June and July can be slow months for birding in the Valley. While there are fewer species to see, it is a very important time for our local breeding birds. The hoped-for rare songbirds in late spring were not found, but a good showing of shorebirds added interest to the period, and a few common songbird species began to trickle in along their post-breeding migrations by late July. Summer records of Redheads continued, with a high of 12 at the Woodland WTP, and one to two at Bridgeway Island Pond. A calling Yellow-billed Cuckoo was reported along the American River upstream of Watt Ave on 7/27; unfortunately, it wasn't seen.
Shorebird reports dominated the period, with some excellent finds. Marbled Godwits are fairly regular in Yolo County during the period, where there were many reports, but four at Beals Point, Folsom Lake, on 7/30 (https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S58575349) were much less expected. A Red Knot (https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S58354970) was an excellent find at the Woodland WTP on 7/21-22. A Semipalmated Sandpiper and a Solitary Sandpiper were nice reports from 7/15 at the Anatolia Vernal Pool Preserve off of Sunrise Blvd. A Dunlin at the Davis Wetlands on 7/1 was very early for this species, which is typically one of the later-arriving shorebirds. A single Willet was found at the Lincoln WTP on 7/10, while there were multiple July reports from regular Yolo shorebird sites. Up to three Western Gulls were reported in July from Sherman Island.
Two pairs of Least Terns nested at the Sacramento Regional WTP, and while a total of five chicks were hatched, none persisted for more than a week. No predation was observed, but likely culprits included a family group of five Common Ravens (which have begun nesting locally), Red-tailed and Swainson's hawks, and two Peregrine Falcons that were observed several times near the nest sites. There were multiple Least Bittern reports throughout the period from Davis Wetlands (https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S57737570), the Yolo Bypass, and the Putah Creek Sinks. A Brown Pelican seen along Hwy 160 south of Rio Vista on 7/28 was a nice surprise. Unusual songbirds were not reported during this period, though a high of 87 Bank Swallows among a congregation of post-breeding swallows on Sherman Island in the last half of July was a nice report for Sacramento County. While regular in Yolo County in migration, this species is often missed in Sacramento County, even in migration, since they ceased breeding near Rossmoor Bar along the American River more than 15 years ago. Perhaps there are regular at Sherman Island in July, but few people have looked in recent years.
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, Max Brodie, Brant Brumbeloe, Gil Ewing, Stephen Fettig, Steve Hampton, Cliff Hawley, Terry Hodapp, James Holmes, Scott Hoppe, Afton Kern, Manfred Kusch, Jeri Langham, Mark Martucci, Ron Melcer, Gary Mele, Michael Perrone, Steve Scott, John Sterling, Jim Thomas, and John Trochet. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.