These are months that many birders choose to skip in the Valley—a good time to go on vacation, to visit the Sierra. Nonetheless, there are always some interesting reports. The period is bookended by a couple often highly productive weeks. Early June is late spring migration, a time when interesting songbirds can be found, and the latter half of July is among the most active stretches of shorebird migration.
While the birding might be considered blasé, it is a most important time for our local breeding birds, and those trying to establish a breeding presence. The Bell’s Vireos found singing from two separate locations south of Parking Lot G at the Yolo Wildlife Area (YWA) beginning on 4/16 were seen with likely females, but nesting was never confirmed. California Gulls attempted to set up a colony at the Davis WTP for the first nesting in Yolo County and the first for the Central Valley since the 1920s. While a high of 76 nests were detected and a few chicks hatched, predators (coyotes, raccoons, Great Horned Owls) ultimately destroyed the colony. On a happier note, the Least Tern pair returned to the Sacramento Regional WTP for the third year in a row and successfully fledged one chick. A Turkey Vulture nest was found on the ground in thick vegetation at the Orr Forest of Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP) on 6/18. Nests of this species are rare, or at least rarely found, on the Valley floor.
June songbird highlights were less numerous than in previous years and there were no real standout rarities in July, which often occur, and are not always easy to explain. This year we had to be contented with two Northern Parulas on 6/3 from the Trestle Pond area east of I-5 near Woodland, an American Redstart along Jefferson Blvd south of West Sacramento on 6/5, a striking male Chestnut-sided Warbler in Loomis along King Rd on 6/11, and a Red-eyed Vireo in Galt on 6/24.
Photos by Don Baylis. This male Chestnut-sided Warbler was found in Loomis on 6/11/10. Like many warblers, it remained partially hidden by vegetation, but its bright colors shone through.
Interesting shorebirds included a Snowy Plover from the Woodland WTP on 7/13 and two adult Semipalmated Sandpipers at YWA the same day, a Snowy Plover, a Solitary Sandpiper, and a juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper at the Lodi WTP on 7/23, and two Sacramento County Marbled Godwit reports, where they are far less regular than in Yolo: a pair at Sherman Island on 7/12 and four at the Sacramento Reg. WTP Bufferlands on 7/19. An early “fall” Wilson’s Warbler was found at CRP on 7/16, and single juvenile Grasshopper Sparrows were found at CRP and along Chamberlain Rd north of Lincoln on 7/17. An Indigo Bunting was also at CRP on 7/17. Outside our area but worth a mention was the very unexpected find of a Mexican Whip-poor-will (recently split from Eastern Whip-poor-will) calling and occasionally seen on a ridge above Lake Oroville from 6/26 to mid-July.
Many of these reports first appeared on the Central Valley Bird Club Listserv. Visit www.cvbirds.org and click "Listserv" for details. With nearly 200 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, Ruth Baylis, Dan Brown, Todd Easterla, Gil Ewing, Dave Feliz, Steve Hampton, Scott Huber, Dan Kopp, Jeri Langham, Frances Oliver, Ed Pandolfino, Tim Ruckle, John Sterling, John Trochet, Ed Whisler, Dan Williams, and David Yee. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible. Chris Conard