My Barcelona Dream Part 20
Ouch?.. it’s all I can say. Poitiers came and went and not a feather did I see. I did all I could do as I saw fit to prepare the birds for the race that I wanted them to really compete in. it unfortunately did not happen and so we have to move on. Before moving on though there are a lot of things to think about?.
Did I do enough for my birds in preparation for the flight in hand?
Does the fact that my pigeons did not make it home mean they were not good enough?
What other factors could play a part in them not getting home?
Is it a case that all lost are simply not good enough?
All questions are very important and need to be answered by examining each separately to satisfy yourself that you have done enough. So let’s take them 1 by 1 and see if things can be improved for next time.
Firstly let’s ask did I do enough for my birds in preparation for the flight in hand?
This is really about how I looked after them and prepared them for the race and I believe in short that I had prepared them well. Well enough though? That is the question. It is very difficult to be self-critical and determine that you actually made the wrong choice hoping for a positive outcome. In all fairness my system was set for the season. It is now well written down and videoed for all to see. I have been following tried and tested methods used by fanciers for more successful than myself at doing the distances I am attempting. I therefore believe the system in the most is actually quite good and that it must be tweaked to suit myself and my location, i.e. Ireland, in order to be successful. To think of what else I may have been able to do to improve the chances of success is another thing. To do this you have to first accept that you can improve on what you have done and then make the changes to hopefully improve the chances for next time. I believe there are always things that can be improved.
I think for me the one improvement I personally can make for the birds may be to try bring on their fitness a bit more before another attempt. The only way I can do this is with more weekly road training with the local men, Stephen and John Ried, as I cannot do it myself. This with the increase in distances weekly should do the trick for fitness. Other than that increasing the number of prep racing and training tosses for fitness is there any more I can do? At present I think I have all other things right with the next most important being feeding.
I have been following a system and think it is very good and easy and tried and tested by a fancier like I said for my successful than I am so I will continue with that. This has been written about before so I will not repeat here. Meaning how the peanuts and sunflower hearts were added to the diet in the weeks building up to the main event.
One change is also that I will be adding Blitzform to the drinking water in order to improve reserves if I can. I have used this product before and have found it beneficial.
Maybe I could do more for motivation?.. well I sent to Potiers on 3 to 5 day youngsters. Maybe this was the wrong next condition?. I have no idea and have heard of success with birds on all different nest conditions so it’s about knowing and watching the birds to see what they tell you. Another next condition that is popular is 10 to 14 days sitting eggs so this will be one to be tried also. Knowing the birds is key here and I did think the way they behaved that I had this part right.
Second is does the fact that my pigeons did not make it home mean they were not good enough?
In short I think that not making it home from the race does not mean they are not good enough. In easy response to this only this week I have had birds reported to me by fanciers that were given them last year. 1 here in Ireland a bird I bred through my Donaldson has flown the channel from the Uk to Ireland 3 times. Once as a youngster and 2 times now as a yearling. Another I have been told up to the weekend after Poitiers had flown up to 490 miles on the day. So these 2 alone point to the fact that firstly birds bred by me can cross the channel and secondly that they can also fly greater distances. So where does that leave me when we think about Potiers? Well in all honestly it is not a true reflection, I feel, on the birds. I say this because of the difficulty of the race where only 121 birds shown in the result online in the 3 days of the race. The lowest velocity being 250.757 m/min so I would say all in all an extremely difficult race over all. Included here would be more experienced fanciers at these races than me still missing quality birds that have stood the test of racings. It is also important to remember that these birds are fuelled up to be able to return home over several days and that is exactly what happened with quite a good number still working their way home over the days to follow the release. So really just an unfortunate turn of events. I was well aware of the possible weather conditions en-route and still decided to send with the hope of getting them home. I also hope still that one or more of my brave soldiers can make it home over time.
Thirdly what other factors could play a part in them not getting home?
Really the only major obstacle for us in Ireland is the water on the last leg for our birds coming home. The Irish channel is an unforgiving master for our birds. To meet that kind of water when they have already flown up to 450 miles in a day and then to cross would be a brave well motivated well conditioned bird. If the bird arrives at the channel when getting dark they may then decide to stop but I am sure a lot of milling about happens before this. It is difficult enough to get birds to fly from Talbeny and Penzance to Ireland at the best of times never mind what I am asking. That in itself on a good day as mentioned is difficult. For this race we had an added problem on the south west coast of the UK giving rain and visibility problems on and off. I would never expect to have a perfect line of flight for all fanciers in a race at all times. The weather is an uncontrollable thing and I know that race advisors and decision makers do what is best for the majority at all times. The weather is an unpredictable master we all have to contend with at all times. Sometimes a perfect day and we think can’t help but get them home turns to be one of utter disaster others we think will be a bad days racing and our feathered bundles come romping home. That is the game of pigeon racing we are in and love so much. All of this without thinking of the BOP that our birds contend with en-route to home. I will not go into this because we all know they are there and effect how our birds return.
Is it a case that all lost are simply not good enough?
All in all the race turned into a stinker with a lot of losses not just mine. If a majority of birds get home and my birds do not then I do believe I have done something wrong or they are not up to the task. Throughout the year thousands and thousands of pigeons are lost all over the globe. It is a hard fact that in our unending search for that one champion or one bird that is consistent enough to warrant a place in the stock shed we all lose very many bird individually. When these losses are added up it amounts to thousands. I do not have an answer to how to solve this and would not criticise any because it happens but one thing is for certain in my view. The birds of today do not stand a patch on the birds of yesteryear. I can talk from an Irish perspective only where the focus on sprinting has been to the detriment of the quality and amount of the birds capable of doing the bigger distances. For me I am on the hunt for that elusive one capable of doing greater and greater distances into Ireland. If we take distances flown and the birds sent to those distances the further we expect them to fly the less will be able to do it even if conditions were ideal. For example if we have 1000 birds that fly 100 miles and all return that is great. From the same birds only about 60% my fly 250 miles. Then we move on to greater distance and the percentage decreases to point that you may have less than 1% able to reach and complete distances of over 700 miles. This is where my problem lies. I am aiming to compete in international racing where my official distance, as mentioned previously, is 910 miles from Barcelona. In actual I would put a conservative flying distance of approx. 1200 miles for a bird to complete the journey to Dublin. How many will I take to get there I do not know. I will simply keep trying.
Something interesting came out of a conversation recently online regarding me throwing my birds away in the hope of getting them. An individual criticized me for not attempting to be successful at sprint racing and UK to Ireland channel racing. I have competed in all these races and have gotten a few prizes however my personal circumstances tell me that getting up at 5 am and training pigeons does not suit me and also the thrill to do something nobody has ever done in Ireland before is all the drive I need. There is also of course the glory that comes with it when I am successful, whether that be in 5 years or 25 years, I am under no illusion it could take that long. But when it happens wow that would be something. I am not doing this to compete on the grand scale I am doing this because I believe it can be done. I do not believe I am willy nilly loosing birds at the drop of a hat in the hope that they can get over that Irish sea. I am sending because I believe I am doing all I can to prepare them with the best chance of doing it. Once in the basket it’s over to them. And yes I may lose birds along the way but to put a question to you all. How many does any one man on the sprint scene loose in a season. And those that don’t lose them have to remove birds not to standard when they have too many at the end of the season. Most birds are lost in training tosses 50 miles from home ant on the sprint course through the season. I am putting time and effort in an attempt to get my birds mature enough to go to these longer races meaning I need 2, 3 and 4 year old birds for racing. I will start next year with approx.. 20-25 2yr olds, 6 3yr olds and 1 4yr old. There may be no other or only 1 or 2 lofts in the greater Dublin area with that many 2yr olds never mind 3 or 4. It wasn’t until Alan Rielly of Cork pointed out the fact through the online discussion how many birds are lost through sprint racing and also channel racing from the UK to Ireland that it hits home. 90% losses is colossal on the channel into Ireland but it is also a regular feature and nothing has changed in years. I think I would prefer to go to the trouble of trying to get my birds home from greater distances than lose them like that anymore. Certainly food for thought for the powers that make these decisions.
And now we are back to the next step for me and what I will do next. Well I am going to have a crack at Le Mann on the 7th of July. I have been working with 7 birds for this and planned to split them 3 to St. Malo, the Miller Gold Cup, and 5 to Le Mann with the BICC. I have dropped one and was shocked to lose it, honestly. I have had 1 back injured. So this now leaves me with 5 to work with for the 2 races. I have decided it will most likely be the 4 cocks for Le Mann and the 1 hen to St Malo. These have already had several races to date and were sent to Dunmanaway at approx. 165 miles on the weekend of Sat 16th and will be road trained right to the basketing day on 27th June for St. Malo and with the cocks getting 1 more land race before basketing on the 1st of July for the race the following Saturday the 7th July. I am really looking forward to how this pans out and really expect something to make it. As always it is a difficult ask but as we all know nothing in this world worth doing is easy. I will as always do my best to have the birds right for the job in hand and hopefully can be successful. As always the mantra ‘ Time will Tell ‘ is really appropriate here.
Lastly the pictures inserted are of the candidate for Le Mann on 7th July with the BICC and St Malo Miller Gold Cup with ISRF. The first is the hen for St. Malo and is from John Hewitt a friend who I have been swapping birds with. The second is also from John and is heading for Le Mann. The third is home bred and is predominantly the Musgrove Lines with a bit of Padfield’s Invincible for good measure and the fourth is out of my Line of Birds from Marco Wilson and both grandparents have flown Barcelona at 879 miles.
Until next time
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