This October had a nice mix of lingering migrants and winter arrivals. The invasion of northern/montane species continued, with high numbers of Red-breasted Nuthatches and Pine Siskins. Evening Grosbeaks were found in the Rancho Cordova area on 10/23 and 10/28, as well as in Esparto, where ten were reported on 10/29. In response to unsettled weather, Violet-green Swallows, which are not regular on the Valley floor, were widely reported mid-month, with a high of 250 at the Woodland WTP (WWTP) on 10/12.
Among the water bird highlights was a hatch-year Surf Scoter at WWTP on 10/30-11/2. Folsom Lake produced two uncommon loon reports, with a Red-throated Loon off Beals Point on 10/30 and a Pacific Loonnear the Granite Bay launch on 10/31. A Red-necked Grebe at Rancho Seco on 10/16 could not be refound despite several attempts. Two Baird’s Sandpipers were found at the Lincoln’s WTP on the somewhat late date of 10/5, and Pectoral Sandpipers were reported from Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP), with four on 10/4, and Yolo Wildlife Area (YWA), with two on 10/4. A Marbled Godwit was photographed at YWA on 10/28, as was a hatch-year Franklin’s Gull (http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S11890415), which continued through 10/31. A hatch-year Sabine’s Gull was found at the WWTP on 10/12-16 (see links for eBird checklists with photos by Claire Gallagher <http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S11810236> and Steve Hampton <http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S11814572>).
Among the songbird highlights, most notable were a (eastern) Winter Wren at the Orr Forest of CRP on 10/11 (probably the same bird that wintered there last season), a Gray Catbird at Bobelaine in Sutter County on 10/19-20, a Brown Thrashermist-netted and banded at Stone Lakes NWR on 10/3 (the second for this location, with one netted at the same spot on 7/10/2008), a Palm Warbler at Azevedo Park in Rocklin on 10/28, a hatch-year American Redstartin Sacramento near 31st and B Streets on 10/7, and a Clay-colored Sparrow on Chadbourne Rd in Fairfield on 10/22. Other interesting reports include a Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk at Colusa NWR on 10/16, a Rough-legged Hawk seen over Elk Grove Park on 10/30, a Common Poorwill at the Bufferlands on 10/7, two Hammond’s Flycatchers at Putah Creek Fishing Access #1 on 10/14, a very late Western Kingbird on Rd 27 northwest of Davis on 10/19, a Sage Thrasher at the Valensin portion of CRP on 10/18, up to ten Chipping Sparrows from various Yolo County locations, a Grasshopper Sparrowat the Blue Heron Trail (Stone Lakes NWR) on 10/5, and the Harris’s Sparrow in north Davis returning for another season on 10/26. Manfred Kusch put together an excellent set of birds bathing in Putah Creek between Davis and Winters (http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4103809877079.2142753.1337955149&type=1&l=37cc9ed7b5).
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 eBird. It is impossible to list everyone, but I want to thank the following for their reports: Bruce Deuel, Scott Dietrich, Chris Dunford, Gil Ewing, Claire Gallagher, Cory, Gregory, Steve Hampton, Ed Harper, Joanne Katanic, Dan Kopp, Manfred Kusch, Jeri Langham, John Luther, Ron Melcer, Ed Pandolfino, Michael Perrone, Ron Pozzi, Will Rockey, Steve Rottenborn, Mary Schiedt, Don Schmoldt, John Sterling, Michael Strom, Danny Swicegood, Dan Tankersley, John Trochet, and Sally Walters. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.