December was another fairly quiet month, though there were many birders afield and some interesting reports. Fewer Rough-legged Hawks were seen than last year, but there were still fair numbers as compared to the last five years. The raptor highlight of the month was finding all three subspecies of Merlin on the 12/30 Lincoln CBC—the Richardson's "prairie" Merlin is very rare in the state. Excellent numbers of Chestnut-backed Chickadees were reported, with over 50 on the Putah Creek CBC, and even one in Sacramento, where there are but a handful of records, on 12/28 at South Side Park.
Local highlights include Yolo County's first Brown Pelican: a juvenile flying near Rd 102 to the north of Davis on 12/23. A Eurasian Green-winged Teal (or Common Teal) was present at the Davis Wetlands from 12/6 to at least 12/23. An adult Vega Gull was reported at the Davis Wastewater Treatment Plant (WTP) on 12/6. Many authorities recognize several new species out of the Herring Gull complex. This darker-backed version from Asia is one of the most likely to turn up in California, but it should be carefully documented. An adult Glaucous Gull was found at the Sutter NWR on 12/15-16 and a first winter Glaucous Gull was at the Woodland WTP on 12/24. On the 12/28 Sacramento CBC, over 300 of both Glaucous-winged Gulls and Thayer's Gulls were reported at the Davis Landfill north of Rd 28H, along with one first winter Kumlien's Iceland Gull (this species is on the state review list and requires documentation), and one first winter Western Gull.
Other interesting reports include a light morph Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk in Solano County south of Winters (reported along Timms Rd in the first half of the month), ten Chestnut-collared Longspurs southwest of Lincoln along Sunrise Blvd on 12/30, the continuing hybrid Bufflehead x Common Goldeneye at Lake Solano, a female Red-breasted Merganser on Greenhaven Lake on 12/28, a Pacific Golden-Plover at the Woodland WTP on 12/24, a Band-tailed Pigeon along Putah Creek upstream of Davis on 12/13, a Western Kingbird at Yolo Grasslands Park southeast of Davis on the very late date of 12/13 (perhaps a first December record for Yolo County), a Cassin's Vireo near Woodland on 12/25, "a group" of Steller's Jays on private property northeast of Lincoln on 12/30, a Barn Swallow along the American River Parkway near River Bend (formerly Goethe) Park on 12/4, a Townsend's Solitaire at Lake Solano on 12/14 (perhaps continuing, since one was there on 11/2), a Yellow Warbler on Staten Island during the 12/14 Stockton CBC, a Pink-sided Junco near Lake Berryessa on 12/14, a Grosbeak, possibly a Rose-breasted, seen at CRP on 12/26, widespread Pine Siskins reports (down slightly from November), and a California sea lion regularly reported at Discovery Park.
Many of these reports first appeared on the Central Valley Bird Club Listserv. Visit www.cvbirds.org and click "Listserv" for details. With over 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, Bob Barnes, Todd Easterla, Andy Engilis, Steve Hampton, Ed Harper, Manfred Kusch, Jeri Langham, Cathie LaZier, Roger Marlowe, Ed Pandolfino, Deren Ross, Mary Schiedt, Zach Smith, John Sterling, Craig Swolgaard, John Trochet, and Dan Williams. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.