Tod's Blog

Adventures with family & friends and other things I'm passionate about…

Sometimes This Job Is For The Birds

Posted by todblog on July 24, 2010

July 16, 2010

Once a year, for about six hours, I find myself up in the Cascade Mountains anchored to a folding lawn chair. I leave town by 5am and get into position by 6am. With binoculars, clip board, data sheet, and coffee by my side, I wait patiently for my guests to arrive. It starts out pretty chilly as I settle down and try to get comfortable on the slopes of a rocky creek bank. I know as the sun climbs the eastern sky, I’ll be peeling off some layers of clothes to get comfortable. The tranquil melody of crystal clear water running hastily over river rocks on its way to the Pacific Ocean quenches my thirsty soul. To be here is a break from the routine day at work where complaints from the public are the norm and leaving the office at the end of the day feels like one too many cups of espresso. Actually, this annual assignment reminds me why I got into this line of work…

As a child growing up in Hawaii, I spent many memorable hours in Nuuanu Stream. It was a weekly tradition to visit grandparents and have big family dinners every Sunday. We would usually go early enough to spend some quality time in the stream behind the house. There were several ash-handled scoop nets hanging on a nail in the outside storage closet. They waited patiently for my return each week. “Swoosh, drip, drip, drip” was a familiar noise as the net was plunged quickly in the water and brought out with a sweeping motion. You might lift it to find flopping swordtails, rainbow guppies, mosquito fish, tadpoles, or occasionally some crayfish. Of course, one or two collections might find their way sailing at my sister Maile. Hearing the scream it produced was always worth it. After cleaning up and eating dinner, I would sit on the living room floor and watch the weekly TV episode of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. Pursuing and catching all those wild critters sure seemed exciting to me.

Listening to the creek below me now brings back those memories each year as I sit and wait for band-tailed pigeons to arrive. These counts are conducted by other westside Oregon district wildlife biologists. Today, my first guests that arrive are a pair of black-tailed deer interested in the mineral spring. They are extremely nervous and can’t seem to keep their heads down for more than a few seconds as they drink from the spring. They eventually leave the spring and make way for the pigeons that have been arriving in small groups and landing in large fir trees overlooking the spring. They too are a nervous bunch but, eventually make it down for a drink. This scenario repeats itself throughout the morning.

Before I know it, noon is upon me and it’s time to fold up my chair and head down the mountain. I know there will be a bunch of voicemails and emails waiting for me upon my return to the office. I might complain a little but, then I have to realize that sometimes this job is for the birds.

Black-tailed deer visiting the mineral spring

Not just another day  in the office


12 Responses to “Sometimes This Job Is For The Birds”

  1. Mommy said

    Great story, how beautiful and serene:) I’ll bet my husband is jealous.


  2. Terri said

    Nice. I always enjoy your blogs. Only one thing bothers me….ash-handled scoop nets. Ours were mottled with mildew. Only ash colored ones I ever saw were in the store. Our current ones have dark brown and black handles and green and red dental floss on the net edges. : )


  3. Bob said

    I loved Your Grandparent’s back yard. What kid wouldn’t! What a great way to spend the mornning. Thanks for the wonderful story.


  4. Diana said

    Loved it. This one is worth waiting for.
    Love, Aunty Diana


  5. Beatriz said



  6. Mark said

    Tough day at the office? Sounds like something I would do with my time off (shotgun in hand).

    Who took the last picture of you in the chair? A band tailed pigeon or the black tailed deer?


  7. todblog said

    Photo courtesy of Oregon State Police- you never know where or when they’ll come out of the bushes to say hello!


  8. todblog said

    Terri, you’re right about the mottled color handles and the repair-job stitching around the edges (too many rocks ripping the net on the wire loop). It happens when you dig deep for the big red crayfish hiding in the rocks on the bottom!


  9. Chris said

    What a great blog entry and memory of home! The stream memories at Pahoehoe place stop with our generation. It makes me sad that we don’t have any pictures of what we used to catch or where we used to go down and play in the water. Thank you for reliving and sharing with your readers!


  10. Maile said

    Thank you for reminding me of da kine kid days in hawaii – i got chicken skin reading it!Remember also the strawberry and grape soda?!


  11. John W. said

    Tod , that reminds me of my kid days at my dads place down at Puako. The scoop net with the occasional three prong action. Always looking forward to M of O’s Wild Kingdom with Marlin Perkins always saying “lookout Jim” without any real excitment in his voice. The only thing different was the meals, my dad had only one dish he could make and he called it his Puako chop suey. At least we never had to wait long for dinner.


  12. Bea Kikawa said

    Thanks for the story. I think we all need a day “for the birds”.


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