The 2018 show season is under way!
Traditionally, the National Exhibition was held in December and was the climax of the show season for the Lizard canary fancy. Nowadays it is the curtain raiser to the season, not the main act. There will be more competitive shows ahead, but that shouldn’t detract from the importance of the event; any Lizard breeder would be proud to claim the title of National Champion.
Even for non-exhibitors there are three good reasons why the National Exhibition should be on your ‘must do’ list. Firstly, at a practical level, it is a good place to stock up on food and equipment. Secondly, and usually the most enjoyable, is the opportunity to meet people; not just Lizard breeders but fanciers of other breeds and old acquaintances that live so far away that you will probably only see them at an event of national importance. Thirdly, it is a harbinger of things to come. The National may, or may not, reveal the identity of the best Lizards of the forthcoming season, but it can give you a good idea of the breeders who will be in contention. We all love to weigh up the competition and anticipate the battles ahead, don’t we?
My usual practice when visiting a show is to walk along the Lizard section to gain a general impression of the birds before retracing my steps to have a more detailed look. Before I had walked half way along the rows of cages I realised that 2018 could well be a vintage year. What made it even more remarkable was that all the birds I had seen up to that point were Novice birds. Every class contained birds of quality, something I don’t always see at the LCA Classic in November, and certainly not something I expect in early October.
It came as no surprise to learn that the award for Best Lizard had indeed been won by a Novice bird, Danny Higgins’ lovely broken cap gold hen. Best Champion Lizard was won by Andy Williamson’s non cap gold cock, whose cage was so smothered in rosettes that he was difficult to see. It must have been a good bird to have beaten the Best Novice Silver, Tony Horton’s clear cap silver cock, a handsome bird that excelled in its spangling. Stan Bolton is never far away on the big occasions, and won Second Best Champion Lizard.
It is a cliché to say that Novices are the future of the fancy, but it still holds true. In the past, the Novice section at LCA patronage shows has tended to be dominated by a single breeder or partnership. 2018 seems to be different. Danny, Tony and Darran Keeley all had show teams with strength in depth. Furthermore, I can think of other novices that were not at the National, but are likely to have birds of a similar standard. Could 2018 be the year of the Novice?
I love to see the next generation making their mark in the world. They certainly did at the 2018 National. I came away from Stafford with a spring in my step.
- The judge was Tomas Hernandez from Belgium. The only continental judge that is also on the LCA judges’ panel. He did a good job.
- I took the best part of a 100 photos of the birds at the National, but lighting conditions were not favourable. The vast majority were not good enough for publication. My apologies to the owners of other birds, especially those that won specials, for omitting them from this article.