March is an interesting month with a mix of winter and spring. The swallows arrive in force and the first of the colorful migrants, Western Kingbirds and Bullock’s Orioles, are seen while thousands of ducks and geese remain. Shorebird numbers build and the last of the Sandhill Cranes leave as Swainson’s Hawks arrive. Perhaps the most notable waterfowl report was the Red-breasted Merganser found on the American River near the Gristmill access on 2/22 that continued through March and into April. ANorthern Goshawk reported near the Old Salmon Falls Bridge at Folsom Lake on 3/23 was one of few for the area in recent years.
Among the notable shorebird reports were three Snowy Plovers near the Granite Bay boat ramp at Folsom Lake on 3/29. Early Solitary Sandpipers were reported from both the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area and the Sacramento County Bufferlands on 3/25. The adult Slaty-backed Gull (a state review species) and adult Lesser Black-backed Gull reported from the landfill south of Dixon at Hwy 113 and Hay Rd last month continued through 3/4, and a second-cycle Slaty-backed Gull was reported at the Davis WTP on the same day. An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull found near the landfill on Ostrom Rd southeast of Beale Air Force Base on 3/5-6 was a first Yuba County record. A first-cycle Glaucous Gull at the Davis WTP continued through much of the month and it or another was at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area on 3/22.
A Common Poorwill was calling along Latrobe Rd in Sacramento County on 3/24. The male Costa’s Hummingbird that wintered along Putah Creek between Davis and Winters continued through the month, while a male Calliope Hummingbird was at the same location on 3/30. A Hairy Woodpecker was reported at Lake Natoma near the Young Wo access on 3/26, and a male Yellow-shafted Flicker was at the same location on 3/5. An early singing “Solitary” Vireo (probably a Cassin’s) was at CRP on 3/23, and an early Wilson’s Warbler was reported in east Davis on 3/28. SingleBlack-throated Sparrows were found and photographed, with one at Yolo County Rd 16 and Ridge Cut Slough, east of Rd 102, from 3/5-21, and the other at Rancho Murieta from 3/16-17. Other interesting reports included a Vesper Sparrow on Payen Rd on 3/30, the continuing Swamp Sparrow along Putah Creek near the Pedrick Rd Bridge on 3/7, the continuingHarris’s Sparrow in north Davis off of Cortez Ave, twoRed Crossbills over east Davis on 3/28, and several early reports of Lawrence’s Goldfinches in the last week of the month along Latrobe Rd in Sacramento County.
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: Dan Airola, Chris Dunford, Todd Easterla, Tim Fitzer, Gary Fregien, Cory Gregory, Steve Hampton, John Harris, Dan Kopp, Manfred Kusch, Jeri Langham, Sami LaRocca, Jim Laughlin, Eric LoPresti, John Luther, Mark Martucci, Tristan McKee, Ed Pandolfino, Michael Perrone, Ron Pozzi, John Sterling, Michael Strom, Craig Swolgaard, and John Trochet. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.
Black-throated Sparrow at Rancho Murieta, on 3/16/2014