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August Diary

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Week 1

August 5th - The birds were loft flown yesterday, the day after the first Moncton race.  A small group were reluctant to fly but the main group flew for 30 minutes.  Today was a similar scenario but with a little bit of flagging the main group flew strongly for a good hour if not more.  Trapping went quickly and smoothly.  Except for a handful of infrequent flyers this is a well disciplined group of racers.  They are ready for their second race from Moncton tomorrow.

 

Week 2

August 7th - Just before 7:30 this morning I went into the loft to let the birds out for their exercise.  I was pleasantly surprised that the birds were that active so early in the morning.  Actually I haven't seen them this active before.  Usually they are more interested in getting fed then going outside.  I took the opportunity to handle a half dozen of the birds that caught my eye.  I was very impressed with what I handled.  The bodies were well muscled, light and buoyant and the feathers were tight.  In addition the throats were clear of mucus and a nice rosy pink and the slits in the throat were closed for whatever that means.  Also the wattles were snowy white.  

I still have a concern that some of the earlier birds that have dropped their 6th and 7th flight are showing signs of body moulting.  They have been on 16 hours of light since late June.  I have two 100 watt bulbs on in the lobby section and one 100 watt bulb in each of the roosting sections.  Hopefully the stress of the upcoming longer races will retard the body moult.

At 7:40 I let the birds out for their morning exercise.  It was a very pleasant morning - cool, mostly sunny, not humid and with a very brisk wind blowing.  I put up the flag and all the birds went up high and flew strongly.  At the 30 minute mark I took the flag down and less than half the group came down about 10 minutes later.  The rest of the birds continued flying well into the 60 minute mark.  This made me feel "reeaal gooood". 

August 9th - On Tuesday the 8th the birds exercised in light rain for the first 20 minutes. All but the regular few flew for an hour.  At 7:40 this morning the sky was cloudless and it was cool and calm.  The birds flew around the loft for the first 45 min and then disappeared.  At the 1:15 mark of flying they reappeared out of the south high in the sky.  They flew around the loft for another 10 minutes and then began landing and trapping.  Some appeared to be a little nervous as they had been spooked.

I have chosen Truro (315 km) as the next release point.  Releasing the birds on the northern outskirts of Halifax would only give me 35 km more but add at least 2 more hours to my round trip.

August 10th - The birds were exercised in a continuous light rain.  Most of the birds flew for 60 minutes and the last group landed at the 65 minute mark.  The photo of the birds flying was taken at the one hour mark.

        

August 12th - The Le Tour Team flew for 75 minutes this morning.  I will be leaving in the morning tomorrow for Truro and plan a 7:00 am release Sunday morning.  The present prediction for the release point is a 40% chance of showers (which usually means the afternoon) and 60% chance of showers through NB.  It could be a challenging race.  With the Le Tour birds and my team there will be about 100 birds shipped.

 

 

Week 3

August 14th - Except for a few stragglers it was almost impossible this morning to tell that the birds flew for 5 hours yesterday.  They were let out at 8:00 in almost a cloudless sky and with a stiff breeze blowing from the northwest.  The birds rose high in the sky and disappeared shortly after.  On my way to the corner store to check my lotto tickets I spotted them about 3 km from home crossing the Tetagouche River and flying away in a NW direction.  I stopped to watch them for a minute but they disappeared over the horizon.  They returned about 30 minutes later.  Of the 110 remaining birds in the loft only about a dozen did not fly the full duration of the 55 minute exercise period.

By the way,  it was a total waste of time and gas checking my lotto tickets.  There will be no Million Dollar Race here at least until next weekend.

August 16th - Yesterday, the birds flew for almost an hour in overcast conditions and were given a bath in the afternoon.  This morning in a cloudless sky and calm conditions they flew for 50 minutes.  The team looked a bit sluggish this morning.  I handled about a dozen and everything appeared to be fine except that some were a bit on the light side.  I will correct this in the next 3 days with a change in feed mixture. 

August 18th -  Yesterday the birds exercised for 70 minutes and today for 65 minutes.  They look ready to race this weekend.  Unfortunately due to today's prediction for the possibility of heavy rains throughout New Brunswick, Sunday's race is postponed for at least a day and probably 2 days.

August 19th - The birds flew well this morning for a good hour.  Stage 6 from Truro will be flown on Tuesday unless there is a dramatic change in the weather prediction.  Good luck to all participants.      

Week 4

August 23rd - The birds were let of this morning for their exercise at 7:55 and except for about a dozen immediately disappeared to return 20 minutes later.  They flew around the loft until about 8:40 before they starting trapping for their morning meal.  As  you will notice from some of the photos they don't look any worse for wear than they would look after a morning exercise period

August 24thAs always, except for about 10 birds who were mostly late arrivals from Stage 6, the Le Tour team flew for 45 minutes.  It was a sunny, cool (10 C) and windy morning.  Fall was definitely in the air.

Week 5

August 27thOn Friday and  Saturday the birds flew a solid hour except for the usually 10.  At 7:00 this morning when I looked at the thermometer it read 4 C.  Brrrr!  I think it was colder yesterday.  I let the birds out just before 7:55 in calm and nothing but sunny conditions.  All but 3 birds exercised very well.  The birds landed and began trapping at 8:05. 

Weather permitting the next race (Antigonish 350 km) is schedule for Wednesday, August 30th.  The prediction for the release point is cloudy and a 60% chance of showers and for New Brunswick it is a mixture of sun and cloud with a 40% chance of showers.  In Maritime terms this prediction means that the birds will unlikely get wet.  However, if the weather is worse I am prepared to stay an extra night at Ken Gavel's and have a Thursday release.  He would probably prefer that I release them on Wednesday so some negotiations will be necessary.  I will probably have to break down a buy my share of the appropriate liquid refreshments.  That usually works.

 

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