Sunday, December 25, 2016

End of 2016: Why do I do this?

By this I mean blogging about birds and other things.  I have been thinking of an end of year post for the past couple of weeks.  A recent comment exchange with another "birding" blogger made me think about this question more.  Then when I opened my computer this Christmas morning, I read a new post by another birding friend - one whose blog inspired me to start my own blog so many years ago - and read the following:  "Why do I blog?  Because it allows me to generate a place for all of my photos that I take to document my adventures. And, when "both" of my backups fail, it provides a small amount of consolation for having just lost every photo I've taken the past 4 years! This was written by Jerry Jourdan whose work many are already well-acquainted with in the form of his photographs and dedication to blogging.  Oh wow!  My photos are Brownie camera shots compared with Jerry's stunning images.  I can't even imagine how horrible he feels about this misfortune. Then his beautiful photos of Eastern Screech Owl follow as he begins all over again.

Above is the first photo I took in 2016 while counting for the Detroit River CBC on January 1st.  I remember it was my first photo because I had to fumble to get my camera battery out of my pocket (to keep it warm) and loaded into my camera.  Remarkably this little bird stayed put while I did all that fumbling and I took a string of about a dozen shots - my best ever of Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus).

Above, my early summer photo of a male Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa) is one of my favorites of 2016.  The way the small seed pod petals show through the dragonfly's transparent wings and with evidence of the spider web on the plant also being seen on the left lower wing of the dragonfly appeals to me. 

Above and below:  On a mid-week day off from work in the middle of December I went to see this Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) that I had learned about several days earlier.  In 2016 I worked the equivalent of 17 months.  You can do the arithmetic and I'm not proud of it and realize this reality may be signaling the end of my career.  In the last quarter of this year I still had 11 vacation days remaining.  In my organization if we don't use our yearly allotment of vacation days we lose them.  There is no rollover.  I'll be damned if I was not going to use each and every one.  I got busy and figured out how to schedule them.  My reward on this particular day off was spending about 15 minutes alone with the wayward Mountain Bluebird.  In my prior blog entry I described this experience as one of birding's golden moments and felt I had earned it.  After that brief but adequate time, a couple of others showed up and it was back to being birderly again.  I love this bird!  Despite severe winter weather the Mountain Bluebird is still present in the same location.

So, why do I blog?  Like Jerry, I use my photos as context for my outdoor adventures and experiences.  While my primary interest has always been birds, over the years I've branched out to anything that moves or grows in the wild.  There is something very satisfying about seeing a new living thing and then trying to identify it.  In deep summer when the birds are quiet and hidden in the leaves, dragonflies, butterflies and wildflowers become my focus. When I take a trip there would be no way to remember the details if I didn't blog about it. The same is true for getting out on any ordinary weekend morning.  

Many of my blog entries also have a significant amount of narrative - in spite of my belief that when others look at blogs they are really only interested in seeing the photos.  I also use my blog to practice my writing.  This is an idea I got from another blogging friend who is a real writer and has published her research and other articles.  I've read a lot of my friend's writing and she is such a readable writer.  For my work I read a lot of medical research (definitely not readable writing!).  The kind of writing I do at work is in the form of medical documentation, as in progress notes, office visit notes, procedure notes, etc.  I can say with certainty that this is the kind of writing that would choke a horse. It's a pleasure to write words and pieces that are so different from that drudge.  I have never published anything - may one day have the opportunity - and I know my writing has improved thanks to having this blog.  So, while I believe that others are mostly interested in only the photos, the writing is for me.  If others also happen to read it, that's fine too.

I got through this whole thing without writing that I have never liked the words blog, blogging or blogger.  I can't change them but all are awful word choices.

Merry Christmas.


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