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The Joe Murphy Column - 09-04-21

The Joe Murphy Column

I received a phone call from Joan who informed me that a racing pigeon has turned up at my house, very hungry but is staying around now.  Can you tell me who I might contact for help?-  I’m near Cupar’ thank you’.  I phoned Joan back but didn’t get an answer and left my number.   A few moments later Joan phoned the house and said ‘I went to get a cage from the garage to pop the bird in and within that time, would you believe a sparrow hawk swooped down and picked it up!!!! And flew over the field, but somehow the pigeon got away.  Sorry I haven’t seen it since.  Hopefully someone else will spot and feed it. I’m so upset. I could have saved it, it was lovely. The wild pigeons in the garden didn’t seem to mind it being at my door and came down to eat with it.

The sparrow hawk is causing me a lot of grief every day, swooping in for goldfinches etc. etc.   Hate it!! Anyway, thanks for responding and enjoy your birds. I thanked Joan very much for caring for the pigeon. The hawk picking it off is what we, as fanciers, have to contend with every time we let our birds out for exercise or when we send them to a race. So thank you for taking the time to try and help that wee bundle of feathers. Joe


Dear Joe, as you may already be aware that I leave my post as Scottish Homing Secretary on Friday 26 March 2021. It has been a pleasure over these decades getting to know you all.  Many of you I have not met personally, however, I have probably spoken to every one of you on the phone over these 30 plus years when you've rung with a ring query or for advice on some issue or other.  Thank you all for you courtesy and respect, I hope for the most part I figured out what procedures were the right ones to resolve your situations. Many of the 'characters' from the early days of my tenure are, sadly, no longer with us, but there will always be new faces to take their place in the history of the sport in Scotland I'm sure. Early on I came to realise that every fancier is unique.  Each of you have your own version of widowhood or natural racing and every fancier has a system of husbandry particular and bespoke to their own loft.  There will always be the 'lucky' lofts, the names that seem to appear at the top of every result but as a great golfer once said 'The harder I work the luckier I get'.  But success also means different things to different people and I have heard many a proud boast of a pigeon that has made it back from across the water in race time just making the result and many times about pigeons that find their way home against the odds and after the race is over.  That you can get to the end of a season and still have birds left in the loft is a success story in its own right as liberations face increasing numbers of birds of prey, unexpected adverse weather and countless other obstacles but that is the nature of the game.

I hope 2021 is a good season for you all, I will miss the banter I'm sure and our often 'lively' meetings and debates, I hope I've been a safe pair of hands for the SHU wishing you all the best Linda’.  Margaret & I would personally wish to thank Linda for all her help over the years, and wish her and Donny all the best for the future, they deserve it.


Special Thanks To Everyone

Today Paul the courier from High Fliers came and uplifted the last pigeon from our sale of stock birds; I have to say that over the years Paul has been a great ambassador for his company and a more pleasant person you could not wish to meet. I would also like to thank the fanciers who phoned or emailed me regarding the condition of the birds they purchased at the sales. This was very gratifying and gave me a ‘boost’ (believe me I need it) and when it come from fellow fanciers it felt a hundred times better. I hope the purchasers can produce some winners over the next few years and PLEASE let me KNOW if they do or DON’T. All we ask for is that they do well for their new owners.

New Cases of Avian Influenza

I was talking to a fancier the other day who informed me of the DEFRA UPDATE on their web site, see below:

On 27th March 2021 Avian influenza H5N8 was confirmed in broiler chickens at commercial premises near Uttoexter, East Staffordshire. On the 29th March 2021 this was confirmed as a highly pathogenic strain (HPAI H5N8). A 3km protection and 10km Surveillance Zone has been put in place around the infected premises. On 26th March 2021 Avian influenza H5N3 was confirmed in turkey breeders at a commercial premise, near Winsford, Cheshire West and Chester. On 27th March 2021 this was confirmed as a low pathogenic strain (LPAI H5N3). A 1km Restricted Zone has been put in place around the infected premises. Further details on the latest situation and the measures that apply in each of these disease control zones can be found on the GOV.UK website.

What does this mean for the lifting of the housing measures and the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ)?
In light of the two most recent cases of avian influenza we urgently reviewed the risk of avian influenza to both wild and kept birds and the implications of proceeding with the lifting of the housing measures component of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ).
Following the review of the risk the compulsory housing measures for poultry and captive birds will still be lifted across GB at 23:59 on the 31st March 2021.
The AIPZs requiring enhanced biosecurity will remain in force across GB but Wednesday 31 March 2021 will be the last day poultry and other captive birds will need to be housed (housing restrictions end 23:59 31 March 2021).
Bird gatherings will remain prohibited.
However, housing remains mandatory for all poultry and captive birds which are located in the 3km Protection Zone surrounding an infected premise. Check where disease control zones are currently located and if you are in zone on our interactive map the new cases of avian influenza emphasise that high standards of biosecurity remain essential as infection may still be present in the environment. All bird keepers (whether they have pet birds, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock) are legally required to meet enhanced biosecurity requirements under the AIPZ to protect their birds from this highly infectious virus. To assist all bird keepers in complying with these rule we have published both biosecurity guidance and a biosecurity self-assessment checklist.
If bird keepers intend to allow their birds outside after 31 March they must take action now to prepare the outside areas. Read our guidance on how to prepare for safe release of your birds. In particular it is critical that bird keepers prevent contact either directly or indirectly between their birds and wild birds including:
when birds are released they must be in a fenced area;  where necessary ponds             and watercourses must be fenced off to minimise contact with wild birds; taking action to protect bedding, feed and water sources at all times from contact with both wild birds and bird faeces. Biosecurity guidance and information on the latest avian influenza situation are available at:

Please note that multi loft training remains banned throughout the UK. As soon as we have an update in relation to the General License for Gatherings you will be updated.
The following is an extract from the Avian Influenza Code of Practice for Pigeon Racing; for more info please visit this page.
2) In Outbreak areas: where an Infected Premises has been confirmed and your loft is within the Protection or Surveillance Zones surrounding this:
• You must follow any restrictions imposed. You may need to apply for licences to undertake certain actions – information on the restrictions and the licences will be made available on the government websites.

  • In a 10km Surveillance Zone you can let your birds out for exercise, though they must not have an open loft to freely come and go, which would increase the chance of wild birds entering your loft and contaminating it.
    • If your birds are located in the 3km Protection Zone you will be able to exercise your birds (not with an open loft) once preliminary cleaning and disinfection has been completed at the Infected Premises and the initial epidemiological investigations have been completed, to ensure there are no high risk contacts to your loft (for example workers, veterinary visits, feed deliveries, visitors, etc). If the time to complete the preliminary cleaning and disinfection and epidemiological investigations is long then if you think there may be welfare issues for your birds, exercising may be allowed following agreement from an official veterinary welfare request and obtaining a licence to do so.
    • If your birds are located in the 3km Protection Zone you cannot train or race your birds until the larger Surveillance Zone has been lifted. Generally it takes around 30- 40 days after the outbreak has been confirmed to lift these zones, but may be significantly longer if further outbreaks occur in the area.

Joe’s Joke

Dearest Dad,

I am coming home to get married soon, so get your cheque book out. I'm in love

with a boy who is far away from me. As you know, I am presently living in

Australia ... and he lives in Scotland.

We met on a dating website, became friends on Facebook, and had long chats

on WhatsApp.  He proposed to me on Skype, and now we've had two months

of a relationship through Viber.

My beloved and favourite Dad, I need your blessing, good wishes,

and a really big wedding.
Lots of love and thanks.

Your favourite daughter,


My Dearest Lilly,
Like Wow!  Really?  Cool!
I suggest you two get married on Twitter, have a honeymoon on Tango,

Buy your kids on Amazon, and pay for it all through PayPal. 

And when you get fed up with this new husband, sell him on eBay.

Love,  Your Dad

Please continue to keep the news flowing; to Joe Murphy Mystical Rose Cottage 2 Flutorum Avenue Thornton by Kirkcaldy KY1 4BD or phone 01592 770331 or Email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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© Compiled by Joe Murphy