Saturday the 3rd of May, at 8am the Race Controller, John Tyerman, reported that;
“The 3229 BICC Falaise National pigeons were liberated at 8.00 am this morning into clear blue skies and brilliant sunshine. They cleared well into a light north east wind.
Weather over the route to the UK is very good with a reported 27 miles visibility in the Channel and light ENE winds.”
The B.I.C.C. is open to all of the United Kingdom and for the first race of the 2014 season the entries were very good considering the cold east winds expected in the English Channel on that day. As the day unfolded the first verifications were appearing on the B.I.C.C. website and indeed the west side of the country were recording the fastest times.
I was pleased to see my very good friends and two times International winners, Geoff & Catherine Cooper take the top spot but obviously it was early in the race and the rear gunners had not yet arrived home in Wales.
And so it was, after flying 4 hours and 52 minutes, covering 238 miles and 1613 yards, Gareth Treharne and son Stuart, timed a three year old chequer cock to record the fastest velocity of the day. And so at 9pm I was given the go ahead from Club Secretary Carrol Francis, to make arrangements to visit the provisional winner. I say provisional because all clock sheets have to be sent in and scrutinised for correctness before the official result can be published.
So a happy Stuart answered the phone and I arranged to be at their lofts for 11:30am on the Sunday 4th May which turned out to be a fantastic day with brilliant sunshine and warm temperatures.
Stuart told me the pigeon is flown on the roundabout system and had previously won 4th Open Welsh South Road National Carentan as a young bird and 9th Open Welsh South Road National Eastbourne, also as a young bird. Now called “Gareths Surprise” he had been displaying his extreme health and fitness and was ready for the race.
Stuart had been watching the weather forecast intently for a week prior to the race and initially a stronger head wind looked likely but as the days of the week went by, the predicted winds were dropping although still from a North East direction. So the team was sent and a very careful fancier had made a great decision to send.
Never showing the hen before the race, the partnership turned over his nest bowl for a few minutes whilst the hens were crated up for the race and once all the cocks were also in the basket he was taken to the marking station by 8am on the Thursday morning to go to Falaise. Then along with 350+ other members an anxious 48 hours went by whilst waiting for the race to begin.
When the news of the liberation came, and after a couple of hours, Stuart and Gareth began watching the early times on the internet and when the pigeon arrived they knew he was an early bird. But a few laps of honour were required to get their hearts pumping before he tipped in to record a velocity of 1313 meters per minute or 1436 yards per minute for the British measurements.
The partnership have flown together since Stuart was 12 years old and have won many major prizes over the years with 2012 seeing them winning the coveted Gold Cup with a pigeon called “Alan’s Lad”
Their birds are Eijerkamp based with Silver Shadow, Van Loons, Koopman and Vandenabelle bloodlines running through pedigrees but the BICC winner was bred from two direct Eijerkamp pigeons. They freely admit these bird excel up to 350-400 miles, and then slow down a little so now the partnership, who like to compete in all races, have taken an eye to some longer distance birds of late and the next couple of years will see them competing in 5-600 miles races with Tarbes in the National Flying Club being their goal.
I had been asked to verify the pigeon by the Club Secretary which entails the pigeon to be released from the loft and an independent witness (me) to see that he does return and live there. So, never one to miss an opportunity with the camera, I set up nearby with a telephoto lens and true to form he circled once or twice to make sure it was safe and pitched in very quickly to the loft. A set of photos obtained and a job well done.
It was a huge pleasure for me to meet them again and I felt honoured to be allowed in to the race loft to see the team. They do not normally allow visitors to enter the race loft during the season for fear of disturbing the birds. The Taranter built lofts are fitted out with Hermes nest boxes and the pigeon are kept in a very clean & tidy environment. the atmosphere created within was calm and well ventilated with an emphasis of the calmness. Quality pigeons in a quality environment indeed.
So I would like to thank them both for their kind hospitality and wish them all the very best for the remainder of the season. I have a prediction that I will have cause to visit Nantyglow, South Wales again in the near future.
Finally, congratulations are in order for Geoff & Catherine Cooper, who finished in a fantastic 2nd Open National to add to their impressive performances, out of 3229 pigeons. Their pigeon called “Bro’ Farm Boy” is indeed full brother to their pigeon “Farm Boy” 12th International Dax, 7th National Dax and sire of “Farmer George” who won 1st International Bordeaux!