As winter transitioned into spring, with the mass arrival of Swainson’s Hawks, Western Kingbirds, and six species of swallows, as well as the departure of Sandhill Cranes, most of the notable rarities were Yolo County gulls (see below). Red-breasted Mergansers were reported from the Wildhorse Golf Course in Davis, with a male on 3/22, and William B. Pond on the American River Parkway (ARP), with a female on 3/31. Beal’s Point at Folsom Lake produced three species of loons on 3/19. Along with the regularly occurring Common Loon, a Pacific Loon was in Placer County and a Red-throated Loon was near the Sacramento/Placer line; the latter, probably the same bird reported sporadically since December, continued on 3/24. The Brown Pelican first found in West Sacramento on 8/24/2011 continued through at least 3/25.
Most of the month’s gull reports came from the Yolo Landfill and Davis WTP. Perhaps most striking was an apparent adult Iceland Gull present from 3/9 through at least 3/16; an apparent second-cycle was reported on 3/1. An adult Slaty-backed Gull was photographed on 3/9 (this and the former species are on the California Bird Records Committee review list—please submit photos and other documentation: californiabirds.org). The Landfill and WTP have been so productive in recent winters that multiple reports of adult Western Gulls and Glaucous Gulls this month are now expected. A first-cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull was photographed on 3/30. Moving away from Yolo, an adult Lesser Black-backed Gullwas found and photographed at Folsom Lake (Granite Bay) on 3/28 and continued into early April. All photos below by Todd Easterla from Davis WTP.
Iceland Gull adult (front center), appearing much like a nominate glaucoides, 16 March 2012
Slaty-backed Gull adult (dark mantle, reddish eye orbital, with a smallish, straight bill), 9 March 2012
Lesser Black-backed Gull, first-cycle, 30 March 2012
Other notable reports include two Snowy Plovers at Folsom Lake (Granite Bay) on 3/30, a Semipalmated Plover at Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP) on 3/14-15, perhaps continuing from February (2/26). The continuing Black-throated Sparrow near Esparto was refound on 3/11, and the Harris’s Sparrow in north Davis continued into April, while the Harris’s Sparrow found on Desmond Rd at CRP was last reported on 3/3. White-throated Sparrows were widely reported, with three consistently found along ARP upstream of Howe Ave.
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 are included. Many reports first appeared on the Central Valley Bird Club Listserve (cvbirds.org) and eBird. It is impossible to list everyone, but I want to thank the following for their reports: Roger Adamson, Ben Azar, Chris Dunford, Todd Easterla, Gil Ewing, Cory Gregory, Steve Hampton, Dan Kopp, Jeri Langham, Ron Pozzi, William Rockey, John Sterling, John Trochet, Bruce Webb, Magill Weber, and Dan Welsh. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.