The 2021 Amigos show was held in Cartagena, a naval city just one hour’s drive from Alicante airport. We loved it; a city with a long history, some beautiful architecture, and free of the tourist tat that blights so many Spanish seaside resorts. My thanks to Jesús Ortiz García (better known as Yopi) and his partner Fina for being our chauffeurs and guides for the weekend.
The show was organised by Señor Lizard, José Escarabajal Martínez (better known as Pepe) who lives nearby. He and his team were brilliant; their hospitality was generous; and the show was top notch.
I was impressed by the presentation of the exhibition; all the cages were of a moulded plastic construction supplied by the local Lizard fanciers. They hung on hooks rather than sit in trays as you see in most bird shows. It worked very well.
The lottery to raise funds for the Amigos was very impressive. The prizes included bird food and equipment as you would expect, but the array of local produce like haunches of ham and large cheeses looked even more tempting.
There were, I’m told, 470 birds in the competition, almost certainly the biggest display of Lizards anywhere in the world this year.
Most were natural coloured Lizards, although some of the birds had an unnatural brassy tint, suggesting the use of a colour supplement, which detracted from their appearance. Others were colour-fed in the British tradition, but were too red for my liking. We also had blue (white ground colour) and cinnamon (brown) variants. The latter have enjoyed a huge surge in popularity in recent years, much of it down to Pepe’s drive and enthusiasm. The Spanish breeders love their colour variants, but it comes at a price; both the quality of their markings and their ground colour suffer.
The birds were judged by myself and Ernesto Gracia from Gibraltar. We would normally have been joined by Joe Coakley but work commitments prevented him from attending. Fortunately the Amigos use the British comparative system of judging (i.e. the first seven in each class) so we were able to complete the judging in good time.
The judging process was aided by the computer programme developed by Amadeo Pascual Hernandez. It was probably far more sophisticated than a canary judge will ever need, but whenever I asked for a list of exhibitors, the number of birds in each class, or a list of the top birds, it appeared by magic. Brilliant!
My overall impression is that the quality of the birds has improved over the four years since I first judged the show. This was most obvious in the largest classes, such as the broken cap gold Lizards, which contained 60 birds. In previous years it wasn’t too difficult to reduce the contenders to ten birds before choosing the top seven, but this year there were at least double that number vying for that honour. The Spanish breeders can be proud of their progress.
There were many notable achievements. Francisco Arabi Muñoz not only won a huge class of broken cap golds (intensives), but also had another four birds in the top seven. Pascual Gomez Escarabajal won the non cap gold class and had two other birds in the top seven. Juan Carlos Blanco won all but one of the colour-fed classes (where Yopi was triumphant).
Nevertheless, the outstanding performance of the show came from the team of Jesus Carrilero Copete assisted by his son, also named Jesus. They won no less than six classes and had three birds in contention for Best Lizard. The winner was their broken cap silver hen that had been outstanding in the morning, and although tiring, held on to win the top prize in the afternoon.
The greatest threat to her crown came from another bird bred by Jesus, his near non cap silver hen, but as we were asked to pick from the best of each section, she wasn’t eligible. The bird with the best spangles in the show was a gold non cap from Pascual. Unfortunately it was handicapped by a ground colour with a distinctly green tint, contrary to the LCA standard which regards it as a fault (unfortunately the photo hasn’t captured its true colour).
Jesus also won Best blue, while Antonio Saez Sanchez won Best brown.
For me, the best thing about a wonderful show was that the Amigos really are friends. There was a family atmosphere throughout the weekend. It was more than a Lizard show; it was a festival. My congratulations go to the Amigos Del Canario Lizard.
- I have to declare a personal interest. My report of the show may have been influenced by my being inducted as an honorary member of the Amigos Del Canario Lizard. I have a ceramic plaque to prove it.
- A PDF of the results can be seen here:
- And here is a gallery of other memorable moments at the show (just click on an image to see it at a larger size):