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June 2006 Diary

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Week 1

June 3 - Most of the birds have arrived except for 2 teams which are due shortly.  Fifteen teams have entered the Le Tour Testing Station.  They are: Mike van der Jagt, Silvio Mattacchione, Glenn Shrader, Ali Stephen, Kevin Ball, Bjorn Bjornson, Hardeep Sahota, Dan Archibald, Laslo Toth, Carlyle Smith, Reggie Slaunwhite Bill Madore, Ken Gavel, Richard Schoder and Stephanie Skrobot.

The birds were let out for the first time early this morning.  About 1/3 of them ventured out to become familiar with their surroundings.  Almost immediately a handful  began exercising their wings and flew around the loft in short circles.  About an hour later 4 birds decided it was time to explore further and disappeared over the trees.  I noticed 2 come back about an hour later.

The general health of the birds is very good.  As expected a few are finding it difficult to adjust to their new surroundings. 

Week 2

June7 - For the second time all the birds went out this morning and 90% trapped well when I called them in.  Its 10:00 and there are 4 still outside.   I hate this time trying to teach them to trap.  Yesterday it took all day to get them in.  

Two hawks circled high over the loft this morning around 8:30.   I was in the loft when I heard a screeching sound.  The youngsters sensed the danger and ran to the traps.  When the hawks saw me they slowly circled away. 

June 9 - The birds have been kept in since yesterday because of fog and rain.  It looks like they might have to stay in for a couple more days.  Most of them are not flying yet and if they get spooked when they are wet they will go down into the trees around the property and I will never find them. 

A web cam is mounted on the college which is on a hill and the highest point in Bathurst about 10 miles east from here.  This should help you get a sense of the weather in the general area.           

Web Cam

Week 3

June 12 - The birds were let out this morning for the first time since Thursday.  The fog was so thick for the last 3 days that all flights to the Bathurst Airport were rerouted to Moncton and the passengers were shuttled to Bathurst by taxi.

It was a miserable damp overcast morning with threatening rain clouds. About 3/4 of the birds went outside for about 90 minutes.  For a moment it looked like it was going to clear when the sun peaked out for the first time in 4 days.  It was theraputic to see some blue sky for a change.  About a dozen birds tested their wings a short distance from the loft.  Except for 4, which were all mine, the youngsters trapped very quickly. 


June 14 - The birds had open loft from 6:00 am until 12:00 and without incident.  This morning they were out at 6:30 to enjoy mostly sunny skies. 

On several occasions I have seen hawks in the area so I expect a visit in the near future.  Hopefully my sentinel will persuade them to go elsewhere. 

The general health of the most of birds is very good as indicated by the morning droppings on the perches.  The older birds are a bit on the fat side.  I have been feeding the birds all they can eat in the morning so that the later arrivals can get their share.  No medication has been given to this point. 


For a 2 week period when most of the birds were arriving they only received Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) in the water and probiotics on their feed..  For the past 10 days the birds have been receiving in the water apple cider vinegar (2 days), acid 4 way pack (2 days) and GSE (3 days) .  Some are still struggling to adapt to their new environment and there have been a few losses.  However, for this time of the year the vast majority are as healthy if not healthier than previous Le Tour groups.  Let's hope that it stays that way.

June 15 - Well it happened today.  The goshawk struck out of nowhere just as I was walking to the loft with a bucket of water.  It missed on its first attempt then circled around and struck again.  It didn't miss this time.  The youngsters were all over the sky.  No two flew together.  I heard birds crashing into the trees all around me giving me a sickening feeling.   After the birds trapped I made a quick count and about 20 were missing which included some of my own birds.  About a half dozen birds returned by nightfall.  A couple of youngsters that arrived Sunday and had only been out a couple of times disappeared for the day but returned by supper time.  There are smart birds and there are smarter birds.  These nest mates are the latter. 

June 16 - When the goshawk attacks successful it normally doesn't come back for a couple of days.  So the birds went out this morning and I decided to use the flag because all of them are old enough and have been here long enough to be flying.  The strategy is to flag them and get them flying as quickly as possible so they will not be an easy target lounging around on the roof.  And soon as they land I will call them in immediately.  Almost all the birds went up and flew for a short period.  When they landed I began calling them in but they just looked at me bewildered.  To this point they have been trapping very well when called but today only a few responded during the next 90 minutes. 

Normally they are out by 6:30 and called in at 8:30.  I think they were waiting for 8:30.  Shortly after 8:00 and totally frustrated I went in to get a cup of coffee and then came back out and went into the loft and tried calling them in again.  Within a few minutes all but 4 were in.  It was 8:30.

A few more birds returned today.

June 17 -  I spent most of the morning inoculating the youngsters for PMV.  I took the opportunity to examine the birds and was very pleased with what I handled.  I found only a few that I would consider slightly under weight but these are fairly active and eating well.  The youngster's feathers were soft and silky, their wattles were snowy white.  I checked quite a few throats and didn't see any mucus,  strings or bubbling saliva.  The vast majority of throats were an acceptable pink color.  The only complaint that I had was the birds were generally overweight.  This happens because birds are received over a several week period and I tend to feed them more liberally to ensure that the new arrivals are fed enough.  Now I will increase the barley and give them just an ounce of feed a day.

There has been no medication given yet.

One of my birds returned today.  Boy was it thirsty.  No wonder the high reached 28 C with high humidity for the last 2 days.  It is predicted to reach 32 C Sunday.

The inventory is completed and you can see the list at Inventory .


Week 4

June 19 -  Sunday was a scorcher and it almost set a record.  The temperature was 32.4 C at the airport so it probably reached close to 35 C in the yard.  We are always a few degrees warmer in the summer and a few degrees colder in the winter.  The birds were let out at 6:30 and flagged.  Almost everyone flew.  About 20 went very high up and disappeared to return an hour later.  Trapping was slow again.  Some will be going out hungry for tomorrow's exercise period.

Today was another hot day.  It reached 30 C but the winds were very brisk from the south making it quite comfortable in the loft.  The birds were out early and flagged again.  All the birds went up except of a few of my late breds who where just weaned a few days ago.  A group of 30 kitted and flew strongly around the loft and disappeared for 30 minutes.  Two birds stayed up for a couple of hours flying around in the vicinity.  Trapping went quite well this morning.  Almost all the birds were in by 8:30.

A hawk circled high above the loft just before dinner.  It was a good time for him to be circling because all the birds were tucked in the loft safely and it had to leave to look for dinner elsewhere.

June 22 - The birds have been flying in several groups.  On Tuesday a group of about 20 birds disappeared during their morning exercise and didn't return until the late afternoon in 30 C heat.   Some of them looked totally exhausted and I suspect some are still missing.   

Yesterday their were no birds in the aviaries at 7:00 which is a sign that I had an unwanted visitor.  I decided to let the birds out at 8:00 but they were still reluctant to go out.  Eventually they did and most of them went up to fly immediately. I called them in 30 minutes later when I thought most of the group had landed.   When I was feeding them it looked like a few were still missing so when about 15 arrived at 11:30 I wasn't surprised.   

Early this morning 3 birds were sitting on the loft and waiting for me to let them in.  All were bred here.  One had been gone for 3 days and had a line of feathers missing across its chest from 11:00 to 5:00 o'clock.  There was a little bit of blood at the lower end.  It had lost some weight; other than the minor injury he is fine.

The birds were let out around 8:00 and most went up to fly on their own.  A few are becoming infrequent flyers and had to be flagged to get them up.  Most of the team flew for over 30 minutes and then I called them in.  They trapped quickly because some of them had missed yesterday's meal.  Today I became a little smarter and decided only to give them half their portion incase some were still ranging.  Ninety minutes later about 20 birds arrived and casually flew around the loft and landed.   One red who arrived earlier this month was in the group.  He was also in yesterday's group that went ranging for over 3 hours.  I was surprised that he flew off again this morning because he missed yesterday's meal.  Today I fed the birds all they could eat.

June 23 - The Upper Canada National was flown last weekend June 17.  Mike van der Jagt who flies a very small team of widowhood cocks had 3 birds in the first 50 against 193 lofts and 2781 birds.  Congratulations Mike.  Bill Sheridan of Pondview Lofts who made arrangements to place birds from 5 Maritime lofts in the AU Band Race placed 7th.  Bill flies his birds on the natural system and is having an excellent year competing against the widowers.

The birds were let out this morning for their exercise period in mostly overcast skies.  Shortly after they were let out a slight drizzling rain fell.  About 40 birds flew in the comfortable rain for a good 30 minutes.  The birds were called in an hour after they were let out without incident.


Week 5

June 25 - Finally, yesterday almost all the birds flew as a group.  Most of the birds stayed up for an hour except 5 who chose to fly another 10 minutes.  Today they flew well for a good hour as 1 group.  I stood on the balcony and watched them for most of the time.  It was relaxing and very pleasurable.  I thought they were going to land earlier but as time went on they began flying stronger.  After the hour mark they were ready to land so I called them in.  Ten birds ignored me and flew for over 10 minutes longer. 


June 26 - Because of heavy early morning rains the Le Tour Team was let out after 9:00 for their exercise.  At that time there was a light drizzling rain but the birds still flew for the best part of an hour and in a tight formation.



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