Not quite winter and not quite spring, March is a month of waiting.Waiting for the migrants to arrive.Sure, the swallows are here and the end of the month produces Western Kingbirds and Bullock’s Orioles, but the floodgates have yet to open.The Yellow-rumped Warblers are singing, in their hundreds, and in amazing colors, but most of the others have yet to arrive.Early migrants, foreshadowing April, included a Warbling Vireo in N Davis on 3/22, a Cassin’s Vireo at Cosumnes River Preserve’s (CRP) Orr Forest on 3/28, and a Wilson’s Warbler at CRP on 3/27.The first Purple Martin detected in Sacramento was on 3/18.A Marbled Godwit at Yolo Wildlife Area on 3/31 was a nice find; shorebird migration is building too.
A visit to the Putah Creek Canyon between Winters and Lake Berryessa produced two Northern Pygmy-Owls and a Winter Wren on 3/5.A mountain biking trip up Rayhouse Rd in Yolo County on 3/19, now perhaps permanently closed to vehicles, produced a Pine Siskin (one of the few reports of this irruptive species for the region this winter), a Hairy Woodpecker, and a Sage Sparrow.The Tall Forest survey at CRP on 3/20 recorded a Merlin, two Peregrine Falcons, an impressive 9 Lesser Yellowlegs, a Western Tanager (which probably wintered locally), and three Purple Finches.A male Brewer’s Duck (a Mallard X Gadwall hybrid) was found at CRP on 3/14.
Northern Pygmy-Owl photo from Putah Creek Canyon on 10/25/06 by Chris Conard
This Brewer's Duck (Mallard X Gadwall hybrid) was photographed by Don Marsh in 2/17/2007 at CRP, where one was found on 3/14/10.
Interesting gull reports were way down from last year, which had regional firsts and record numbers for rare species.Among the few reports this month was a Mew Gull at the Ione WTP on 3/8, where there are few reports of this species in Amador County, an adult Western Gull at the Gristmill access to American River Parkway (ARP) on 3/20, the only one reported for Sacramento County this winter, and an adult Glaucous Gull near Jepson Prairie on 3/3. Other interesting reports include two Eurasian Wigeons at Lincoln WTP on 3/1, plus the continuing bird at Sailor Bar (ARP).Two Short-eared Owls off Yolo Rd 29 on 3/10 stand out among few reports of this erratic species this winter.Also of note was a Yellow-shafted [Northern] Flicker at ARP at Upper Sunrise on 3/2, the Hammond’s Flycatcher found in N Davis on 1/2 continuing through at least mid-March, and the Plumbeous Vireo at Southside Park continuing through at least 3/6.A Townsend’s Solitaire was found at the Mokelumne Fish Hatchery on 3/13, where there had been sporadic reports earlier in the season.A Hermit Warbler was at the Sacramento City Cemetery at Broadway and Riverside on 3/13 and 3/20.It probably wintered there. A Chipping Sparrow was at the same location on 3/20.
Many of these reports first appeared on the Central Valley Bird Club Listserv.Visit www.cvbirds.org and click "Listserv" for details.With nearly 100 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:Chad Aakre, Dan Airola, Dan Brown, Steve Hampton, Dan Kopp, Jeri Langham, Don Marsh, Linda Pittman, Zack Smith, Kevin Thomas, John Trochet, Liz West, and Ed Whisler.Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.