Paul Halpin with Jim Emerton.
1. Do you feel that the study of wildlife has helped you in your endeavour to breed and race pigeons especially at the extreme distances and in what way has it swayed your thought process?
1A. A student of and lover of nature all my life, I graduated from The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, and as a teacher of Rural Studies at Worcester College. An old rough shot and wildfowler I have written books on nature, and articles for Mensa. It all focuses the mind.
2. What do you consider to be the pivotal moment that made you a pigeon fancier for life ?
2A. In 1952 I fell in love with pigeons and birds, as my father bought us some at Skegness, they were rollers and fancy pigeons in the early days he was a kind and charming man.
3. Would you advise beginners in this fascinating hobby to start at club level or set up from day one and aim at national/ international competition?
3A. Wise to learn the ropes from the local aces and cards at club level, then learn the game up to International level and at the marathon stage.
4. Should the National and semi national organisations in the UK look at more combined racing with individual and combined results in your opinion?
4A. Yes, we should unite our Nationals for open competition in key races to expand the sport for some great birds.
5. Do you think the same lofts would still be at the top as part of bigger liberations with a wider geographical spread or would some lofts be found wanting when the birds were no longer corridor flying and birds having to work home on an unfamiliar line?
5A. With a huge radius many of the key men would still prevail ,with variations due to wind, racepoint and location. I have won Barcelona sections in the West and North of England.
6. If you were able to pick 6 birds from history to enter your loft to create a family which birds would you choose?
6A. Six birds from history are The Tee/ Woodsider/Lancashire Rose/Barcelona Dream/ Storm Queen and Circus Boy and an extra one my Diabolos all great champions of merit.
7. If you were offered a well-bred bird with no race results or a champion racer of unknown origins and not knowing the success of eithers offspring which would you choose and why?
7A. Choose a bird of good looks, bred from a genuine fancier with a premium strain of birds as the genes are key.
8. What would you consider the keystone bird of your strain and do you feel the strain would still have evolved to what it is now without the keystone birds inclusion?
8A. The 7 foundation birds of my strain endured as key birds over 44 years from 71 to 879 miles e.g. Dark Destiny, Dt of Darkness, Diabolos and later Barcelona Dream - Evolution of The Emerton Strain on google.
9. Is successful strain building an art, a science or a matter of good luck?
9A. Strain building is a gift from the psyche of focused fanatics-logic/science/sense/ intuition/flair and genius and opportunism.
10. What is the most important factor in building a strain of distance / marathon birds in your opinion?
10A. The key element in a marathon strain is to enter every bird over 700 miles in the Barcelona International-like Nick Harvey and myself.
11. In your experience is there a system that is more suited to racing pigeons at the distance be it natural, widowhood, roundabout, celibate?
11A. For races over 700 miles I pair in March, separate on 10-day eggs then fly to babies in July with open loft where possible and fed on my marathon mix. The BICC prog is used for conditioning.
12. Do you feel that it is important to test both sexes equally through racing in order to maintain a strong family?
12 Wise to test every bird as racers and then breeders within the strain of related birds.
13. Is there one grain or feeding stuff that you feel is invaluable for conditioning pigeons for the distance and without which you would find it considerably more difficult to get the birds right at the right time?
13A. I rate my distance and marathon strain as good as any, being the BICC distance record holder at 879 miles. I loved the old Alois Stichelbaut birds and Emiel Denys.
14. In what order would you place breeding, feeding , training, correct nest position in importance in getting a bird home from the marathon races and why?
14A. Success is a fusion of mind, breeding/feeding/training/motivation and innate quality of bird and fancier.
15. Are the birds used in club and fed racing different to the birds used in national and international racing or is it down to the fancier and their methods?
15A. In a good strain you test every bird in club/fed/National and International racing, race reality conditions prove you and the birds.
16. Do you think the UK race programmes are the best way of racing or should we change to a more continental type of racing with birds going to the same point time after time rather than a gradual build up in distance week after week?
16A. As hierarchy I rate 800-mile Barcelona International birds into the uk as the best endurance pigeons and fed mine into the strain.
17. Do the governing bodies need to make significant changes or do you feel that we have things about right in the UK?
17A. The ruling bodies are human only, imperfect and some people are clever at admin, they are all open to criticism and get it in plenty-we need rules.
18. What is the biggest cause of losses in your opinion and do you feel that the 5g networks will have an impact on the number of losses we see?
18A. Quality of flyer/pigeon/disease/weather/poor navigation are big factors in losses and many birds are hopeless.
19. Is there anything you feel that we in the UK are significantly trailing our continental counterparts when it comes to our knowledge or application of methods?
19A. Some great fliers abroad, yet our top lads are some of the best in the world, beware who you buy from, conmen get rich.
20. For the final question what is, (A) your most fond memory. (B) your greatest achievement. (C) your biggest hope for the future, of pigeon racing.
20A. My nicest memory was my last great race timing Dax My Girl at 687 miles International to be 4th Open SBNFC, when Mum and Jean and I sat in the summer sun and watched her drop on day 2. Creating a Barcelona Strain for myself. Mum and Nick Harvey have been great.