The Worthing Birdman is an annual event which sees crazy people leap off the Worthing pier in attempt to fly 100 metres. These crazy people come in all shapes and sizes from those who must be truly crazy to those who take it seriously.
It is a two day event which sees the serious contestants leap off the pier on the Saturday. Typically these people are strapped to a hang glider and have a real chance of flying the 100 metres required to win the prize fund of £30,000. In fact in the 2009 competition, one contestant came within 14cm of that prize.
On the Sunday, it’s the turn of the fun flyers. They are strapped to objects which wouldn’t even fly 10 metres if they were thrown at force. The only direction these contestants are going is straight down into the sea!
Have a look at some videos at the official site.
The Birdman was created in 1971 in Selsey where contestants launched themselves from the Lifeboat Pier. In 1978 the event was moved to Bognor Regis where the event thrived for 29 years. Unfortunately Bognor Pier experienced some structural problems in 2008 which meant that the event could no longer be safely held in Bognor and so the competition moved along the coast to Worthing.
There is more history at the official site (above).
However, yesterday afternoon saw me being the Worthing Birdman. Not because I threw myself off the pier, and not because I was mimicking a bird in anyway. Even if I could flap my arms fast enough to fly, I wouldn’t be allowed to take off with all this volcanic ash hanging overhead!
No, it was more to do with what I was doing for the birds in my garden. She Who Must Be Obeyed decided we had gardening to do even though she knew the Grand Prix was on! So like the dutiful husband that I am, I ventured into the garden with She Who Must Be Obeyed and started pruning or something. I was however, unable to concentrate on this task as there was a pair of blackbirds who seemed in some distress.
They were attempting to keep a magpie away from their nest, but the magpie was not deterred by their squawking. I intervened and kept the magpie away as best I could, but obviously the blackbirds didn’t know what I was doing, and kept having a go at me! Having managed to successfully chase off the magpie, several times, I then had the challenge of keeping our cats at bay.
This task was somewhat simpler, as I was able to lock them indoors.
The magpie returned once more and once more I chased it away, but not before it had knocked the baby blackbird out of the tree.
By now, the mother was going crazy, but this time the magpie gave up. The baby managed to get itself trapped under some decking we have in the garden. I had to prize open the decking and leave it open for the mother and father to tend to the baby.
By now the cats were desperate to get back into the garden, but they just had to look on from behind the windows, as the mother fed the baby.
After a while the parent blackbirds managed to get the baby out from under the decking and into a bush. I had to let the cats back out, but kept an eye on them. They weren’t really that interested as it happened and just went about their own business playing and generally causing mischief amongst the off cuts where I had been pruning earlier.
But then mother blackbird decided to venture into our sun lounge. I not sure who was more panicked by this, the blackbird or She Who Must Be Obeyed. Either way it was left to me to extricate the bird from our sun lounge. This was no mean feat, trying to carefully remove a bird which is panicking in such an enclosed space. There were feathers every where!
I did so, however, and whilst I watched the blackbird hide behind a flower pot recovering from its ordeal, my heart sank. All my valiant efforts to save the baby bird disappeared whilst saving the mother.
And it wasn’t down to my cats, who were still ignoring the blackbirds, or the magpie, who by now was just sitting on a nearby roof top with its partner.
No, another cat had crept into the garden and was carrying the baby over the wall in its mouth. 😦
My feathers were well and truly ruffled!