PAUL & SIMON DAWS - 1st Falaise BICC


A kind act of compassion, along with a wise purchasing decision and the first National race of the 2018 season for the British International Championship Club, directed me to Command Road in Eastbourne to photograph the overall winners.

The British International Championship Club was initially formed in order to facilitate the UK to compete in the International races but also hold a series of National races to enable fanciers to build fitness in preparation for the longer challenges ahead. The first National race of the season was flown from Falaise on the 28th April, and the first three open positions were to members of the same club in Eastbourne with the first two timings being split by decimals. So, I had to wait until clocks were checked in the evening until I could make firm arrangements to visit the lofts of Paul & Simon Daws.

Paul keeps a team of 21 widowhood cocks, which he has yet to get going, along with a few spare hens in a small section at the end of his racing loft for the early races. In this section there are four nest boxes and eight hens. They are kept celibate and exercise separately which normally lasts for an hour or two depending on the level of their fitness. 

Hens' sectionAs the days lengthen, with the hens being celibate and coming into top condition, Paul and Simon like to play around with a few motivation techniques. The one that spurred his National winning hen to record the fastest velocity on the day began with an act of kindness a couple of seasons ago. One day after the hens had been out for exercise, a feral cock landed with them and went into the loft. Knowing the danger of contamination, Paul quickly put him outside to return to wherever he had come from. But instead he just went to roost on the outside of the sputnik trap and the next day a rain storm came in from the north. It was cold, wet and very windy, so Paul decided to let him in and fed him for a few days in a spare box. He gave him some precautionary treatments and released him on the next fine day.

Of course, the little feral cock had found his love of home and eventually he was allowed to live in with the hens, of which he provided a great deal of attention, having as many as five hens sweeping up to him at one time. So, in preparation for this first BICC race, Paul put nest bowls in all four boxes and left him to it for a few hours. When he came back the cock had one hen in a bowl with him and another sitting very close by wanting to join them. She was then sent to the race and upon return she trapped “like a Peregrine stoop” the lads said, and much earlier than they had expected the first arrival to be, so they knew they had got a good one!

Now called “Command Performance” she had been fed on a racing mixture from Gem Feed Suplies “because it is so clean” Paul said, when mixed 50/50 with good Barley. A small amount of Hormoform, sunflower hearts and peanuts are also mixed to be given as required and increased as the distance increases. The parents of his BICC winner are Jos Thorne bloodlines acquired from a trip to Skinningrove to see Ian Stafford, around 4 years ago. They had decided on the Jos Thorne lines as they wanted to compete in the BICC middle distance race program. Over the last two seasons they had also bought in Vandenabelle youngsters from Louella but personal family issues prevented them being raced so the season 2018 will be an interesting one for them, with most of them kept celibate until the bigger races and then they will be allowed to go to nest for the very first time in their lives. 

Paul and Simon make a great father and son team, with Simon providing the training when required, and enjoying the race days with his Dad. Paul knows that a fit and healthy pigeon being well motivated will perform to the best of its ability, and he has a few interesting tricks up his sleeve. Recently retired with lots of plans for the future with his racing team, he thinks he is too soft with the birds but he is obviously compassionate and caring and I am glad his act of kindness was rewarded so sufficiently. I look forward to hearing about how he makes use of the latest “lost soul” he has taken in. 

By the end of March, our weather patterns normally allow for a few decent training tosses to begin building fitness in our birds after the breeding of a couple of youngsters. But so far in 2018 the weather has not been kind, which has reflected in the lower numbers of competing pigeons we would normally expect for the first race. But over 300 lofts entered 2600 birds even though the forecasters were predicting heavy rain was possible over the weekend. But as can happen, it did not affect most of the country and I received news from the Race Advisers, John Tyerman and Mark Gilbert, early Saturday morning as follows:

 lofts“With the first BICC National scheduled to be flown from Falaise on Saturday 28th April, all eyes were on the weather forecast and early indications were not good. Steve Appleby our weather advisor had been monitoring the charts very closely and both myself and Mark had lengthy conversations about the weather for the Falaise race. Although the unfavourable forecast affected the entry, members still mustered around 2600 birds and they were marked and collected at the various venues before both transporters arrived at Horndean on Thursday evening on route to the Portsmouth/Caen overnight ferry. The birds arrived on site at Falaise early on Friday morning and were later fed and watered.
As members would have seen the weekend weather forecast was not good for several days but fortunately a window of opportunity arose around 8am on the Saturday morning when the sun broke through giving a liberation sky at Falaise. This window of good weather extended some 40 miles up to the coast at Caen and with no fog or rain in the channel a decision was made to liberate, after Steve had carefully consulted his weather charts. At 8-15 am the birds were liberated into blue skies and sunshine and they cleared well. Winds were shown as light SW in the channel and the first 3 winning pigeons were all recorded by members of the Eastbourne Club, so well done to them. Although the weather was not perfect in some parts of the UK we had around 228 first bird verifications and returns overall seem to have been very good. Thanks to Sue Gore for the early morning weather and channel update in the Eastbourne area.”

I personally think they made a great decision to liberate although when I was driving down to the south coast on the morning of the race, I thought the few northern fanciers who had participated would have a difficult one. But as always some really gallant birds came to the fore with Reg Wright, Tom & Jo Scott and E D Watkins making the result. 


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