The ‘flock’ as well
May 28th 2016. In the province of Antwerp Belgium were the following races:
- 3 Races from Quievrain 120 km. Old, yearlings, youngsters.
- 3 Races from Noyon 220 km. Old, yearlings, youngsters.
- Two races from Souppes 380 km. Old and yearlings.
- Two races from Bourges 500 km. Old and yearlings NATIONAL
- Two races from Limoges 620 km. Old and yearlings NATIONAL.
All this on the same day. The result is that there were local races with an entry of 16 birds only. Furthermore one should know that from long distance races such as Bourges one can enter birds regional, provincial, National. All this is exaggerated of course, or should I say killing the sport? Bourges was the BIG race of course.
Both National races were pretty hard. Kind of misty weather, warm and headwinds. The race from Bourges lasted 2 hours, the race from Limoges even till early morning the next day. From Bourges this meant that 2 hours after the first bird only one third was home, or… that 26,000 birds were NOT home then. Both races lasted far too long and this was reason for some to talk about ‘lucky races’ and lucky winners. Of course they were not. After 7 hours flying with headwinds pigeons do not arrive above the loft by accident. How fanciers think about a race often depends on how good or bad their result was.
Those who had a good result will talk about a nice and fair race. Those who had a poor result will talk about an irregular strange race. Of course a race is not normal when after 2 hours only one third is home. I do not deny there are lucky races, but races from 600 kms in warm weather and headwinds cannot be called ‘lucky races’. Moreover, many first nominated birds were on top of the result sheets, as well as many well-known names.
Again the fanciers who live in the centre of the country dominated Bourges. Those who lived in Flanders (so in the West) had no chance. Strange. This would have been normal if there was an Eastern wind, but the wind was north, so right ahead. The direction of the wind was not absolutely not to blame for the defeat of the fanciers in the West (Flanders). In the South of Holland there was a semi national race from Issoudun (about 550 km) on the same day. There the prizes were nicely divided, there the fanciers in the west even had more than their share. How come?
There is only one ecplanation: The flock, or the mass of the birds. In Belgium the great majority is entered by fanciers who live central, in South Holland fanciers in the west, the middle and the east entered about the same amount of birds.
The influence of the ‘flock’ on the race results should not be under estimated. In Belgium at short distance they are often the same areas where the birds make the highest speed and the races are finished sooner than elsewhere. These are the areas where still many fanciers race and big amounts of birds are entered. For example in the Berlaar area. The wind influences the birds on their way home, but the ‘flock’ as well.
The fanciers in the north of Belgium also performed poorly from Bourges. And for this there is an explanation as well. As I said, the wind was north on May 28th. And normally the wind increases during the day. In France where the birds were released, there was hardly any wind, but during the day it increased and therefore the last kilometres were the hardest. The opposite is also true of course. Therefore the fanciers who race at the greatest distance are advantaged with tailwinds.
I remember that race from National Orleans, the BIG race in Holland. The speed of the birds was high and my result was fantastic. The best of ALL Holland. Since I race in the ‘fore fly’, at one of the shortest distances, eyebrows were raised. How could I perform so well in a race with such a high speed? Didn’t I always say that with tailwinds with a high speed the fanciers who race at the shortest distance had no chance? Those were my words indeed, but this day was different. Unlike other days the wind did not increase that day, on the contrary. In France it was windy, but where I live there was hardly any wind. So the birds of the fanciers that live farther than me could not possibly maintain the same speed as they made in France. And such circumstances (tailwinds but no wind in the final kilometres) are ideal when you race at the shortest distance.
Let’s get back to the influence of the ‘flock’. It is pure hypothetical but anyway. Suppose the Dutch organise a race from Brussels, 100 km south, and only the fanciers who live far west (near the North Sea) and who live far East (near the German border) participate. And suppose the fanciers who live west enter 15,000 birds and those who live East enter 150 birds only while the wind is neutral. I daresay those in the East will not win a prize. Because after the release all birds will fly westward, those from the fanciers East as well. Their birds are supposed to split and leave the others, directly after the release. But in practise this will not happen.
I myself attended several releases. And what do you see then? All birds disappear north, in the same direction. This direction is where the majority of the birds belongs. The MAJORITY, so not all. Initially the birds of the fanciers that live west or east also fly north, with the others, and… this will their course be wrong from the very beginning. They should leave the mass, the sooner the better. As I often say: Races with equal chances for any one hardly exist. That fancier from the Far East that asked me if pigeons from Flanders have become so bad after he saw the national result from Bourges does not understand at all.