Goodbye, 2015; Hello, 2016

Well, time for a sappy, cliche-ridden post about my 2015. Part of the reason I’m doing this is because I have made a goal to publish, at least, once post in my blog each month. Since resurrecting my blog in January 2015, I have mostly met this goal, although I did miss the month of September. But that’s irrelevant; let me just get straight to the point. For me, 2015 has been monumental. This year has been filled with firsts, and I have no doubt that 2016 will be filled with even more firsts. Here are most significant firsts in 2015:

First Video Clip Featured in a BBC Documentary

In January 2015, on BBC Two, Nature’s Weirdest Events – Series 4 aired a clip of my southern cassowary footage the first episode. I’ve mentioned this more than a couple times on my site here, so I’ve beaten the dead horse to a pulp. But the event was quite exciting for me, and it’s actually the reason I revitalized my site and blog.

First Time Outside an Airport in California


In March 2013, I gazed upon Los Angeles for the first time from the window of a plane as I prepared to land at LAX. From LAX, I would fly across the Pacific to Sydney, but I would never set foot outside the airport. Similarly, in March 2014, on my way home from Australia, I had a layover at San Francisco International, but I would once again never set foot outside the airport. Yet, finally, in 2015, I flew across the United States to San Diego to see an old friend and stepped outside an airport in California for the first time. Funny that I’ve seen more of Australia than I have seen of my own country.

First Land Rover 4×4 Adventure


For 10 years, I have owned my Land Rover, and in those 10 years, I never took her out on a true 4×4 adventure, which is sad, really. Yet, finally, in April 2015, I took her down to North Carolina and drove along the beach in Corolla in the Outer Banks. I had a blast leaving the asphalt behind and roving across the sand. I regret not having done that sooner!

First Time Photographing & Filming Wild Owls


I’ve glimpsed a number of owls, but until May 2015, I had never photographed (or filmed) them. This year, I got extremely lucky, and thanks to a helpful friend (and known bird enthusiast), I was able to photograph and film a mother great horned owl and her owlets in a nest.

First Time Volunteering for the Sierra Club


I like to complain about current issues, especially those related to the environment. But, for the most part, I have been all talk and no action. In 2015, I changed that. Over the summer, I became very involved with the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club and volunteered to help combat climate change and deliver environmental justice. I intend to remain active in 2016.

First Time Scuba Diving in Virginia


Despite being born and raised in Virginia, I did not scuba dive in my home state until July 2015. Why? Because, instead of learning to scuba dive in the US, I learned to scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef. When I returned to Virginia a full year later, I started working on-call on tugboats, and I had very little time for much of anything outside work throughout the rest of 2014. Thus, I had over 100 dives in Australia and only a handful in the US. But, in 2015, I had far more time and flexibility and was able to dive in Virginia for the first and second time and North Carolina for the second and third time.

First Time Encountering Wild Venus Flytraps


Believe it or not, Venus flytraps are only native to a 60 mile (96.5 km) radius around Wilmington, North Carolina. When I went to Wilmington, my intention was to scuba dive on the wrecks offshore (which I did), but I discovered that the area was also prime habitat for Venus flytraps and other carnivorous plants. So, being the naturalist and wildlife photographer I am, I HAD to go find them. And I did!

First Time Encountering Wild Bears


In August 2015, I drove down to Alligator River Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina in search of American black bears. Alligator River is special because it boasts one of the largest concentrations of black bears on the eastern seaboard, and I knew I had a very good chance of seeing one there. After hours of aimlessly driving around the refuge, I finally encountered my first black bears at dusk and managed to snap a few shots. Later on, in September 2015, I returned to Alligator River and managed to get some even better shots (and some footage, too!).

First Time Sailing in a Regatta


At the moment, I am getting back into sailing for reasons that I’ll reveal in 2016. (Hint: I’ve circumnavigated Australia in a 1992 Ford Falcon. What do you think I plan to do next?) The problem? I haven’t sailed since I was 12 years old. But, thanks to another good friend of mine, I sailed in my first regatta in October and November 2015, and somehow, we won!

First Time Visiting Boston


Boston is definitely not an exotic or nature-packed place, so going there for the first time is decidedly more mundane than the rest of my accomplishments. Nevertheless, I found the history quite rich (for an American city), and the Harvard Museum of Natural History was fantastic! Also, a Dropkick Murphys concert in Fenway Park! What more could you ask for?!

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