Monday, September 28, 2009

Results from Alabama

Got 13 of 16 back the first day. One was really late (Silverboy came in about 6pm). Of the rest, the other half came in on time. Still missing 363, 372 and 390. 363 was from the 115 drop. 382 was the first bird in. He was on the B race. He's never done that well, so I sent him on the short race. I think I pulled Harlequin to the short race at the last minute. I can't remember. But, if not, he was right on time and the first bird in from the A race. He came in with two others. I think it was 385 and 377. If it was 377, he delayed trapping in and took off for a few hours (the hawk was spooking the birds). He flew up on the house to drink from the gutters. That's when I tried to shoo him away (I discourage them from drinking gutter water) and he left for a long time. However, when he was on the roof, I got a pretty good look at him. I couldn't see a racing band AND I could swear it was a pied blue check - not a pied blue bar. I think it may have been the lost 388.

The next morning (Monday, today) I didn't get out there early enough. I should've had the trap open before sunrise. A lot of times they come in at twilight in the early morning. When I finally got up there, I saw a Cooper in brown phase circling low. He took off NW. After I fed and watered the birds, that common that's been hanging around got spooked and took off really fast. "The hawk must've came back", I thought. I stepped out to watch him. She flew really fast toward the west where I saw her kit up with three pigeons - definitely pigeons. They flew off west. "Oh, maybe she's gone to tell them the trap's open", I thought. Later, as I was leaving for work - I checked again - no new birds. Just then, the common came zooming in alone. [Pictured above birds loaded for Athens, Alabama Saturday night].

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Alabama bound!

I held back half for the shorter B race of 115 miles. A few had short #8 primaries. I sent 9 to the 225 mile Athens, AL "A" race. Three of them were the unbanded. The B race will be interesting. Our new comer entered 21 birds in it. Good Luck all!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Crummy picture. I was hoping to demonstrate the HUGE difference between a common barn pigeon and a racing homer. The little head, the beady red eyes, the tiny frame. Next to the closer 8 week old hen, he doesn't look that different. Plus the picture is fuzzy. When they trap in and you catch them - they feel like a roller. Tiny and frail. A racing homer is twice the weight and has a strong back and feels powerful. It's the eyes and brain pan that really make the difference. I'd need a better picture and a mature bird to compare it with to make my point clear.

I didn't train today. Too rainy. I was going to take them 12 miles to the break point but it started sprinkling. I'd imagine this common will trap in the next time I fly the birds. He's been hanging around since yesterday.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ms.Garmin Thinks The Sun Has Risen

Ha! I call her Ms.Garmin. I gave my GPS a female British voice. It's funny, right at sunset, the background goes from dark blue to off white - but it flickers back and forth first to get your attention. Neat. I've been seeing that happen a lot lately (not so neat). Even though i know exactly how to get back & forth, it's nice on the more unusual drops to know my ETA to work. Of course, I've got this one down cold. So does the 2009 Young Bird Team.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bad Weather for Race - Bad for training?

I should've stopped at the 42 mile drop. It was way before sunrise. I was taking the team to the 64 mile drop for the benefit of the 3 late arrivals who have not raced. Their first race was to be this week - 165 miles. Now it looks like their first race will be 225 miles. That worries me (for them). So, I really wanted them to have the extra depth and the conditioning. Boy did they get conditioning! I knew at about 50 miles the overcast sky and fog was getting ugly. At 60 miles it was pea soup - I started looking for a place to turn around. Didn't find it until the exit. Hmmm, it was better here. They'd just have to plow through 3 miles of fog then it'd be fairly clear... Stupid idea! I knew better. It seemed to get foggier as I let them settle. Visibility was better than a mile, I thought. Not great. They use their internal compass at this distance anyway - right? I couldn't wait - the weather revised on my way down and the area's likelihood for rain spiked and was suggesting they might get rain at 8am instead of 9am. The 42 mile drop was predicting rain at 11am. It was 7:30am. If they could just plow through a bit of fog ... I released them. They circled for a long time. I thought they were gone and left and ran into them east of the drop. They were still circling. Ug! Not good! I stopped at Wal-Mart and killed a good 30 minutes then and to do a huge round about after running into the "Race for the Cure" crowd downtown. So, it was nearly 2.5 hours before I got home. "They're not here yet" my loft manager informed me as I pulled up. Oh no! 105 km and they fly about 1 km per minute (it's easier to do the math in metric don't you think?) They should've been here! Really bummed and fearing I'd lost some or all of the birds, I started putting away groceries. As I came back for the 2nd load, I looked and there they were! I ran up to see. 11 of 16! I was waiting on 372, 363, 366, 396 and 376. Not bad! About 30 minutes later, the late silver bar 363 came in alone. Another 30 minutes, 396 and 372 came in together. A good hour or more later, the puny blue bar 366 and 376 came in. These two were late hatches and 366 is lucky to be here at all. I fostered her out when I thought she was a goner. I was pleased to see her nest mate doing so well. Their father, a silver bar, produces good birds (so far). Not too bad after all - just gotta remember to NEVER do that again.

WHY DO I DO THIS? Do I think it is compelling reading for others? Maybe for another racer. But I really just do it to keep track of all of the little details from training. Who was late, when, why, etc. If you find it useful - that's cool too.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Deja vu all over again

Weather was 30% chance of rain but it looked iffy AFTER I got up, fed and watered all three lofts (and chickens too) and had them boxed. It was trash day and I was actually ahead of schedule. I had plenty of time to settle the birds and watch them disappear over the horizon. The wind was calm to 2mph NW, still, they beat me home today. They will stay up all day and get boxed for a 2nd race from 165 miles. I hope I have them in better condition than last time. Three of them have never been on a race. I dropped a bird yesterday, a small red hen, and so I am down to 16 birds (and 3 of them are unbanded). All 13 will go on the A Race and the 3 unbanded will have to prove themselves out to 225 to stay in the loft unbanded (two are really pretty - that gets them a pass on 300 miles).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

More Road Training

Nice morning. Again, they looked good. You can tell they like this drop and they know where there are (42 miles SSE-ish of home). I like this drop too. I can usually watch them for quite a while. AND, I remembered to get a picture - this time ALL 17 birds are in the pic! (Can you find them all?)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Training resumes - Working the break point

Short drop. I didn't set my alarm early. I figured I'd be awake anyway. Besides, there was a 40% chance of rain predicted. Even in the hourly forecast as I went to bed. Instead - it was beautiful so I took everyone on a short drop (12 miles) to work the break point. If the weather holds up, I'll get them 42 miles tomorrow and Friday (yes, the day we load for the 165 mile race again). Since I've been keeping them up during the day (due to hawk activity) they're getting lazy. I have to flag them in the air in the evenings or they'd just bum around on the other loft - or not even leave the interior. I have two hens who want to sit. I've given them dummy eggs to keep them from laying again but I worry about their conditioning. One was the first bird in, the other was the very last bird in and the only bird to come in a day late. She stopped setting at that point. Hopefully she'll be i better shape this time. No pics. I wasn't thinking. Still asleep I guess.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Need More Road Training - Back at it!

What a beautiful sky at 5:30am! The sun is rising so much later now. I got to the 42 mile drop just after twilight. The orange sun was just beginning to emerge above the tree line. It's going to get tough to get out this far, release after sunrise and still get to work on time. No problem today though. I was hoping they'd swing back towards the east so I could capture a picture of them against the sunrise but they new exactly where they were and headed straight home.

This weekend's race results were about what I expected. Close but I got 5th of 5 lofts for first bird in. All the rest were on the 2nd page. They sat out a race and I didn't get them out much. In fact, I kept them up the entire Labor Day weekend (which was also Dove Season opening weekend) - I didn't even loft fly them! Due to weather, they flew Sunday rather than Saturday and had great returns. Next week is a repeat of the 165 mile race. I'll be adding the 3 late hatches and racing (hopefully) 14 birds in the A Race instead of 8. Looking forward to another beautiful day of grilling out and waiting on the birds.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Still Waiting on 3

I was going to wait until clocking out to post but decided to post anyway. Chicago Snow came in alone WAY ahead of the pack. 3 more came in within the hour and that made 4 of the 8 sent on the A Race. The B Race contained only unbanded, non-race-able birds - but 3 of these four are my favorites due to their coloring. Silverboy and Harlequin are still out. That really pretty silver-red bar was extremely late. The first 4 birds back were wiped out. There was a 7-8 mph head wind. They were out of shape. Funny the 6th bird back was quite refreshed and perky (372) - he'll do better in the long races perhaps? I tried to get some fat on them, not a bad thing, but with so much rain and fog I only got in two days of good road training. So, this will be a busy week!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Foggy Again - But Trained Anyway

I didn't train yesterday morning (due to fog) so I immediately took them to the break point (about 12 miles by air) after work. They easily beat me home. HOWEVER, I took the 3 late hatches that had JUST GOTTEN IN! Mistake. I knew it the moment I released. The puny blue bar was lagging behind and never came in. I was going to send them out this weekend. I have decided to wait a week and get them several more 42 mile training tosses in. I noticed the white grizzle late hatch was looking pretty tired after the evening toss so I left him and the late silver bar behind this morning. The rest came in for 42 miles pretty easily despite the fog.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Late Trained Begin Arriving

I figured one of the two from the "injured/reserved" team would've came home before the late hatches. I was surprised about 376 - a little. Although a late hatch - he has a superior perch position to all of the others in the "late 5" group. I was really expecting the better trained pied blue check though, who perches close by.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Training Pays Off

Or, lack of training is obviously not a good thing. I sent out 20 birds - 5 were the late ones. They they did fine from 24 miles. I jumped them up to 42 miles. This is always the next hop. But, I usually hit all the drops 3-4 times each. These guys only got dropped twice from each spot. No time. So much rain lately! I thought if they went out with the other 15 they'd follow them home with no problem. The other 15 came in on time. The 5 didn't make it at all. Maybe they'll find their way tomorrow. I said it before - never again will I train out a 2nd batch.

A Different Kind of Pigeon Race

I'm a UNIX systems administrator - a computer geek. I also raise and race pigeons. So, this article really grabbed my attention! It was an article about racing pigeons on one of my tech/geek blogs: SlashDot. Evidently, someone wrote an RFC (technical documentation) for the Standard for the Transmission of IP Datagrams on Avian Carriers. That is, sending data using racing pigeons! Of course, this has been done (for a couple millennium) but they are now applying the standards of TCP/IP (the Internet Protocol) to the data. That is, how do you handle packet loss? (Such as interception by Prairie Falcon). Although, it was meant as a joke, they were able to use it. In one example they sent a 4GB SD card by pigeon in 48 minutes.

So now, a company in New Zealand is sponsoring a race between ADSL and Winston the Pigeon. The link details the race and you can win Samsung Netbook NC10 (with built-in 3g networking). Pretty wild!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Missed a good race?

They said they cross winds were favorable and they "had 100% return". Go figure. That last 2 years the opening weekend for dove season has been bad. I saw a dove hunter 1 mile west of my loft. I didn't even fly my birds all weekend. Oh well, better safe than sorry. The weather looks good for road training. {yeah}

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Waiting out dove season opening

I guess the clock will go unused for a while. Right now, just finishing up the training on the late 5 young birds. I feel like I have them out far enough I can train them with the others now.

The weather forecasting has been of again. I was running late as usual - stayed in bed too long. But I got both lofts fed and watered and boxed up the 20 racers for a training drop of 24 miles. By the time I got 3 miles, it started raining. In my haste, I had forgotten my personal phone and my work Blackberry (which is really handy for checking The Weather Channel website as well as taking and uploading photos from the drops). So, I stopped in at work and checked the radar. No good. It looked like it was mostly south (where I was headed) so I delayed a bit and took them, instead, to the breakpoint on this side of the river. It was only a 12 mile drop but it was just as well. The thunderstorms may have caused them some navigation issues. They circled a long time before meandering off in the right direction. I noticed it was calm - no wind. They made it back on time and trapped straight in. I guess they were hungry. I had fed them NutraBlend Gold pellets - mainly carbs the night before. They washed it down with 1/2 strength Gatorade mixed with VitaKings 5-1. They normally hate the 5-1. The Gatorade really helped. They drank it down pretty fast.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Still training the 5 reserve birds

They took off, zig-zagging in the right direction from the 24 mile training drop. It is supposed to rain Friday. I will drop them (along with the other 15 young birds) from here tomorrow. After that, we will start taking them on the regular road conditioning with the rest of the team. This will be the 42 mile drop at least twice a week and the breakpoint (this side of the river) at least once. I might try to get them to the 64 once before the 165. Never training a 2nd batch out again! (I've said that before, but I mean it!)