Although many associate September with the peak of migration, August might be the best time of year for birding. Shorebird numbers are very high and peak flows of common songbird migrants are moving through. It is true that more rare songbirds typically come next month, but for shear numbers and diversity this is a great time of year to be in the field, especially before the heat of mid-day. Up to four Redheads were reported throughout the month at the Woodland WTP. They are uncommon at any season in the region, but a few typically show up in the summer in Yolo County. A Least Bittern was found at Bridgeway Island Pond from 8/6-11 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38513054) and another was at Mather Lake on 8/23.
Despite the wet conditions earlier in the year, shorebird habitat (and/or access) was hard to come by in many traditionally good locations. Among the good finds were three Baird's Sandpipers at the Woodland WTP on 8/8 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38542599), with one continuing through 8/14. A single was found at the Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP) on 8/10. Solitary Sandpipers continued at the Sacramento Regional WTP (SRWTP) Bufferlands from late July, with a peak of four on 8/2. Three Willets were at SRWTP on 8/7, and three were also at the Davis WTP on 8/9.
A Northern Pygmy-Owl at Willowbank Ditch in Davis on 8/31 was a nice surprise. This species is regular in low numbers around the Putah Creek Canyon west of Winters, but very rare anywhere on the flats of the Valley. Wildwings Park along Cache Creek west of Woodland produced reports of good migrant numbers as well as a Gray Catbird on 8/14 and a male Summer Tanager on 8/5. A Northern Waterthrush was found at CRP on 8/18, and a male American Redstart was found at CRP on 8/19. One of the biggest surprises of the season was a molting female Hooded Warbler in north Davis from 8/16 through at least 8/29 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38672342).
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: Keith Bailey, Andy Engilis, Gil Ewing, Steve Hampton, Ed Harper, Cliff Hawley, Will Hemstrom, Stanton Hunter, Dan Kopp, Kris Kordana, Manfred Kusch, Jeri Langham, Tim Liguori, Mark Martucci, Michael Perrone, Jim Rowoth, Steve Scott, Kevin Thomas, and John Trochet. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.