I’ve never fully endorsed new year’s resolutions, opting instead to try for continuous self improvement. I’m not saying I always achieve that, but I do try. That being said (er, written), the start of a new year is a good time to review what has been accomplished and to set goals that have a time component. Let’s take a look at some things I’ve done in 2018, and things I’d like to do in 2019.

When Less is More

I am fortunate I was raised with a strong work ethic. I also strongly believe in the old wisdom that you should work smarter, not harder and that if you enjoy what you do, you will never work a day in your life. The former is generally achievable, but sometimes constrained by programs and processes that you are forced to work within on a given job. The latter is something that has been a primary career goal that I’ve largely – if not entirely – achieved.

In 2018, I was fortunate to work on some excellent projects, many of which I’ve summarized here. Perhaps the greatest of these was the continuation of my relationship with Oregon Parks, which gave me the opportunity to work and camp on the Oregon coast for two weeks in May as part of work on a wildlife assessment for the suite of parks within the Harris Beach Management Unit. I returned north a month later for fieldwork along the Trinity River in northern California which resulted in a biological assessment that I wrote for a Section 7 consultation under the Federal Endangered Species Act. Through on-call relationships with SWCA and Bargas Environmental, I have continued my years-long relationship with Southern California Edison, which has allowed me to perform some amazing surveys throughout southern California.

My camping set-up at Harris Beach State Park during my work on the wildlife assessment for Oregon Parks.

I have recently updated my resume and information about my biological services for 2019. These updates include improvements in how I am presenting myself to potential clients and how that meshes with other things I do such as wildlife art and nature photography. You will see “England|Ecology” next to my logo on more things in the future. I’ve also transitioned my website from Squarespace back to WordPress, with the art and photography pages on Smugmug. I’ve found nearly identical base website templates on both systems, and was able to tweak the two sites so that visiting different parts of mcengland.com is an almost entirely seamless experience. It also saved me a ton of money on website fees and a lot of labor in working with digital images.

As far as the work I will conduct in 2019, much of that story remains to be written, but things were already looking bright before the year even began. In late December, I won a year-long contract with Descanso Gardens to conduct wildlife surveys and develop a wildlife management plan. I am very excited about this work, as it is an area I already spend a lot of time in, focuses on what I really love (amassing as much information about the biological resources of an area in the time available and interpreting it for others), and it continues my streak of being undefeated in competitive bids. I am sure that will end at some point, but not right now. I will be wrapping up the massive Harris Beach Management Unit report by the end of the first quarter of 2019, just in time for the start of the busy season in biological consulting.

It’s More Than Just a Number

Three hundred and four. That’s the number of bird species I have observed in Los Angeles County as of this writing. Sounds pretty high doesn’t it? I thought it was a decent number until I checked on eBird and realized I wasn’t in the top 100 birders for the county.

That’s just not acceptable to me.

The reason for that is that I have never been much of a “chaser”, otherwise known as one of those birders that runs all over to see a specific species in a specific location. I am a serious birder. I do list. I have never been serious about chasing stuff.

This Clay-colored Sparrow at Madrona Marsh today was my 304th bird species recorded in Los Angeles County.

I do feel that given I am known as a bird “expert”, I need to have a better showing than the 116th place I am in now. It does not matter that most of the things I could get as new species for Los Angeles County are species that I have seen elsewhere, I need to have a better showing in my home county. For this reason, I am setting an ambitious goal of trying for 400 species in Los Angeles County by the end of the year. I would do that using the eBird report on species that have been reported that I have not seen. I will do those trips around my work on my non-running days of Monday and Friday. There may not be enough new species in the county over the course of 2019 to even get me to 400, but I will give it shot, and it will at least boost my list total substantially.

Speaking of Numbers

One hundred. As in miles. That is my preferred trail racing distance. In 2018, the only race I ran seriously was the Javelina Jundred at the end of October, which I finished in 28:19. As I documented in my post race write-up, it was a struggle, likely because I didn’t train as hard as I should’ve. I hope to not make that mistake again in 2019.

At the finish line of the Javelina Jundred. Photo by Howie Stern.

After taking more than a month more or less off from running, I’m now preparing for my biggest challenge to-date: running the Mohican 100 in June and the Angeles Crest 100 in August. That would be nothing for a lot of folks that I know, but I’m not those folks. To me, doing both of these races is a big challenge, and I’m looking forward to it.

The most difficult part of it will be how I manage the training schedule in the peak of my field season. The physical part of the work I do is training, to an extent, for sure. It is not, however, the same as running. I have learned that I can’t do my job and do a full training schedule. Sometimes, there is literally no time to run at all unless I want to sacrifice sleep, which is also important to training and recovery. Running too much can be problematic for me to work. I will have to figure out where that balance is, which will best be judged by how my long runs feel on the weekends. Of course, sometimes I work on the weekends.

I’ll figure it out. I have to.

One thought on “Turning the Page

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