BigToe Blog

Welcome to the BigToe Blog! Here you can “sniff” all sorts of juicy facts about South America. You can view the “toe-clippings” about what we´re doing, thinking and seeing as we run through this extraordinary continent. Join us to meet the amazing wildlife, wildplaces and people that live here. Videos, photos, activity ideas, blogs in English and Spanish are all snoozing below, waiting for you to enter into our world………..



Endangered Species

Posted by on Jun 23, 2020 in Big Toe Blog, Conservation, Farming | 0 comments

Endangered species are animals or plants or any life form (from fungi (eg mushrooms) to bacteria (tiny living cells)) that are at risk of dying out or becoming extinct (lost from our planet).

What animals can you think of that are extinct?

Illustration from

You might think of animals like dinosaurs, dodos, wooly mammoths or saber-tooth tigers. How many others can you think of and what can you find out about them?

The Steller's Sea Cow reached 11 tons and 30 feet long. It ...
The enormous Steller’s Sea Cow is extinct.
Illustration by Pieter Arend Fokens from

Animals and other life forms did not just become extinct hundreds, thousands or even millions of years ago. They are going extinct every single day as their habitats (homes) are changed or destroyed.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists all the species of animals and other life forms that we know about (because there are still millions we do not know about!) and decides how ‘safe’ they are. Or how likely they are to becoming extinct.

In the UK we are also worried about species that may become extinct from our island. Species like wild cats in Scotland or smooth snakes in the south of England.

One little species that nearly disappeared was the cirl bunting. This is a little bird that once lived in villages and farmland habitat all the way from Cornwall to Yorkshire. But in 1989 the RSPB and Devon Birds counted only 118 pairs left in south Devon.

Cyril the cirl bunting. My illustration from my book.

I worked for the RSPB with land managers to make sure that the right habitat was created for cirl buntings to thrive. Now, thanks to the work of farmers and the RSPB, cirl bunting populations are increasing . I have written a book to celebrate the return of cirl buntings. It’s called ‘Cyril’s Big Adventure’.

The book also includes the cirl bunting’s conservation story, a map of Cyril’s adventure and a nature quiz. You can buy a signed & dedicated copy here. Also from RSPB Darts Farm & Arne Nature Reserves, NHBS online nature shop and bookshops throughout the UK. 5op from each copy sold goes to the RSPB’s cirl bunting conservation work.

To listen to me reading the story click here.

Saving Orangutans

Posted by on Apr 30, 2020 in Big Toe Blog, Conservation | 0 comments

Asian rainforests in countries like Malaysia and Indonesia are being chopped down and burnt so that palm oil can be grown instead.

This story book shows what happens when palm oil plantations replace rainforest

This is a big problem. Those rainforests are ancient; some of the oldest rainforests on the planet. They are home to incredible tree species and plants. These trees and plants in turn support all kinds of amazing animals such as butterflies the size of plates, orangutans, rafflesia flowers, clouded leopards, rhinoceros hornbills, Sumatran tigers, Sumatran rhinoceros and Bornean elephants.

When the rainforests are chopped down and turned into palm oil plantations the amazing rainforest animals have no where to go. Their homes are lost forever and they die.

This cartoon explains what is going on.

Palm oil is being planted everywhere because it provides cheap oil that is being shipped around the world for foods and all kinds of products.

Click here to watch a video where I tell the story of ‘The Wild Treehouse of Borneo’ about palm oil and the rainforests and animals. It was given to us from a friend who visited the island.

We can help!! We can cook food that doesn’t contain palm oil. We can also stop buying palm oil. Palm oil is in all sorts of foods from bread, to shampoo, to pizzas, to stock cubes. But some companies are removing it from their products.

Can you help us by telling us about foods and products that don’t contain palm oil? Then we can be sure to avoid them and all help save these amazing forests and their stunning animal species.

So far we have found out that Divine chocolate, Cadbury’s Bounty, Essentials peanut butter, Doritos original and tangy cheese, Morrison’s Sourdough mozzarella, tomato and pesto pizza and KP honey roast peanuts don’t contain palm oil. All Iceland home-brand food does not contain palm oil.

Here is a video to illustrate!

Questions on Running & Wildlife in South America

Posted by on Nov 21, 2013 in Big Toe Blog, Questions | 0 comments

We visited a marvellous Devon primary school, Landscore, who we have been sharing stories with ever since we sailed from the UK to work in international conservation in 2008. We were really excited to meet up with their Headmaster Mr Read again, as well as all the teachers and school children. The children asked us loads of fab, juicy, questions. We love asking questions and so are delighted that more have arrived! Check out our answers below……………



Why did we Choose to Run South America?

Posted by on Nov 20, 2013 in Big Toe Blog, Big Toe Noticeboard, Birds, Mammals, Waddle on the Wildside, Wildlife Moment Of The Week, YouTube Channel | 0 comments

We chose to run South America because we thought we might only be able to run such a very long way, 6504 miles, once in our lives. And in that case, it would have to be the most wildlife and plant rich place in the world. With the largest tropical rainforest, the biggest river, longest mountain chain, most bird, monkey and amphibian species and so much more… it was very clear, South America it had to be! We got to know some amazing wildlife and wildlands along the way, including snakes, giant anteaters and guanacos. So why not check out this video and meet them! Then put on your running shoes, go outside and find your own wild neighbours!



Posted by on Oct 11, 2013 in Big Toe Blog, Running, The Run Up | 0 comments

Come and JOIN us in London on Saturday 26th October to celebrate RUNNING SOUTH AMERICA!!!


Q. How do you connect whilst in remote parts of South America?

Posted by on Oct 10, 2013 in Big Toe Blog, YouTube Channel | 0 comments

People often ask us how we stay connected on the whilst running through remote parts of South America for its wildlife an wild places. Here we explain one way, our Iridium satellite phone, with a surprising twist half way through!! More recently in more populated areas we make use of skype, for better line and better economy! We report our GPS position via the phone to our online IPADIO maps. To learn how GPS works and amaze your friends and family, why not download our easy-to-use worksheet here!!

FILM Adaptions- Different Beaks for Different Diets

Posted by on Oct 3, 2013 in Big Toe Blog, Birdlife International, Birds, Waddle on the Wildside, YouTube Channel | 0 comments

On the 1st October we were in Guasipati, Venezuela, with Jose Maria Emazabel School and over 80 children and their teachers… fantastic to be chatting about the amazing wild places in this country, including these wonderful birds.. check out this video-

5 incredible beaks on 5 incredible birds!!! Each beak is Unique!


Q. What is the craziest animal you have ever seen?

Posted by on Sep 15, 2013 in Big Toe Blog, Mammals, Questions, Wildlife Moment Of The Week | 0 comments

Thanks Master Elithorn from Farnham for that question! Well, it´s good timing too, because we were running through Brazil the other day and what we saw blew our minds!!! A Giant Anteater! They live in all sorts of habitats but  in many places they are not doing well at the moment. It is easiest to find them in savanna which is a habitat that has long grasses and some gnarly trees. They are such a crazy creature, check out his nose!! 

Why not watch the video . . .then we have a question for YOU!

Can you think what he normally eats (HINT: often the common name of an animal givs away lots of clues)? And why has he got such a long nose? and a long sticky tongue? and strong claws? 

For more on this wonderful animal, including why it has evolved such incredible adaptions please check out by clicking here



Casting No Shadow & Running Faster than the Sun!!

Posted by on Sep 14, 2013 in Big Toe Blog, Photos, Running | 0 comments

The human "sundial", casting no shadow!

I have waited a long time for this day – the day the sun passed directly overhead!

Everyday, the sun passes in an arc from East to West (well, we spin really, but let´s take an earth-centric view of things!), no matter where we are in the world, excluding the very poles. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, North of 22.5 degrees, the Tropic of Cancer, then that arc will always be slightly to the South of you, and vice-versa for the South. If you live, or RUN, in between the Tropics, the sun will pass over your head twice a year. Today was that day, and the only time it will happen on our 6,500mile/10.400km run! 


On the 11th September with the sun’s declination (or angle from the equator) at 4 degrees, 16 minutes North, we ran right under it. I had to prove it by (more…)

Running with Parrots

Posted by on Sep 5, 2013 in Armonía, Birdlife International, Birds, Waddle on the Wildside, YouTube Channel | 0 comments

From the very South to the North of continental South America we have been in the company of parrots. Watching them preening, screaming over our heads, excavating nests or apparently checking us out on ´ fly-bys´ has just been amazing. They never cease to brighten us up and remind us how amazing this wild planet is!