With the heat of summer, June and July are two of the most uncomfortable months to be in the field; nevertheless, excellent finds are made during this period each year. On 6/2, a Blue-winged Teal pair was seen with nine young along the auto loop at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (YBWA). A Least Bittern was photographed at Mather Lake on 6/26 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S30402986), where this species is found just about every summer; it was reported again on 7/3. A Least Bittern was also seen along the YBWA auto tour on 7/10, with continued reports throughout the month, and another was at the Bridgeway Island pond on 7/21. A small Green Heron nesting colony was found in planted live oaks along La Riviera Dr near the Howe access to the American River Parkway (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S30402288). While nests are found regularly in the area, most have been single nests rather than colonies.
Songbird migration doesn’t pick up until right at the end of the period, but “fall” shorebird migration is well underway by the last week of June. The shorebird report of the season was a Stilt Sandpiper seen by many at the Anatolia Vernal Pool Reserve on 7/22 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S30809538). This is a great find anywhere in the Valley, but this is one of few Sacramento County records. A Pacific Golden-Plover was a nice find at YBWA on 7/10 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S30639505) and a Snowy Plover was found at YBWA on 7/21. Two Willets were seen at the Davis WTP on 7/17, and a single was at the Sacramento Regional WTP (SRWTP) on 7/15. Marbled Godwit reports from the period include one on 6/4 at YBWA, a high of 24 at the same location on 7/16, as well as multiple reports from the Davis Wetlands. Single Semipalmated Sandpipers were found at SRWTP on 7/6-7 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S30594506) and 7/28-29 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S30892353). There were several reports of single Semipalmated Sandpipers in July from YBWA and the Davis Wetlands. On 7/11, a Baird’s Sandpiper was found at YBWA, with another reported from the same location on 7/31. The pair of Least Terns found nesting at SRWTP continued through July, and fledged two young.
A couple of locally rare kingbirds were good finds for Sacramento County. On 6/5, an Eastern Kingbird (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S30104043) was found along Payen Rd on both sides of the Sacramento/El Dorado County line, and was seen by many who searched for it through 6/10. A Cassin’s Kingbird found on 7/9 along the River Walk at Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP) was one of a very few ever reported for the county. Unfortunately, that bird did not stick around. The first solid report of a Gray Catbird (with a date and location!) for the county came from the Tall Forest area of CRP on 6/14. A Red-breasted Nuthatch on 7/31 at Slide Hill Park in Davis was a nice find for the season.
Another great songbird report was of a Worm-eating Warbler singing and briefly seen on 6/4 from an area of excellent habitat west of Latrobe Rd, south of Hwy 50, in El Dorado County. The site is publicly accessible along a portion of the closed railroad track paralleling Deer Creek and continuing to Payen Rd (the El Dorado Trail: http://eldoradotrail.com/trail-map/). Yellow-breasted Chats were among the interesting birds found by those looking for the Worm-eating Warbler. A singing Ovenbird was reported along Goethe Rd in Rancho Cordova on 6/15 and an American Redstart was found in a backyard near Madera Park off Sunrise Ave on 6/3. Six Yellow Warblers singing at the Cache Creek Settling Basin on 6/20 is an encouraging sign of local breeding. A Black-throated Gray Warbler on 6/12 at CRP was either a little late or early. On 6/18, at least 14 Savannah Sparrows were on singing along the YBWA where this species has previously been documented nesting. This site appears to be near the limit of inland expansion from the SF Bay region, where they are regular nesters. A streaky juvenile Dark-eyed Junco was found on 6/13 along Babel Slough and another was found at Reichmuth Park on 6/16 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S30256512), indicating local nesting. A few pairs are detected each summer at CRP, but they are exceedingly rare nesters elsewhere in the Central Valley. The singing male Summer Tanager from the Orr Forest at CRP continued on 6/25, but was not found on a subsequent visit in July. On 6/7, there was an intriguing report of an Evening Grosbeak along Desmond Rd at CRP.
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: Keith Bailey, Terry Colborn, Farley Cross, Lily Douglas, Todd Easterla, Bob Ellis, Andy Engilis, Gil Ewing, Frank Fogarty, Ted Gilliland, Kevin Guse, Steve Hampton, Cliff Hawley, James Holmes, Rosa Jimenez, Dan Kopp, Jeri Langham, Mark Martucci, Frances Oliver, Michael Perrone, Jim Rowoth, Sonia Santa Anna, Mark Sawyer, Steve Scott, Shannon Skalos, Lindsey Smith, John Sterling, Kirk Swenson, and John Trochet. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.