The weather once again in France was variable from when we arrived on Friday early morning. Upon our arrival, the birds were given a light feed and all water troughs were topped up. We stayed on the docks for nearly two hours giving birds plenty of time. We left the docks and drove for about three hours before driver taking his driving break, giving me time to top up waters. After some three quarters of an hour we continued driving to our liberation site, Sigogne.

As soon as we arrived, I was very impressed with the site, situated high up with excellent all round visibility, as far as the eye could see. The wind on site on Friday was West South West. A quick call to the French agent was made to confirm our arrival, then it was down to business, feeding and replenishing all water drinkers. After birds had finished eating, the food was removed. All birds were relaxed in the crates and there was lot's of room for birds to move around.  Due to the heat, the decision was made by the race committee to reduce the number of birds per crate by two thirds of the maximum allowance. The birds were now all set for a nice rest. The outside temperature was still very high and the humidity was around 70%.  At 7pm., the French agent visited us and stated that tomorrow, Northern France was not looking very good for a liberation. We then walked about 50ft to the showers and toilet blocks and nestled next door was their pigeon club and the members were busy basketing for a race from Northern France.  We were in a perfect secure location with a pigeon club on site, perfect. 

Saturday morning, the weather overnight had taken a dramatic change with heavy rain, thunder and lightning not stopping until after sunrise. A holdover until Sunday was looking the call of the day. The French agent had informed us that his organization were holding over. After numerous calls to our race delagates in the UK, our weather man and most importantly, our Race Advisor Tony Adams, we all decided that Sunday was looking a much better day. So with everything taken into consideration a call to our secretary to confirm no liberation. With the decision made the birds were fed and watered. Around mid-day, the agent called again to inform us that two French transporters that were to arrive early Saturday would now be here Sunday, early morning, due to cloud and rain in various parts of the country.

Two tranporters arrived early Sunday morning before sunrise. We were already parked in a perfect liberation spot and the wings were fully extended at 5 am local time. All drinkers were checked, all ok. 7am local time, the birds were liberated into clear blue skies and all cleared the site in one large flock. Cameras were flashing and a crowd of around 20 local pigeon people were delighted to see our NFC pigeons above them. Dom McCoy, Chief Convoyer.

P.s. - Just for the record the French organizations liberated a couple of hours after us and this can be seen on NFC website, thanks to our Secretary.

We arrived at Coutances around 3.30 p.m., on Friday. The pigeon trailer was parked for liberation so that the birds would not need to be moved. The waters were topped up and birds were fed. A few more photos were taken. (All previous photos and information regarding this race is on the N.F.C. website.) After the birds were settled, I began making more enquiries regarding our liberation. In the late evening we experienced heavy rain as predicted by our weather man and by early morning the rain had cleared and was moving in a southerly direction.

About 6.00 a.m. local time, whilst waiting for sunrise, all strings were cut in preparation for an early liberation, because the winds were still North West and some members birds were expected to be over ten hours on the wing, an early liberation was the call of the day.

At 6.45 a.m. local time, with the sun rising, a blue clear sky was emerging. All was prepared for liberation. Time to talk to people on our flight path. Calls to race advisor and weather man, re line of flight, were all good with twenty miles of visibility on the coast. 7.45 a.m. local time, we were all set to go, everything looking perfect for a good race.

8.00 a.m. local time, all birds were liberated into a light North West wind with clear blue skies. All birds cleared within a couple of minutes and all left the site together. (Video of liberation on N.F.C. website forum.) After all crates were checked and closed, we cleared up and left Coutances. After a few hours on the road, I got text messages informing me that birds were being clocked. This is always good to hear.

I was made aware of a few concerns regarding the liberation from certain members i.e. the liberation is too early, the channel is too cold, the liberation is too late, etc. As usual I am always interested in members views and welcome any questions regarding any liberation I am involved with. We or should I say I, get first class information from weather forecasters and various N.F.C. members who assist with information freely, to help our races and without this help I could not do my job and give it the justice it deserves because I can only see what is around me at the liberation site. These dedicated members as well as all the other convoyer’s etc., give me the advice on line of flight etc. I will endeavour to address these points / queries as follows: -

  • Liberation too early: - 8.00 a.m. French time is 7.00 a.m. G.M.T., (UK time), for those not too sure. The wind on liberation was North West, the birds average speed was estimated at 40 / 45 m.p.h. with the longest flier’s distances being over 400 miles, entailed a possible / probable ten hours plus flying time, which means roughly time wise, 5.00 p.m. for leaders, the later birds 7.00 – 8.00 p.m. These birds are members future race teams and I personally feel that members would want them home during hours of daylight.
  • Channel too cold: - The English channel is actually warmer in September then the rest of the year, i.e. in June, the temperature is an approximate average of 59 degrees. In September, it is 65 degrees.

I look forward to all and any comments on the N.F.C. forum which is open and free to all members. I hope you all, have had a good season and I wish you all, the very best.

Dom McCoy

Mr. D. McCoy,

Chief Convoyer

With all collections done on both sides of country, we only mustered just under 2,000 birds. Collecting from Sunday and meeting at Cosham, near the docks on Tuesday where all the birds were transferred on to one vehicle.