Well that's it and I have to admit I feel a bit sad - like when I'm wandering around South Mainland Shetland 4 or 5 hours before my flight home - sniff! Initially, I was sceptical about starting this whole thing and feared that a multi-author blog might turn all a bit too 'Bird Forum' (where incidentally Foot It gets barely a mention). But it hasn't it's been a real eye-opener, real birders doing real birding and some of the friendliest birders I've ever come across.
So who were the winners? Well in the style of a primary school sports day we were all winners and should give ourselves a well deserved pat on the back. We got off our post Christmas lardy backsides and walked, walked like some of us have never walked before. Birded areas we've probably never looked at before, submitted in excess of 6,000 records to Birdtrack, spent less money on fuel (I went 4 weeks between fill-ups) and generally had a great time (I hope).
For me some real stars shone out Mark Smithson, who despite a disability managed 100%, Jonny Rankin for his heavily edited (thanks Nick) posts but more impressive rancid looking blistered feet and he just kept going. In fact everyone who took place was a star. A whole month of blogging and no bitchiness, nasty comments or spoof totals (assuming Simon Chadwick does exist ;-) ).
The targets were more a personal thing to give us all the incentive to keep pushing and I honestly didn't expect to see 92 species but I desperately wanted to see 100 and next year I will.
So congratulations to Simon Chadwick who regardless of scoring the highest percentage also saw the most species. Simon based his target on his last few year January's, where he's actually seen an average of 85 species when using the car. Matthew Bruce gave Simon a run for his money in the latter stages almost toppling him earlier this week. Mike Pennington kept plugging away in the very far north and with a good few hours daylight less than the rest of us and managed an impressive Shetland total. Zac Hinchliffe should be congratulated for increasing his target voluntarily with just 10 days left and to a full 10 species more than his fellow North Wales participants, his previous target would have ensured a landslide victory. Special thanks to the three Europeans Col in Ireland, Janneke of Holland and Martin in Austria who despite no fellow countrymen/women still rose to the challenge. It seems that the Dutch have picked up on this and are running a Foot It challenge throughout February, perhaps it won't be long before it's embraced internationally?
So that's it until next year. Given the popularity this year I hope to run the challenge every January. Many birders have asked me if I'll keep the blog open, as they'd like to carry on throughout the year. That's a great idea and I'm happy to let it carry on for those that want to.
Others have asked if I'll run an April challenge? I really don't have the time to run one this spring but as a compromise I propose to run a 24 hour Foot It on the 4th May. Further details will appear on the blog and on Twitter in due course.
Thanks to everyone who's taken place, posted on the blog, on Twitter and anywhere else and of course thanks to Martin and Tom for the daft conversation that started all this.
Until next time.