After a very wet December, January was dry, clear, and often cold. It appears the lack of rain encouraged many reports from the field. One to two Trumpeter Swans were reported in Sutter County at Hwy 70 near Striplin Rd from 1/13-17. Brant are very rare in the Central Valley, so two reports created much interest: Staten Island from 1/18-19 and Colusa NWR from 1/19-25. On 1/30, a river otter captured a swimming Wood Duck at Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP) by diving and grabbing it from beneath the water’s surface. Distinctive male Eurasian Green-winged Teal were found south of Dixon on Creed Rd on 1/11-12 and at Colusa NWR on 1/14. Two male Surf Scoters were seen in the San Joaquin River from Sherman Island on 1/29. A female Red-breasted Merganser continued into the new year at Greenhaven Lake, and a first county record was found for Sutter County on 1/8-10 at Hwy 70 and Marcum Rd (the same site as the continuing Horned Grebe). A Pacific Loon was on Lake Natoma near Negro Bar along with a Common Loon from 1/11 into February, and the Red-throated Loon near the Folsom Lake Dam persisted from October.
Pacific Loon, 26 Jan 13, Lk Natoma, by Ray Rozema
Pacific Loon and Common Loon, by Ray Rozema
An American White Pelican photographed at Bridgeway Island Pond in West Sacramento on 1/8 proved to have been banded in Idaho as a youngster in 2012. Rough-legged Hawk reports continued in good numbers throughout the area. A Pacific Golden-Plover was found at Stone Lakes NWR on 1/4 and two Western Sandpipers along Arno Rd near Galt on 1/1 were unusual for the winter. While regular in our area closer to the Delta, a Mew Gull found on 1/21-29 in Yuba City along the Feather River was a first for Sutter County. An adult Iceland Gull (a state review species) was reported and photographed at the David WTP on 1/19-22. A Lesser Black-backed Gull, continuing from December, was found at the Davis WTP on 1/9, and a Slaty-backed Gull (another state review species) was reported at the same location on 1/27.
A Long-eared Owl was at the Yolo Grasslands Park from 1/12-14 and another was found at the Valensin portion of CRP on 1/30. Short-eared Owls were widely reported, with up to 8 along Riley Rd near Galt, and multiples from Yolo County Rd 30, and near Brewer and Nicholas Rds in Sutter County. A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was found on 1/27 and continued into February near Bear River High School, Lake of the Pines. On 1/3, single Red-naped Sapsuckers were reported from Rosemont and from Sailor Bar. A Hairy Woodpecker was a rare find for Sacramento County near Lake Natoma off of Young Wo Circle on 1/7.
The first winter Northern Shrike found in Sutter County off Pacific Ave near Striplin Rd on 12/27 continued through at least 1/2; another was reported on Phillip Road in Placer County on 1/2, while yet another was reported from the Colusa NWR on 1/14. Other interesting reports include an impressive 23 Red-breasted Nuthatches found on the UCD Winter Bird Count on 1/23, the Winter Wren near Lake Solano continuing into February, a Townsend’s Solitaire at Nimbus Flat (Lake Natoma) on 1/7-8, Sage Thrashers from Putah Creek near UCD on 1/7 and Tonzi Rd NE of Ione on 1/28 into February. A Palm Warbler was found during a survey at Prairie City OHV Park on 1/3, and a Red Fox Sparrow was at the Valensin portion of CRP on 1/30. The north Davis Harris’s Sparrow continued through at least 1/10, and the bird found in Fairfield on 12/17 continued into February. Red Crossbills continued at the south end of the Sacramento City Cemetery through at least 1/7, and the male Common Redpoll found on 12/31 continued at a feeder near Lincoln only through 1/1.
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 eBird. It is impossible to list everyone, but I want to thank the following for their reports: Steve Abbott, Murray Berner, Kathy Blankenship, Summer Brasuel, Dan Brown, Rudy Darling, Matthew Dodder, Todd Easterla, Gil Ewing, Claire Gallagher, Frank Gray, Steve Hampton, Ed Harper, Cliff Hawley, Dan Kopp, Jeri Langham, Jim Laughlin, John Luther, Brian O’Connor, Ed Pandolfino, Kathy Parker, Linda Pittman, Don Schmoldt, Dan Skalos, Gwen Starrett, John Sterling, Craig Swolgaard, Dan Tankersley, John Trochet, Charley Walker, Bruce Webb, Ed Whisler, and John York. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.