If you look up Gibraltar on Wikipedia you will find a photograph of a plaque that commemorates the first telephone exchange built on the Rock. The building is located in the old town and has long since been converted into residential use. Not just any residence but a Lizard canary residence because that is where Manolo Sueta, a long time breeder of Lizard canaries, now lives. The plaque is just above his doorway.
Much as Florence provides the setting to E. M. Forster’s Room with a View, Gibraltar provides the backdrop for Manolo’s canaries: he has a bird room with a view. It is located on the roof terrace and looks out on to the Rock and the Cathedral. It is not often that I visit a Lizard breeder and spend almost as much time admiring the view outside the bird room as I do within.
The bird room itself is a masterpiece of space planning. It has a high ceiling and every inch of wall space is put to good use with breeding cages, a glass trophy cabinet (full !), and the best plastic cages I’ve come across – all the internal corners are curved so that they very easy to keep clean. The breeding cages have mahogany frames so that each cage looks like a picture. The room has natural light and cross-ventilation, which helps to keep conditions comfortable when the temperatures climb in summer.
Manolo also breeds Gloster canaries. Most of his hens were sitting on eggs when I visited in early March, which felt the equivalent of May in England.
Gibraltar is an amazing place; it has a population of only 30,000 but has all the attributes of a small country and an economy that out-performs most. It has its own bird show, but for real competition Manolo has to take his birds to Spain. That can be quite a challenge when the Spanish border controls decide to make life difficult. Nevertheless Manolo has competed at the Spanish Lizard show, which attracts over 400 birds, with success (one of his birds scored 92 points in 2015). The World Show will be held at Almeria next year, so there’s a good chance that we will see his Lizards there.
- I would like to thank Manolo and John Canepa for their hospitality when Carol and I visited the Rock this year.
- You can see the gallery photos at a larger size if you click on the image.