During an historically wet January, many of our favorite locations were partially or completely under water for much of the month. It is perhaps fitting that several of the most interesting reports were of waterfowl. Four Trumpeter Swans, a mix of adults and juveniles (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S33474509), were reported among Tundra Swans north of Knight's Landing off of Hwy 45 on 1/5, and at least one continued there through 1/7. Four adult Trumpeter Swans were reported farther north and to the east of Arbuckle, along Lodi Rd from 1/7-9. An eight-mile stretch of the San Joaquin River is visible from East Sherman Island Rd in extreme southwestern Sacramento County (the far side is Contra Costa County). A flurry of reports from this stretch began on 1/26, with a male Long-tailed Duck, found again on 1/27 and even heard "yodeling." That bird was not refound after the second day, but on 1/29, a male Tufted Duck (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S34164775) was found by many and continued into February. Two White-winged Scoters, very rare inland, were found the same day, and also continued into February. Greater Scaup, approaching 1,000, were reported from the river, along with many thousands of Snow, Ross's, and Greater White-fronted Geese in the nearby fields.
A Least Bittern photographed at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area on 1/2 was a nice find, especially for winter, and before this site was completely flooded for the rest of the month. Up to five Mountain Plovers were reported east of Davis along Rd 30, beginning on 1/2 and continuing for much of the month. Caspian Terns are fairly rare in winter, so a report of six at the Sacramento Bypass on 1/11, and a single in the vicinity of Lake Natoma and the Nimbus Hatchery from 1/15-21 were notable.
Wintering Hammond's Flycatchers are rare, but, along with Pacific-slope/"Western," account for the bulk of locally found "empids" in winter. A Hammond's Flycatcher was found and photographed at William Land Park on 1/11 and another was found and photographed at West Pond in Davis (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S33644326) from 1/11-14. Three Northern Rough-winged Swallows at Bridgeway Island Pond in West Sacramento on 1/15 were notable for the season, with at least one continuing through the end of the month. A Townsend's Solitaire was a nice find at Lower Cache Creek Regional Park from 1/15-26. A Sage Thrasher, first reported on 1/27 near Rds 25A and 96B, was seen by many into February, but had apparently first been spotted about a week earlier. A second Sage Thrasher was found on 1/30 along Rd 89, north of Rd 16. A gorgeous Red Fox Sparrow, first detected on 1/3 along the American River Parkway between Howe and Watt, was photographed and reported almost daily into February.
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: Roger Adamson, Dan Airola, Stuart Angerer, Keith Bailey, Dan Brown, Andi Burnett, Terry Colborn, Matt Davis, Lily Douglas, Todd Easterla, Leo Edson, Gil Ewing, Kevin Guse, Steve Hampton, Andrew Johnson, Dan Kopp, Jeri Langham, Ed Pandolfino, Pam Pappone, Jim Rowoth, Ben Sandstrom, Kirk Swenson, and John Trochet. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.