After a hectic release of pigeons in Narbonne, Jean-Philippe is still waiting for the return of his protégés to Esplechin (video)

Even if you are not a fan of pigeon racing, you have probably heard of this release organized from Narbonne on Friday morning, as part of an international race organized by the pigeon racing association ” L’Indépendante linked geoise “.

The latter is treated with all the names of birds on the Web for having released the pigeons despite a storm and headwinds pointing to the region. This had the result of disorienting the competitors as soon as they took off. On Monday, it was estimated that 20,000 pigeons (including 11,000 Belgians) out of the 26,000 at the start, were still lost in the wild. A figure that was to be closer to 15,000 on Tuesday, it seems.

Drop by drop

Member of the Union colombophile de Tournai, Jean-Philippe Delmarle d’Esplechin had basketed no less than 21 pigeons for this international race in which took part, in addition to the Belgians, the French, the Dutch, the English, the Germans and the Luxembourgers. .

If Jean-Philippe put such a large number of pigeons in the running, it is quite simply because he has a habit of limiting his days of participation in competitions in order to spare time with his family.

Just watch the video of the release in Narbonne, Friday at 7:20 a.m., to realize that the weather was unfavourable. We see the black clouds in the pictures and they let them go anyway“, laments our fancier. “A storm at the start is a disaster because the birds are completely disoriented. It happens that they encounter one on their way, but that’s less of a problem because they’re already sort of settled on their return destination…

Like many other pigeon fanciers who took part in the competition, Jean-Philippe is constantly scanning the sky to see when his proteges will return to their loft.

On Tuesday, only a dozen had returned. The first to be recorded arrived on Saturday, when in principle it should have returned to Esplechin on the evening of the release. Two others followed the same day, only one returned on Sunday, three on Monday and three on Tuesday, including one when we were leaving the premises. Jean-Philippe crosses his fingers so that the others return safe and sound in the coming days, knowing that some can sometimes take several days before returning, depending on the pitfalls encountered during their journey.

Passionate since childhood

Jean-Philippe was barely 5 years old – it was 55 years ago – when he fell in love with a pigeon that was walking in his garden.

When my grandfather passed away, I took over his chicken coop and put pigeons in it.“, he confided to us, “and around the age of 8, I started competitions. Out of passion, not to earn money because it costs me more than I can earn in competitions elsewhere.

A final reality that wants to be even more burdensome since the increase in the price of cereals, following the war in Ukraine. Today, Jean-Philippe has about 150 pigeons that he cares for with care, no pun intended.

Besides, none of them will end up in a pot here. If Jean-Philippe generally keeps his nose in the air when he talks to you, it’s certainly not to snub you but, quite simply, to check if one of his proteges is coming home.

What does this have to do with the dead pigeons in Marvis Park?

Friday, at the end of the afternoon, during a stroll in the Marvis park (opposite the Bastions), we saw on the ground a good dozen corpses of pigeons. When we learned of the Narbonne incident, we obviously wondered if there was a link.“Impossiblesays Jean-Philippe,the corpses of which you show me the photos are wood pigeons, that is to say wild pigeons which have nothing to do with competition pigeons, they are moreover not ringed. The causes of death can be multiple, the most frequent being linked to poisoning or a virus such as avian flu, for example. The pigeon is very enduring but on the other hand it is particularly sensitive to diseases….”

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