LES J. PARKINSON
I was asked the other day about my articles and where do I come up with what I write. There are always going to be different reasons why any scribe writes articles, some mostly do results or presentations. These are the scribes who cover the events of the season, at the end of the day most winners want to see their performances highlighted in the fancy press and quite rightly. However. there are some who are reluctant to give out information for whatever reason, that is entirely up to the individual. The easiest way to compile an article is to send out a questionnaire as I have done many times. The easiest maybe, but I also speak to the subject to get more information and then change the structure of the article to what I have discussed with the person concerned. Many fanciers are shy when it comes to giving out information to scribes via a questionnaire because they don’t feel comfortable in doing so. Getting back to where I get my information from to write articles, well I just sit down and type what is in my head at the time. There are times when I can sit and type all day and others when I am struggling to put a few words together. That is the time to walk away and come back another day. I find that if I type what I feel at the time then it comes out reasonably well, or at least I hope it does. I have to admit I don’t read much at all, I scan through papers and if something catches my eye then I read it all, but that is not very often. I have never been one for reading a lot, there may be the occasion when someone points something out to me, when they do it is not generally, what I would call good for anyone.
Hi Les. I'm interested in your opinion as you have a wealth of experience, in the current climate in the sport what number of pigeons do you feel a small loft fancier could race and enjoy the sport without being wiped out in a bad season?. Maybe perhaps with a small stock loft which could supply a race ream? Cheers Keith.
This is a question that comes up on a regular basis because fanciers are always talking about those who send large numbers. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter whether you send 1 or 101, if the pigeons are not prepared right, they are not always going to win as many expect them too. Yes, there is the occasion when bulk does win but in general the fit and well-prepared pigeons come out on top, especially in the specialist and longer races. Yes, fanciers with a big team have more to choose from to enter any race. However, those fanciers don’t always pick their best pigeons on the day because they don’t always win. Whereas a fancier with a small team doesn’t have the choice and spends time on the few to get the bets results. I remember one year when we had only 6 cocks in the race team and that year was a rarity because I raced them on the widowhood. We hardly missed the prizes from Worcester to Niort, so I thought we were in for an overall good season. On the night of doing the clocks for Niort, I said to Anthony , “You won’t catch us this time on the points” to which he replied, “There’s the young bird season yet” On the Following morning it was a lovely sunny morning so I let the young birds out. I watched them go up to nearly disappear in the sky, suddenly, they struck to the north and I never saw one of those young birds again. I believe I had those pigeons that fit that year they could have raced from anywhere. I must also add that at the start of that year I was talking to Bill Carney and he told me not to feed the pigeons before we went down on the Saturday morning. We got back late that night, so they were not fed at all that day. First thing Sunday I went in and put the cake mix from bill into the hoppers. That day we were going out, so I did not see them until the Monday morning when I stood there speechless. I opened the door, looked in and shouted Elizabeth. She came down looked and me and said, “What on earths up” she looked into the loft and we could not believe what we could see, there were droppings hanging from the boxes up to 3ft long. I tried to find out what was in the cake mix but I never did. I have mentioned this to a few people over the years and have been told its this and that, but they never worked like the cake mix that I had off Bill, and I didn’t get another after that year.
I have briefly mentioned loses in the races which is a problem that many have their views on. Clashing is one problem that is more likely to affect the youngsters and a point that has been raised since I started putting views in these notes. I am more than inclined to agree with many fanciers from the North West on the liberation's that take place on the west side of the country. There is no doubt that a lot of problems are being caused by the organisations who cross the country with liberation's heading north. The reason we know that there are problems is because during the young bird season there are quite a number of young birds reported on the eastern side of the country and when we have looked there are organisations who have liberated on the same line flying north, into the likes of Yorkshire. I like the idea of corridor flying a system used by the North West Classic Club, we do know that there is still the east west divide but that is always going to be the case no matter where we race from. Many years ago, I said that there has to be a point where the powers that be step in and set guidelines for liberation's I say guidelines because there are fanciers who are not in a position to corridor fly. Such guidelines and corridors would more than likely only affect counties mainly from the lower Midlands upwards, south of that is a problem because of distances involved. However, the views of many are that there has to be a cut-off point somewhere and the governing bodies are the only people who can sort this one out. There is no way that some organisations are going to do it by themselves for the good of the sport because let's face it, most fanciers are only looking out for themselves and I do say most. I was talking to a fancier who reported a classic youngster in Yorkshire, he was saying that many from that side of the country like to get their young birds over in the west because of competing in the Midlands National. When I asked why, he said they were looking for a breaking point to get them on a good line, I went a bit quiet and he asked, "Are you still there" to which I obviously replied "Yes". I went on to say that you only have to look at the MNFC results to know where the birds are and that the prevailing winds send them in that direction anyway. I also pointed out that when the young birds go across the channel they will cross further along the coast, which is very often highlighted in the NFC young bird results. Anyway, the conversation finished off with me repeating myself on the subject of results and we left it at that, he did finish off by saying, "I do see your point". Let's get back to the losses, the follow up from my last article and reasons that have been discussed. Liberators should also come into the reckoning which is a point that I have mentioned before and one that has raised most comments. There have been a lot of bad races and probably one of the worst for a few seasons, I say that because there were a lot lost in early to Mid-May. As well as clashing and probably more to the point, many also believe that a fair percentage have been down to the birds being liberated when the conditions are not right. By this I am referring to the fact that pigeons have not left the liberation site and have not had a clear flight home. A fancier was telling me about a training toss that he gave to his pigeons and they wouldn't clear, even though it looked a good day. A local soon fancier saw him and told him the reason why and he was spot on, local advice can very often be good advice and something that Mike will remember next time he tosses the pigeons in the area. This is something that can quite easily happen at the race or training point and with a little local advice could help with the safe return of our pigeons and better racing/training all round. Fanciers are waiting at home wondering where their pigeons have got too, they are asking themselves "What have I done wrong" most fanciers pigeons have been trained and sent right so should in theory put up at least a reasonable effort. Things that need doing to improve pigeon racing, Liberators, who are aware of the area and can cover the first half of the line of flight. Then the appointed race controllers can cover the home end. Most might think that this already happens but when you look at some of the races it clearly is not happening. I have said on many occasions that there are some good race controllers about but on the other hand there are some not so good, the ones who don’t have the experience needed to take on such an important position within the sport. We were hash tagged into a message from Crewe fancier Ashley Powell. “In my first National FC race I managed to get one of my three pigeons back on the day. Very proud of “Old Boy” a yearling with some experience now. Also, a huge shout out to my Uncle Ken who topped section L from the same race, what a performance” This was a very hard race with many not making it home on the day, in fact after three days there were still many missing into the North West. Having said that, all over the country. When you get into the National’s at full strength you will enjoy racing even more, not just the Nationals but the top specialist clubs. When you enter these races there is a different feeling even while waiting for them and when you see one diving for the loft the excitement gets much better. I have to say the enjoyment I got out of sending to the National was far above any other racing. On the downside when you don’t get one you are down more than when competing in a club race. Also, when there is a bad lib you get angrier about losing your birds, because you expect better from the top clubs. The main point being in the National races, the further down the road you go the better you feel when you get one even if they are lower down on the result, the feeling is still there.
Over the years I have handled some top-quality pigeons, “Full Try” was always one of my favourites. I first saw and handled this cock on a trip to see Dr Ferdi Vandersanden in Belgium. This was one of those cases where instinct comes into play, you see something and instantly take a liking to it. He was a winner of 1st National Ace Pigeon Long Distance. 1st National Ace Pigeon Long Distance KBDB 2004. 6th Inter Prov Barcelona. 31st Nat Barcelona 13,021Birds. 137th International Barcelona 26,928b. 50th Inter Prov Perpignan 2,184b. 38th Nat Barcelona 12,275b. 141st International Barcelona 24,913b. 4th Inter Prov Perpignan. 20th National Perpignan. 53rd International Perpignan 17,570b. There are several top winning lofts here in the UK who had pigeons off children of “Full Try” and won with them. The problem was they only had the odd ones and full credit was never given to “Full Try” for those that did win, and I am talking National and Classic wins without the club wins. There are many fanciers who have said they had wished they bred more from the “Full Try” lines, me included and I had 11 of them at one stage. One fancier who built a Dynesty on “Full Try” is Jozef Bracke and they have produced many winners. Jozef had a pigeon called “The Best One” winner of many prizes including, 1st National Ace, 4th Barcelona Masters winner Euro Diamond Award Perpignan, 1st National Ace Pigeon IFC 4000 in Barcelona and Perpignan. 17th 4th National Perpignan 5,613 birds. 32nd International Perpignan 15,106 birds.
“Full Try” was sold to a fancier in Japan. The following year Ferdi asked if I still had them and because he was so good to me, I let him have them back. I later found that I had made a big mistake letting them all go because their offspring were doing so well for fanciers here in the UK. I suppose many fanciers make mistakes in letting pigeons go for one reason or another, later to find they are the ones they should have kept. It’s odd how such good pigeons never make the dizzy heights that some inferior pigeons do. We often see pigeons coming on the scene in a blaze of glory, but their offspring are inferior. There is no doubt about it, publicity makes pigeons popular whether they are top winners or not.
Dr Ferdi Vandersanden was well known for breeding pigeons on artificial insemination, he has it off to a fine art. Only a few years ago I asked him why he no longer purchased National winners for breeding purpose. He said that they prices are far too high now to make it a viable proposition. I think this is a shame because through breeding on the AI system there were more readily available direct off the top National/International winners.
Another pigeon that I took too was the famous “Red Barcelona” who was a pigeon that worked in some lofts but not in others. This first time I came across this pigeon was the same as “Full Try” he was at the lofts of Ferdi vandersanden. We arrived and there in two sections were many Red’s and Mealie’s, I looked and asked Ferdi how much they were. He looked and smiled telling me they were not for sale, so I asked why. They were all direct children of “Red Barcelona” and “Vale Cahors” who had been purchased by Brian Long. At the end of that year I met Brian at the BICC presentation in Harlow and we discussed these pigeons. I don’t think Brian expected Ferdi to breed so many off these two cocks in such a short time. I arranged to go over to see them at Brian’s loft and came away with 7 direct children of “Red Barcelona” and a couple off “Vale Cahors”. The offspring of these two cocks did breed winners for fanciers but not at the rate that “Full Try” did. When I went back to see Ferdi I was looking at the pigeons and saw a red cock sitting in the box. I asked to see this cock and what a pigeon it was. I still remember his last three numbers “161” I tried to purchase this pigeon on three separate occasions upping my off considerably each time, but he was not letting this one go.
A real super pigeon that I saw and handled a few years ago was “Southfield Supreme” I rated this cock very highly. One daughter is “Southfield Melissa” who is a Superstar in the pigeon world having won 1st National 1st International Agen/Bordeaux 11,444 birds. She is also dam of 1st BICC National Pau. 2nd National St Vincent. And better still she is grandmother of 1st National FC Tarbes. 1st National St Vincent. 1st National BICC Pau. 1st National BICC St Vincent. There are generations of winners down from “Southfield Supreme” I remember this cock winning and I had a call from a fancier asking if I could buy it for him. Mark had a genuine price in line with continental purchases that he was not prepared to pay. This was probably one of those blessings in disguise because his line has been so good for Mark.
A nice pigeon that I handled many years ago was the Busschaert known as “Pluto” he was a real cracker was “James Bond” a blue cock that I handled at the Ponderosa in Holland. When we were there, he was being used on the Bull System and was in a pen on his own. There is no doubt I have handled many other top-quality pigeons on my travels but remembering them all is another matter.
There are many good pigeons about, one such pigeon is Nigel Shaw’s “Battenburg Cock”. Bred in 2014 out of a pair of direct Hugo Battenburg’s that Terry Williams bought in a 2005 sale. In 2016 he flew Messac with the NFC a distance of 363mls where he finished up 5th section J, 278th open 6,440 birds when there was no wind about recording a vel of 1202ypm. Two weeks later he was sent to Agencies again with the NFC 398mlswhere he was again 5th section J ending up a very good 18th open against 5,120 birds again with no wind and a vel of 1113ypm. Another two weeks went by and he was Nigel’s only entry in the NFC Saintes race 512mls arriving at 5.11am to be 41st section J436th open 3,302 birds in a light north west wind recording a vel of 1111ypm. His next race was with the MNFC Bordeaux 570mls arriving at 6.57pm in no wind to be 3rd North West section 14th Open 1,559 birds on 976ypm. 4 days later he was again sent to Bordeaux and that was because he was showing no signs of tiredness and Nigel saw this as his retirement race because of the pending move when HS2 moves into the property. For this last race the birds were liberated at 6.30am in a west wind and there were no birds into the North West on the day. The “Battenburg Cock” arrived next afternoon but was not put in the clock because the clock was stripped down after Nigel had topped the section with a hen in the morning. That made it a total of 2,413mls in these races for 2016. This cock was put in for a Meritorious Award where he is 2nd 415mls and over plus 3rd Meritorious award best overall performance. HS2 finally forced Nigel to move and he is now going into his second year at the new address. I have also noticed that Nigel has far more pigeons than he has ever had and is breeding a good team of young birds to build a loft full of pigeons that he will be able to compete with from the first to the last race. From what I can gather he is going to have a good go at the International races and knowing how committed he is I wouldn’t expect him to fail.
Things are not looking good for racing, which I cannot understand, in the modern days of pigeon racing there are no crowds. Most weekly clubs are lucky to get what is considered a small crowd, this being in relation to some saying that there should be no more than 5 gathering in any one place. Unless you are in a Classic or National it is unlikely that there are going to be crowds at marking stations. Belgium pulled the plug on training and racing a couple of weeks ago, but I cannot understand why, there are not enough fanciers about to create a crowd. The problem is the media are bringing the general public to a frenzy just to make headlines which is totally wrong. They have given the wrong impression; more people have died in flue epidemics when nothing has been said.
I came across a photo of a fancier who was character in the sport Ian “Smokie” Gray who I met at the Blackpool Show. In his day “Smokie” could certainly draw your attention and this was the only time I can recall meeting him. For those who didn’t meet or know him he was a great character of the sport.
Les J Parkinson and the late Ian "Smokie" Gray