While many are waiting for September, for sheer numbers and diversity of migrants, August is hard to top—especially before the heat of mid-day. Massive numbers of flycatchers, vireos, and warblers migrate through the Central Valley, with only a small fraction ever detected. At the same time, shorebird numbers are also at or near their peak. Signs of fall start to creep in with shorter days and the first locally reported Sandhill Cranes this season were flying over Sacramento on 8/31. Continuing from earlier in the summer, Least Bitterns were reported from Mather Lake on 8/20, Bridgeway Island Pond in West Sacramento on 8/28, and up to two were reported throughout the month from the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (YBWA).
Many of the notable reports this month come from the shorebird group, which is expected for August. Single Solitary Sandpipers were reported from the Davis Wetlands on 8/19 and the Ione WTP from 8/22-23 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31203698). A Marbled Godwit was at the Sacramento Regional WTP (SRWTP) from 8/29-31 and a juvenile Sanderling was at the same location on 8/31-9/1 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31356585). Semipalmated Sanpipers were reported at YBWA on 8/7 and 8/12-13, a single was reported at SRWTP on 8/31, and another was reported from the Arbuckle WTP in Colusa County on 8/1 along with a juvenile Baird’s Sandpiper (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S30942074). Baird’s Sandpipers were also reported at the Winters WTP on 8/25-31, with a high of three on 8/29, and from YBWA from 8/30-31. Three Pectoral Sandpipers were found at the YBWA on 8/31 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31352683).
A Calliope Hummingbird was a nice find at Ancil Hoffman on 8/28. On 8/9, a Gray Flycatcher was found along Michigan Bar Rd. This species is detected far more often in spring migration. Somewhat more expected was a Dusky Flycatcher at the Orr portion of CRP on 8/27 and a Hammond’s Flycatcher at the Tall Forest on 8/28. Two Pileated Woodpeckers were seen eating grapes near the Fishing Access #1 parking area along Putah Creek west of Winters on 8/2, and a Steller's Jay found the same day at Fishing Access #2 was a surprise so early in the season. Among the few Yellow-breasted Chat reports was one of two birds on 8/27 along Babel Slough Rd on what was described as a morning “bustling with migrants.” Three streaky juvenile Chipping Sparrows were found at the same location (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31273011). A Green-tailed Towhee in a Carmichael Backyard on 8/21 was a nice find, and even more unexpected was a female Summer Tanager along Putah Creek near Hopkins Rd on 8/5, west of UC Davis.
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, Kathy Blankenship, Lily Douglas, Chris Dunford, Andy Engilis, Gil Ewing, Stephen Fettig, Frank Fogarty, Steve Hampton, Ed Harper, John Harris, Cliff Hawley, Scott Hoppe, Dan Kopp, Jeri Langham, Mark Martucci, Frances Oliver, Jim Rowoth, Mark Sawyer, Ken Schneider, Steve Scott, Kirk Swenson, John Trochet, and Rick Williams. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.