As might be expected, things slowed a bit from last month, with the songbird migration tapering off by the middle of the month.As most of the warblers and other favorites left us until next April, we were compensated with building numbers of waterfowl, raptors, and sparrows.But October always holds a few surprises.This year they included a Chestnut-sided Warbler along the American River Parkway (ARP) on 10/4, a Brewer’s Sparrow at the Yolo Wildlife Area (YWA) on 10/10, and a Bobolink along Putah Creek at UC Davis on 10/6.A female-type Costa’s Hummingbird was a nice find at Wildhorse Golf Course in Davis on 10/18-19.
Another event that must be mentioned is the incredible storm that dumped two to four inches of rain in the Sacramento area on 10/13.The storm can be blamed for the loss of some nice trees and premature flooding of shorebird habitat, but it also filled wetlands, leading to an early showing of several hundred Canvasbacks and Ring-necked Ducks at the Sacramento County Bufferlands.
On 10/11, an impressive 300+ Turkey Vultures were recorded on a roost in suburban Land Park.Other highlights included an immature Bald Eagle over ARP on 10/12 near Watt Ave, a Pacific Golden-Plover at the Woodland WTP on 10/28, two Band-tailed Pigeons over Putah Creek near Pedrick Rd on 10/4, a very late Western Kingbird at Wildhorse Golf Course on 10/18, a late Cassin’s Vireo in north Davis on 10/10 and even later at Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP) on 10/17, and late Wilson’s Warblers at CRP on 10/18 and YWA on 10/22.
Burrows seem to be a limiting factor for Burrowing Owls in the open areas of the low foothills in eastern Sacramento County.They rarely breed in these habitats and often winter in culverts (until they flood), among rocks, and even in piles of trash or concrete.The walking trail from Rancho Seco out to the Howard Ranch has provided another option for them, as they now winter under footbridges along the trail.Where these owls spend the breeding season is an open question.Lewis’s Woodpeckers were reported several times in unusual locations on the Valley floor (they are usually in the blue oak savanna on either side of the Valley).At more typical sites they were in impressive numbers, with over 100 along Michigan Bar Rd in eastern Sacramento County on 10/25, with some flying 1,000 feet in the air.An amazing 206 were counted on a survey at Bobcat Ranch near Winters at the end of the month. See photos below.
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: Dan Airola, Todd Easterla, Andy Engilis, Gil Ewing, Steve Hampton, Scott Hoppe, Dan Kopp, Ryan Phillips, Vance Russell, John Sterling, Craig Swolgaard, Jim Tietz, John Trochet, Jonathon Widdicombe, and Dan Williams. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.
Lewis's Woodpecker pictures by Ray Rozema - click to enlarge and see true color.