Raccoons at Daybreak …

I was out along the river at daybreak when something popped up over the levee wall. At first I thought that it was going to be a cat but four more of its kind followed.

I lifted my binoculars to see a mother raccoon and her four young ones. I had my dog with me so I stopped and just watched. The mother stood frozen on the walkway as the young ones moved around full of curiosity.

I could see that they were headed over to a huge maple tree that would easily provide the shade and protection that they needed from the hot morning sun that was rising up into the sky.

I was in a bit of a hurry because I had to be to work in an hour so I took a few steps forward towards them. The mother stopped moving and stared right at me. I took a few more steps, this time she stood up on her back feet and stared right into my binoculars.

I could still see the young ones curiously scavenging around near her side. I took another few steps toward her and could see her breasts filled with milk as she stood facing me. Her eyes would move from me over to my dog, and then back to me.

I took a few more steps toward her and this time she dropped down to all fours and jumped up onto the levee wall as she chattered out to her cubs. Three of them immediately turned and ran towards their mother along the wall. The smallest one ran over to the wall but had a hard time jumping up onto it. 

I took a few more steps forward. The mother reached down with her left hand and held it  out to her youngest. I stood watching in amazement as the little one grabbed ahold of its mothers hand as she pulled it up next to her on the wall.

I took a few more steps knowing that I was going to now scare them away. All five of them jumped down from the wall and scurried off down toward the river bank. My dog loved it when he got up to where the raccoons had been. His little nose went nuts. I paused so that he could get a good scent of what it was that I am trying to keep out of my garden.

Yesterday morning I found a lone green tomato laying on the ground in my garden. I picked it up and brought it into the house. It wasn’t until I got home from work that I noticed two little teeth marks in the tomato. Raccoons?

This morning the heavy laden bush was over on its side. I picked it up and secured it back into the garden soil. Raccoons?




Goats Along the River

This is my piece that I was asked to write for our local Bird Club Newsletter. This is not the monthly column that I usually write.


Goats Along the River

I have just returned from walking 383consecutive days along the river here in Pendleton. I am not your casual walker who listens to music and/or chatters away as I walk. I walk purposely, quietly, and always staring intently into the trees, the thickets, and along the rivers edge.

 What I have been able to view, to witness, and to hear has been an incredible blessing to me. As you read this you are probably expecting me to tell you all about the birds, the wildlife, and natures incredible beauty, but sadly, I am not.

 Instead, I am going to tell you about the horrible destruction of natural habitat and wildlife that is happening along our beautiful river. You may choose not to take part in walking along the river levee, or maybe you physically are unable to, but I desperately need to educate you on what is really going on.

I have documented 41/2 seasons now. I am watching everything slowly die off or leave the rivers edge. In case you are unaware, the city of Pendleton has allowed goats to graze along the levee for 2 years now. Each year they make 2 passes along the rivers edge. The following is what is happening to our river.

 Between Main Street and the east end of the levee, just this year alone, over 120 trees have been stripped of their bark, which will lead to them having to be cut down. The shade that once protected the rivers edge from the hot afternoon sun has all but disappeared. The rivers edge is now heating up and will cause havoc for the Salmon and Steelhead.

More than 20 species of birds that should be living along the river during the summer months have disappeared due to the loss of habitat.

The goats came through for their 1st trip in early May. This caused all of the birds nesting on the ground and as high up as 6 feet above ground to loose their nests to the goats. One morning I stood with tears in my eyes as I watched a pair of American Robins frantically trying to repair the nest that the goats had torn the bottom out of, just a day earlier.

 The Northern Flickers and Cedar Wax Wings should be filling the rivers edge foraging for food and insects this time of year but their food and shelter have disappeared.

The otters have only been spotted twice this year. They do not like their habitat disturbed and go up river and into the creek when the goats are nearby.

I can go on and on but instead I am reaching out to you to help me to save our river, the wildlife, and the birds.

On the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month the City Council holds a meeting. I need your support, whether it is physical or verbal. We need to stand up and tell the council that we want our natural habitat to be preserved and that there are better ways to “clear” the rivers edge than the way it is currently being done. I hope to see you at the next meeting on August 6th. I will speak promptly at 7pm.