While Sacramento area residents still suffer the hot days of summer, by August there are many birds to keep them company. Shorebird migrant peaks from mid-July through August and by early August the numbers of migrant warblers, flycatchers and other songbirds are often quite impressive, especially in the first couple hours of light on hot summer days. This August, despite the unusually dry conditions brought on by the continued drought, provided many highlights and a good showing of the expected migrant shorebirds and songbirds that keep us heading into the field.
After many reports from the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (YBWA) last month, one-to-two Least Bitterns were seen and photographed at the Bridgeway Island Pond near West Sacramento from 8/7-9. Shorebird highlights included a handful of Willet and Marbled Godwit reports from traditional sites in Yolo County, along with a single Willet report from Sacramento County at the Sacramento Regional WTP (SRWTP) on 8/7 and a single Marbled Godwit at Cosumnes River Preserve on 8/15. The only Sanderling report of the month was from the Woodland WTP on 8/7. ASemipalmated Sandpiper was found at Camanche Reservoir in Amador County on 8/7, apparently a first county record, and two were found there the following day. Another Semipalmated Sandpiper was found and photographed at SRWTP from 8/24-26 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S24747776). The only August Baird’s Sandpiperreports were of one at the Woodland WTP on 8/12-13 and one at the Anatolia Vernal Pool Preserve off Sunrise Blvd on 8/22, with two reported there on 8/24.
The pair of Least Terns that nested at SRWTP had two flying young on 8/18, though only one juvenile was seen after 8/19. It was regularly seen into early September along with one or both adults. A Yellow-billed Cuckoo was reported calling and was briefly seen near the Mayhew Drain, downstream from the Gristmill access along the American River Parkway (ARP). The male Costa’s Hummingbird that was banded in September 2013 has since been sporadically reported along Putah Creek between Davis and Winters, including several times this August.
Songbird highlights included a female or immature American Redstart found at the Gristmill access to ARP on 8/30. There was a flurry of Green-tailed Towhee reports, with one along Putah Creek near Pedrick Rd on 8/22, one at the Wood Duck Lakes along South River Rd near West Sacramento on 8/26, and one at the Sacramento Bypass off of Rd 126 on 8/30 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S24827314). A male Indigo Bunting photographed at YBWA on 8/8-9 was a nice surprise, and a flyover Pine Siskin on 8/31 at Grassland Regional Park in Yolo County was the only one for the season so far.
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. It is impossible to list everyone, but I want to thank the following for their reports: Keith Bailey, Jon Dunn, Leo Edson, Gil Ewing, Steve Hampton, Ed Harper, Clifford Hawley, Scott Hoppe, Dan Kopp, Manfred Kusch, Jeri Langham, Eric LoPresti, Harry Oakes, Ed Pandolfino, Michael Perrone, Mark Sawyer, Steve Scott, John Sterling, Kirk Swenson, and John Trochet. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.