Close to home.

After Jake gave me quite a scare on Friday morning I figured it would be a good weekend to stay close to home, keep things mellow.  Jake was fine by late Friday afternoon (google Vestibular Disease- it's a blast), but still liked the idea of working on yard projects and not planning any big adventures.  I realized it was the Great Backyard Bird Count weekend so it made even more sense to stay home.


I think I tallied about 17 species over the weekend in the yard.  Lesser Goldfinches have become nice regulars at the nyjer (when the Song Sparrows let them near it).


I've even had a couple new yard birds over the last week- a Bewick's Wren and a Downy Woodpecker.  No good photos of those guys, but here are a couple of other regulars...



On Saturday I started thinking about my motorless birding list and realized I should start over with the new house, as well as for the new year.  I don't live too close to any popular parks or nature reserves- that was one drawback about my house location.  But in the few months I've lived here as I've driven around running errands I have noticed some spots with potential- spots I could easily walk to.  And so the dogs and I set out!

I learned I live a ten minute walk to the Columbia Slough.  Sure I wouldn't want to dip my toes in it personally, but the habitat surrounding it is great and I immediately picked up Great Egret and Mallard for my motorless list. 


See that rainbow?  Another ten minutes of walking and we were crossing Marine Drive to a sweet view of the Columbia River...


I was psyched.  I don't know why it took me three months to realize how easily I could walk to these awesome places.  Sunday morning the dogs and I set out again- this time to check out another slough access point, as well as some ponds I had driven by.  This time I was properly armed with my camera and bins...


I was surprised to find Hooded Mergansers, Ring-necked Ducks, and Mallards in the slough!   I also added Great Blue Heron to my list here.  I made it to the ponds eventually, and as I had hoped, the area was rather birdy.  I added Gadwall, Pied-billed Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, and a bunch of other birds to my list.


The crown jewel was this discovery:


HELL yeah!  This was all it took for me to know I found my new patch...  I found 19 species on my walk around the ponds- not bad, and I can only imagine spring there will get interesting. 


On the way home I stopped by the Columbia Slough again, adding both kinglets to my list.   This seems like another spot that could provide a lot of good birds come springtime.  Investing in future birding, just like Laurence!

Back at home I spent a couple hours battling the Italium arum that wants nothing more than to take over the northeast corner of my yard.


I found this feather on the ground- any thoughts?  I still need to get a feather guide...


I decided to take the dogs for another walk in the late afternoon, this time up to the river.  Here I was able to add both scaup, Common Goldeneye, and Glaucous-winged Gull to my list.  Hopefully I'll find some grebes and loons soon too.

Common Goldeneye

So sticking close to home this weekend gave me a whole new appreciation of my neighborhood, a couple of new patches, and a couple of tired dogs.  Winning!

Comments

  1. Jen, you had a great weekend of birding close to home. Love the owl shot. And the hoodies are a favorite of mine. Sounds like you found a great place or patch to bird. The episode with Jake sounds scary ( I did have to google the disease) I hope he is feeling better now. Happy Birding and have a great week!

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  2. That's awesome. SO many great birds, and sloughs?!? Sloughs are fabulous. You can also find frogs and cool bugs there--a favorite haunt when I was a kid. Can't believe you are w/in walking distance of the Colombia River. SWEET. Nice work, and looking forward to reports on your garden, too. =)

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  3. The owl was a great find. I bet Rhett doesn't know about that one ;)

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  4. Got nuthin, just a long-time lurker checking in to give you an affectionate shoulder pat over the whole vestibular experience. It can be so scary. Acupunture really seemed to help my old border collie after she had her vestibular episode, FWIW. Thanks for the excellent blog, and you and Jake and Jake's sib take care!

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    1. Thanks- Jake seems to be doing just fine now, despite how terrifying it was at the time. I was relieved he recuperated in less than a day, rather than the 72 hours the vet predicted.

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  5. Awesome variety of birds, Jen! And congrats on the GHO--what a beauty!

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  6. Looks like a secondary feather with the pattern and stiffness found on waterfowl. Could it be Pintail? Goose? Not sure but those are my first guesses without being able to judge size.

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    1. It's pretty small- might not come across from the photo. Rhett's suggestion of Golden-crowned or White-crowned Sparrow seems to make more sense because of the location. Have yet to see a pintail in the yard, though I would welcome it!

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  7. I sometimes suffer from Vertigo, so I can sympathize with Jake...I hope he is fine and dandy now..
    WOW you found a honey hole for sure in that patch. Great Horned and all! I have no clue on the feather....Sometimes cool stuff is only a good walk away!

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  8. Glad your sweet pup is feeling better! Your rainbow shots are beautiful:)

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  9. Nice work! Getting those local patches online is so integral to consistent birding throughout the year.
    And then visiting them with, beer, since you can walk!...

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    1. Oh man, with two leashes, bins, and a camera I am not sure I have enough hands for a beer, despite how good of an idea that is.

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  10. After reviewing my feather bible (Bird Feathers by Scott and McFarland), I think it is a trailing secondary of either a White-crowned or Golden-crowned Sparrow. Was it closer to 2" rather than 3 to 4"?

    I believe this because of the clear, crisp buff/orange edge on the short side of the feather, along with the overall shape and impression. Get the book and reference pages 317 and 318.

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    1. I will track down that book! I would say it was closer to 3". Definitely not 2". Those are two of my most common yard birds so it makes sense...

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  11. Congrats on your new local patch- wow it sounds like a great one! You can walk to the slough and the Columbia River? Nice!!!

    Dwight

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  12. I like the idea of a motorless birding list. Some really nice photos and I always love finding an owl. It just doesn't happen often enough for me but then again, that's part of what makes it special.

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