by Mick Groody [Click Here for PDF Version]
For the old bird EFTU 2012 season I put my flying hens into their training in January. I did not consider flying the cocks because of work commitments and not enough days in the week to fly both cocks and hens. So with my flying boxes full with hens I decided to leave the 5 cocks at Dave Blacks place due to lack of space. In case I ever did need them I could get them back and put them into training fairly quickly. As a matter of fact I almost let the 5 cocks go to another fancier in the club for stock, I’m so relieved now that I didn’t.
I continued to concentrate on the hens and was really happy with them spending many late nights dropping them in the dark. Things were looking encouraging leading up to the first fly until I started getting attacked which resulted in birds being taken, birds being missed in the dark and a few ripped that I could not put back into training. I was really starting to get it bad with the falcon. This left me no option but to get the 5 cocks back that I had in reserve at Dave’s place if I had any chance of flying a competition this year.
I got the cocks back into their flying boxes with only about 8 weeks of training left leading up to the 3rd old bird fly. Training started off well with only the odd attack. The birds were put down twice into the trees but none taken. I was happy with 3 of the cocks, the other 2 birds were not kitting and always coming looking for the drop after being scared by the falcon. So I pulled the 2 birds out of the kit and continued with 3 blue cocks of which two of them had already proven their worth by flying 18 hours 05 as young birds. The 3 yearling blue cocks I had left to fly were bred from Ian Elstob’s 3 blue Hughes cocks onto Dave Blacks 3 Boden hens. The training was going well but I changed my tactics to avoid the falcon with these cocks. I was releasing them right on dark and eventually I was flying them 5 and 6 hours in the dark every other night. They always looked a nice tight kit in the dark and easy to watch as their flying style was mainly low to medium; the kit was easy to manage. I never had to wait that long to get them down and in the loft and so the kit proved to be a reliable bunch, good enough to try them on a feedup ready for the 3rd EFTU fly . With all the preparation involved I was just hoping for a day with no attacks. Near by Dave Black had already been disqualified on the first two competitions due to falcon attacks. Things didn’t look good for the daylight hours. To be honest I wasn’t hopeful of making it through the day.
The 3rd EFTU Fly was finally here with a 4:30am liberation time and an official dark for the day was 10.17pm. I was really happy to make it this far with my final 3 old bird cocks remaining. The weather was dry and bright with a slight breeze. With both me and Dave flying on the day and living close by we ended up refereeing each others kits. Both kits got off to a good start, Dave’s kit of hens flying a lot higher than my own. Well it got to 5 hours 40 minutes and the falcon came over the top of my own kit but didn’t even look at them. It carried on straight into Dave’s birds resulting in Dave having one bird missing. That was the luck I needed on the day with Dave unfortunately paying the price.
The 3 blue cocks went about their flying pattern no problem and as dark approached they still looked comfortable. I was so relieved to have my kit into dark knowing now that there could be no attack on the kit. As my personal best of 19 hours from the previous year got near the kit still went across in the dark nice and tight. Both me and Dave stood and watched and everything appeared great seeing the kit every few minutes or so. It was now 19 hours 30 minutes. I now needed to decide when to actually show the lights and call time. With the kit only having eight or so weeks of training and being chased down into trees, it was at the back of my mind thinking if I go for 20 hours I risk missing the only 3 birds I have left to fly. To avoid disappointment I decided with the kit still kitted to call time on 19 hours 40 minutes. And just like in training the birds were down and in and still appeared to be ok.
I was really pleased to get my personal best and create a new record for the EFTU. Also, I was happy to have a kit to try and reach the Long Day. I brought the 3 blue cocks back into training after the 3rd EFTU fly and somehow managed to reach the Long Day with the kit surviving several more attacks during their training.
The Long Day was here, it was 4:00am liberation and official dark was 10.47 pm. Again Dave Black was flying a kit of hens and both kits were flying great until 9 hours 35 minutes. At this time the falcon arrived resulting in disqualification for Dave again. That was four old bird competitions in a row. I had to disqualify him due to attacks but that’s the way your luck goes, he took one for the team again. It could quite easily have been my own. Dave”s tasted better than mine on fly day I guess…ha ha. The fly continued on for the three cocks and like the fly before they cruised to dark and did quite well in the dark remaining kitted till 11.45 pm (19 hours 45 minutes). At this time the kit split into a 2 and 1 and I was over my personal best for the second time in the same year. I had to show some nerve and go for 20 hours. Both I and Dave continued to watch the birds go over in a 2 and 1 style and this went on for 10 minutes or so. Finally it got till midnight and 20 Hours. The kit were now back together flying nicely again. I just so happened to turn around to Dave and ask him his best time for this fly. His response was 20 hours 03 minutes. So instead of going for the lights for 20 hours I decided to wait till 20 hours 05 minutes and again a new personal best and a new EFTU record. We had a good laugh on the day and this is what flying is all about for me.
Yours in sport Mick Groody – Wearside Tippler Club