Thursday 18 August 2011

Up, up and away

So yesterday afternoon I headed out with Uncle Wilf to release some of his young birds on a training run.  Part of the regime of pigeon racing is not only exercising your birds around home, but also taking them out to certain locations that may be useful for the birds in later races, and letting them familiarise themselves with the lay of the land, as well as helping them to build up endurance and fitness.

So with 38 youngsters in the back of the ute we headed through to a secret location on the banks of the Severn River (actually I'm not sure it is secret, but it sounds better anyway).  The weather in the morning had been typically British summerery type weather, wind, wetting drizzle and cool, but by lunchtime it was looking better, and as we navigated the narrow country lanes near the release site the sun was actually shining...should have brought my sunscreen (yeah right!).  Anyway, we started to get the cages out of the ute and put them up on a stop-bank wall when three kids, Jill and another lady came along.  They were pretty keen on seeing the birds released, and as Wilf opened the trap-doors they watched as the pigeons took to the skies and circled, before heading off up the river.  We let the four baskets of birds go, and then headed home, hopefully to find the birds quietly tucked up in their lofts.  We arrived and most of the birds had arrived back, but somehow some of the birds had become split, and we were waiting on a few to get back.  Sometimes I guess they can become split of their own accord, but sometimes it might also be the local peregrines working the flocks and splitting birds off.  Anyway, by the end of the day all of the birds had arrived home safely, and I also spent a bit of time taking photos of some of Wilf's hens exercising around the lofts.  Also got a few nice shots of the Welsh Beulah ewes that are grazing their farm, and the Leicester Border X lambs they have produced.  Nice looking sheep (no funny comments please!) with black and white faces.

There was then a bit of excitement with a hobby ripping through the area creating hell with the swallows and house martins.  We had seen him the other day, and Uncle Wilf has seen it a bit this summer, so suspect they are hanging around the area.  Was fantastic to watch it zipping around and at one stage went into full chase mode, swirling through the air after a swallow or martin.  They are so unbelievably manouverable it has to be seen to be believed, but all the swallows lived to see another day, with the bird not being successful.  It was in the area for a good few minutes on several occasions later on, and you could generally tell when it was about as all the birds would go mad, calling and twittering and diving around the place.  Even the jays down in the wood gave a few coughs.  When I got home and looked at my photos of the exercising pigeons I was astounded to see a distant diving hobby in the background of one of the photos!  Well it certainly looks like a hobby rather than a barn swallow!  Pretty cool, and another nice day in the Forest of Dean.

The youngsters loft, with the travel cages ready to go

Boxing them up

We had an audience

Which one is the fastest?

Ready steady...


There they go!

More on the wing

Overlooking the Severn River

Welsh Beulah blackface ewe

Exercising pigeons, with a stooping hobby in the background, well I don't think it is just a barn swallow??

Welsh Beulah X Border Leicester cross lamb

Welsh Beulah ewe

Add caption

A hobby and his prey

A barn swallow comes right up and screams at the hobby

Welsh Beulah ewe with the sun catching her face


  1. Amazing how the Hooby looks quite like a Barn Swallow in shape from certain angles. Great action shots!

  2. That is a new and first to me. very deeply Fascinated. all the Phots is
    refrech! Wonderful! Thank you Brent.

  3. Thanks guys! Appreciate the feedback!

  4. Serendipitous that my sister, my grandchildren and I should be walking along the sea wall at Goldcliff in South Wales on Tuesday August 16th.
    Beau, Kitt and Thea were intrigued by the pigeon release. It was such a refreshing sight to see multiple birds take to the skies, circle and find each-other and then fly off in formation. Please thank your Uncle Wilf for the magic. Brent you're a great photographer, good to meet you. Jill & Co.

  5. Thanks Jill! Nice to meet you too and glad the kids enjoyed it! Take care,