by Drew Callan, Press Officer

October 2014

Morning folks. I am just in from the lofts where I have been emptying the lettuce boxes of all the feathers that have gathered in the corners this week. I saw this a few years ago in Verhallen’s loft in Belgium; he had them upside down in corridors and they were excellent feather traps, so I brought the idea home with me. There are fewer feathers to empty this week, but they aren’t in short supply just yet as I remember reading somewhere that a pigeon has approx. 13,000 feathers and each of these gets renewed. Looking at the birds in the aviaries they are sparkling, with the racers being a bit ahead of the stock birds in terms of where they are in the moult. This year I kept my young bird team natural and they are just pushing up their last couple of flights and I need to remind myself that a few of the new crop of yearlings are flattering to deceive. They all look like champions at this time of year with their new suits on, especially with the sun on their backs.

We are now caught in between that time of the season when we are looking over our shoulders at the season just gone and looking forward to the new season. Some of us will be looking to invest in new stock or knocking a few holes in the loft as alterations. It is also the time to be thinking about what your aims and ambitions are for next year, and to consider if you and the birds are up to the task. Personally, I hope that more fanciers step up to the challenge of national racing as I think that it offers the greatest reward in pigeon racing. I would really like to see more participation from existing members, and I don’t mean members finding another couple of birds to enter alongside those already earmarked. I will never understand why someone joins a club and doesn’t compete, but in each race the national and classic clubs will only have around 50% of members competing. If you are one of the fanciers who fall into this group then make 2015 the year you compete. I can assure you that the buzz of clocking from a national is electric and highly addictive. You might just surprise yourself and you could be looking at a section winner in your loft that you didn’t really know you had. Get involved!!!

Last year the National Flying club teamed up with Hartwells Car Dealership to offer its members the opportunity to compete for a brand new car. We chose to allow each member a single nomination to go some way to levelling the playing field a bit. The car was won by Danny Seedwell who competes in Section E. This year we built on our relationship with Hartwells and together we went one better and offered the members two opportunities to compete for a car in two different races. From the off, we had fanciers - many of them not even members of The National Flying - saying the cars would be won on or near to the south coast and that fanciers north of the Chilterns didn’t have a chance. Well, history now shows that nobody bothered to tell fanciers or birds in the further flying ends of the club’s radius and as a result the two Hartwell cars were won by lofts that relied on years of experience and skill rather than luck  to bring home the prize. The first car was won by the Section K partnership of Pearson and Dransfield with the hen that won the section for them last year, so was no slouch and clearly fancied by Frank to carry the nomination. The second car was also claimed by giants in the sport, Mr and Mrs Kirkland who fly into the top corner of Section J. Geoff and Barbara took delivery of their new car on Thursday. It was left to the capable hands of Committee member Roger Sutton to do the lovely task of handing over the keys on behalf of The National Flying and Hartwells. Well done Geoff and Barbara, and it shows that the car can be won anywhere within the club so let’s hope that fanciers grab the chance to compete for a car next year.

Geoff and Barbara receiving the new Hartwell car from Roger Sutton


2014 section round up

After the original races from Falaise I was unable to get information from a few fanciers in time for the reports to go to press. Since then some fanciers have been in touch with details, which I will include below.

First up we have the well established long distance national lofts of Chris Gordon. The pigeon to score 2nd Section K 22nd open and 1st North East 700 mile club is a chequer pied hen. She is most definitely bred for the job of flying 335 miles, being a granddaughter of Snydale Express, the National Flying Club Tarbes winner at 725 miles. Chris sent 20 young birds to this race and got 10 back but acknowledges that all the channel racing has been difficult this year and this race was no different from the rest. She was raced on mainly Frazers (of Banbridge Northern Ireland) Champion Supreme mix then peanuts for the last few days. The young bird team are not trained after the first race and they are flown on the darkness system (which Chris don’t like, it is getting too far from nature). They are put on the darkness in mid April and taken off on the 6th of July. The oldest youngsters are three and a half months old when they go on the system and the hope is that by this time they can get a better understanding of the world around them (at least that’s the theory Chris works off). Chris would like to thank The National Flying Club’s race controllers for making a good decision under very difficult circumstances. 


2nd Section K and 22nd Open at 335 miles for Chris Gordon 

Taking 2nd Section L in the old bird Falaise race we have the partnership of Newton and Down, consisting of Mr and Mrs R Newton and Heather Down. The partnership clocked a Vandenabeele hen bred from two birds purchased off Alun Jones who is the proprietor of Red Star Lofts in North Wales. She was flown as a widowhood hen to keep her fitness levels up and in the run up to the race she was left with her cock for 2 days before basketing and this clearly gave her something to think about during the prolonged stay in the basket.

Heather Down holding 2nd Section K O/B Falaise 


Team Naum with the section D winner and Tommasina the duck

The winner of 2nd Section D was Brian Reene and Son. I initially had problems contacting Brian but we finally caught up and this is what Brian had to say about the race:  ‘First of all I would like to congratulate Mike Staddon for winning top spot 1st Open and all section winners, also Sheldon Horne 4th Open, Dan Hockings 12th open Y/Bs and Paul Naum for winning 1st section D 7th Open. We are all good mates as we all fly in the same club, Devon, Cornwall & West Somerset C.F.C. My 2nd section winner is a cheq pied hen, a small compact little hen that was 1st of 4 birds that I sent. All 4 were clocked to win 2nd 4th 10th 12th Section D, and my single entry Y/B homed the next day. So a good day at the office! All down to the care and attention the birds received on their journey and more importantly during the holdover.

My 1st bird is from a blue pied Busschaert cock called ‘The Bogie Man’, a fantastic racer for me. 1st bird to the loft in 7 National races with the NFC winning top 1% section positions (according to Paul O’Leary’s stats). He was 28th Open 9,434 birds, 176th Open 8,769 birds, 388th Open 7,476, 206th Open 9,686 etc. He was put to stock when he came home with 2 broken legs then his ring had to be removed. He was paired to a cheq pied hen from a full brother to Den Dromer when paired to a full sister of Dromer, an original Den Rauw-Sablon. Den Dromer was the most expensive bird of the sale of Den Rauw-Sablon. This hen was bred by Marc de Cock and was on loan to me from ‘Navigator Lofts’, a top West Country breeding and racing stud owned by Steve White. He is the best race controller I know. When Andy Hodge, 1st section 9th Open Y/Bs can say, ‘only lost just one Y/B in the last 2 years’ racing,’ maybe the NFC might think about putting Steve on their short list of race controllers? Finally to Paul Naum who wears the crown this year, ‘keep it clean mate, I’ll have it next time!’

Brian holding his 2nd Section D hen 


I had an email from John Clements who is well known for his love of distance racing up to International level. John drew my attention to a couple of pigeons who are just one good performance away from the much coveted and hard earned Certificate of Merit. John has one such bird; his pigeon was 5th Sect L 137th Open 2013 and 3rd Section L 97th Open 2014 and if it gets another performance of this nature it will qualify for the award. What I didn’t know as well about John’s performances was that he has, for the last two years, won the Greater Distance Single bird nomination NFC Tarbes. He is the only person to have secured this Tarbes award twice - the only other was the very talented Ron Ball of Northchurch who won  once from Tarbes and once  from Bordeaux in 2006 and 2011. We don’t think there has been another GDSBN flying over 700 miles. 

Right folks, that’s it from me. I have a few lofts in my sights over the winter months and there will be a very special article in the BHW Stud Book. Take care and enjoy a good moult.

As always, I am at or 01926817796.

Drew Callan,