by Drew Callan, Press Officer

National Notes - April 15th 2013

Good evening folks, I am sitting down to start these notes on what should have been the first race for my federation but the committee made the decision 2 weeks ago to push the first race back a week due to the prolonged winter we are all experiencing. There have been very few opportunities to get birds trained in readiness for the start of the race programme and I personally have been off on holiday for the past 2 weeks and have only found one opportunity to get the birds down the road and I know from talking to other fanciers that this is the case nationwide. I think it is in these sorts of situations that fanciers need to put their faith in the committee that has been put in place to run their organisation and I think this is true regardless of whether it is at federation, combine or national level. The problem is that if we had went with today as the starting date the transporter would have gone down the road only a quarter full with unfit birds because as we all know if there is a race then some people will send regardless of how much work and preparation (or how little) they have given the birds. What we all need to remember is that no racing organisation that is properly and professionally run wants to mess about with race points and dates on a whim, there is a lot of thought and discussion  that goes in to these decisions.

At the recent committee meeting for the NFC the committee had a similar discussion about altering the date of the first national due to the postponements and cancellations within domestic race programmes. The concerns were centred around whether fanciers would be far enough down the road with their federation racing to have the birds at the levels of fitness needed to compete in a national channel race that could be an average of a 6 hour fly to most members. To be honest the committee members were also concerned about the impact this would have on the birdage and so a range of options were looked at including moving the date of the race, which to be honest would be a struggle logistically. In the end the proposition to pull the race point back to a shorter one was successful and as a result the first race will now be Carentan, which I think is on average around 65 miles closer for most members which translates to around 90 minutes less flying time on a fair racing day. The response to this has so far been positive and members have realised that we are putting the birds first and the committee felt that this was the best response to the concerns and problems being faced by delayed domestic racing. It will still be on the same date - 18th May - but at a shorter distance and for some of the south coast boys it is probably little over 110 miles but to be honest we have to start the programme somewhere and whilst we would like to please everyone on this occasion we have had to settle with pleasing most people.

On the subject of the birds' welfare I have mentioned before in my notes concerns raised about the numbers of birds in baskets and this was raised again at the committee meeting. We are guided by DEFRA animal welfare guidelines that govern transportation of animals and as such for any race where the birds are expected to be in the panniers for 2 days our pannier sizes can accommodate 29 birds and for races were it is 3 days or more it is 26 birds. I have said before that some people might be unaware of how big the panniers actually are, but rest assured that there is enough space to travel safely and comfortably to the race point, and let's not forget that they travel in a state-of-the-art  transporter and in the care of experienced and professional convoyers. We are lucky to have two ex-National convoyers on the committee, namely Mr Richard King and Mr Paul Pym and they both wholeheartedly endorse the two national transporters and were in agreement about the high quality evident in the design and manufacture of the two trailers and when you couple this with the excellent care the birds receive then I feel that members can be assured that their birds are in the hands of the best in the job.

Most fanciers will be aware of the sterling work that is being done by Richard Chambers and a group of students and budding fanciers from Kingsmead School. Richard has worked hard to get a loft established and to link pigeon racing firmly to many areas of the curriculum that the students will follow. To help support this excellent work The National Flying Club provided free membership and 20 free rings to the project, and on top of this from this year we will also be allowing free race entry for their first 6 birds on the entry sheet for all the national races. I know that Richard is very pleased with this as it will free up a chunk of the small budget the project gets which will in turn help with increased corn prices. Richard tells me that they have a team of 26 birds which they will be aiming at the national races this season so we on the committee on behalf of all members wish them well and we look forward to seeing them at the Alveley marking station on a regular basis and more importantly on the result, lets hope that if they win the car it can be deferred for a few years until they have a license!!. I have assured Richard that if they need any assistance then The National Flying Club will do what it can to help.

As we move closer to racing I think it is timely to remind members that wherever possible please do your utmost to help out at marking stations and clock stations. It is important that birds are ready for when the transporter arrives at a marking station so that loading is as prompt as possible as this will allow the transporter to get the ferry on time. Please feel free to volunteer your services by jumping on the ringer or ETS for 15 minutes as this will allow someone to have a break, but please make sure it isn’t your own birds you are putting through. Likewise, at the other end of the race please make sure that your paperwork and verification details are correct and to hand as the I.C of the clock station can only forward the details you provide so don’t do your bird out of a position because of sloppy admin on your part.

Finally, this year the committee will be out and about a bit more visiting fanciers to congratulate them on solid performances. It wont necessarily be section winners that we will be visiting, but rather fanciers who have put up a good position in a given race and who may not get the recognition. Speaking of recognition, can I ask that if you get a good bird in the open or in the top 5 of your section feel free to contact me by phone or email rather than waiting for me to contact me.

Cheers for now and look after your birds.  As always I am on 01926 817796 or .