While the long, hot summer still holds sway in August, migrating birds are one of our best indicators that the season is changing. By the first of the month, warblers, flycatchers and other songbird reports were picking up. Shorebird numbers that soared in July continued at high levels through the end of the month. As happens in most Augusts, shorebirds led the way with unusual reports, and a few songbirds highlights kept things interesting. On the last day of the month, the first Sandhill Cranes were reported at Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP).
Among the shorebird highlights, a Snowy Plover was a nice find at CRP on 8/6, and up to five Marbled Godwits at Sherman Island toward the end of the month were notable for Sacramento County, where they are much less frequently found than in neighboring Yolo County. It's likely that increased coverage of Sherman Island, in the extreme southwestern portion of the county, would yield more of this and other locally uncommon species. A Sanderling, also from Sherman Island on 8/1, was a nice find. Baird's Sandpiper reports came from the Davis WTP on 8/16, Sherman Island on 8/28, and the Sacramento Reg. WTP on 8/31 (https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S59407514). The only Least Bittern report of the month was from Mather Lake on 8/10-11.
After being largely absent last fall and winter, starting on 8/22, there were good numbers of Red-breasted Nuthatch reports that continued into September. A Green-tailed Towhee at Babel Slough on 8/31 (https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S59408646) was a nice find where this species has been found before. Four Yellow-breasted Chats at Babel Slough on 8/30 is an impressive number, but this species has been widely reported this year. Rare warbler reports included a Tennessee Warbler at Ancil Hoffman on 8/28, a Black-and-white Warbler at Sacramento Bypass on 8/10, and a Magnolia Warbler along the American River Parkway at the William B Pond access on 8/18. Surely September promises additional interesting finds.
The Sacramento Area is roughly defined as lying between Hwy 20 to the north, Hwy 12 to the south, and the 1000-foot 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: Dan Airola, Max Brodie, Gil Ewing, Stephen Fettig, Steve Hampton, Cliff Hawley, Terry Hodapp, James Holmes, Scott Hoppe, Emmett Iverson, Afton Kern, Manfred Kusch, Jeri Langham, Mark Martucci, Nora Papian, Michael Perrone, Susan Schneider, Steve Scott, Kirk Swenson, John Trochet, Daniel Welsh, Amy Welsh, Dan Williams, and Bart Wickel. Thanks to everyone for their reports--without them, this column would not be possible.