Somewhat surprisingly, with an unusually cool and wet spring, there were relatively few unusual finds.Of course there were a lot of birds to see and a few notable reports, but hoped for vagrant songbirds were not among them:not a single vagrant warbler was reported in the Sacramento area.Shorebirds were better represented and Evening Grosbeaks continued through mid-May.Perhaps the most notable birds the storms blew in were Black Swifts, seen over Putah Creek just downstream of Monticello Dam, on 5/15 and 5/17.The other standout report was the return of at least two singing Bell’s Vireos to the Yolo Wildlife Area (YWA) just south of Parking Lot G.
Black Swift, May 17, 2011, by John Sterling
Evening Grosbeaks, April 17, 2011, by Chris Conard
For additional photos of the Black Swift, click here .
For videos of the Evening Grosbeaks and additional photos, click here .
A gorgeous Red-necked Grebe in breeding plumage at William B. Pond along the American River Parkway (ARP) on 5/5-6 was an excellent find.A Brown Pelican was seen flying over Sacramento near Hwy 50 and 65th St. on 5/28 (on 6/2 it or another bird was found in W Sacramento).Least Bitterns were heard calling at Mather Lake on 5/13, with two heard on 5/14, and at Lake Solano on 5/22.A Merlin on 4/23 at Cosumnes River Preserve was one of the later local reports.
Among the good shorebird finds, six Pacific Golden-Plovers were at the Trestle Ponds northeast of Woodland on 4/18.A Snowy Plover was found at Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP) on 4/23, and one was present there from 5/1-3.A high of 13 Snowy Plovers were at YWA, first reported on 4/26, some exhibiting breeding behavior.Ultimately they abandoned the area when the fields where they were foraging dried up.Solitary Sandpipers were widely reported, with an early report from a private ranch in southeastern Sacramento County on 4/3.There were multiple reports at CRP between 4/22 and 5/8, with an impressive high of five on 4/30.Two Willets were present at YWA on 4/27, and up to 10 Marbled Godwits were reported toward the end of April, but the most notable find there was a Red Knot in breeding plumage on 4/26.
For the second year in a row, California Gulls attempted to nest at the Davis WTP.A very usual scene in the Capay Valley on 5/16 involved an adult Western Gull eating a road-killed raccoon.Closer to more typical haunts, and adult Western Gull was also reported from Sherman Island on the same day.A single Least Tern was found at the SRCSD Bufferlands on 5/31, where they have nested for the past three years.Among the uncommon flycatchers, most notable were several Gray Flycatchers, including one at Beek’s Bight, Folsom Lake, on 5/1, CRP on 5/2, along Putah Creek between Winters and Davis on 5/11, and one at Paradise Beach (ARP) on 5/15.The Steller’s Jay that wintered in Curtis Park continued through the end of May.A singing Brown Creeper was along Putah Creek downstream of Lake Solano on 4/27 and an adult was feeding a fledgling at the Lake Solano campground on 5/30 (video here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/conardc/5778231609/in/photostream/).A Green-tailed Towhee was found at Sailor Bar (ARP) on 5/18, and the Harris’s Sparrow found near the Gristmill access (ARP) on 1/31 was last reported on 4/17. Evening Grosbeak reports continued, with up to 30 along Old Davis Rd near the UCD Wildlife Health Center.They were seen at this location from 4/13 to 5/14, and breeding behavior (copulation and stick carrying) was noted on at least two occasions.Two were reported flying over Orangevale on 5/15.
Many of these reports first appeared on the Central Valley Bird Club Listserve.Visit cvbirds.org and click "Listserve" for details.With more than 100 reports, it is impossible to list everyone; however, I want to thank the following for reports on the above species and for providing additional information:Steve Abbott, Dan Airola, Todd Easterla, Gil Ewing, Steve Hampton, Ed Harper, Dan Kopp, Alison Kent, Jeri Langham, Mark Martucci, Sarah Newton, Frances Oliver, Ron Pozzi, W.L. Rockey, John Sterling, John Trochet, and Daniel Welsh.Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.