by Drew Callan, Press Officer

November 2013 Report

Good evening folks, as I write these notes the clocks have just altered and soon I will be seeing to the birds in the mornings and some evenings with the aid of a head torch. The birds don’t seem to be half as bothered as I am and to be honest I look forward to the weekends more so I can get out amongst them and I am always taken by surprise at how some of the young birds and yearling cocks are shaping up as they pull through the moult. Each year I have struggled to get a few of the darkness young hens through a full wing moult and I have tried every trick in the book to no avail, so this year I pulled them up from racing 2 weeks early and touch wood- It seems to be working. All of us will be up to our oxters in feathers at the minute and its not surprising as each pigeon has something in the region of 13,000 feathers to replace. I try and sweep up at the weekend to try and keep on top of it and I am still amazed at the amount of feathers still knocking about… roll on the end of the moult.

With the racing season put to bed it is the time of year when we make alterations to the loft and its contents. In some cases it will be out with the old and in with the new and for the lucky few it will be a case of as you were, unfortunately for some fanciers it will also be carry on regardless. This time of year is often referred to as the silly season due to the number of sales being held and it is good to bear in mind the advice of ‘buyer beware’ and take care not to buy a pig in a poke even if you do like bacon!!For those of you who are looking to supplement your breeding stock the National Flying Club Committee is putting together a truly mouth watering selection of birds from the top lofts in each section. In most cases these will be latebreds from 2013 but there will be a few pledges of 2014 young birds, but rest assured they will be from consistently high performing lofts who will be giving of their best for The National Flying Club. The sale will be on the club website but bidding will be open to all, and the plan is to have it up and running by early December so start saving your pennies or alternatively change your behaviour to get off the naughty list. You could be getting yourself a young bird off a national winner….now that is some stocking filler!!

Another reason this time of year is referred to as the silly season is because it is the start of the meeting season when wit and wisdom can often go out the window. I have said it before but it does no harm to reiterate it here, The National Flying Club has at its helm a strong, focused and committed team of men on the committee who have the singular aim of ensuring that it is managed positively and properly and on the whole the membership seems to have placed their trust and faith in them, and rightly so. The role of the committee is to ensure that the club is run for the benefit of the members and to take the club forward. To this end we have to make decisions as a committee on matters that may be detrimental or otherwise to the running of the club. Usually these are financial matters and the membership would find them quite boring to be honest and the experience of the committee is put to the test on these occasions to ensure the right choices and decisions are made. I think the small numbers of propositions we have received to date reflects the confidence of the members and the fact that the management of the club is in good hands. I feel that as a result of this the rumour mill works over time and we get members and non members picking up on third hand comments that they think have been made in a committee meeting, or as was the case at Steventon marking station earlier this year, we get accused of having ‘private’ committee meetings to discuss things. Ladies and gentlemen let me assure you that the committee operates with complete transparency and in the interests of the club at all times and we will endeavour to keep you informed at all times .One such topic that has flourished  from the  rumour mongers in the restructuring of sections. Of the back of the Committee meeting in April I mentioned in my column about throwing the topic of section boundaries open to the members and any changes suggested would be genuinely considered by the committee and put to the members for voting on changes. At this point in time I can hand on heart state that despite what you might have heard second, third or fourth hand the committee have received no recommendations from members, so Section D will not be collapsed in to neighbouring sections, Section I will not be stretched East and West and Section E will not be getting split down the middle. If you need a reason as to why then its simply because the members- or certainly the vast majority- seem to be happy with what they have in terms of section boundaries. How do we know this?- because members  have been letting the committee  know that they are happy with what they have, so unless they want change and indicate this I think that the status quo will remain. The committee know that we can’t please everyone all the time but it won’t stop us trying.

To kick off the silly season in style the committee held a meeting on Wednesday 23rd October in the usual venue in Alveley, Shropshire. The main purpose was to put the 2013 season to bed after reviewing it and doing the initial ground work for the 2014 season. As is always the case with these meetings a lot of ideas were bounced around and picked apart and as the mist cleared the committee were in a position to put forward a series of innovative ideas that will take the club forward into the 2014 season stronger and keener.

Firstly, the committee were of the opinion that the handbook as we know it had run its course, and we could see no way to take it any further forward. The handbook is most definitely something to be proud of and has come a long way and if imitation is the highest form of flattery then we need to say no more. The truth is that the effort required to produce the book at such professional standard was outweighing the end result and the benefits of having a hard copy book. Furthermore, we needed to be looking at the costs involved and how we could make substantial savings on both postage and production costs. These savings could then be ploughed back in to significantly increased prize monies for the members to compete for.  So for 2014 and subsequent seasons the book will be available electronically via the clubs website at no cost to the members. There isn’t really any part of the current handbook is put together electronically and as a result there is none of it that cannot be readily transferred on to electronic format so it seems daft not to make the logical step and reap the benefits. But fear not, we are not going completely electronic just yet. The committee are well aware that some members prefer to have hard copy for a variety of reasons, and we also know that some members do not have ready and convenient access to the internet although I think that this is changing. To support these members there will be a hard copy produced but members will need to request by ticking a box that will be included in the end of year forms sent out, but please be aware that the hard copy will be no different to the electronic version that some members will opt for. Also, to be honest the committee will be looking at possible costs for the hand book at their January meeting. So if you want a hard copy then it must be requested and, if you overlook this don’t be surprised when it hasn’t turned up in the post for the start of the season. We hope that the members quickly start to feel the benefits of embracing the available technology and the leap of faith the committee are asking you to take, and I think they will and who knows, if we get the on line voting option up and running, we might even see more people voting and getting involved with their club.

In terms of the nitty gritty of The National Flying Club and the reason that members join- the racing side of it- the committee have a few tasty developments.  But before we get onto that the members will want to know when and where we are racing in 2014; 24th May Fougeres,  7th June Cholet,  21st June Messac, 4th July Tarbes, 26th July Saintes and rounding off with the Young Bird and Old Bird Nationals on 6thSeptember.  The more observant amongst you will have noticed that we have an old bird national alongside the young bird national, the committee has decided to open up the old hens’ race and allow old cocks to be entered as well. This will give members the opportunity to enter a few old cocks as well, although they will be basketed separately to the young cocks, but all birds will be liberated together as is currently the case. The old cocks and hens will be competing in one race and there will only be one old bird national winner. Again, the committee have looked at ways to go forward and to meet the needs of the members and we feel that there is sufficient interest from members to get the opportunity to compete with old cocks alongside the old hens.

Continuing with the theme of increasing the opportunities to compete, the committee have reviewed the decision to only allow members to enter young birds carrying a current NFC issued ring in the Young Bird National. As a result a proposition strongly supported by the committee will be put out to members to vote on that allows a young bird carrying any ring recognised by the RPRA and issued in the year of the young bird race being competed in but with an additional fee of £3.00 on top of the entry fee. So hopefully the membership will get behind it and allow those members who do not buy NFC rings or like to buy in a draft of young birds every year to get back in the saddle and send to the young bird national.

The committee would like to pass on their thanks to the many people who give up their free time to help run the marking stations and clock stations throughout the season. In some cases, such as at Steventon where I mark, Jill Webber takes a days annual leave to help out at each race marking and this is just an example of many. So whether you are on the marking team or just give up 30 minutes of your time after your birds have gone through, the committee would like to say thank you for doing what is often a thankless job and I know that Dave Staddon, Pete Wells and Paul Naum would like to buy the teams that run their marking stations a drink at the National Flying Club Presentation. I know they are following the example set by Eammon Kelly so well done for leading from the front as always Mr  Kelly. This past season has also seen the establishment of as marking station in Kent that feeds in to Ash and the committee are pleased with how the members in the area are supporting this venture run by Steve Tilley and his group of hard working volunteers and it was a real delight to see a national winner coming out of the area this year. We can only hope that the support continues and we all need to remember that mighty oaks grow out of small acorns, so if you live in the Kent or South Essex area and are still not sure about competing in the national races next year might don’t you make that leap of faith.

For those of you still sitting on the fence about the presentation there may still be some tickets left so just phone Mick McGrevy. It’s truly a night to remember and you don’t need to be picking up a trophy to attend, and just to remind you it’s at The Palace Hotel in Torquay on Saturday 7th December. I mentioned in an earlier article that a few kind fanciers had said they would buy me a drink at the presentation but as I didn’t drink a monetary donation in lieu of a pint would be fine. That still stands but to make it easier to identify me I will be the Irish man in a black kilt who will be in the company of a Scotsman with a kilt- just make sure the right man gets the donation.

To wrap I have a few details of well placed birds from some of the national races this year. For a variety of reasons fanciers could not get me all the details in time so I will include these over the winter months as and when I receive them. First up we go back to the Messac race in June and the 2nd Section H pigeon for the Beech and Bond partnership, I have included the photo of (I think) Mr Beech holding  this fine Koopman/De Klak cross widowhood cock.


The smart set up of Beech and Bond, 2nd Section H Messac

Next we are a bit more recent, and it the old hens national result. Paul Baker secured 2nd section with a 2 year old dark pied hen flying to 12 day eggs. She is bred down from his old family based on the top distance lines of Geoff Hunt and Son, Bill Ishmael Kenyons and birds from the national winning lofts of Dave Delea. These have been selected over the years on performances in national and classic racing and the survivors have gone on to continue the family for Paul. She has already been to Tarbes this season so clearly had the fitness and experience to pull to the front, and was kept ticking over by regularly exercising with the young bird team.

Paul Baker's 2nd Section A old hens’ national

Finally, and sticking with the old hens race, I have the details of Chris Stevens hen to go with the photo that I managed to get in time for the original race report. The section winner is a yearling Busschaert bred down from birds gifted to Chris by Geoff Every from Nether Stowey when he came back in to the birds in 08 .The yearling hen was not raced with the old birds but had three training races with the Devon South road Fed during the young bird season from Salisbury, Lyndhurst and Bedhampton. Chris had a very good race, and got 9 on the day so thanks to the national for looking after the birds in all the races this year and thanks to his other half Sue White for her help throughout the year. Sue has won the section 6 times so Chris definitely has a bit of catching up to do yet.

Right, that’s it from me. Hopefully I will catch up with a few of you at the national presentation. Any news etc. to or 01926817796.

Drew Callan

PO National Flying Club.