'Bermuda Triangle solar storm' pigeons start to turn up across Ireland

Several British racing pigeons which vanished across the UK in a suspected solar storm are understood to have turned up in Ireland more than a week later.

Thousands of birds disappeared during races from Peterborough and Swindon on June 19, described by one breeder as 'one of the very worst racing days in our history.' 

In total, 250,000 birds were released on the day and only a fraction returned. 

Many have since made their way back home, but two racing pigeons thought to be from the missing group have now emerged in West Cork, Ireland.   

One woman in Clonakilty found a bird with a GB registration tag 'perched' on her bedroom window - but was unable to capture the animal. 

Another person found a dead racing pigeon in their garden, adding the bird had the registration tag 'ihus21s021202'.     

Richard Sayers of Sayers Bros & Son from Skinningrove in the East Cleveland Federation said: 'Out there is tens of thousands of racing pigeons.'

Mr Sayers, who lost 40 per cent of his birds on June 19, asked anyone who finds a lost racing pigeon to provide it with seed and water to 'help it on its way.'  

He added: 'You'll know it's a race bird as it will have rings around its feet'.

The missing birds have been spotted as far away as Holland and Majorca following the puzzling incident.    

Dene Simpson, race controller for the South West Wales Federation of pigeon fanciers, described how a huge number of the birds the group had lovingly reared from chicks vanished into thin air. 

'We'd let ours go from Swindon at midday on the same Saturday - that's a 92 mile journey with the wind behind them, so it shouldn't have taken that long,' said the 39-year-old from Swansea.

'But, of the 1,400 that went out, only about 200 to 300 made it home. And when we looked on social media later on we saw that lots of other federations around the UK had experienced something similar.'

Mr Simpson, who is in charge of checking the weather situation and deciding when and where the birds are released, said there were no warning signs that something odd was about to happen.

'Which is why I think something invisible to the naked eye occurred, something that messed with the birds' internal Sat Nav and caused them to veer off course drastically.'

Mr Simpson said that homing pigeons can navigate using the Earth's magnetic field as a guide, but a freak occurrence such as solar storm could distort their sense of direction.

'There was definitely something strange going on that day because there were hardly any wild birds in the sky at all beforehand, it was just dead up there,' he said.

'Personally, I've not ruled out a series of mini tornadoes being to blame.'

Mr Simpson said another member of his federation, which covers Port Talbot, Pontardawe and Llanelli in Wales, has been told that one of his pigeons has been spotted in the Netherlands - ID'd by the tag or 'life ring' around its leg.

 'It's upsetting for the boys because they've reared these birds by hand, really looked after them,' he said.

'And, while money is the last thing on anyone's mind at a time like this, pigeon fancying can be an expensive hobby. Losing this many birds will have cost a fortune.'

Pigeon racing sees the birds released at a start point to then make their way home.

The time it takes the pigeon to cover the specified distance is measured and the bird's rate of travel is calculated and compared with all of the other pigeons in the race to determine which one returned at the highest speed.