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Epic N F C Merit


John Clements

Articles, Reports and Shared Thoughts


‘Epic’  - NFC Certificate  of Merit pigeon of  2018 for Fred Cornwell of Southend Essex Part one.



The last of my 2018 Certificate of Merit reports  (three times NFC Tarbes in the top 100 places Open) is flying to an unfavourable location. The location is Southend on Sea in Essex. Southend looks across  the wide Thames estuary towards Kent on the other side, so pigeon returning from France have to cross two stretches of water - The English Channel and the Thames estuary.  I should think training for the South Road  is also a problem because a line of direct flight is immediately into open water.


I have spoken to a friend who also lives in Essex and he tells me pigeons get used to  crossing the Estuary but the question remains will they still do it at the end of a 560 mile flight after winging their way through the whole of France and tackling  the English Channel ?  That is a big question.


Certainly ‘Epic’ the final pigeon in my 2018 series of ‘NFC Certificate  of Merit’ award pigeons managed to do it because ‘Merit’ has flown Tarbes  five  times. He started as a two year old (Homing on the third day) and has done it every year since  - improving as he got older. .

2014 - homed on third day

2015 -  72nd sect 194th open

2016 - 5th sect 54th open

2017 - 7th sect 35th open

2018 -  7th sect 58th open winning a Certificate of Merit.


This means either Fred improved his preparation skills or ‘Epic’ gained confidence after many times flying Tarbes. I think it was the latter.  Fred’s previous top results from places like Narbonne, Perpignan and Barcelona  and other Marathon race points seem to point in that direction.


This year (2018) the  three Certificate of Merit pigeons are widely spread from Salisbury in the West to Southend in the East and Derby in the North. The huge spread proves that this kind of  consistent pigeon is not a follower who needs other pigeons to guide them home.  Nevertheless even these super pigeons have odd characteristics that  baffle us. .


‘Epic’ for instance often has nights out in shorter races - turning up the next morning after a 120 mile inland race without a care in the world as if nothing had happened.   I have found this kind of  behaviour to be quite usual with this type of pigeon. Roy Clements of Northern Ireland had one - Barry Carson with  ‘Miss Mercury’ was another. ‘Miss Mercury homed consistently at 6 o’clock in the evening  when flying inland races.  It seems on the face of it short races do not bring out the same determination and spirit to get home as the marathon races do. 


The trouble of course is many get discarded early in their careers because their performances appear on the surface disappointing.  That is the fault  of fanciers who want  to win all the time in every circumstance. This  is an example of short term thinking that fails to comprehend the final  ‘Epic’ package so wonderfully displayed in this pigeon. .


Of course what we are looking for or what we should be looking for are authentic pigeons that show a kind of reliability beyond doubt through their performances. Genuine authentic pigeons are often an embarrassment to judgements based only on winning or  first prizes for as humans we want to know it all and if we don’t know we pretend we do but don’t. In fact the pigeon knows better how to get home than we give it credit for. No amount of knowledge about feeding - training - motivation and pedigree can make an ordinary pigeon into a super pigeon. No assessment of physique size or supposed strength can find that elusive ingredient of Certificate of Merit pigeons no matter how we try to convince ourselves. The real truth of the matter is they have the complete mental package and only a very few pigeons have it. We of course,  can’t see it until they show it to us. That is the fascination of pigeon racing at  the highest level over a difficult course that involves crossing the sea when the flocks are reduced to one or two pigeons.