As spring progressed, many sites were still partially flooded from the historically wet winter. Nevertheless, good reports of shorebirds and migrant songbirds were widespread. Three Red-breasted Mergansers were a surprise along Able Rd at the south end of the Colusa NWR on 5/4. The pair of Bald Eagles with two chicks at Lake Natoma continued as a highlight for many into May. There were multiple reports of Black Rails, including calling birds at White's Slough (a known location for the species near the Lodi Sewer Ponds), one seen along the Wetlands Walk boardwalk at Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP) on 4/28, and birds seen and heard along a small drainage in El Dorado Hills in late April and into May.
There were quite a few good shorebird reports, including three Snowy Plovers at the Granite Bay boat launch at Folsom Lake on 4/7 and a single along Desmond Rd at CRP on 4/15. Two Marbled Godwits were found on 4/14 at the Colusa NWR auto tour shortly after it reopened from flooding. A single Marbled Godwit was at CRP on 4/22 as was an impressive flock of 78 Whimbrels on 4/13. Single Solitary Sandpipers were found on 4/30 at the large Meiss Rd Pond near Dillard Rd and at the Orr Ranch at CRP, and another was at CRP on 5/5. Two Willets were along Desmond Rd on 4/15, a Sanderling was found at the Lincoln WTP on 4/21, a Semipalmated Sandpiper
(http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36071523), especially rare for spring, was photographed at the Sacramento Reg. WTP (SRWTP) on 4/18-19, a Pectoral Sandpiper was found along Yolo County Rd 30 near Rd 105 on 4/27, and another Pectoral Sandpiper (a male in breeding plumage) was at CRP on 5/3. The Davis WTP had a great run, with a single Stilt Sandpipers from 5/7-9, two from 5/10-14, and a Red Knot on 5/10 and 5/13. A Sabine's Gull was a nice find at the Woodland WTP on 4/7 and a Least Tern on 4/25 was locally early at SRWTP where they have nested in recent years, including this year beginning in May.
A Common Poorwill was heard calling along Latrobe Rd on 4/30 and a poorwill was found dead from a vehicle strike on 4/16 along S River Rd, south of West Sacramento; this species is a rare, or at least rarely detected, migrant on the Valley floor. There were multiple reports of Calliope Hummingbirds visiting local feeders, and an impressive report of 6-8 males found in chaparral/chamise habitat on the ridge above the Beek's Bight parking lot at Folsom Lake on 4/25. There were a fair number of Hammond's Flycatcher reports throughout the month and, surprisingly, Gray Flycatcher reports, between 4/9 through May, were too numerous to list here (more than a dozen reports). Single Dusky Flycatchers were reported at Bobcat Ranch west of Winters on 4/20 and at Wood Duck Lake, south of West Sacramento, on 4/30. A late Say's Phoebe on 5/15 was unusual for the date along the ag buffer in the Wildhorse neighborhood in Davis. Two Varied Thrushes along Irish Hill Rd near Ione were a surprise on the late date of 5/14 when they have been extremely scarce in our area this year. Single Northern Parulas were found along Irish Hill Rd on 5/14 and at Putah Creek downstream of Pedrick Rd on 5/28. A Palm Warbler at White's Slough from at least 4/2-10 was an excellent find for the Valley. Other notable reports included a Green-tailed Towhee visiting a Rancho Cordova yard on 4/24, a Vesper Sparrow (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36444376) along Meiss Rd on 4/30, a Brewer's Sparrow on Meiss Rd on 5/2, and an impressive 20 Chipping Sparrows along Michigan Bar Rd on 4/24. A singing male Summer Tanager was present at CRP on 5/27 (for the fourth year in a row) and a singing male Baltimore Oriole was reported from private property along Putah Creek near the Solano diversion dam on 5/28.
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, Keith Bailey, Carla Barbaro, Paul Buchanan, Roy Carlson, Lily Douglas, Leo Edson, Andy Engilis, Gil Ewing, Stephan Fettig, Frank Fogarty, Claire Gallagher, Ted Gilliland, Steve Hampton, Ed Harper, James Holmes, Dan Kopp, Manfred Kusch, Jeri Langham, Stephen Long, John Luther, Mark Martucci, Ed Pandolfino, Michael Perrone, Ron Pozzi, Jim Rowoth, Sonia Santa Anna, Mark Sawyer, Sarah Newton-Scott, Jim Thomas, Kevin Thomas, John Trochet, Charley Walker, and Dan Williams. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.