June is a very important month for birds, as it is one of their most active breeding months, but for birders in the Sacramento area it is the slowest month in terms of diversity. But the birding drought doesn't last too long, as by the end of June and into August is the best time for shorebird diversity and numbers--plus there usually are a few vagrants to spice things up. Least Bitterns (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S24324495) were detected at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (YBWA) from May into July, with adult and juveniles seen in early and mid-July; a single was also found at Mather Lake on 6/12. Ospreys are locally scarce as breeders, so a pair working on a nest along the Sacramento River near Elverta Rd on 7/10 was notable. The two to three Black Rails found singing and calling along the River Walk at CRP continued from 5/23 to at least 6/6.
Shorebird highlights included a Pacific Golden-Plover at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (YBWA) 7/25-27 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S24404280) and a Snowy Plover at the same location on 7/14. There were a handful of Willet and Marbled Godwit reports in mid-July at both YBWA and Woodland WTP. A molting adult Sanderling found at the Sacramento Regional WTP (SRWTP) on 7/21 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S24337524) continued for an impressive eight days. Most of the Baird’s Sandpiper reports in our area are of juveniles, so the 7/14-17 report of an adult photographed at the Woodland WTP was notable for its age and for arriving about a month before most of our records for that species. Another early Baird's Sandpiperwas reported at Cosumnes River Preserve on 7/22. A Ruff in partial breeding plumage was found at the Davis Wetlands on 6/29, with another reported from CRP on 7/6. A pair of Least Terns was found at SRWTP on 7/5 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S24161164); they nested despite the late date and had two chicks by early August. A single pair nested at SRWTP from 2008-2012, made a brief appearance in 2013, and did not return in 2014, so their reappearance was a pleasant surprise. Another Least Tern was found and photographed on 7/17 at the Woodland WTP. A Long-eared Owl at West Pond in Davis on 7/24 was an unexpected surprise, and a male Costa’s Hummingbird put in an appearance along Putah Creek between Davis and Winters on 6/23. ALewis’s Woodpecker at Babel Slough on 6/6 was quite a surprise for the date, and the femaleHairy Woodpecker, found with a male earlier in the year along Lake Natoma downstream of Young Wo Circle, continued through at least 6/6.
After an intriguing backlit photo of a kingbird was posted to Facebook the previous day, an experienced birder heard a Cassin’s Kingbird call several times at the William B Pond access to the American River Parkway (ARP) on 6/24, but it was not subsequently detected. A Red-eyed Vireo was a nice find on 6/8 along Cache Creek upstream of Woodland and Rd 94B, accessed from Wild Wings County Park. A California Thrasher photographed at Sailor Bar on 6/21 provided the only record for Sacramento County this year. A Northern Parula was found at the William B Pond access to ARP on 6/25 and a singing male Northern Parula was recorded at the Sacramento Bypass (Yolo County) on 6/29. Grasshopper Sparrows, including recently fledged young, were found along Yolo County Rd 104, south of Rd 38A on 6/29. For the second year in a row, aSummer Tanager took up residence along Wood Duck Slough at the Tall Forest of CRP. This year one was seen and heard singing from at 6/16 to 7/18. A second-year male Rose-breasted Grosbeak was a nice find near the Tall Forest at CRP on 6/19, as was a singing male Indigo Bunting at Spenceville Wildlife Area from 5/30 through at least 6/6.
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. It is impossible to list everyone, but I want to thank the following for their reports: Stuart Angerer, Keith Bailey, Ted Beedy, Brent Campos, Lily Douglas, Leo Edson, Gil Ewing, Claire Gallagher, Melissa Gates, Maureen Geiger, Ian Gledhill, Steve Hampton, Cliff Hawley, Scott Hoppe, Stanton Hunter, Afton Kern, Dan Kopp, Manfred Kusch, Jeri Langham, John Luther, Phil Lutz, Michael Perrone, Ron Pozzi, David Rial, Jim Rowoth, Steve Scott, John Sterling, Gene Trapp, and John Trochet. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.