Cosumnes birds the last few days; a comment on wrentit mobility

Glennah Trochet

Dear Birders,

On Saturday the 12th I visited behind the Farm Center gate, doing a tour very like my monthly survey.  The highlight was getting "lost" in the forest in the fog.  Without a sun compass, one can get disoriented if one leaves the trails, and I did.  It took awhile to find a landmark, and it was actually kind of fun.  Avian highlights were these:
snow goose blue morph-  3
acorn woodpecker-  2
red-breasted nuthatch-  1
varied thrush-  2
white-throated sparrow-  1

On Monday the 14th I again visited behind the Farm Center gate.  I arrived about 03:45 for the Geminid meteor shower.  It was worth the effort.  I counted 31 meteors in 28 minutes, including a really spectacular one that ran over Draco's spine.  The avian highlight was a calling fly-over evening grosbeak near the Accidental Forest, heading across the river to Orr Ranch.  Lesser lights were these:
snow goose blue morph-  3
cattle egret-  4
golden-crowned kinglet-  1 (seemingly a poor year for these in my patch)
varied thrush-  3-4

I received permission from the landowner to visit Howard ranch yesterday.  This is a 11,000+ acre parcel in far southeastern Sacramento County.  Though I missed several things that I won't see around the Tall Forest and that I look forward to seeing at Howard, I had a pretty decent day.  Avian highlights include:
double-crested cormorant-  1 (off the top of my head I can't recall another out there)
bald eagle-  1-4 (an adult seen by itself at four widely spaced spots)
ferruginous hawk-  7 (one dark morph)
rough-legged hawk-  1
Lewis's woodpecker-  43 (all after 14:30)
Steller's jay-  1 (perhaps the best find of the day)
yellow-billed magpie-  3
common raven-  14
phainopepla-  3
purple finch-  7
pine siskin-  2
male cismontanus slate-colored junco
vesper sparrow-  7 (six in one flocklet; easily my best SAC total)
rufous-crowned sparrow-  2

I also got in a hike of 17+ miles, and I'm feeling it today.

This morning I visited the Denier parcel north of Twin Cities Road.  Shaw Forest looks like it should have Pacific wrens in numbers.  But I've had only one this season, and in an unpromising spot on the edge of a rice field.  The only notables today were two fly-over pine siskins.

As part of a response to Steve Hampton's query, I note that wrentits consolidated their presence along Putah Creek during the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology's long-term survey program while I was working for MWFB.  In the earliest days (late 1990s) they were restricted to Putah Creek Canyon. below Monticello Dam.  Then they seemed to colonize the Putah Creek Sinks (mid-2000s? I'm unclear on the date.  Maybe Andy Engilis can weigh in with better dates.)  Then more or less slowly and steadily, they turned up at most of our 12 survey sites in between over the next decade.

My other experience with moving wrentits is at the Cosumnes River Preserve.  This species is resident in appropriate dense vegetation within the forest blocks of the lower preserve.  But at least the Tall Forest and Orr Forest flood regularly, and Shaw Forest shows similar signs.  For the Tall Forest, wrentits have been the last understory species to depart and the first one back.  In most flood events nowadays the nearby high levees may provide temporary refuge, since the roads that formerly topped them have been replaced by vegetative tangles.  But in my early days (mid-1990s), these were naked levees, and it was still true that these birds were the first to return.  I don't know where they went.  But it was some distance, no doubt.

John Trochet

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