From the Chair By Chris Williams
How wonderful it was to see The Royal Pigeon Racing Association officials and its members being shown on the National news paying our respects to the late HRH The Prince Philip on the weekend of the 17th of April by having ten pigeons liberated from every cathedral city and town in the UK simultaneously the number of birds represented each decade of a truly remarkable life. RPRA Sport Development Officer Richard Chambers and the numerous volunteers from across the UK who took part in this deeply moving and historic occasion deserve nothing but praise for not only raising the profile of our sport in these trying times but also highlighting the unique connection we have to our Sovereign Lady and Her late, much loved husband and Consort. Once again when needed fanciers performed their duty to Perfection! Well done to Catherine Cooper, who deserves recognition from the fancy for striving to bring to wider attention the impact which the Current DEFRA and post Brexit EU regulations is having on this great sport well done Catherine!
Speaking of Mr and Mrs Cooper, they sent me some nice photographs and a few words about releasing pigeons at Bath Abbey in memory of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, Catherine writes: “Hi Chris, myself and Geoff along with club Secretary Karen Baressi, her husband Fab and their partner Donald Bull all took part in helping us release ten of our birds in an act of remembrance for HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. A lot of people were there watching and they all cheered and clapped when the birds went out of the basket, all the pigeons made it home in nine minutes”. Well done Geoff and Catherine and good luck in the coming season!
I must mention a young fancier and friend of mine who is already making her mark on the sport Miss Abigail Rakes the Daughter of Matt Rakes, a fancier who proved with great distinction that the Natural system still has a place in the modern era. In her own name, Abigail is continuing the Rakes tradition of racing pigeons at the highest level, I shall be covering this young rising star of English pigeon sport in a special article very soon. In the meantime, Abigail has been busy having written to her Member of parliament The Right Honourable Jacob Rees Mogg MP, bringing to his attention the challenges the current restrictions are having upon the pigeon racing fraternity. From his positive response to this young, dedicated fancier he was clearly impressed as he has raised the matter with The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs the Rt Hon George Eustice MP and once he has a responded then The Rt Hon Jacob Rees Mogg MP will get back in contact with Abigail, He also said: I am pleased to hear that the noble sport of pigeon fancying is popular amongst the young people in my constituency. “well done Abi let me know when you have any updates.”
At our own lofts, the new racing hen’s aviary from Jeff Greenaway I mentioned in a previous article is now up and running. The natural team seem to have settled well into the loft and taken their boxes, so far so good. The lofts now have a such homely feel I am seriously contemplating moving in on a permanent bases because you get more sense out of pigeons than people at times.
I have never considered myself a hermit but the way the Natural loft is looking now I could do so easily, as I do not think twice about sitting in there with a mug of tea while watching the birds and trying to figure how their minds work, while forgetting the world, this my friends is the good life or as the Italians say “La dolce vita”. In moments like these it is easy to see why the sport has always had strong links with industrial towns and cities, the inhabitants of which often have a deeper understanding of pigeon racing and animals than is often given credit. The moral of the story I guess never judge a book by its cover. The vast majority of fanciers are fascinated by and love the natural world and birds in general for we spend the greater part of our lives outdoors, as a friend of mine puts it” you can always tell a fancier as they have eyes raised to the skies”. We are in sense at one with the natural world! Perhaps more so than the wider public? For even though we are constantly told today about the importance of the environment and wildlife the delicate balance seems to have tipped perilously toward favouring predatory species above all others. For all true lovers of the natural world, the results of RSPB Big Garden Bird watch 2021 made for stark reading indeed. As by their own admission The Royal Society For Protection of Birds has established that the finch numbers within the bird population have continued to fall, with greenfinches and chaffinches “recording their lowest numbers ever.” The report continues: Over the last 50 years, 40 million birds have vanished from the UK’s skies, it is not just birds that are suffering. The latest State of Nature report found that around two-fifths of UK species are in decline including turtle doves, red squirrels, and water voles. Nature needs our help like never before”. We hear about the importance of conservation, work upon which the RSPB prides itself and yet as a concerned member of humanity I must ask why things are going so drastically downhill for so many of our native species despite the valiant efforts made to ensures their survival. Could it be that with the zealous efforts such as the installation of manmade nesting sites, we are now witnessing the decline in specimens like the greenfinches, chaffinches, bullfinches, and countless other once popular songbirds, as a dark and bitter fruit of this intense labour? In a nutshell is man killing the natural order of wildlife with grossly misguided kindness. For as the saying goes “you may fool nature, but you cannot beat it”. Over the years many arguments have been cited in an attempt what is the reason for this decline including the use of pesticides, however these were banned across the UK and EU in 1984 and as a result surely this point is no longer valid? Please understand I am not an expert on these matters but surely logic dictates that the emphasis which conservations such as RSPB Place on “endangered” birds of prey must play a part in wanton desiccation and destruction of the delicate balance of the natural order of the animal kingdom which goes against the principles of conservation. In a book published by the British Trust for Ornithology it is stated that a breeding pair of Sparrow Hawks kill 3500 song birds a year so it is little wonder natures chorus is falling silent! Thanks to the blatant favouritism so openly displayed to a killing machine by the media the public is largely unaware of this fact. On our local news there was a farmer talking about dogs attacking sheep, the reporter said the images were to distressing to be shown which made me think, I hope they never see a bird being ripped like a pillow and eaten alive. Despite this, even celebrity gardeners will pose with a Hawk and say there is no finer sight than a bird of prey hunting, I tell folks this world is on a tilt and its toward madness! A world respected English broadcaster and natural historian, said in a recent BBC interview that mankind are latecomers and the natural world would do better without us, even those with good intentions. Perhaps there is food for thought in this for all conservations including RSPB?
Until next time enjoy your pigeons and all the best to fanciers in the UK for the 2021 season “May the 1st be with you!”
A sad but true statement and we fanciers know the rest of the story all too well
My own bit of pigeon racing paradise
Geoff and Catherine Cooper Liberating pigeons at Bath Abbey as a tribute to HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, daughter in law Dani and grandson Luca, Luca helped letting the birds go.
Geoff and Catherine Cooper with their club Secretary Karen Baressi and her husband Fab and Their partner Donald Bull.
Abigail Rakes showing her Natural talent for pigeons sport . Good luck in 2021 Abi you can do it !