When most birders think of fall migration, they think of September.While August has a lot to offer, it doesn’t feel like fall.October is a great month for birding, but the songbird migrants are slowing a bit, and many of the winter birds are already in place.So September it is.And this was a good one.Topping the list are several excellent songbird migrants from Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP).A Brewer’s Sparrow was a nice find on 9/4 and a Green-tailed Towhee was found on 9/9, but a NorthernWaterthrush on 9/14 was even more exciting, and a male Black-throated Blue Warbler in the Orr Forest portion of CRP on 9/15 was exceptional.Rounding out the Sacramento County warblers was a juvenile/female Hooded Warbler at Glen Hall Park along the American River Parkway (ARP) on 9/19-20.
Yolo County Grasslands Park south of Davis produced a nice list of songbirds as well, with a Least Flycatcher on 9/14, and an Olive-sided Flycatcher, a Gray Flycatcher (extremely rare in fall), and a Dusky Flycatcher on 9/12, along with a Chipping Sparrow.A thick-billed Fox Sparrow on 9/23 is from a racial group very rarely recorded in the Valley.A first fall Tennessee Warbler was found in north Davis on 9/28-29 and a Blackpoll Warbler was found at the UC Davis Riparian Reserve on 9/26.
Shorebirds continued in good numbers at Yolo Wildlife Area (YWA), with reports of the possible Red-necked Stint (see last month’s column) continuing through 9/10.A very rare adult Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was photographed on 9/4.Nearly all of these rare Asian shorebirds found in the state are juveniles.It was last reported on 9/9.Up to a dozen Pectoral Sandpipers were also present, as were Snowy Plovers on 9/5 and 9/24.A Red Phalarope reported from YWA on 9/9 is a very rare bird inland.A Pacific Golden-Plover was found at the Woodland WTP on 9/4 and a juvenile Sanderling was at the Davis Wetlands on 9/11.
A Greater Flamingo was found at the Davis WTP on 9/29; the bird was likely an escapee, but still unexpected and interesting.A Lesser Nighthawk was rare locally, and getting late in the season, at Slide Hill Park in Davis on 9/6, and more expected was a Common Poorwill on Michigan Bar Rd in eastern Sacramento County on 9/27.On 9/12 at CRP, an early Short-eared Owl was a nice surprise, along with a Marbled Godwit and a Bank Swallow.The godwit and swallow are both fairly regular in Yolo County in migration, but quite rare in Sacramento County—the latter becoming increasingly so.A California Thrasher near William Pond along the ARP on 9/20 was nice find for the Parkway.
Many of these reports first appeared on the Central Valley Bird Club Listserv. Visit www.cvbirds.org and click "Listserv" for details. With over 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 Brown, Todd Easterla, Richard Hall, Steve Hampton, Marcel Holyoak, Oscar Johnson, Dan Kopp, Jeri Langham, Jeff Mangum, Michael Perrone, Mary Schiedt, Zach Smith, John Sterling, Kevin Thomas, John Trochet, Katharine Wagner, and Dan Williams. Thanks to everyone for their reports—without them, this column would not be possible.
Common Poorwills breed in the chaparral and oak woodlands in the foothills and pass through in good numbers in fall migration. They are often found in fall sitting on low-traffic roads along the edge of the Valley. This one was on Michigan Bar Rd in eastern Sacramento County on 9/27/09. Photo Chris Conard.