Sunday, 18 September 2016

The Stoney Creek Bushfire Brigade Pigeon race

Way back in the day - the 1930s - my Dad used to be a pigeon racer.  He stopped the racing due to the unpleasantness from 1939 onwards but I can recall from the 1950s looking through a magazine with results of races and pictures of pigeons for sale.  I can't remember the words used to describe the various colours of the pigeons but they certainly weren't just the grey birds that fill up Trafalgar Square.  (Dad also used to reckon that it was the only worthwhile sport: kicking a ball around was a waste of time, and Rugby was worse than soccer as there were more people on the paddock.)

So with that lurking in my subconscious it was good to find that a pigeon race was being organised to raise funds for the Stoney Creek Bushfire Brigade.  The birds were taken to Sutton in NSW and released to fly the 21km back to their loft.  That is of course assuming they flew in a straight line, about which I have no idea.
The first surprise for me in attending the event was finding out that there was a whole community in the area of the home loft.  All that is visible of Stoney Creek Place from Captains Flat Rd is about 100m of bitumen, but there are several houses down there.  (Hmmm: I wonder how many of the houses got a Census form!)

There are some magnificent old trees in the area, some of which are shown here above the pigeon loft.
The property borders the Molonglo River which is most picturesque as it meanders towards Canberra.
 The parking area was marked off with Wood Duck sculptures!
 After waiting a shortish while, most of the pigeons appeared  ....
 .. and circled ...
 .. while their owner shook a can below.  Presumably the birds interpreted this as an indication that food was on the way as they landed on the roof of the loft.
 Eventually they dropped on to the landing platform and walked in to their sleeping quarters.
 I was most intrigued that after the flight the race was actually won by a 60cm foot race.  The obvious analogy is bike racing where the peleton covers many kilometres and the result is sorted out in the bunch sprint at the end.

Of course some individualists would rather perch on a tree than join an unseemly ruck for food.
I can't remember how Dad used to sort out which bird got home first nor what mechanism was used to record the time, but I am very sure it was not a data logger scanning the rings as the birds walked in!
Quite a few members of the Fire Brigade were present, in uniform.  The event broke up when all their pagers went off and they headed for the fire shed..  The words "Harolds Cross" were mentioned and that locality is the general direction from which this smoke was visible from the high point in Widgiewa Rd.

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