A Look in the Rear View Mirror

January 01, 2017  •  1 Comment

Long-eared Owl Man, 2016, just when you thought the world couldn't get any more crazy.  Cleveland wins an NBA title, the Cubs win the World Series, Donald Trump is elected president of the United States, and we said goodbye to many who entertained millions around the world.  Let us not forgot those we lost in 2016 who are easily forgotten but played significant roles in society such as Donald Henderson who lead the charge to eradicate Smallpox from the world in the 1960's and 70's, and John Glenn who was the first American to orbit the Earth.  The contributions of Henderson and Glenn along with countless others truly have a positive impact on society.

In my little piece of the world, 2016 was a great year, and a year filled with new adventure I had no way to know were coming when the year started. I'm still doing GIS work for the City of Whitewater, a position that, despite its tediousness at times, is nearly stress free and comes with a fantastic group of support staff.  Mid-year I turned down a job offer which would have put me in charge of the GIS and eventually land information for Green County. While it would have been a step up in duties and job title, it would have Common Loon only been a minor increase in pay and I would have lost a significant amount of paid time off I've accumulated over the years in Whitewater.

Ethan is doing well and is finishing his senior year of high school in Michigan. Ethan is very active in his church and also made the decision to join the Marines when he finishes high school.  He trains weekly with some of this fellow recruits to better prepare them for boot camp next summer.  He's expected to ship out in July shortly after his 18th birthday.  He's very much looking forward to the challenge.  I really don't know where the last 17 years went, it feels as if life is a vacuum and the further along you get, the stronger the suction.  Perceived time moves too fast.

Late in the spring I met a wonderful woman, Bethany, who for whatever reason, doesn't seem to mind putting up with me.  Her strength and perseverance blow my mind.  She is widowed, and I'm the first man in her life since that life-altering event.  She's helped me rekindle my love for concerts (our first date was a Carrie Underwood concert and we've been to several more concerts since then), and between her and her two young boys, they've kept me on my toes.  We've also been on a few trips together - we went to Gatlinburg, TN with her family in Jul Mississippi Kite fledgling y, and to Daytona Beach, FL in October.

I still do a lot of wildlife photography and occasionally chase storms.  As I get older and time away from work and other obligations becomes more precious, it's becoming more and more difficult to get out to the plains and chase storms.  I try to get in at least 2 or 3 chasers per year regionally on days with a higher risk of tornado potential than usual - I've all but given up on gambling with lower risk days given my time restraints, and quite honestly, I'd rather sit or walk through the woods or a wetland and photograph wildlife than drive hundreds of miles to watch a storm for an hour or two.  Some storm and photography highlights of the year were:

- A winter roost of more than a dozen Long-eared Owls in Milwaukee County.
- A litter of fox kits at a cemetery in Janesville.
- My first images of a black bear and some amazing landscape vistas near Gatlinburg.
- The first confirmed nesting of Mississippi Kites in Wisconsin (Janesville area).
- Photographing one of my nemesis birds, a Northern Saw-whet Owl, which I had been trying to find for years.

There were other highlights as well, including rescuing a young American Badger that had been abandoned.  I took the badger to a wildlife rehab facility and the badger was nursed back to health and eventually released back into the wild later in the year.  I've already added several images to this post, but if you wish to see the rest of my favorite images from 2016, feel free to browse them in this gallery.


Lucy's Grandma Cookie(non-registered)
Your art inspires me to pause and linger in the beauty of God's creation. Thank you for sharing with me.
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