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Friday, September 3, 1999 Published at 17:52 GMT 18:52 UK


Bermuda Triangle for pigeons

Beware! Pigeon Bermuda Triangle may be in West Yorkshire

Bird lovers are calling it West Yorkshire's version of the Bermuda Triangle.

Around 80% of this year's young racing pigeons in the region have disappeared in a zone bordered by three motorways - the M1, M62 and M621 - and owners have no idea why.

Phil Gobin of the Morley Homing Society said loft owners were at a loss to explain the mystery.

[ image: Pigeon racer Phil Gobin:
Pigeon racer Phil Gobin: "This is astronomical"
"When we get in the pub on a Saturday night and get a pint of [beer], we start coming up with answers for what might be happening. We've come up with mobile phone masts, and we know hawks get them what with one thing and another, and wires," Mr Gobin said.

"We do know that there's a lot of youngsters in the sky, and they get dragged off line.

"But theoretically, they should still get back home the day after. But one loft lost 100 in one go - this is astronomical."

Loss to the sport

He feared the losses could have dire consequences for the sport - smaller lofts are losing racers, and could be forced out of the race.

"With me only having a small team, to compete with the big lofts, I've got to have a team of yearlings, two-year-olds and three-year-olds - which I've not been able to get in the last year through losing youngsters. So I can't compete with the top men."

The mobile phone companies said they were not to blame - their aerials and transmitters were not responsible for the lost pigeons.

But wait, there's more ...

Meanwhile, a homing pigeon that got lost while flying between France and England has astounded its owners by turning up safe and well after a 5,000-mile journey to eastern China.

The Khan family, of Stoke-on-Trent, were stunned when a letter from Asia containing a photograph of the wayward bird dropped on their doormat.

The two-and-a-half-year-old pigeon, now dubbed Hong Kong Phooey, failed to arrive back at its loft in the Potteries after setting off from Nantes, France, two months ago.

Pigeon experts believe the bird may have nested on a slow boat to China, arriving in the coastal city of Tianjin after being cared for by sailors.

Flying east for winter

Bobby Khan, who co-owns the pigeon with his two brothers and father, said: "When my dad said he had received the letter from China I thought he was winding me up.

"We had pretty high hopes for it because it has been coming on well. I guess the pigeon doesn't like British winters so decided to go somewhere else."

The Khans have agreed to let the bird stay in its new-found home and plan to post the pigeon's pedigree to China.

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