Monday, May 19, 2014

Paras' 10 - Colchester 2014

On Sunday 18th May 2014 I participated in the Paras' 10 Challenge - 10 mile race carrying 35lb back pack. It was a fantastic day with perfect weather, great company and an amazing event. After registering; getting my race number and timing chip we relaxed in the shade and enjoyed a brilliant display by the Red Devils.

At 10:50 am I gathered with the other competitors awaiting the green light! People running the race without weight and with dogs went first, followed 5 minutes later by load bearing participants. GO!!!

There was a great atmosphere all around and throughout the race. The route was very well marked and there were members of staff guiding and encouraging us all. En-route there were river crossings and muddy areas where machine gun fire and smoke were used to add to the atmosphere. As I plodded my way around the route I kept a species list to distract me from the the pain I was feeling; it didn't work but here are a few birds I got: Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Robin, Wren, Dunnock, Blackbird, House Sparrow, Wood Pigeon, Blue Tit and Pied Wagtail. The best though was 7 singing Nightingale! As I was passing a singing Nightingale I looked to my right and said to a chap next to me "Nightingale"! He looked at me smiled and said "tinnitus blown up"; indicating he couldn't hear it and smiled. Before I could say anything the Nightingale sang again, this time right next to us and really load...he looked at me and said "I heard that mate"! We both gave the thumbs up and cracked on...

At the 7 mile mark my right ankle and foot froze up and I thought I was done for. It just so happened at that moment I was faced with a few 'small hills'. I hobbled through these and slowed my pace and tried stretching. The last few miles were tough and I ended up putting a lot of strain on my left foot to compensate for my right. Finally the finish line was in sight and with the support of a few hundred people cheering I crossed the line: time was 2:29 minutes and 48 seconds. 

They say no pain no gain but that bloody hurt. The St Johns crew figured I  had put a lot of pressure on the ligaments in my left foot and might hurt for a while. I agree. Thanks to my Wife Lori, youngest son Nolan and Dad for supporting me today and making it a very memorable challenge. Big thanks to The Parachute Regiment, St Johns Ambulance and everyone involved in this event..

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Dungeness RSPB Reserve

Today I spent my day at Dungeness RSPB Reserve and Dungeness view point. During my time there I tallied over 70 species. At the reserve highlights included Little Grebe feeding young, Hobby (5), Peregrine Falcon (1), Marsh Harrier (1), Lesser Whitethroat (2), Cetti's Warbler (8), Bearded Tit (2), Tree Sparrow (1), Little Ringed Plover (1), Curlew (1), Swift (5 - first I've seen this spring), Cuckoo (1).

Little Grebe
Little Ringed Plover

An hour sea-watch behind Dungeness power station produced some nice birds including my first UK ARCTIC SKUA! + Great Skua, Gannet, Arctic Tern, Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, Red-throated Diver, Whimbrel, Black Scoter, Kittiwake, Bar-tailed Godwit.....and Black Redstart in the power station.

Saturday, May 3, 2014


The Garganey is a highly migratory dabbling duck which can start to arrive in Britain from its wintering grounds in South Africa at the end of February. It is notoriously secretive so sightings like this are very special. These individuals (1 male 2 female) were showing at Pulborough Brooks RSPB Reserve in Sussex. 

Other species of note included Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Nightingale. After Pulborough Brooks we stopped at Burpham look-out near Arundal where we got Red Kite and Red-legged Partridge.