North Shore Times : January 6th 2011
2 NORTH SHORE TIMES, JANUARY 6, 2011 NEWS Office Ph 489 4189 Fax 486 1950 Editor Peter Eley email: firstname.lastname@example.org Sales Manager Alan Barr email: email@example.com Circulation Ph 525 2022 Fax 580 1648 email: firstname.lastname@example.org Classifieds Ph 525 2100 Fax 580 1643 email: clsad@snl co nz 69,797 Audited Circulation (ABC Jan-Dec '09.) Delivered each Tuesday/Thursday/ Friday to Albany, Beach Haven, Bayswater, Bayview, Belmont, Birkdale, Birkenhead, Brookfield, Browns Bay, Bushlands, Campbells Bay, Castor Bay, Chatswood, Chester Park, Devonport, Forrest Hill, Glenfield, Greenhithe, Hillcrest, Mairangi Bay, Meadowood, Milford, Murrays Bay, Northcote, Northcross, Okura, Paremoremo, Pinehill, Rothesay Bay, Schnapper Rock, Stanley Point, Sunnynook, Takapuna, Torbay, Unsworth Heights, Waiake, Wainoni, Westlake, Windsor Park. 1 Byron Ave, Takapuna. P.O. Box 33235. www.northshoretimes.co.nz Hours: 8.30am-5pm 794 East Coast Road, Albany Auckland www.cityimpactchurch.com 0800 CHURCH WITH PASTORS PETER & BEV MORTLOCK VISIT US. 6am -TUESDAY 6am-FRIDAY 9am-SUNDAYTV3 PRIME SUNDAY SERVICES -10am & 7pm ARTHUR TOYE'S SUMMER FABRIC SALE... ALL STOCK PRICE 1 2 VOGUE PATTERN 1174 AS ON TV ENDS MON JAN 31ST MUST MAKE WAY FOR NEW AUTUMN FABRICS 3376589AA 6 365 365 65 3655 552 2 552 5 51 1A A AC AC AC A AC 1A A A 335 33 336 336 33 5 3 52 2 3 521 1 1 1A AC AC A A 18 LINK DRIVE WAIRAU PARK PH: 444 0825 (Opposite Hoyts Cinemas) Mark and Paulette Rowley For personal, professional service to all areas Phone 445-9800 (24 hours) Office and Chapel 16-18 Anne Street, Devonport www.rowleyfunerals.co.nz 2591265AA Athletes of the sky It's a sport that is thought to date back as far as 220AD but these days pigeon racing often slips under the radar. This is not so for a group of Auckland enthusiasts. Reporter Amy McGillivray delves into the world of pigeon racing to find out what the sport is all about. Next generation: Dave Brough cradles a five- day-old pigeon. Passion for pigeons: Pigeon enthusiast Dave Brough has been racing pigeons for 40 years. Spreading their wings: Tony Thumb lets his pigeons out of the loft for their daily exercise. Photos: JASON DORDAY There are races for almost every ani- mal imaginable: Ostriches, cows, crabs, snails, dogs -- you name it. So it shouldn't have come as a sur- prise to find there is still a very active pigeon racing community in Auckland -- but it did. When I stumbled across the Auck- land Racing Pigeon Federation website I imagined birds waddling along a track towards a finish line before my brain kicked in and stories of homing pigeons delivering mail sprung to mind. To most they are the rats of the sky but to enthusiast Tony Thumb, 61, they are the athletes of the sky. Mr Thumb is relatively new to the sport, having only kept pigeons for the last five years. I had pigeons when I was very young but never raced them. But I've always been interested in birds and wanted to have an aviary with parrots and stuff,'' he says. The Mellons Bay resident discovered his passion for the sport when he found himself watching a friend's pigeons come home after a race. They were just coming home from Wellington and that sort of impressed me. The way they came home just like little missiles on to the landing deck.'' And watching them come home is still just as exciting. I get a big kick out of the time they arrive from a race -- when they turn up and still look as fresh and fit as the day you put them in. The first bird home often looks the freshest.'' With breeding stock, young birds, hens and cocks combined, Mr Thumb can have up to 60 pigeons in the loft at the back of his property. A lot of work and strategy goes into breeding and training the creatures for racing. Mr Thumb carefully selects his breeders and experiments with the pairings in order to produce the best possible racing pigeons. Then begins the training. The birds are let out of the loft once a day to explore the area and get some exercise. Initially the young birds stay close to home but by the time they are about two months old they are venturing further afield with their older counterparts. They'll just take off and you won't see them again for an hour. God knows where they go,'' Mr Thumb says. The young pigeons' first big adven- ture comes at four or five months when Mr Thumb takes them to the back of Howick and releases them to find their way home. From there they are slowly taken further away for training runs -- Manukau, then Papakura, Bombay and then Hamilton. But racing birds well is not as simple as loading them onto a truck and sending them to the starting point. Federation secretary and treasurer Fred Van Lier, 58, says there are many different ways to fly pigeons but one thing remains the same. The motivation to come back is a lot to do with the way pigeons fly,'' he says. A popular technique is the widow- hood method. The cocks and hens are separated, but still able to see each other, before the cocks are sent to the race. It is the desire to be with their part- ner that encourages the birds to get home as fast as possible. It's all sex driven,'' Mr Van Lier says. Another method is to fly birds who are nesting. If there are eggs or young chicks in the nest both parents have extra motivation to get home quickly. Pigeon racing veteran of 40 years Dave Brough, 65, prefers the latter method. This relies heavily on the timing with which the breeder allows the birds to nest. I just race on a more natural sys- tem so they're coming home to hens on eggs,'' he says. I like racing hens. The hens race best when they are sitting on eggs 10 days old.'' In good conditions the creatures can move fast, reaching a top speed of about 120kmh. Last year's race from Invercargill saw the winning bird make the 1290km journey in 15 hours -- an aver- age speed of 86kmh. Mr Thumb says he has great respect for the birds and how they navigate their way back to the loft. They go head over heels just to come home.'' But he has stopped short of naming his pigeons -- although he has been tempted. You get attached to them.'' They're fun to have and they've all got a bit of character to them.'' Mr Van Lier has been racing pigeons for 14 years and agrees the birds are not quite pets. It's different to pets. We all have a major love affair with the pigeons but not so much with the particular pigeons,'' he says. Go to www.eastandbayscourier.co.nz to see more great photos.
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