular race. To win the East section against another 327 pigeons by 55 minutes is no mean feat and we must take our hat off to both the pigeon and the fanciers. Steve is blessed with a wife who enjoys the pigeons and they enjoy the many facets of the hobby together. Good luck to them at their new position over towards the firth of Thames! Also good luck fishing, Steve’s other hobby!

Steve and Magda Archer at the ARPF Young Bird Futurity prize presentation back in 2012. This was Steve's first year back in racing and view the article Stevo's back on this blog for further details. The Archers also won our second longest distance race in 2013 i.e. the ARPF Timaru. So 3 OPEN Fed wins in 3 years, no mean feat!

Steve and Magda Archer at the ARPF Young Bird Futurity prize presentation back in 2012. This was Steve’s first year back in racing and view the article Stevo’s back on this blog for further details. The Archers also won our second longest distance race in 2013 i.e. the ARPF Timaru. So 3 OPEN Fed wins in 3 years, no mean feat!

I’d like to thank all those involved in the running of this race. It wasn’t what most of us were banking on but it was another one under their belts for the rest of the South Island programme that lay ahead. I think it also shows that if say for instance when the little truck is down at Christchurch for a club race or the Old Bird National, then Ward is a relatively safe option for a plan b or c when we are presented with unfavourable weather conditions for our Christchurch races over any given weekend e.g. moderate or stronger east or nor-east winds in the South Island, Christchurch and north of, plus or minus one other factor e.g. gale headwinds over the Cook Strait any time during daylight on the anticipated day of release or drizzle and murk/mist along much of the South Island flight path corridors north of Christchurch.

This race showed that if the Cook Strait is good, then many of the pigeons return to their lofts within a few days of liberation, even if a worse case scenario weather forecast pans out as it did in the case of this Ward race. Assuming the overall losses from this race were 20 to 25%, then compared to the likely losses from last year’s Christchurch Old Bird National of perhaps around 75% given just 11.5% (34 pigeons) were clocked in three days from 294 pigeons released in the East Section race, then I think my argument of ‘if in doubt’, after trying for a liberation from Christchurch for two days then the little truck should drive to a shorter release point, somewhere along the Kaikoura Coast or even as far north as Ward for a possible mid morning release after watering the birds.

Incidentally we are looking at an extra 45 minutes or so in day length in late November early December than mid October and although an e.g. Ward race doesn’t guarantee freedom from heavy losses, if the Cook Strait is reasonable, then well over half the pigeons are likely to make it home in a few days. In the Ward race of the 18th October 2014 the figure was 57% to East lofts and that doesn’t take into account the situation where fanciers disconnect their clock well before leaving for strike off and any fliers that for whatever reason, don’t present a clock, even though some pigeons are home.

Your thoughts and wise comments are welcome below in the comments or on any of the Facebook forums this article is published in. Alternatively email me at ferguselley@gmail.com or message me on Facebook Fergus James Elley.

Any of you (including overseas readers) who would like to ask Kerry Frazer some questions about pigeon racing, especially the long distance please email them to me or pop them in the comments section below please. There are some blogs in the pipe line on our last year’s Invercargill race which Kerry won along with the Old Bird National from Christchurch.

Steve Archer outside the Archer's new loft from an another angle again holding their 2013 ARPF Timaru winner. Steve likes flying the long distance. Steve and Magda will fly the 2015 Old Bird season in the Pukekohe Pigeon club, the same club as the writer.

Steve Archer outside the Archer’s new loft from an another angle again holding their 2013 ARPF Timaru winner. Steve likes flying the long distance. Steve and Magda will fly the 2015 Old Bird season in the Pukekohe Pigeon club, the same club as the writer.

ARPF Ward Race 18th October 2014.   Leave a comment

Click on the pdf files for the labelled results. Use the bottom link for the Wikipedia Ward details including its location in nz.

FedWard18October2014.East Flockpdf

FedWard18October2014.East Futurity

FedWard18October2014.3×2 teams Eastpdf

FedWard18October2014.West Flockpdf

FedWard18October2014.West Futuritypdf

FedWard18October2014.West 3×2 teamspdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ward,_New_Zealand

Ward Race report coming…………

ARPF Raumati 4th October 2014 race report.   Leave a comment

Our first race of the 2014 Old Bird season for the ARPF went off without a hitch there being a very good muster at basketing and things were run very smoothly.
One of the great things this year is the use of the screen to feed results to from Jim Cater’s pc. Jim certainly deserved to be commended for his excellent and diligent work and the other members working in well alongside him just like a well oiled machine.
There was a happy atmosphere that night and obviously the novelty of the system used to present the results and the fact that this was the first of our Federation races had much to do with it. A lot of us hadn’t seen each other for about 5 months, so it was good to catch up and talk pigeons amongst other things.
On the morning of the race after liberation the Federation site reported
“Auckland & Manaia Pigeons liberated 8am into clear skies Fresh NW wind
South Waikato 8.30am
Hamilton 8.45am”
And I wrote on my Facebook pigeon chat site
“up 8am, fresh nw and fine, should pick up a sw from King Country so fast finish if 4cast correct, wait and see”.
Checking out the metservice rain radar I could see that there was a good chance of some very big showers especially in the King Country i.e. centre of the race for front markers. Winds were pretty strong west with hail expected and later reported.
For most Auckland pigeons this was their first longer race for the season. For some reason prior to this race the programme this year only included one 2 day basket which are our North Island races of longer duration. Unfortunately due to a storm brewing 2 weeks prior our programmed Whanganui race which is a 2 day basket was not held. This disappointed a number of fanciers. I noticed that some of the later pigeons were pretty tired and either they got a bit lost or the fitness level was below par for this distance, however it was good to get the fly into them and those organising the transportation and liberation of the pigeons did an excellent job. Incidentally, a couple of the pigeons which were about 3 hours behind the front pigeons won for me the Westport Combine 4 weeks later, having been spelled 3 weeks after this race and then given a Raetihi as a ‘pipe opener’.
To new comers, we fly these middle distance races in sections. I posted the results yesterday and all you have to do is click on them and the pdf file will open up for you in that window and perhaps you can keep reading in another. Win Arnold took the first Yearling and first Flock in the East Section and gets his name on the overall trophy. Paul Millar was ‘bridesmaid in both legs. I told him he had to wear a bridesmaid dress the next Federation race but I didn’t see him in one!
I was happy with my 4 together that took 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Flock places. My first yearling came back from the north to finish 6th Yearling.
Jim Cater took the honours in the West Section in both legs of the race. He also took the same places in the Western Union race 2 weeks prior from Raumati, so he had won four trophies by this stage and was flying very well. You could say that he deserved it due to all the hard work he puts in for the Federation races even though he is not on the Committee now. However he did not finish at 4 major wins as you will find out in the weeks to come as I collate the race reports for the season just ended. He had a ‘magic’ season indeed.
Just going back through the East Yearling results it was very good to see Risto Gramov 3rd in that leg, 5 minutes behind on the slow by but he is 36km more than the winner, Win. Seeing Risto with 10 entries, that is a massive team for him, as often he has barely a handful but races quite credibly. Also one of our back markers had a good performance, I think i.e. Dave Driver to take 7th, one behind mine. I give Dave 120KM so Win gives him about 100km; I would say that the pigeons were finishing slower somewhere north of the Bombay’s, so good fly Dave!
Looking again at the East Flock race you can see that the pigeons were a bit split up and Gramov in the Harbour Club just pipped Camry Lofts which is the fancier Ray van der Riet. Other than that, David Moors having a good bird in a wind that is unfavourable for his loft location in the East Section. Elley Family (my family) having 59 pigeons in the Flock race of course having a better chance of getting a few up there and they were 2 two year olds and 2 three year olds and had never done anything at a Federation trophy race level. All medium to large and the sort of body type that can go well in the strong westerly side winds over here and in that particular race, although a few months later two of these went to Invercargill but have failed to return. One (337) was actually reported on Dog Island which isn’t that far from the race point. A government worker had caught him and looked after him and let him go 2 days later in Bluff and then rang Bill Beattie who handles and liberates the Invercargill pigeons when he gets the good to go. When Longville senior gave me the note with the bird’s number on it at the strike off recently he said ‘it’s on its way”, I wondered what he meant and initially thought he was getting brought up, but no such luck! Perhaps 337 thought the bottom of the South Island was the top.

ARPF Raumati results, 4th October 2014, East Section and West Section, Yearling, Flock and Teams races and South Waikato Result (seperate later liberation)..   Leave a comment

FedRaumati4Oct2014 east yearlings

FedRaumati4Oct2014.eastflockpdf

FedRaumati4Oct2014.eastteamspdf

FedRaumati4Oct2014.westyrlgpdf

FedRaumati4Oct2014.westflockpdf

FedRaumati4Oct2014.westteamspdf

South Waikato Raumati 4-10-14

more coming soon…………..

The mighty pigeon!   2 comments

Dad. Very clever extremely articulate, very funny man, four degrees, not a dummy. Would tell me about all the different situations he had to sort out in Presbyterian Churches around the countryside in nz.  A good man but a sinner like we all are in need of saving and the precious, abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. Rest in peace until the last trumpet sounds!

Dad, very clever, extremely articulate, funny man, four degrees, not a dummy.
Would tell me about all the different situations he had to sort out in Presbyterian Churches around the countryside in nz. A good man but a sinner like we all are in need of saving and the precious, abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. Rest in peace until the last trumpet sounds!

I am from time to time made aware that not all members of the pigeon fraternity enjoy my blogs, especially those blogs and posts that stand up for and command respect for ‘our mighty pigeons’. One of the things that is indeed beautiful and liberating is the freedom from having to be right or control; I am of the opinion that these are very dangerous components of human beings. When they are used in ways which are not warranted and violate the human right of ‘freedom of expression’ and seek to put a ‘lid’ on items of ‘public interest’ then we can find in ourselves some of our ‘inner demons’.
But back to the pigeon, why are our racing pigeons ‘mighty’. It is not because they have all won big races because even in the current champs loft the best performers are few and far between, especially when we hit the middle distance and longer. However, I was wondering tonight, how many marriages has the hobby of keeping pigeons saved, how many little children have retained both parents because Daddy has stuck it out for his children with the help of the pigeons as a relaxing and supportive hobby.
My argument is always ‘without the pigeon, you do not have pigeon racing!’ When races go wrong and leadership feels under the gun and react in a feelings first manner with their decision making then there may be reason for concern. Like any situation, should we only keep as a friend someone who pushes the right buttons and says the right things always, certainly not, that would be controlling to the nth degree!
Henk, a nice Dutchman used to often talk about ‘ego’ when discussing pigeons with me in the Manukau Club many moons ago. In hindsight those were very wise words, for if there is a problem with a race or race(s) and many pigeons are missing, then what should be more important, the ego of the pigeon fancier or the missing pigeons themselves, I hear you all saying, “the later’ and of course, you are very right indeed!
If someone is very passionate about the welfare of the pigeons is that a bad thing? Certainly not and it is here that I disagree with some writers who indicate that ‘you can love pigeons too much’. I actually think that the reverse applies myself i.e. you cannot love these defenceless creatures enough and if the heart is missing for the pigeon, if politics and so on mean more than the pigeons, then a fancier is indeed in trouble I think, don’t you?
What would you think the general public thinks of these ideas; would it be any different from caring for your pet dog or cat, maybe not? It intrigues me when there is some sort of commotion in the ‘pigeon world’ e.g. the banning of racing for now in Johannesburg. Of course this simply turned out to be a false alarm, it is really only about the governments there’s concerns of the feral pigeons (and lost or still coming home racers) being a reservoir for both human and avian diseases and I believe it will fizzle out.
This got many people in a flap though and given how some have felt and reacted to that news to me it begs the question, if ten years went by and pigeon racing is banned in many parts of the world due to animal activists campaigning to curb the sport in all sorts of ways, then if we arrived at that situation e.g. in nz or Australia, what key things should we have done to prevent this happening?
I will point out that nz is very isolated from the rest of the world and a pigeon or pigeon eggs would either have to be smuggled in somehow in order for there to be a disease risk, as simply put, no pigeon alive is capable of flying across the huge expanse of the Tasman Sea from Australia. A pigeon would have to hitch a ride on a boat as importations of pigeons have been banned for decades.
That just leaves the situation with the animal activists. Some might think that I am one and I do not choose that label because if I really was against pigeon racing in nz then there are a lot more things that I could do than merely writing on my blog mainly in the off season and running a small closed Facebook chat group, both of which have varied topics.
My mindset is that if we are open and transparent we have a better chance of not being a target for groups like PETA, the logic being that despite their perhaps fundamental goal of ‘liberating all the birds and animals’, that in general they are very content on working to see improvements in the lot of animals e.g. free range broiler chicken and egg farming as opposed to the stereotyped ‘factory farming’ which I will admit that as I have aged I have realised the radical differences in the two practices.
Should pigeon racing be banned in any country? Are liberations out to sea and even as a typhoon approaches good for the sports image? They are probably not. Of course it is not for me to say, but I think within my own country there are many people working to make the racing pigeons lot in general a very good one and I like that!
If I write on this blog or in the chat group in favour of pigeon welfare then I am really only doing the sport and the ‘pigeon’ (which the sport simply cannot do without) a favour, at least that is what I think. Besides which, the blog is just a little ‘stage’ and of course the chat group on Facebook is closed, so what’s the problem? Am I to be gagged for sticking up for the pigeons? My opinion in this regard is that it could be dangerous for circles of people if they attempt to do that, as how does that make them look with respect to pigeon welfare here in nz?
Fanciers also worry about people who might cause the sport, even here in nz trouble, but I think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, maybe I am biased, you can tell me, and I am open to being wrong!
I do know that we need to put a mammoth effort into preserving the sport from the grass roots up. Welfare standards at the home lofts must be excellent and the race liberations under taken in a very careful and considerate way, especially from the long distance, which many people love. If in doubt, hold them over has to be strictly adhered to.
Therefore by attempting to curb intelligent criticism of a pigeon body of any form, whether it be in casual conversations, private emails, meetings, closed chat groups or even on blogs such as mine, is in my mind extremely controlling and just a tad naive, however, I also accept that that is some fanciers views and you are entitled to think that way just as I and many others are entitled to think in a more futuristic, broader way that gives the ordinary racing pigeon much more respect than some give. So I am still convinced that if we are totally honest and transparent with the public and totally open to learn as pigeon bodies how to manage our racing programmes better, then instead of reaping ‘problems’ in the long term with the public, then we will reap a harvest of ‘great things’ with the public and the more that we can get on the radio, tv and in the newspapers for the right reasons the better.
It was a huge shock to the fanciers in the U.K. to be attacked so sensationally by PETA last year and of course I have written three articles on PETA and if I think it would help I will write more, however given that they seem to have settled down I think that it is better to keep any ideas for future articles and videos on the back boiler. I think that they would go after the Australians before nz but I also think that they will have bigger fish to fry, just like they took on Elizabeth the Queen of England and the fancy in the Diamond Jubilee Year, although in essence they want to control and curb the sport, they are very much into sensationalism and of course it is ‘free’ advertising for them when the media do run with it.
Leaving that subject and getting back to the grass roots of the sport in every country, we need to push the exposure of the younger generation to racing pigeons. Every now and then I see something or get sent something on the net about racing pigeons in schools and that is a great thing. In form two at Henderson Intermediate the teacher of the time Ollie Green got me to bring a pair of pigeons to stay at the school in the class in a metre long coop high up below the ceiling and they bred there and we would have them out in the class and there would be the occasional ‘deposit’ on the desks or floor. It was a good, fun thing.
It is easy to get side tracked from the real important jobs that ought to be done as pigeon bodies. Arguing and bickering never achieves anything except for a dry throat and perhaps a headache! Circles of people that run pigeon organisations need to focus on what is important to a pigeon body as a whole and not get lost in the relentless pursuit of ‘ego’ and ‘vanities’. The rights of the little men viz the infirm, the aged, the beginners, those simply just struggling in general and the ‘unconverted’ non fancier public member, these are more important than ‘feelings’ that can run high when people find themselves in difficult situations and revenge would be a lovely past time.
My Father was a preacher to the lost, the unsaved and at times that is my role too. However, in addition I find myself as an ambassador for the ‘mighty’ pigeon and ‘woe betide anyone’ who thinks that racing pigeons at the least are not worth as much and have as many rights as the drug peddlers, pedo’s and other filth in our societies! Do not these scum bags have rights, you bet that they do and so should our pigeons and don’t worry, I’ll keep fighting for them!

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