My life with tipplers - Percy Field


As long as I can remember, which goes back to my early school days, 1 have owned livestock of some variety, cage birds, white mice, a pony, goat, poultry, you name it, I had it. Being a country lad you will understand my love of animals and birds. Up to eleven years of age I spent practically all my spare time with a farmer. I was lucky, as quite often I was on a days shooting or visiting some farm or livestock sate, with the schoot masters permission. I think he was glad to see me go, it probably made his day easier. I'm afraid my lessons and exam papers were affected by this, but I got by.

My pigeons at this time were a mixture of Tumblers and Fantails, the latter spent a lot of time around the house looking for scraps as they were very tame and docile. On one occasion, I found one of them had turned pink. I later learnt that a neighbour had thrown a bowl of dye water over it. I have not seen a pink Fantail since.

At the age of eleven we moved to Worcester. This meant I had to give up my pets, which were distributed around my friends in the village. On arrival at our new home, our immediate neighbour was a Homer Fancier. In due course I soon had a box on the wall to house a oair of voune Red Cheqers.

Within a few months we were on the move again. We moved to a flat over a grocery store in the town centre, having left the pair of racers with the original owner. The flat was quite large. On the second tloor was a small room which'I took over, Later I converted a section of this and got two pair of tumblers to occupy it. So far so good. I then made up a trap cage which I fitted in the window, with the intention of settling the birds. This proved to be a big mistake as the Manager saw it from the yard. He informed me Lhat I should get rid of the birds right away. I promptly removed the contrivance and totd him the birds were gone. Needless to say, the birds had to remain out of sight.

My parents later decided on another move. This time a house on the outskirts of town. This house to me was ideal as it had a long garden.

I had now left school and was working as a van lad on deliveries of groceries around the surrounding countryside. When we made the move I obtained some packing cases which I converted to house the Tumblers. I soon settled them to their new home. Not foreseeing the future, I was to soon embark on my life with the Flying Tippler. This came about by a stray bird entering my flight. In my young eyes this was a beautifu( pigeon. I later learnt that this was a Light Print Tippler. It was wing stamped with the owner's name and address, so I returned it. The owner lived in the area, but I had not met him until ihis occasion. He showed me his loft of Tipplers, and I might add, that I hadd never seen such a grand lof birds before, or such colours, Light Prints. Dun Prints (Greasies), Grizzles and Silvers. From then on it hadd to be Tipplers for me. This fancier came around and disposed of the pigons I had. I had three pair of his stock and my life with the Tippler began.

In 1928 I became a member of the N.T .U., also the other national club the A.E.T.S., which was disbanded in 1952. I bred some nice youngsters which I double rung and formed a kit which I flew in my first competition on August bank holiday Monday. In the early days there were only flies on these occasions: My kit put up what I thought was a very good show, 8 hrs. 10 mins. Times of 18 and 19 hours were flown in various competitions in those early days, but I was proud of my kit. These were three light prints, their ring numbers were N.T.U. 28, 789, 790 and 800. I was to learn later that I had won a kit of next year's (1929) youngsters, donated by H. Sherratt of Boney Hay, Walsall. On receiving this prize early next year, one youngster had the first ring issued in that year, a lovely mottle.

The time then arrived, as it does to all beginners in the sport, when the numbers of stock grow and larger housing is needed. I set about this by retiring to the cellar each evening and week-ends to saw 2' x 2' lengths from my father's railway sleepers which were 8' x 9' in length. This had to be done by hand saw, a very tiring and hand blistering task. This was finally done and by breaking down various packing cases to supply the boards, I constructed a 9' x 6' loft with a flight attached. Having no electricity supply to the house, I coped by using Hurricane or Storm Lamps to feed and attend to the birds. At this time I trained all my youngsters to dark, very successfully. I might say that I had never actually seen this done before, being the only flyer to do this locally. To do this I had one lamp in the cage and another on the loft top. I used to sit on the loft on a box and the birds practically pitched on top of me. To do this meant spending many hours with the birds. Fancier friends used to say it was a treat to watch.

As regards competition flying, my efforts have been restricted over the years, as having no local club of anv duration I have had to be content as a private member and found it difficult to obtain referees. The Walsall T.C. were most generous in 1977 and made me an Hon. Member, so I can now continue my competition flying and enjoy my hobby to the full.

Apart from the war years, I might say I have had a full life with the Tipplers, and have made many friends, in the fancy. I married my very good wife in 1934, the day was Whit Monday, which proved to be a day to remember. This was a competition day. At that time all Flys took place on Bank Holidays, rising early to liberate my kit then off up the road to referee a fancier while he took charge of mine. The morning was good and both kits were flying well. Later in the morning I was relieved of my duty to get ready to go to church. I arrived for this important date in good time, and I'm glad to say everything passed off o.k. After the ceremony the guests arrived back at home for the reception. After chatting to my referee and hearing that all was going well, I went into the house to join the other Tipplers. Apart from securing a very good partner, I also won a gold medal for the birds' performance, hence a memorable day.

I have met some very fine fanciers over the many years and hope to enjoy their company, and look forward to meeting many more in the future. Being seventy two, I am still enjoying a wonderful hobby and hope that my efforts