The story so far.
I have been writing about pigeon fanciers since January 1977 with the first article appearing the weekend of the Olympiade in Blackpool. This is a short story on how we are getting on and how we are coming back into racing after a few years break. Since I announced that we were going to start racing again I have been surprised at the number of fanciers who have passed comments both positive and negative. I did ask myself why anyone would want to pass negative comments about anyone starting up or as in my case returning to pigeon racing, we need all the racing fanciers that we can get.
As I have already said we are going to continue racing as Parkinson & Wilkinson as we have done for the last 42yrs with the exception of a break that has now come to an end. We also have Ebony Crowley racing to the same loft. I have had conversations with Shaun who is building the loft and we have hopefully got it right without needing to make any changes once the loft has been erected, which is something that I have seen done in the past, a tweak here and a tweak there. On the negative side I have been asked why start racing again after parting with them for the last few years, the sport has gone, the sport hasn’t gone, pigeon racing will be around for many years to come. The answer is simple, I have had pigeons since I was 7yrs and have just passed my 72nd birthday and am still feeling good about racing again. As I have often heard "Pigeons are in your blood" and with genuine pigeon fanciers they are, and they are hard to get away from, they become a drug to some and that will not change. What has kept me going while I have not been racing is the website which has kept me in touch with what is going on in the pigeon world. Since we last raced, we have seen so many new families come and go so which do we go for, that all depends on what we want to race. This time round I do want to have a go at them all and to push me forward we are competing against Ebony who is having two sections in the same 24ft loft, one for old and one for young, with Elizabeth no longer able to clean out, yes, she did an awful lot of loft cleaning, so it is me against Ebony. I am not going to stick my beak into what she is doing, I am going to leave her to it, if she is as determined with pigeons as she is with everything else then I think she is going to win a prize or two. The positive side is much better because I have had no end of encouragement and to be fair a few fanciers have come forward with young birds to get us started, they will get covered as we go along.
The loft is 24ft x 8ft 6ins, I am not into metric which came along well after I left school, so I still find it easier to talk feet and inches, probably like most pigeon fanciers. Anyway, I have asked Shaun to put the old bird boxes and young bird perches in each section so that we have the choice of how we race pigeons, whether on the widowhood or natural systems. Which is best, that is always depending on how you feel best at racing, I do know through discussions with fanciers, racing is a bit closer than it used to be but there are still those who are consistently nearer the top than others. This is a positive, and I am putting this in writing so that everyone can see, Dave Healey has said that every time Ebony beats me he will give her a fiver, one thing you can be sure about is I will not make it easy for her, when you make things easy, they soon give up. We both have our own sections and pigeons that will not be mixed while racing is in progress, Ebony will feed hers and I will feed mine. We will start with the same number of young birds each and then who knows what will happen, the problem is we do not yet know how many we will have. The 6prs of stock birds down the side of the house have been better than I have ever seen them breed considering it is only an 8x4 section. I do not know how we will go on with the first round which consists of 8 YB’s, because by the time the loft is up, they will be 12 weeks old and going into a new loft is going to be a challenge. The other two pairs were added to the section about 4 weeks later and they will be just about right as will the second round from the first 4prs. As I write these notes there are 20ybs in the section which is too many but only 8 have left the nest the others are only just being rung or have just hatched so they will be okay for the first week in June, proving all goes well with the move. I think Ebony will have a good deal with the young birds because I am going to let her pick which ones she wants, I say best deal because there are some top bred reds and mealies which I am expecting her to go for and they are close to the top winners. A top Manchester fancier has also said he will breed her 6 from his top winning team and he does win. I must say there will be times when they are treated the same and that includes training. The one bit of advice she will get is "Don't have favourites, treat them all the same" and that includes the nice white grizzle from Central Lofts that will be arriving by the time the loft goes up. As I sit here writing these notes it is the 14th of May and contracts were signed a few weeks ago. According to the owner, the house will be empty by the end of May and everything I am doing is being done around that time so let us hope no problems arrive.
Has seriously affected the racing in the early part of the season, April saw some real good weather, a bit cold at times but the rain was next to nothing. Yes, there were cold spells but for those who caught it right the temperatures did rise at some point during the day and there were times when those early tosses were just what the pigeons required in their preparation for the season ahead. The problem for many started well before that because no one knew what was going to happen with the races, were we or were we not going to get any races this season. It was such a delay that caught many napping and they were always going to struggle to catch up, especially in early May when the weather changed, and the thunderstorms started to take control of what we could or could not do. Yes, there were some fast races with heavy storms along the line of flight, but the returns were good with some races in excess 2000ypm. Come to think of it, the pigeons are so versatile, they come through all kinds of weather every year, and losses always occur but they carry on. At times I don't think we give our pigeons the credit they deserve, they put up good performance’s week after week in their quest to reach their home loft.
Yes, well done to Ian Evans and his team for securing channel racing for the 2021 season when most thought the land was all we were going to get. There are times when a bit of good negotiation does the sport good and that is what has happened on this occasion. The North Road looked a good bet for the Southern part of the country until normal service was resumed. Here in Cheshire, we could get 250mls or so in mainland UK but that would not have been enough to satisfy those who are only competitive in the longer races. If the negotiations were not successful, I could have seen quite a few leave the pigeon racing altogether but after some good work let’s hope that does not happen.
This is an update on what I have written in the past. A few years ago, I was talking to a fancier from the BBO Fed about comments made on a chat line about Mark Gilbert and his racing. At the time Mark was only interested in the National/International races so was not as competitive when it came to the shorter club and fed races. There were a few who obviously do not know pigeon racing that well and certainly do not know Mark, or they would not have passed such comments about Mark not winning in the club and fed. Chris, the fancier I was talking too had raced against Mark in the fed for many years and said he often beats him. At the time I pointed out the fanciers who passed comment about Mark’s club/fed performances would regret their words. We are now going back a few years but now Mark is competing in all types of competition and the results have changed. Some put it down to the numbers of pigeons entered but this year there are others sending far more, but the results are still the same, a great start to the season. I bet they wished they had kept quiet now because no matter what Mark does in life, he will be successful, and one thing is for sure, he is obsessed with pigeon racing. If someone asked me who they should follow and learn from it would be Mark. Don’t get me wrong there are many really good fanciers who win week in week out, in sprint or longer distance races. However, Mark is the ultimate pigeon fancier, he wins at any distance and also takes a big part in the admin side of pigeon racing and has done more than he is given credit for to take the sport forward. I say this because I am often asked “Who is the fancier you rate the most” there are a few who I look at but as an all-rounder he is a fancier to look at if we are going to win races at all distances and move forward.
Les J Parkinson.
11 Rushton Drive,
Tel: 01606836036 - Mobile: 07871701585.