Wednesday, November 04, 2009



  1. Dear Mike,

    I am what you may consider the biggest silent fan of your work. We have never met, and I have never left a comment on your blog before. So this one comes better late than never.
    Your work has been nothing short of inspirational. After discovering your blog about three years ago (shortly after becoming a serious bird watcher) I've checked it daily (religiously?) for recent photos, essays, and insightful comments illuminating the inhabitants, patterns, beauty, and wonders of our natural world. I have learned immensely through your blog... not only about birds and their behaviors (although admittedly the most interesting part to me), but also how to be a more patient observer, to discover the beauty in the subtle, minute details, and to appreciate the connection every species (both native and non) has in the complex, evolving thread of every other species' life.
    Thanks to your tutorials and easy to follow instructions, I've started digiscoping myself and find great enjoyment and challenge in the artistic and technical aspects of this unique method of photography. I've found digiscoping to be a great way to slow down and really study a subject. It also serves as a great documentary tool for the aspiring naturalist.
    Your influence extends even beyond digiscoping. You are indirectly responsible for a prairie restoration/reconstruction project my wife and I began two years ago at our family's farm in Northern Illinois. I was inspired by a report you listed on your blog regarding the decrease of grassland birds in Illinois due the loss of native prairie habitat. We felt we could play a small part in the revival effort by returning part of our land back to its native state. Our goal is to restore a degraded three acre oak savannah back to health, and we have already planted three additional ares of former farmland into tallgrass prairie, with plans of extending it to 30+ acres in the extended future.
    The point is, Mike, your work has inspired myself and others in ways you probably didn't imagine... or did imagine and just didn't know the specific personal details. So here is just one example of how your dedication, passion, and commitment to our natural world has propagated across the boundaries of Pheasant Branch Conservancy, across county lines, state lines, governmental districts, and into the lives of others. I'm sure many of your other readers have stories very similar to mine. From myself and all the birds without a human voice, we say "THANK YOU!".

    Kind regards,


  2. YIKES! seems sudden, or maybe you've been contemplating it for quite awhile. You'll be greatly missed. 5 years is a long haul in the blogosphere; hope the future is bright!

  3. You will be missed! (from another silent reader)

  4. Thank for such an enjoyable read for quite awhile.
    Your beautiful photography will be missed by this frequent reader.
    Take care,

  5. Mike:

    I'm sorry to hear about your blog's retirement. I trust it does not mean you will stop digiscoping...

    Whether you know it or not (and it's a hard thing to perceive given the mostly one-way nature of blogging) your work here has given digiscoping a cornerstone upon which to build its foundation. The impact of your blog has been widely felt by birders, bloggers, and all aspiring digital wildlife photographers.

    Your images are without peer. And your willingness to share your digiscoping knowledge is deserving of our collective thanks and respect.

    You showed us, here, what it is possible to achieve as digiscopers.

    My very best wishes to you always,


  6. Oh, sorry to hear that Mike. Thanks for all the years of beautiful photos and great content.You will be missed.

  7. Mike, I can certainly understand many reasons you might want to retire your blog. No need to list those. This is your personal decision and we support you.

    Be that as it may, I personally have taken great enjoyment and inspiration from your blog. Like Derek, it was through you that I finally made the plunge into digiscoping - a pursuit I will certainly enjoy for years, aspiring to come at least close to the quality of your photos.

    Please consider coming out of retirement once in a while to post one of your photos or comment upon nature. Just once every now and then, as the spirit may move.

    Thanks for your years of time, effort, sweat and tears.

  8. Mike,

    I have enjoyed your candor and thoughts posted on the blog as well as in the field and on MAS fiedtrips. Thank you for passing along your love for the outdoors.

    Good birding,


  9. Mike,

    I totally respect your decision but It would not hurt to try to change your mind ,you taught me a great deal of the craft of Digiscoping and if I would say I'm your biggest fan!
    And if somebody said to me your style reminds me of Mike McDowell work the would be the best complement that I could receive!
    Thanks for all your help and I hope your retirement is temp.

    Your Friend Kevin

  10. I can fully understand your decision to 'retire' Mike, although I will greatly miss not only your photos, but your keen insight into the magical world of the birds we all love and enjoy.
    Perhaps you can do as I do now- post an occasional photo/text/verse only when you feel like it. I surely hope you leave your archives up, inactive or not, because you share a great wealth of information here. Information that was gathered out in the field, and that surpasses anything that can be learned via field guides/books.. together with your deep passion for crucial conservation issues, your blog has always been my favorite nature blog. There's now 100's, if not thousands, of them out there.. but yours has always risen to the top.
    Happy trails to you.

  11. Best wishes and happy trails. Hopefully one of these days my digiscoped images might be, oh, half as great as yours.

    And I'm seconding the person above who asked you to leave your archives up...

  12. To blog or not to blog that is the question.

    I had to come out of my blog retirement, on vacation mind you, to tell you I have enjoyed your blog, after I fell in to it thanks to Google. Hope to follow you on facebook if you don't defriend me. ;)

    Hope to meet you one day on the trails Mike. Continued success in your next venture.


  13. Mike,
    I'll echo Kevin's (and other's) sentiments. I can understand one getting 'tired' of the blogging world. Blogging is supposed to be a personal record of your experiences that you share w/ the rest of the world. After a while it can seem like an obligation to 'produce' content for the masses, and the pressure that goes with it.
    You've been an inspiration to the digiscoping world, and your contributions better not stop! Wishing you fast shutter speeds and cooperative birds,


  14. I'll miss reading your blog Mike. Keep in touch with the blogging community to let us know how your doing. Good luck in your future endeavors.

    Lynda in Michigan

  15. Have we changed your mind yet? :-) Seriously, take a well-earned vacation from blogging and see if it recharges your batteries at all (we'll still be here) -- you have more fans than you know. Everyone talks about your photography, but your personal essays are a great joy as well.

  16. Mike-

    You and your blog were almost the sole reason that I started birding 3 years ago, a hobby that I have gotten immeasurable enjoyment, fun, and knowledge from since. I have not missed a blog post of yours since I started reading in 2006 and have checked your blog almost every day, besides reading all of the archives. While I only commented 3 times during my readership, which I now realize was only once a year, I have always been inspired and amazed by your photographs and experiences in the natural world. Your blog has had a big impact on my birding life, as well as many others', and I just wanted to say that if we can't bring you back by popular request, I hope you keep taking photos and having great experiences with nature in the future. I hope to keep attending your Madison Audubon field trips and seeing you birding in the field. Whenever I see a bird photograph, I always compare it to one of your images, and I usually think, "Well, it's pretty good, but not as good as Mike's". Thanks for the 5 fantastic blogging years, from me and the rest of your readership. Your blog was always one of the best.

    Good Birding,
    Max Witynski

  17. Well, for whatever reasons you're stopping I just want to say thanks and wish you all the best in your future endeavors. I hope to still see you out on the trails, though.

    Yesterday I was out loving the prairie at Pheasant Branch. If someone had asked me how I learned about it I would have told them it was because of you. When I decided to "get into birding" a couple of years ago I found your blog when I was searching for places to bird around Middleton. I can't have been the only one introduced to this gem of a place through your words and images so on behalf of all of us, thanks for all the work you put into it.

  18. Mike - I'm truly sorry to hear updates won't be coming through your blog anymore, yours was one of those "must reads" that always floated to the top of my list of blogs to read.

    Like others, your digiscoped images astounded me and always brightened my days. But equally on par were your regular explorations of Pheasant Branch - I'll miss the trip reports, but will keep an eye on the birds through eBird!

    Best wishes,

  19. This is one of my favorite sites, and I've enjoyed reading your blog over the years. I'm sorry to see you're closing it. But best of luck with whatever you do next.

  20. Thank you so much for all that you've given us. I checked your blog frequently and thoroughly enjoyed your postings and photographs. I will miss them as the 'best ever.' I've never digiscoped myself but appreciated the superior quality of your photographs and loved your philosophical views on life and your poetry. Thank you!

  21. Mike, thank you so much for all the great images and informative posts. You've affected more lives than you can possibly imagine. I send you best wishes for the future, though like the others I'm terribly sorry there will be no more posts here.

  22. Oh no! I also respect your decision, but will miss this blog dearly. I've learned a lot from you, and hope you will re-consider... even if you take a break, and post much less frequently, it would continue to be a great source of information and inspiration.

  23. Be well Mike. Many thanks. See you on the trails

    Rick T.

  24. Mike:

    I'm another frequent reader who has never commented before.

    Thank you very much for your blog. I have learned a great deal about birding and photography from you.

    You have helped me become a better birder and naturalist. Your advice also helped me find a great scope and get more connected with my local birding community in western Washington.

    I hope retirement means you will be spending more time outside?

    Thank you,


  25. Mike -

    I've been following your blog pretty religiously for the past couple years and, though I've never left a comment, I've gained so much from it. Just wanted to say thank you thank you thank you!


  26. Love you Mike. I am sure you have your reasons, but I will certainly miss your blog. Staying home with 2 kids, I don't get to convene with nature much. I am not a bird watcher nor do I know what a digiscope is, but I found your blog searching for info on Pope Farm's site as a place to go with the kids. Reading your blog has helped me reconnect with nature and helped me to find peace. Before your blog, I never saw much sense in blogging. I don't want to waste my life reading the viewpoint of some stranger on obscure political points, or how he ate a sandwich today... Now I see how a blog really add value. I am sad to see you go. Happy Trails to you...