What a treat, the other weekend, to hop on a bus and visit an actual show. Round my way – Staines – it’s pretty much scorched earth as far as exhibiting clubs go, so I snapped up the chance to admire some lovely coloured canaries at the BCCC championship event in Hanworth. I really needed a basic refresher on this charismatic but complex set of variations on the canary theme – and I could not have been made more welcome or learned more from this knowledgeable group of fanciers. And “politics”, I’m glad to say, never reared its head once. 

Sincere thanks to Glenn Brooker, Ivan Chapman, Alan Mason and everyone present for their company and expertise. Above all I was privileged to receive a running commentary from club president Peter Finn while he was judging. At so many shows a “glass wall” goes up when judging starts, and it all gets chilly and solemn; not at this one. As a visitor, it was a pleasure throughout.

And the birds? Quality in depth across the red ground classes drew approval from the experts. With my starter’s greed I craved to see more of those soft-hued, contrasty melanins. I loved the judges’ choice of best melanin in show, an elegant little mosaic red agate – a novice bird and a hen to boot. She couldn’t face off the pick of the champion red lipochromes for best in show, but seeing those two together on the specials bench summed up the rich unpredictability of this wonderful kaleidoscope of canaries.

■ Grimly following the inanities of Brexit brinkmanship in the papers, I’m struck by how little we still know about what life “on the outside” will be like. For birdkeepers, will it matter a bit or a lot? Well, perhaps here’s a clue: COM have just announced that non-EU birds will not be permitted at next January’s World Show in Zwolle, Holland. That’s for veterinary reasons: COM tried to swing an exemption, but the Dutch authorities knocked them back. Apparently it may not be such a problem when the World Show reverts to Portugal in 2020, reports COM president Carlos Ramoa. By which time the UK will probably be a non-EU nation, of course, so let’s hope Mr Ramoa is right. PS: it’s not a great time for Zwolle, since the famous biannual bird sale there has now been discontinued. 

Keep enjoying those birds this week!


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