The Year That Was, The Year That Will Be

Two days short of one year ago, I wrote a post about my goals for 2016. As often happens, life takes unexpected twists and turns, sometimes rendering goals difficult if not impossible to reach within the time period you planned for. For example, there was no way I could know that I would be out with a knee injury for a significant chunk of the year affecting my running, nor did I originally plan for being an independent biological consultant in October. Regardless, let’s see where I stand relative to my goals, and set some new ones for 2017.


I wanted to focus on becoming an expert in my “patch”. While I did not spend a significant amount of time in the entirety of my patch, I did go out a lot in Elyria Canyon and Rio de Los Angeles Parks.

  • Elyria Canyon – I pushed the eBird checklist for the park to 101 species, with 12 new species documented for the park in 2016.
  • Rio de Los Angeles – I pushed the eBird checklist for the park to 94 species, with 4 new species documented for the park in 2016.

I also wanted to expand my Los Angeles County and California lists in 2016. While I could have done better, I did fairly well:

  • California – 218 species for the year, with 15 new species added to my state life list in 2016.
  • Los Angeles – 195 species for the year, with 14 new species added to my county life list in 2016.
This Sharp-tailed Sandpiper in the Los Angeles River on November 14 was a county, state, and all-around life bird.

For 2017, I still want to focus on being “king” of Elyria Canyon. Let’s add a few more goals since my independence as a consultant gives me a bit more time flexibility:

  • Increase my shorebird and gull expertise. These are two difficult groups that I was formerly expert on (before I moved to California and focused on my consulting career). To do this will mean more time reading the relevant resources and heading out to the coast to go birding.
  • Take a few solo birding weekend trips within California. I love traveling with my wife and will, of course, continue to do so, but solo trips where I can just spend all my time birding are a lot of fun.
  • Take a May trip to the Lake Erie shore. I really miss the grand spectacle of the warbler fallouts during migration. I need to see it again.
  • Complete the eBird checklist-a-day challenge.


I wanted to get my weight down this year, and I did that with my average weight hovering around 10 pounds lower than a year ago. Beyond that, I haven’t done much. I ran one significant race all year (setting a 50 mile PR) and got injured later, pretty much ruining 2016 for running races. Let’s set some moderate goals for 2017:

  • Finish the HURT 100 next month. On January 9, my wife and I will be flying to Hawaii to take a vacation and so that I can run the HURT 100. While I feel pretty well-prepared, the DNF rate for that race is ridiculously high, and I am currently sick in what is an important training week and can not run. I will do what I can, though.
  • If I don’t finish the HURT 100, run a 50-mile race somewhere to qualify for the Angeles Crest 100.
  • Finish the Angeles Crest in August.
  • Don’t get injured again.


Let’s look at how I did with the goals I announced at the time for art:

  • Complete pen-and-ink works of every major species group: I completed representative pen-and-ink works of everything except a mammal. I started a Bobcat, then decided I didn’t like how the piece looked and gave up on it. I then got distracted by my unplanned forays into digital vector art.
  • Complete more graphite pencil work: that’s a negative. In fact, I did zero. The main reason I wanted to do that, however, was to complete more work, and I found other outlets for that.
  • Begin working more in color: I have, through digital color of pen-and-ink originals, and new stuff I’m doing in vector art.
  • Begin marketing myself more fully and get my first illustration contract: I did not succeed in the latter. In the former, I have established and am represented on Society6. I am selling work on both sites.
This piece featuring Keel-billed Toucans is one of my newer vector pieces available in my store.

So, let’s set some goals for 2017:

  • Establish a more consistent style for non-technical work. In other words, I can do ultra-realism in pen-and-ink just fine. That is established. With the new world of vector art open to me, I want to establish a style that I’m excited about and I don’t feel it needs to be realism. I’m happy with the toucan piece above, but I’m not sure how that style will translate to other wildlife species. I also struggle with my inherent urge to keep adding detail, when the real goal of what I did with the piece above is “less is more”. In the example above, every component except for the background started as a square, with the minimal amount of new vertices and curves added to get that animal part look like what it was supposed to represent. I really like the look and was excited about it. Does that translate to mountain lions, warblers, or hummingbirds? Do I want to stick with the vector shading? I’m not sure until I get into it.
  • More maps. I’ve always thought of maps as art. I have my first one up for sale, and would like to do more topical ones this year.
  • Get my art published somewhere. At least once.


My only stated goal was to get better (read: digital SLR) camera equipment. While that may someday happen, I’ve gone away from that as it is not affordable for me at the moment, and the equipment isn’t practical for what I’m doing when I shoot wildlife and other nature scenes because of how bulky it is. I broke my Canon camera in the field this year and replaced it with another superzoom, this time the newest Nikon. Perhaps it’s an improvement on this goal that I have several hundred photos on stock sites and make sales on a regular basis.

I have no real goals here for 2017, other than to get more pictures up on stock as greater volume = greater sales. Doing that will be pretty straightforward as I take a lot of pics when I am out in the field, and I now have a system for efficiently managing stock submissions.


I had hoped to publish at least one peer-reviewed paper and one popular article. I have done neither as writing has not been my priority (I do a lot of it in consulting work). I do have many articles started, however, and should get something done this year. That is my only real goal.


I had hoped to have a birding tour finalized and marketed. I had also hoped to represent a lodge somewhere for birding activities. I have done neither, but I am now officially involved with Friends for Conservation and Development in Belize which has an ecotourism component. I’ve also set up a birding tours section on my website. Let’s add a goal or two for 2017:

  • Spend a week at Las Cuevas Research Station in Belize.
  • Get a tour organized and available for sale.


I had established a few goals last year, but I will choose to ignore them as I didn’t foresee being independent by end of the year. In fact, I won’t set any for this year, other than to stay busy and enjoy my work, hopefully filling out my schedule with projects that are great to work on.

To get automatic updates when new content is posted please enter your email address and click the Subscribe button below.

Join 2,348 other subscribers

Leave a Reply

Create a website or blog at