Sunday, 26 August 2012

Pigeon Fanciers

Whilst we were moored up in Newark, (during my birthday and Madge's Jubilee celebration) we had a racing pigeon come and stay for a few days. It was quite a friendly bird and obviously used to human contact. If we had wanted to, we could easily have picked it up as it was quite exhausted. It had the usual rings on it's legs. At this time the weather was dire, the rain was at its worst and I imagine that flying in that sort of weather would have been tiring and hazardous for the bird. The Memsahib went out and bought some seed to feed the bird which was obviously hungry as well as exhausted. A few days later it started to perk up and shortly afterwards it was gone. I presume it had set off again for its home loft.

Pigeon Fanciers are now saying that many of their birds are mysteriously vanishing. The fanciers say they are experiencing "disastrous" and unprecedented losses in an area between North Yorkshire and Country Durham. In one recent event, only 13 of the 232 birds released in the region made it home to Scotland. And 200 failed to show up after 1,000 were released over the Triangle, which spans from Wetherby near Leeds to Consett, Co Durham.

Gordon Braban, secretary of the Washington Celtic Homing Society in Tyne and Wear, said he races some of his birds from the south of France to Newcastle, so losses are not uncommon. But he was "gutted" at the number that have failed to return to the loft this year. He said an increase in satellite activity during the Olympic Games could have scrambled the birds' natural homing device, or it may be down to the bad weather Britain has experienced this summer.

Racing pigeons can be identified by a tag on their leg and racing clubs often organise couriers to pick up lost birds and return them to their owners. Details of how members of the public can report a lost homing pigeon can be found at


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