Above: The main hall at the Club Show, after the awards had been placed

JON ASHBY shares his experience of this year’s Budgerigar Society Club Show

THE annual Budgerigar Society Club Show took place at The Dome in Doncaster over the weekend of September 21-22 and, as is now usual for me, I was in attendance for the whole weekend, travelling up on the Friday from sleepy Hertfordshire and arriving at teatime in a sun-drenched “Donny”.

This year, the show was held a week earlier than normal due to the cycling UCI Road World Championships taking place over the town on the last weekend of September. While this meant that we had more daylight and longer days, it was an inconvenience to some fanciers, who felt their birds might have benefited from another week of preparation. But to my mind, as exhibitors, we were all in the same boat and knew of the revised date of the show last year, well in advance.

A pleasant spot lost

The first thing that I was on the lookout for was the work done to the green area of land through which you walk from the car park to the rear Dome entrance that I have always used. This included the lovely bridge across the large lake, stocked full of carp. Although I knew the pond would be going and the area developed into a raised BMX track, I could not help my heart sinking when I first saw it. The track will get lots of use, for sure, and will be very much enjoyed by young people, but it is such a shame that an idyllic spot had to make way for it. At least it was not a housing estate, was the thought I comforted myself with.

The show is a real coming together of the great and the good of the budgerigar fraternity. It is always good to see so many committed and dedicated fanciers working together for the good of the hobby and enjoying the fellowship that it brings. Indeed, I enjoyed my Friday night in the local hostelry right next to my hotel, where I ate heartily and caught up with the circle of friends I always see on Club Show Friday at the same venue across a pint or two.

The Saturday seminar

There are lots of things to occupy me over this weekend and this year my friend Kevin and I elected not to steward on the Saturday morning during judging, but rather listen to the excellent BS seminar presentation by the champion partnership of T. & A. Luke, from Preston. This seminar was again well attended and really informative. I smiled several times as I observed fanciers of all levels taking notes and learning new ways of doing things from the Lukes. Their presentation reinforced two things in my own mind:

1. There are no fast routes to success in this hobby. 

2. Good management and buying the right bird at the right time are crucial to moving up the ladder and staying there.

Once the seminar was over, the wristband we all received as part of the ticket package allowed us all-day entrance to the show. Fanciers watched the major awards being judged: best any age, best young bird, best in show and then best opposite sex any age and young bird, followed by best opposite sex bird in show. 

This is a bit confusing for the inexperienced fancier, but once you know what is happening you can follow things. Usually you can tell if a fancier is in with a chance of a major award, as the owner or owners involved will be biting their nails or moving around a lot. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for me, I don’t have this added stress at this stage of my budgie career!

A classic show-winner

Eventually, those up for the main awards were put out of their misery and the judges’ decisions announced. Best in show went to the family partnership of Frank, Carol & Joe McGovern, and their normal grey cock. This bird won the show last year as an adult and won the best young bird honour in 2017, so it is no slouch. Can it come back to try for a hat trick of best in shows in Doncaster, I ask myself? Who knows?

I spent most of the weekend manning the Exhibition Budgerigar Forum stand with the other forum moderators, selling the new 2020 calendar and promoting the hobby. I was able to get around the hall and buy all the bits I needed, such as two boxes of red French millet sprays, some Aviscrub disinfectant and detergent (currently my favourite and most essential birdroom product) and some other odds and sods. The usual trade stands were present in the hall and you could buy anything from flights to show cages and seed to cuttlefish.

In the entrance hall all weekend were more fanciers’ sale tables than ever before, and this is something that the BS has done well to introduce. There were birds of mixed quality and, therefore, prices and with the official sales bird section of 300-plus birds a fancier of any level could, and in many cases did, come away with a decent outcross, or a few.

Something to take home

Speaking of outcrosses, I must admit to having made a stop on the Friday afternoon of the show, on our way to Doncaster, to the home of successful novice breeder Daniel Norman. Once I had got past the big guard dog, I was shown some lovely birds, and picked up two young hens I had asked about a number of weeks earlier. These birds were better in the flesh and I am really delighted with them, given the price and what they are bred from. Daniel has birds going back to top fanciers from whom I have bought birds myself, so these new birds should merge in beautifully with what I have at home, and indeed bring my own stud on. 

Less than 24 hours later, I was delighted for Daniel when he won best opposite sex any age in show with a Texas clearbody. I reflected how I might have bought my birds just in the nick of time before people start to realise that Daniel is going places with his birds and his sales birds are in greater demand.

Euro-style budgerigars

What hit home to me was how there are so many different styles of budgerigars on the scene at this time. You can see birds with a real “European” influence that are heavier feathered than the UK traditional type, which are sometimes less full in figure, (to their detriment), but have an advantage of style and swank over more extreme-feather birds.

You can then see hybrids of the two types, to varying degrees, on the show bench. Which way you go as a fancier is, of course, down to individual breeders, but there was a lot of talk at the show that the style and deportment of the UK budgerigar are being lost through the use within studs of these European birds.

Jon concludes his Club Show overview next week.

Jon Ashby is the show coordinator and publicity officer for Bedfordshire BS.