Pigeon enthusiasts are trying to figure out how around 5,000 birds disappeared in a “Bermuda Triangle” in one race in what is called one of the sport’s worst days.
A race from Peterborough to the northeast saw 9,000 pigeons taking part in what should normally be a three hour competition, but more than half have yet to arrive.
Weather conditions are the only explanation advanced so far.
Pigeon fancier Richard Sayers told The Sun: “We have had one of the worst racing days in our history.
“Most of the ranchers I talk to blame the weather conditions – maybe a solar storm above the clouds that created static electricity in the atmosphere – but no one really knows that.”
Carrier pigeons use the Earth’s magnetic field to navigate, but they can be confused in a geomagnetic storm.
Breeders have seen their clubs lose hundreds of pigeons with identification rings. They ask anyone who sees one of the carrier pigeons to give them food and drink with the probability that they will eventually continue on their way.
Ian Evans of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association reportedly said: “We realized quite quickly that something very unusual was going on.
“I’ve never heard of anything like this.
“At first glance, the weather situation the conditions were good. But in this case, thousands of birds simply did not return.
“Something happened that interfered with their navigation abilities. We believe it may have something to do with solar wind activity.”
He added that there have been similar reports of problems in other European countries and that the racing association has visited the Office met to find out if solar activity could have caused a geomagnetic storm.