Each November one looks at the bird records and tries to infer what kind of winter we are likely to have. Are there a lot of northern or montane birds showing up in the Valley? Are we going to have a lot of Lewis's Woodpeckers, or Varied Thrushes, or Pine Siskins? Has anyone seen a Rough-legged Hawk? Aside from an apparent influx of Purple Finches, the main theme of the month may be lingering migrants, plus a few surprises. A Eurasian Green-winged Teal was a nice find at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (YBWA) from 11/8 to at least 11/25.
The peak of shorebird season has passed, but reports of single Pacific Golden-Plovers at YBWA on 11/3 and again on 11/11 were matched by presumably a different bird found at the Woodland WTP on 11/3-20. (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S40313718) Four Marbled Godwits at YBWA were a nice find on 11/18. The gull highlight was a Franklin's Gull found at the Woodland WTP on 11/21 and continuing through at least 11/28. (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S40707054) One a taxonomic note, Iceland Gulls are a lot easier to find this fall: Thayer's Gull and Iceland Gull have been lumped by the AOU, and all are now considered Iceland Gulls, though teasing out the their subspecific identities is still a great challenge.
Empidonax flycatchers are very rare after mid-October, with Hammond's and "Western Flycatchers" (presumably Pacific-slope Flycatchers) accounting for nearly all of the late fall and winter records in our area. A "Western Flycatcher" was found and photographed along Babel Slough on 11/19 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S40610314). Single Cassin's Vireos were found at Slide Hill Park in Davis on 11/14 (likely a continuing bird) and at Reichmuth Park on 11/12 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S40471800). One of few Chestnut-backed Chickadee records for Sacramento County, and a new species for the Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP), was found on 11/18 along the River Walk. A second chickadee, not identified to species, was heard the same day on the Tall Forest survey at CRP. A Palm Warbler foraging near one of the ponds at the Woodland WTP on 11/24-28 was quite a surprise. (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S40703604), as was an Orchard Oriole (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S40830610) found on 11/30 in north Davis and continuing into mid-December. Lastly, aSwamp Sparrow was found along the auto tour at YBWA on 11/25 foraging in the canal near "the Y" where the route splits south of the entrance. This species has been found at the same spot in previous years and it continued there into mid-December.
The Sacramento Area is roughly defined as lying between Hwy 20 to the north, Hwy 12 to the south, and the 1000’ 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: Stuart Angerer, Laura Davis, Gil Ewing, Steve Hampton, Ed Harper, Cliff Hawley, Scott Hoppe, Stan Hunter, Dan Kopp, Arav and Aranya Karighattam, Manfred Kusch, Jeri Langham, Tim Ludwick, Mark Martucci, Michael Perrone, William Rockey, Jim Rowoth, Steve Scott, Ian Souza-Cole, Kirk Swenson, John Trochet, and Rick Williams. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.