August is a great time for birding in the Sacramento area. Really, it is. This is known by experienced birders, but is still not widely accepted by most. Sure, it can be very hot, but it also gets light very early. The hours before 9am can be pleasant and very birdy. August is perhaps the most productive month for "fall" shorebirding, though July and September are excellent too. Songbird migrants, especially in the second half of the month, can be quite numerous.
While this August provided us with many birds, there were only a few rarities found, and most of the best of those were continuing from the previous month. These included the two Stilt Sandpipers at the Davis Wetlands (DW), which continued from 7/31 to 8/2, and the two Least Terns that attempted to nest (their eggs failed to hatch) at the Sacramento Reg. Wastewater Treatment Plant (SRWTP). First seen on 6/27, the terns were last seen at the SRWTP Bufferlands on 8/5. The male Northern Parula found at Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP) on 7/26 continued well into September. A Plumbeous Vireo reported on 8/31 at the South Fork Putah Creek Preserve, just downstream from Mace Blvd, was perhaps the best August-only rarity. A very early Brown Creeper was a there as well--recall that a nest was found farther upstream on 5/18. A Green-tailed Towhee, also quite early, was a nice find at the West Pond in Davis on 8/10.
Among the uncommon shorebird finds, the best "haul" occurred at CRP on the morning of 8/5, with a Snowy Plover, two Marbled Godwits (far less common in Sacramento County than Yolo), a Semipalmated Sandpiper, and a Baird's Sandpiper. An impressive total of 78 Semipalmated Plovers was reported from the Woodland WTP on 8/8. Single Solitary Sandpipers were reported from private property in eastern Yolo County on 8/8 and DW on 8/10. Five Willets were at the Davis WTP on 8/10, and an impressive 25 Marbled Godwits were at DW on 8/19—six godwits were also at the Lincoln WTP on 8/19. Single juvenile Semipalmated Sandpipers were at the Bufferlands on 8/2 and 8/7. A Baird's Sandpiper was found at the Lincoln WTP on 8/19, with one to two at the Bufferlands in the second half of the month.
A female or young male Calliope Hummingbird was found on 8/8 after striking a window in Natomas. This species is more often recorded in spring. Other interesting reports include a Hermit Thrush thought to be one of the western montane races on the early date of 8/1, and the continuing male Common Goldeneye along the American River near Gristmill continued into September. Banded Caspian Terns photographed mid-month at SRWTP proved to be from colonies in Richmond, CA and the Columbia River, OR. A late report of a Band-tailed Pigeon near Galt on 6/8/08 is one of very few for the Central Valley in summer, and all the more interesting when taken with the Band-tailed Pigeon found along the American River at River Bend (formerly Goethe) Park on 7/2.
Many of these reports first appeared on the Central Valley Bird Club Listserv. Visit www.cvbirds.org and click "Listserv" for details. With nearly 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: Roger Adamson, Todd Easterla, Gil Ewing, Richard Hall, Steve Hampton, Scott Hoppe, Manfred Kusch, Jeri Langham, Cathie LaZier, Shawn Lockwood, Michael Marsh, Ed Pandolfino, Deren Ross, Jo Ellen Ryan, Mary Schiedt, John Sterling, Gene Trapp, John Trochet, Dan Williams, and David Yee. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.