After much-needed rain early in the month, spring-like weather returned as we transitioned into April. By mid-month, some of our summer staples were returning, with many reports ofSwainson’s Hawks scouting nest sites, returning Western Kingbirds, and both Hooded Orioles and Bullock’s Orioles. Reports of unusual species, as if often the case for March, were few, but the real standout was an Emperor Goose (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S28591069) seen by many on distant (for most) Twitchell Island in southwest Sacramento County from 3/9-27. There are a few previous reports of this species, but this is the first in the county that was widely seen and photographed among the large flocks of Greater White-fronted Geese and Aleutian Cackling Geese. Up to four Surf Scoters continued on the San Joaquin River near Sherman Island, with reports on 3/12, 3/20, and 3/22.
An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was photographed at the Yolo Central Landfill Pond along Rd 28H on 3/4 (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S27962947). A Flammulated Owl was reported calling in Elk Grove on 3/29 near Kloss Park. This is an intriguing report, since there are few Central Valley records and the report is about a month early, but the call is distinctive and the observers are very experienced. At least three Short-eared Owls continued in the ag fields along Yolo County Rd 30 northeast of Davis through much of the month; these were the only reports of this species in the Sacramento Area in March.
A Cassin’s Vireo at the Yolo Grassland Regional Park was a little on the early side on 3/30, as was a Warbling Vireo on 3/21 along Putah Creek to the west of the UC Davis campus. One-to-two Steller’s Jays continued north of the Cosumnes River along Michigan Bar Rd into April. AWilson’s Warbler at the Regional San Bufferlands on 3/29 was a little early. After numerous reports in February, nine Evening Grosbeaks continued in north Davis until at least 3/12.
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: Roger Adamson, Kathy Blankenship, Lily Douglas, Andy Engilis, Gil Ewing, Stephen Fettig, Nancy Gronert, Steve Hampton, Cliff Hawley, Terry Hodapp, James Holmes, Jeri Langham, Jim Lomax, John Luther, Ed Pandolfino, Jim Rowoth, Mark Sawyer, Steve Scott, John Sterling, Craig Swolgaard, Jim Thomas, and John Trochet. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.