Southwestern Sacramento County, particularly Sherman Island, is the most remote portion of the county.It is an hour’s drive from downtown Sacramento.The report of a male Tufted Duck on 2/16 caused a minor rush to this seldom-birded area.Since it is adjacent to Suisun Bay and only 25 miles from San Pablo Bay, one would expect a coastal influence.While the Tufted Duck only remained through 2/17, up to five Surf Scoters were present on 2/17-18, with close to 100 Greater Scaup (quite rare elsewhere in the county), along with dozens of Bonaparte’s Gulls and at least ten Mew Gulls.Other highlights from Sherman Island included thousands of Greater White-fronted Geese and Snow Geese, with a few blue-morph Snow Geese and fair numbers of Ross’s Geese.Also impressive was a flock of 500 Yellow-headed Blackbirds—almost all males.
It is no secret that interesting birds can be found in our urban parks and neighborhoods. A Plumbeous Vireo was found in Southside Park in Sacramento on 2/11 and continued into March.It was recorded on the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) and birders looking for it also recorded a Black-throated Gray Warbler and a Western Tanager.Following up on a GBBC report of an unconfirmed rarity produced another excellent find:a Red-naped Sapsucker in south Sacramento from 2/18 through the end of the month.
Another well-studied bird was a male Eurasian Wigeon at Sailor Bar on the American River Parkway, first found on 2/1.It continued throughout the month and allowed close approach by photographers.
This Plumbeous Vireo was found at Southside Park near downtown Sacramento on 2/11 and was observed into March. This species is closely related to Cassin's Vireo (a regular spring and fall migrant through Sacramento, and breeder in the mountains and nearer the coast). Plumbeous, Cassin's, and the eastern Blue-headed Vireo were formally considered a single species: Solitary Vireo. Plumbeous Vireos lack the yellow and greenish tones of the Cassin's. They normally breed in the Great Basin mountains, Southwest, and Rockies, but occasionally turn up on the west side of the Sierra crest in fall and winter. Photo by Linda Pittman (3/6/10)
A few Eurasian Wigeons turn up in the area each winter, but one has never been easier to observe and photograph than the one found on 2/1 at Sailor Bar Park (on American River Parkway), which continued into March. Photo by Dave Johnson.
There are more reports of interest than space will allow, but a brief rundown includes the apparent Bufflehead X Goldeneye hybrid continuing at Lake Solano, the Red-throated Loon found on the 1/3 Folsom CBC continuing through 2/14, the Long-eared Owl found on 1/16 at Yolo Grasslands Park south of Davis continuing through 2/17, and the Hammond’s Flycatcher found in N Davis on 1/2 continuing into March.A trip to a private ranch in southeastern Sacramento County produced an impressive 8 Ferruginous Hawks, 110 Lewis’s Woodpeckers, 74 Mountain Bluebirds, and 8 Purple Finches.Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk reports continued, including a rarer light morph on Yolo County Rd 29 near Rd 94.The first Swainson’s Hawk of the season was near Davis on 2/20.
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, Dan Airola, Dan Brown, Subhash Chand, Gil Ewing, Maureen Geiger, Kevin Guse, Steve Hampton, Dave Johnson, Dan Kopp, Harry Oakes, Ed Pandolfino, Linda Pittman, Dave Quady, Zack Smith, John Sterling, Kevin Thomas, John Trochet, and Dan Williams.Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.