The extended dry period this fall finally broke up in late November, with moderate rainfall occurring on and off throughout December. Many of the interesting birds for the period were found during local Christmas Bird Counts or from increased scouting and followup visits the counts inspired. Among notable waterfowl was a female/immature Red-breasted Merganser (https://ebird.org/checklist/S62407185) downstream and later in the vicinity of the Nimbus Hatchery. It was first reported on 12/17 and found sporadically into January. A well-photographed male Blue-winged x Cinnamon Teal (https://ebird.org/checklist/S62680440) was at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (YBWA) on 12/27.
Lesser Black-backed Gull reports continue to increase in our region. On 12/21, a third cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull was found at the Yolo County Landfill Pond and an adult was at the Davis WTP on the same day. An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was photographed (https://ebird.org/checklist/S62515297) at the Anatolia Vernal Pool Preserve on 12/21 and refound there for a few days. It or another adult was also found near the Nimbus Hatchery on 12/28. Two Glaucous Gulls were found on 12/20 along Yolo Rd 104, with probably the same birds found at the nearby Yolo County Landfill on 12/21. An adult Glaucous Gull (https://ebird.org/checklist/S62752809) was photographed just downstream of the Nimbus Hatchery on 12/29. A Barred Owl (https://ebird.org/checklist/S62238079) on private property in south Davis, apparently the first for the Central Valley, was reported publicly on 12/11. It was roosting in a barn and adjacent trees and turned up again in early January. Approximately 12 Long-eared Owls continued at a communal roost on 12/28 on a portion of Cosumnes River Preserve with restricted access.
The Tropical Kingbird found along Sherman Island East Levee Rd on 11/23 continued into January, as did the young male Vermilion Flycatcher, becoming increasingly bright red,firstfound at Tanzanite Park in Natomas on 10/30. A Plumbeous Vireo was found in Winters from 12/8 through at least 12/15. Tanzanite Park also produced a Clay-colored Sparrow (https://ebird.org/checklist/S62674776), first found and photographed on 12/27; it continued through at least 12/29 in the vicinity at a private yard. Additional notable reports included a Harris's Sparrow (https://ebird.org/checklist/S62272968) visiting a Woodland yard on 12/13, the continuing Swamp Sparrow at YBWA, an Evening Grosbeak at Slide Hill Park in Davis on 12/14, four Red Crossbills over a Carmichael yard on 12/28, and a Tennessee Warbler found in Davis on 12/29 near the Birch Lane Elementary School. The Worm-eating Warbler in southeastern Davis found on 10/27 at San Marino Park continued through the end of the month, while a Wilson's Warbler was a surprise near Larchmont Park along the American River Parkway on 12/8, as was an unseasonable Black-headed Grosbeak at Lake Solano on 12/15.
The Sacramento Area is roughly defined as lying between Hwy 20 to the north, Hwy 12 to the south, and the 1000-foot contour to the east and west, plus all of Sacramento and Yolo Counties. Many reports first appeared on the Central Valley Bird Club listserve (cvbirds.org) and in eBird (ebird.org). It is impossible to list everyone, but I want to thank the following for their reports: Max Brodie, Lyann Comrack, Suzanne Day, Gil Ewing, Steve Hampton, Ed Harper, Cliff Hawley, James Holmes, Rich Howard, Emmett Iverson, Tony Kurz, Jeri Langham, Sami LaRocca, Andrew Lee, Dan Murphy, Michael Perrone, Mark Sawyer, Steve Scott, Sean Smith, John Sterling, Kirk Swenson, John Trochet, Bart Wickel, and Dan Williams. Thanks to everyone for their reports--without them, this column would not be possible.