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!