WHEN Vendel Segesdy’s racing pigeons see Didcot Power Station, they know they are close to home.
But that’s not a good thing for their owner, who wants to move three counties away.
So Mr Segesdy, who is about to start a new life in Bedfordshire, needs someone else to take on his 40 Didcot-loving birds.
“There’s no point in me taking the pigeons to Dunstable because when I race them they will keep coming back to Didcot,” said Mr Segesdy, 62, who is moving to live with his partner Wendy Love, 57.
Mr Segesdy, of Wessex Road, has been a construction engineer at coal-fired power station Didcot A since 1969, and will move when the power station closes next month.
The father-of-three, who has been racing pigeons since 1976, said: “My birds race from anywhere in England or France and other parts of Europe but they also return to their lofts in my garden.
“I’m convinced that racing pigeons use landmarks and the cooling towers of the power station are a pretty big landmark. If I took the birds to Dunstable then they would realise eventually that it was their new home, but at first they would keep flying back to Didcot.
“My collection of pigeons and the two lofts are worth thousands but I’m prepared to give them to someone who can offer them a new home nearby.
“Ideally there will be some young people who want to look after the birds and take up pigeon racing.”
Mr Segesdy, originally from Hungary, is a long-standing member of Didcot and Wantage Pigeon Club.
The divorcee was introduced to Ms Love four years ago by another pigeon fancier in Dunstable and is selling his three-bedroom house in Didcot.
He added: “Wendy and I decided it would be better for me to move to Dunstable rather than her moving to Didcot. I think the birds have got a much better chance of settling at another location in Didcot, although I might take a few with me – some of them have cost £500 each.”
Mr Segesdy will be particularly sorry to say goodbye to one of his birds, Son of Lucky 13, a four-year-old, as he is such a good breeder.
He said: “Some of the pigeons can travel hundreds of miles in a day.
“I have had birds released in Barcelona at 6am and they are back home in Didcot by 8pm.
“Last year, Ned Kelly, my entry in the Million Dollar Race in South Africa, came 40th and was the best placed UK entry.”
Chairman of Didcot and Wantage Pigeon Club Eamon Kelly said: “Vendel’s got a nice theory about his birds homing in on the cooling towers but I personally don’t believe it works like that.
“If he did take his pigeons to Dunstable he would have to break them – retrain them – to stop them from flying back to Didcot. When they race across the channel they don’t have any landmarks and I think the pigeons have some kind of in-built instinct that gets them home.
“Vendel’s a good club man and we will be very sorry to see him go, although I’m sure we will end up racing against him in competitions.”
When Didcot A Power Station is closed down in March, the plant will be decommissioned and eventually the cooling towers will be demolished, but that might not happen for years.