White-winged Scoters continue at Folsom Pt (Jan 16)

Chris Conard

Hi folks,

The two female-type White-winged Scoters first found on January 2nd continued this morning at Folsom Point (Folsom Lake SRA) in Sacramento County. They were northwest of the boat ramp in the cove near the dam. To my knowledge, these account for just the third occurrence of this species in Sacramento County (the first being two similarly plumaged birds off Sherman Island in Jan/Feb 2017, and the stunning male near the Nimbus Hatchery Dec 2018 to Mar 2019). Despite carefully scanning the visible lake surface, I saw no loons today, though at least two Pacific Loons have been reported fairly frequently.

I've been asked privately how to cover this site, so figured I'd post a few suggestions. From the large parking area near the boat launch, it's often productive to walk northwest toward the dam, scanning the lake periodically. A scope if very helpful. Occasionally, loons will forage near the shoreline, but it helps to have a scope to cover more area and pick out Clark's from Western and Horned from Eared grebes.

If you don't mind a little bit of up and down and somewhat rocky terrain, I've found (ever since Andrew Lee found a Palm Warbler here Oct 2018) what has turned out to be one of my favorite local walks. Starting from the parking area by the boat ramp, head out nearer the shoreline (which has hosted Mountain Bluebird, Brewer's Sparrow, and Clay-colored Sparrow in the past year), going about 2/3s of the way to the dam, and then returning along the forest to the west, giving a nice diversity of possible species. You'll likely get Rock Wren in the rocks nearer the lake, and can get Phainopepla and other woodland species on the return loop. If the idea of walking the rocky areas seems daunting, you can take a trail from the western edge of the large parking area that meets a gravel road and then follow that as it winds north.

In these COVID times, I've appreciated this open area to escape people along single-track trails in the Parkway and other public spaces. Even on weekends, at least the first half of the day, the crowding has not been bad and I can mostly escape what I've begun to think of as the tyranny of dogs--while there are a fair number of dog walkers and running dogs, with the water as low as it is, there's enough space to get away unscathed.

For completeness sake, it pays to also scan from near the picnic area at the point itself, which gives a different perspective and view into some of the coves that aren't visible from the boat ramp vicinity.

Take care,

Chris Conard

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