The project at work moves forward; we shifted D-day from thursday to tuesday to make sure some server/cloud gremlins that have cropped up are properly dispatched. My task list has one more item outlined in red, and then I’m into the downhill run. But still, it’s mostly occupying my time and my brain.

I have been doing some planning with Laurie about the next year. Everything is up for change, but it’s nice to have a general idea of plans for trips and outings where we can.

The first trip out to the refuges is this weekend (project permitting) and Laurie and I are looking to head up into the Lodi area and check out Staten Island, Isenberg and Cosumnes. The weekend after that we want to head out to Merced NWR and see how the winter flocks are shaping up. I’m hearing the refuges aren’t completely flooded due to the lack of rain the last two years, and the pasture areas at Merced were in brutally bad shape when I scouted in June, so it may be a tough year for the birds. Lack of water has caused an outbreak of avian salmonella around Tule Lake that was killing off ducks a month ago; haven’t checked to see if that is under control yet.

So the main hope right now is for rain, and lots of it. There is some hope that the weather patterns are changing, maybe we’ll see the winter pattern kick in soon. If not, the word is the state has run out of buffer in the reservoirs, and another dry year is going to be brutal for all of us. My scouting and the word I’m hearing from others is very discouraging in terms of the quality of habitat for birds and the lack of water in the reservoirs I’ve checked out. I don’t think the general populace understands how bad things are yet. I’m hoping they don’t find out. So please, use your influence to get the rain going…

In January I’m planning a trip down to the central coast to take in the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival, and probably spend some time with the Elephant Seals, and hopefully off in Carrizo plains. My big photo trip for 2014 is going to be Yellowstone. I’m tentatively planning that for the end of May, just after they get the roads plowed, so the exact timing depends on the weather and the snowplows but I’m hoping for a full week there and in the Tetons in the last two weeks of May or early June. Laurie and I are currently talking about our fall trip being off to the Eastern Sierra for a week around June Lake and up into Bodie and Tahoe. That would be after Labor day sometime.

I’m also hoping to be able to schedule a short trip to spend a couple of days with one of a short list of photographers in a private workshop next spring. We’ll see whether that can happen (it depends on my time, their time, and the location cooperating…). Ashok and I talked about doing the Lightroom course for Yosemite Audubon again, and my workshop might dovetail nicely on that if I can make it all happen, but none of this is in the planning session again.

The rest of the next year is going to be spent mostly local; I hope to spend a fair bit of time in the refuges this weekend; how much is going to depend on what we find visiting the next two weeks, and on the weather. I wouldn’t mind being rained out a bit. And I have some projects started or planned for the next few months once my work project returns some spare energy back for me to move them forward… Oh, and showing up here more regularly again…