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Going Back to Cali (Brendan)

Tomorrow my good friend Simone and I are starting to make our way to Northern California for a job with Point Reyes Bird Observatory (PRBO for short).  We’ve given ourselves a good cushion of time to travel and explore, about four days to play around with between Seattle, WA and Chester, CA.  We’ve planned to cut to the coast midway through Oregon and spend our first night in the Florence area to see the Darlingtonias at the Darlingtonia Wayside.  I’ll be saying more about them once I’ve seen them, but just keep in mind that these are carnivorous plants (pitcher plants in fact) and they are right off Highway 101 in large concentrations.   After that it’s the Coast Redwoods, which I have also never had the pleasure of visiting.  Between all the beautiful coastline and those two places we should have plenty of time to get to work barring any unforeseen distractions.

It’s interesting to think that all across the country (and in fact probably the Northern Hemisphere), people like myself are headed out for field work.  We get suckered into highly skilled jobs for a seasonal or temporary position because of our love of the natural world.  We make both social and financial sacrifices for the opportunity to do something we love.  I don’t see a lot wrong with that!

But I suppose what I am getting at, is that there is a whole world out there to explore.  Not only explore but to protect.  That’s the goal of all these seasonal positions (unless of course you are working for a typical mining company).  Sure our job is surveying birds in the Northern Sierras for a forest service management plan.  We will drive a car all the way down the coast (a truck in fact) and during we will be tooling around in beastly Forest Service vehicles.  We won’t be living any more sustainably than a lot of the population.  The data collected will inevitably help to diminish habitat, while protecting “important areas.”  The more I think about it, the more I get the creeps.

Most of us have to start small to do something great.  Simone, myself, and our group of friends intend to do some important things for the biosphere but my point is that we aren’t perfect.  This blog is about how we aren’t perfect, particularly how flawed our obsession with birds and the natural world is.  Most importantly it’s about asking questions and containing some thoughts from our travels.

In the coming weeks you’ll hear about Simone’s and my adventure south, the begining of our job.  My thoughts, videos, and photos will accompany with some light facutal information for the more demanding of viewers.

Filed under: Field Work, Road Tripping

About the Author

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I am a natural history writer and photographer, obsessed birder, naturalist, and artist. When I'm not learning by reading, drawing, painting, taking photos, or being outside, I am probably asleep.


  1. Margaret Lambert

    Brendan and Simone–

    I am thoroughly enjoying reading all about your time with PRBO. Your photographs are amazing, as usual. And who knew you were a great writer too! Anyways I am impressed. Good work. You make me want to go birding right now!


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