#neverstopexploring...your 5MR

Yesterday I was itching to bird somewhere new but rather than drive out somewhere crazy I decided to explore within my 5MR.  I zoomed in on the western portion of my 5MR and found a couple of promising spots I had never noticed.  First was a park with a ridiculously long name that I keep rearranging into different variations, Douglas Carter Fisher Neighborhood Park.

Look at that!  A wetland I had no idea existed a mere 3.5 miles from home!  The internet says it was named for the previous property owner's son (a condition of the sale of the property) and was once a 29-acre lake. 

On the left past the ghost and scarecrow are some fenced-in ponds that hosted a blue heron and later, a billion crows.

A boardwalk takes you over the wet grass to a playground and field on the right, or the bark chipped path to the wetlands on the left. 

The wetlands have their own name apart from the park, Thomas Wetlands East, per this sign:

"Rain runoff from streets, yards and roofs is captured here before making its way to Burnt Bridge Creek."

I walked the loop around the wetlands finding plenty of birds like Varied Thrushes, Song Sparrows, Bewick's Wrens, Red-winged Blackbirds, kinglets, juncos, and chickadees.  My only complaint about this spot is that it's surrounded by houses with dogs, all of whom seemed to be left outside to bark.

The south side of the wetlands offers a great view of the water and the ducks swimming around.  I failed to find any rails or sneaky bitterns but I bet they're in there somewhere.

The mix of waterfowl included a Ring-necked Duck, American Wigeons, and Gadwalls. 

Ring-necked Duck

Is the reddish color over the eye indicative of molting from eclipse plumage?  My brief internet search did not turn up much. 

Happy Gadwalls

As I was nearing the end of the wetland loop trail I noticed an intriguing backlit sparrow.  I pished and it hopped up into the light.

Swamp Sparrow!!

 I had been hoping to find one this month for the 5MR October Sparrow Challenge and here it was, at a random pond I had no idea existed a couple hours earlier.  SCORE! 

This spot yielded me 25 species and definitely has a lot of potential.  I suggested it as an eBird hotspot and will try to keep it in the birding rotation. 

There was another spot I wanted to check out while I was in this area, King's Pond.  This is a small pond on a dead-end road that is private property, but easy to view from the road. 

When I pulled up I was greeted by tame-ish Mallards which is a good sign for a duck pond. 

The Mallards already had a couple of non-Mallard friends in the mix, a coot and a Wood Duck. 

A gull flew in which I called a Western x Glaucous-winged but correct me because I'm probably wrong.

Farther out on the pond lurked a Pied-billed Grebe and my first Hooded Mergansers this fall.

I only had 15 species here but it will definitely be worth checking throughout the winter. 

It was really fun to explore new places only a few miles from home!  My 5MR continues to surprise me which is awesome.  Good times!!!