Reports from this December were dominated by birds found on our local CBCs. A few other birds of note were found, but overall, it was a quiet month without a lot of surprises. High numbers of Blue-winged Teal continue to be reported at Bridgeway Island Pond in West Sacramento. The seasonal high so far was 224, recorded on 12/11. On the 12/31 Folsom CBC, a female or young male Red-breasted Merganser (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S33352389) was photographed on the American River near the Nimbus Fish Hatchery. A Mountain Quail was found on the Folsom CBC near Sweetwater Creek above Folsom Lake. This species is surely regular in the area, but rarely reported, and this was only the second record on this CBC in 39 years. A Red-necked Grebe (initially found in November) was reported on 12/31 from Beals Point at Folsom Lake.
Bald Eagle reports are climbing locally, and a conservative total of 14 on the 12/31 Folsom CBC is remarkable; early signs of nesting were also reported from Lake Natoma. Raptor reports from the Dunnigan Hills on 12/17 and 12/19 near the intersection of Rds 14 and 88 included up to four Ferruginous Hawks, two Rough-legged Hawks, a Golden Eagle, and a bobcat. For at least 11 years one to three Merlins have spent winter nights in the 2300 to 2700 blocks of Anza Ave in north Davis, and at least two birds were reported this month. From ten to over 50 Mountain Plovers (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S32863499) were reported throughout the month at the traditional location, south of Dixon, along Robinson Road north of Flannery Road. On the 12/28 Lincoln CBC, single Semipalmated Plovers were found northwest of Lincoln, both in Sutter (Cornelius Ave) and Placer counties (Waltz Rd; continuing on 12/30). Two Short-eared Owls were reported in the vicinity of Robinson and Flannery Rds on 12/2.
A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was found on the 12/18 Putah Creek CBC at the same location as last year, along Cantelow Rd in Solano Co. The male Vermilion Flycatcher (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S33236734) found last winter returned to the Maxwell Cemetery in Colusa County and was reported from 12/26 into January. A Cassin's Vireo was found at the Sacramento City Cemetery on 12/13, and two American Dippers were found along Sweetwater Creek on 12/31. The lack of Varied Thrush reports this winter continue and only one was recorded on the Sacramento CBC, while the species was missed on other local counts. Mountain Bluebirds were reported multiple times near Yolo County Rds 16 and 89, a Wilson's Warbler was a nice surprise on the 12/3 ARNHA Count near the Spanos Ct. access to the American River Parkway, and an impressive eight Thick-billed Fox Sparrows were found at the top of Mix Canyon Rd in Solano County on the Putah Creek CBC.
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: Dan Airola, Peter Armstrong, Keith Bailey, Elliot Chasin, Lily Douglas, Chris Dunford, Gil Ewing, Steve Hampton, Ed Harper, Dan Kopp, Jeri Langham, Sami LaRocca, Ed Pandolfino, Jim Rowoth, Kirk Swenson, John Trochet, and Charley Walker. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.