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Saturday, January 22, 2011

AWBBudgies Travels : Chris Snell Aviary visit

In 2010 I had the opportunity to travel to England and support my friend Dave Collier who was asked to be one of the judges for the 2010 Budgerigar World Show in Doncaster England. Dave and his wife Pam are originally from Leek in Stafordshire England so this was an opportunity to travel with someone who knew England. Where would I have the chance to experience the beautiful country with such expertise. Another friend living in England is Steve Holland of "The Holland Stud" who I have been in contact now for over 2 years coordinated our visit by making initial contacts with Aviaries we were to visit. Our first visit was with Chris Snell.

Chris Snell of Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire England has been a long time breeder starting as a young boy breeding budgies with his father Arthur. The Snells have been known the world over for their top quality Green Budgerigars. When we visited the the subject soon turned to the color of his birds. It was noted that we saw other colors including Golden face and top quality blue. I couldn't help but think when this was pointed out that Chris had heard this many times recently and with a sheepish grin explained his reasons for the colors. Chris noted that he had purchased birds from Ken Fagen another top breeder now out of the hobby which had melded magnificently to his birds. You could see the quality instantly as you viewed his birds. Although we did not travel to England to purchase birds the thought crossed our minds and Chris pointed out birds that he was selling.

 I have not seen the quality of birds like this before and was mesmerized by the shear size and quality I was seeing. As Chris began to pick out birds to show to us I began to snap away with countless pictures. I then asked Chris if I could hold one of the super birds. I was expecting to feel a huge mass of body with phenomenal feather. Instead I was shocked that the bird I was holding was actually all feather and under feather. I have a couple birds like this and it gave me an idea that this is what I should be working towards. How do I do this? I suppose it is part of that Challenge I refer to in the title of this blog.

As the others in our group were milling around the aviary conversing and I was documenting the occasion I noticed the Guestbook laying on the counter and I began to look through it. It was facinating to see all of the great breeders that had visited this aviary including the most successful breeder of all time Harry Bryan. We found his signature.

I was able to fit my signature too in this book and felt honored to do so.

 Chris has always been keen on nutrition and he demonstrated his garden where he had been growing spray millet. He also uses chick weed.

On his website Chris states:

"Chickweed is made up almost entirely of water and so it chills off in the cold and withers in the heat perhaps more quickly than any other plant. This fragility is useful when it comes to finding out whether a source of chickweed has been sprayed with weedkiller. Whereas some weeds takes days to wither, when sprayed, chickweed goes yellow within hours and warns the collector that all is not well".

As I was mulling around the aviary I noticed that Chris is using the same nest boxes that I had seen in the Freakly and Ainly of the FA1 Stud. I have been very interested ins seeing these close up. The boxes are designed with a box inside a box style. The hole to the nest box is on the right. I like that the whole box is very light and functional. The concave is large and relatively deep approximately an inch deep and 5 inches round. It is large enough that the hen can still move the eggs around yet wide enough that the eggs won't be scattered around as the hen leaves the nest. The concave can be removed when the chicks are well feathered and a flat bottom may be fitted in which case a deep amount of sawdust or wood chips may be added. The boxes are made of wood and Plexiglas glass or some sort of formica. It is very thin and has a lid which slides into the top of the box. Its very functional and easy to keep clean.

 Chris has 2 large indoor flights and a row of approximately 50 breeding cages. He uses a standard box with wire front. Everything looked well placed and very clean and organized. I could only think that this is what a professional aviary looks like. On the outside there is plenty of room for birds to fly in the right weather. Two very large flights dawn the aviary outside.

Our visit seemed to fly by. Its sad really because you know you have just witnessed a top aviary in the world and something few will see. I just felt like I needed to soak it all in. I wish I could have spent an entire day talking to Chris who I'm sure would have plenty to say about his experience in the hobby. There are many questions I could ask and some may seem trite however being here along with the pictures I have of the experience will always be cherished.

I know Chris is
 passionate about this wonderful hobby. There are many times I have heard an excitement in ones voice eager to point out the finer details in of their particular successes. This was the case once again.

We were told that Danial Lutolf from Switzerland was to visit Chris's aviary. Daniel in his own right arguably is one of the top 5 breeders in the world. Daniel arrived with Geoff Tuplin who he had just visited. We were able to get a group shot with him and later we sat down for an English Fish and Chips lunch.

Inside Flight

English Fish & Chips
 At the BS World show, I had permission to take pictures of the event. I am the webmaster for the Maryland Budgerigar Society club. I'll blog about that at another date but Mary Snell was given an award. It was such an honor to see how others looked and viewed her with honor and respect. She was retiring from many many years of work in the show...I happened to be in the right place to capture her expression. It was wonderful.
Mary Snell Awarded by the Budgerigar Society Club President for her many years of service to the hobby

Well cared for and respected Mary Snell receiving a thanks for the years

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