Pigeon racers are mystified after hundreds birds disappeared in an th
ey have now dubbed the Bermuda Triangle.

Only 13 out of 232 birds released in Thirsk , North Yorkshire, on Saturday by a Scottish pigeon racing club made it back to Galashiels, Selkirkshire.

It follows a summer in which hundreds more have vanished in the same area.

Keith Simpson, of the East Cleveland Federation, said pigeon racers across the region had all suffered massive losses since the season started in April - with many losing more than half of their birds.

Some fanciers are considering stopping flying the birds until they establish why so many failed to return.

Scottish pigeon racer Austin Lindores said: "When they fly down to the Thirsk, Wetherby and Consett area we call it the Bermuda Triangle because something always seems to happen.

"This is not the first time it has happened in that area. I won't be racing there again."

The loss of homing pigeons, which can be worth up to £200,000, has baffled experts, but the most popular theory is the abnormal number of summer showers, sending birds off course as they attempt to fly around the downpours.

Unusually high levels of solar activity distorting magnetic fields and even signals from Menwith Hill spy base, near Harrogate , an electronic monitoring station, have also been blamed.

Wendy Jeffries, president of the Thirsk Social Flying Club, said: "I just don't know what it is down to.

"The weather wasn't too bad around here on Saturday. It has been an atrocious year. I am down to ten young birds out of 29 and the people I have talked to are the same."

The high numbers of birds going missing in the region have also been linked to the high numbers of pigeons being released within minutes of each other at weekends, meaning different groups of pigeons send each other off course.

Darlington pigeon racer Stuart Fawcett, who has been racing pigeons for more than 30 years, said: "It is the worst year in the memory of people who have been racing for 60 years.

"The area being talked about is very heavily congested with pigeons because the raptor problem became so great elsewhere that races have moved to east England."