Thoughts on the weather by Les J Parkinson
One thing we all talk about at some point during the week is the weather, the ever-changing weather that is always an advantage to someone somewhere in the world. We were recently in the Cotswolds for a few days break and the weather was miserable but the place makes up for it. There are some places we can go and if the weather is bad then you cannot enjoy the break no matter what.
While there we got into a conversation with an American couple who live in California, an area where they so often have the fires. They were telling us that the authorities make sure that they don’t have a lot of growth to further add to fires. The gist of the conversation was that we have the opposite to what they have, we have rain they have heat, which both bring about problems. What we would all settle for is the in between, a stable weather forecast all the year round, but that’s never going to happen.
As with most things we talk about, pigeon’s generally come into the equation somewhere along the line. We race the pigeons in what should be our summer, debatable at times, but late April to early September is when we expect the best conditions to suit our pigeons. The problem is no matter what the weather conditions they are not always going to suit everyone.
Look back to last year when we had a much better summer than we are currently having. Come to think of it, summer hasn’t started yet, unless I have missed it. This year has started completely differently, but it does look like there is change on the way.
In any week prior to a race we are all looking at the weather for the following weekend. For pigeon fanciers who watch Countryfile on a Sunday evening the main part is about 10mins before the end of the show. I say that because that is when the coming week’s weather forecast comes onto our screens. This is a good indication of what we have in store, when we are likely to be able to train our pigeons in preparation for the next race.
The weather is not as stable as it used to be, when I was young, each section of the year was what is said it is supposed to be. Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring. You could rely on spending weeks of winter in the snow, they didn’t stop school because a few inches of snow fell on the ground, we went out and enjoyed playing snowballs and making slides in the snow. Now it is all health and safety gone mad, a few inches of snow and many schools close, WHY, they say it is for H&S reasons and we know that has gone silly. We had short trousers and a shirt on in winter and it didn’t bother us, probably because we didn’t have central heating cooking us all the time while in the house.
Spring came along and there were changes in the air, followed by a summer when we would be outside all the time playing all sorts of games. Nowadays it’s a case of staying in the house playing games on one contraption or another. Then we had Autumn, a time of year when most of the greenery disappeared and we started to close things down for the winter ahead. Going back to looking out of the school window getting excited because we could once again go out and play snowballs, that was fun. And don’t forget when we got out of bed on a frosty morning, the ice was often on both sides of the glass.
Yes, times have changed and the children of today miss out on so much of what we 70 plus people had.
There I go wondering off the subject of pigeons again, what I started to talk about was the modern-day weather. The winds used to be predominantly North West but nowadays that does not appear to be the case. The Jet Stream which we knew nothing about in our younger days is now a fixture in the weather forecast and that is what pigeon fanciers need to keep an eye on. If we are caught on the wrong side of the Jet Stream, then we can have a spell of good or bad weather. So, when you are looking at the upcoming weather, look to see where the Jet Stream is, and the weather that you have at the time.
From what I can gather through talking to people the majority of pigeon fanciers, and I do say majority, can make time during the day to train their pigeons. What we need to be is consistent when we are training them, try to exercise, train and feed them consistently. You don’t need to stop training because there are a few local showers about. Don’t wrap your pigeons up in cotton wool, that will do them no good at all. I remember being at work one day and before leaving I said to Elizabeth, “This afternoon, take the young birds for a training toss from Stafford” She basketed them and took them as requested, when she arrived home the first thing she did was call me to say that on her way back home the heavens opened up. I then received a second call later in the day to say that the young birds were all at home looking like drowned rats, but all at home.
The one thing that crosses my mind about that training toss is, I don’t think they would all return today under the same conditions. I say that because I think pigeons today are treated like babies and wrapped up too much for fear of losing them. I also believe that molly coddling the pigeons has brought about lines of pigeons that cannot cope when the weather changes so much, as it does in the UK.
There are times when organisations put marking nights back while others stay on the same day. Overall, we are so inconsistent in what we do, different organisations have different ideas, which can give the wrong impression of what we are supposed to be doing. I have to say that they can both be right and equally both can be wrong. Some fanciers might think that the pigeons are better left at home because the fed next door are putting marking back 24hrs. If the weather doesn’t improve, they have the same problem and can miss a weekend’s racing after all the preparation and hard work has been done.
This is where we need a better weather service for pigeon fanciers advised from the top of our sport, something from people within the sport who know what pigeon racing all is about. People to give out information to our organisations, these people to be spread around the country and know the local weather. We could have something on the same line as lib-line where our regional race controllers could call with confidence. There are some knowledgeable weather people about, but we need more who are talking to each other. I watch the F1 series and they have up to date, in fact they have a screen and can tell you what the weather is going to be in minutes.
When we have a bad race, it affects all sorts of organisations, the sport cannot keep seeing this happen and do nothing about it. Race controllers do the job in good faith and the more help they get the better it is for everyone.