The first month of 2018 started off with some real surprises. Two of them were firsts for the Central Valley. A Curve-billed Thrasher, apparently of the eastern sub-species group, became widely known on 1/14 along Rominger Ct in Woodland, not far from the Woodland WTP (https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S41922675). It was seen and photographed by many visiting a residential yard into February, but had first been detected by a resident on 1/8 and word got out when it was entered on eBird. The other amazing find was a Worm-eating Warbler at Reichmuth Park in Sacramento from 1/6-29 (https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S41846248 and https://www.flickr.com/photos/conardc/24806666407). Despite being a secretive bird, often staying low and in dense vegetation, it was seen by approximately 150 birders. Both of these species are on the California Bird Records Committee review list (http://www.californiabirds.org). Unpleasant surprises included a human body found by birders looking for the Worm-eating Warbler and a group of birders visiting the north Valley who had their car set on fire while only a short distance away.
Continuing from December were amazing flocks of over 100,000 Snow Geese roosting and foraging in the ricelands north of Lincoln. A male Eurasian Green-winged Teal was photographed at Cosumnes River Preserve on 1/13 (https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S41880476). A Snowy Plover was a nice surprise at Folsom Lake near the Granite Bay boat launch on 1/9 (https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S41758532) and a Stilt Sandpiper southeast of the intersection of Lone Star Rd and Hwy 20 in Colusa County from 1/23-26 was a first for the county. A Lesser Black-backed Gull at Beals Pt on 1/2 and Lake Natoma on 1/6 was probably the same bird continuing from December (https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S41690629). One to two Glaucous Gulls were at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area throughout much of the month (https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S42292677) and the continuing Glaucous Gull at Beals Point was found on 1/2 (https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S41568286).
An immature male Costa's Hummingbird was reported on 1/12 at Reichmuth Park but was not refound. Adding to the reports of wintering Cassin's Vireos this fall and winter was a bird found at Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP) on 1/22. A Winter Wren was heard calling and recorded on 1/28 (https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S42324399) from the same closed portion of CRP where one was found in November of 2011. Two Pacific Wrens were calling nearby for comparison. A Northern Waterthrush was an excellent find along Putah Creek on 1/4 near the Hwy 128 bridge over Putah Creek in the area that often hosts an American Dipper. The dipper was seen occasionally too, and the waterthrush continued through the end of the month. The Palm Warbler first found at the Woodland WTP on 11/24 was reported into February. The Swamp Sparrow found just off the auto tour at YBWA on 11/25 continued into late January. The continuing Harris's Sparrow along S Meridian Rd in Sutter County was reported through at least 1/22. A Red Fox Sparrow was found along with two Sooty Fox Sparrows along the Sacramento River off of Riverside Blvd near 35th Ave on 1/13 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S41876558) and a male Black-headed Grosbeak was a real surprise for winter in Land Park on 1/18.
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: Kelly Childress, Chris Dunford, Leo Edson, Gil Ewing, Frank Fogarty, Steve Hampton, Ed Harper, Cliff Hawley, Jim Holmes, Scott Hoppe, Dan Kopp, Jeri Langham, Andrew Lee, Tim Lenz, John Luther, Frances Oliver, Michael Perrone, Ron Pozzi, Jason Riggio, William Rockey, Ken Schneider, Steve Scott, Shannon Skalos, John Sterling, Kirk Swenson, John Trochet, Rick Williams, and Gary Woods. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.