WHEN SOMEBODY HAS difficulty in behaving themselves, one thing can work: making them responsible for something or someone else. It’s a variation on the “poacher turned gamekeeper” theme; probably one that most parents have tried, in one of its guises, and even some teachers are brave enough to gamble on.
At school, I remember the success (admittedly brief) of a bovver-booted yobbo when the head of sports made him captain of the rugby team. His (literal) downfall was due to his insistence on keeping his bovver boots on during the match, which soon returned him to “permanently injured” status.
But everyone agreed he had been an inspiration, apart from the opposing scrum half, who objected to being horribly scragged every few minutes. It's good to meet this tactic again in Graham Wellstead’s account of his time teaching tough young offenders how to look after owls and hawks (page 16). Good, too, that Graham doesn’t disguise the fact that a sense of humour was definitely required!
■ A fog of mystery continues to obscure the facts concerning the tragic death of birds en route to the recent World Show held in Matosinhos, Portugal. For obvious reasons, Cage & Aviary Birds is unwilling to state specifics where they cannot be absolutely verified. What is undisputed is that a large number of birds, in a consignment containing more than one canary variety, perished in transit from Italy before the event. That is a shameful waste of birds’ lives, and our sympathies are with their luckless owners. COM, the organising body, has a duty to state the facts of this incident, and to make known what steps it will take to prevent such disasters at future events. Exhibition fanciers across the Continent have a right to be both informed and reassured.
■ In the light of that disaster, it was indeed reassuring to receive Ruud Bakker’s letter (opposite), which speaks of canaries conveyed in safety between Europe and Britain, of shows enjoyed, stock improved and friendships forged. How it ought to be, in short. That’s a nice new tradition that you’re creating there, Mr Bakker – long may it continue! It is a privilege to welcome you and your fellow Gloster fanciers to British shows.
Enjoy your birds this week.
In the February 3, 2016, issue of Cage & Aviary Birds, after his first experience of taking birds of prey into a prison (see January 6 issue), Graham Wellstead found himself taking birds into a young offenders' institution. It all went fairly smoothly... apart from one or two incidents
In news, the widow and daughter of a valued canary breeder will cut the ribbon at the Bird Keepers Association's (BKA) first sale of 2016 and officials at Mid Essex BS say this year's open show will be the biggest event in the club's 17-year history.
Though he's cared for no end of exotica, Donald Roles has a soft spot for a familiar one: the mischievous but gentle button quail or CPQ
Following his article last week, Terry Kelly concludes his observations on the current exhibition Fife scene in Malta
During a recent birdroom revamp, Yorkshire canary breeder John Paul Hughes embarked on a major experiment: to adapt industrial-strength plastic crates for use as cages. And first impressions are favourable, as he tells Brian Keenan
Plus lots more, including 60-Second Interview, EBF, budgerigars and rosellas