Cosumnes birds yesterday and today

Glennah Trochet

Dear Birders,


Yesterday’s Tall Forest bird survey was, despite the wind and occasional showers, very decent.  Highlights included:

blue snow goose-  1

bald eagle-  2

Thayer’s gull-  1

long-eared owl-  2

intergrade flicker-  1

common raven-  36 (likely a wildly low count)

brown creeper-  1

Pacific wren-  2

golden-crowned kinglet-  9

varied thrush-  12

MacGillivray’s warbler-  1 (found close to where the late November bird had been)

white-throated x white-crowned sparrow-  1


Today I returned to the Tall Forest area, walking hedgerows and field margins around its perimeter.  Today’s best finds included:

rough-legged hawk-  1

glaucous gull-  1 adult

merlin-  2

peregrine falcon-  1

common raven-  32

brown creeper-  1

golden-crowned kinglet-  4

varied thrush-  2

white-throated sparrow-  1



John Trochet


Putah Creek Christmas Bird Count 2015 Summary

Steve Hampton

Despite some rain and a persistent drizzle, the 2014 Putah Creek Christmas Bird Count notched 148 species, the second best in the count’s 45-year history. 


It helped to have 89 intrepid participants, the third highest total in over 30 years.  They combined for 174 party hours, a respectable total in the rain.  They traveled 72 miles on foot, 299 miles by car, and 6 miles by boat and by bike.  The early hours were marked by 7 hours of owling. 


There was one new addition to the count in the form of two flyover Thayer’s Gulls, perhaps a bit overdue.  Other noteworthy finds included four Black-necked Stilts, surpassing a single bird found 21 years ago, a fourth count record Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and four “Thick-billed” Fox Sparrows for a second count record, although they may be regular in the chaparral.    


Record high counts were set for 10 species.  These were:  Lesser Scaup (25), Bufflehead (844), Barrow’s Goldeneye (15), Black-necked Stilt (4), Least Sandpiper (55), “Yellow-shafted” Flicker (5), Say’s Phoebe (60), House Wren (31), “Thick-billed” Fox Sparrow (4), and Pine Siskin (465, surpassing the old record of 306 set in 1977).


Record high counts were tied for 4 other species:  Virginia Rail (6), Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (1, 4th count record), Hairy Woodpecker (18), and Black-throated Gray Warbler (1, for the 5th year in a row).   


There were no all-time low records, although Rufous-crowned Sparrow was missed for the first time since 1978; they didn’t like the drizzle.   


Yellow-billed Magpies (427) bounced back with their highest total since the arrival of West Nile Virus.  Last year’s Steller’s Jay invasion has clearly ended, with just 10 individuals compared to last year’s 292. 


Thanks to all the area leaders, potluck organizers, and others who helped make this a successful CBC.  

Steve Hampton
Davis, CA

Re: Black Chinned Sparrow Yolo County Babel Slough

Keith Bailey

The Black-chinned Sparrow indeed continues at Babel Slough. Thanks for re-finding your bird, Mark!

Also present were 2 calling wrentits and 160 Sandhill Cranes flying over. 

Good birding,
Keith Bailey

Davis, Ca

Steller's Jay Yolo Co


Late Report

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2016

I birded Putah Creek Canyon in Yolo Co in the early afternoon. Failed to find Dipper and Rufous-crowned Sparrows. However, there was a Steller's Jay near mile mark 1.59, a photogenic Northern Pygmy-Owl near mm 1.91, and a group of 8 Barrow's Goldeneye (4 males, 4 females) at about 0.5 mi (just north of the Canyon Creek Resort). There was also a Rock Wren in the distance east of pyramid rock (about 2.1 mi). 

Roger Adamson

Davis, Yolo Co

Tall Forest bird survey at CRP tomorrow

Glennah Trochet

Dear Birders,


Despite the forecast for rain overnight and into tomorrow morning, the Tall Forest bird survey at the Cosumnes River Preserve will go ahead as scheduled.  We are likely to have to walk in from the Farm Center so as not to rut the road back to the Equipment Pad.  Be dressed for the weather!  Rubber knee boots and rain-proof exteriors will be required.


The recent rains to this point have not raised the river significantly.  At the time of the survey tomorrow it will still be confined in its banks.  I’m hoping, however, that by next weekend we can see significant water out on the floodplain.



John Trochet


New Bufferlands species and CBC recap

Chris Conard

Hi folks,

Yesterday I was happy to see a somewhat overdue Lawrence's Goldfinch for species #238 at the SRWTP Bufferlands. It was a male with a group of Lesser Goldfinches:

Since some expressed interest in the Folsom CBC write-up, I thought I'd include a summary I prepared for the Bufferlands group of our area of the Rio Cosumnes CBC on Jan 4th.

The recap, an updated bird list, and a by-year breakdown of the 21 years of the CBC is here:

Also, see the link to Bufferlands tours and events if you're interested. District policy allows guided access only.

On Monday, January 4, 2016, twelve of us in 5 parties covered the Bufferlands portion of the 21st Rio Cosumnes Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on a day featuring light rain until mid-day and moderate wind in the afternoon.  The Bufferlands is at the northern portion of the 15-mile diameter circle that includes the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Cosumnes River Preserve, western Elk Grove, northwestern Galt, and a portion of Merritt Island in Yolo County. 


From 7:15 am to 5:32 pm, we recorded 107 species on the Bufferlands, within an historic range of 90 to 120. We counted 228,776 individual birds, within an historic range of 7,723 to 811,644.  In 2002 we began including Beach Lake Forest, Beach Lake Park, and the ag lands owned by the District on the west side of I-5 in our area count.  Since that time we have recorded an average of 112 species, within a range of 104 to 120.  A slightly below average species count (since 2002) is probably more a reflection of poor weather than a significant decrease in bird diversity over last year’s 120 species. The entire count circle produced over 150 species this year, but I don’t know the exact total.  The Bufferlands portion has recorded 159 species over the count’s 21 years, with a Ferruginous Hawk new for our area this year.  We also recorded Acorn Woodpeckers (2) for the second year in a row; last year being the first.


We did well with geese and swans, recording all of the expected species (Greater White-fronted, Snow, Ross’s, Cackling and Canada Geese, plus Tundra Swan) for only the second time in 21 years; this was only the second time Ross’s Goose has been recorded on the CBC day. We had high counts for White-front (340), Snow (475), and Ross’s (only two). In terms of ducks, we were mostly below average, owing to fairly low water conditions at Upper Beach Lake (which has since flooded to overflowing from the rain that began on count day).  We missed Cinnamon Teal for just the fourth time, Lesser Scaup for the 12th time, and found a Bufflehead on count day for just the 9th time. Hooded Mergansers (7) continue to be a regular winter staple since their first appearance on the Bufferlands portion of the count in 2006. Diver numbers, which are sometimes in the thousands, were rather meager this year, with 172 Canvasbacks, 16 Ring-necked Ducks, and 44 Ruddy Ducks. This is surely a result of lower than average water at Upper Beach Lake.


We found 18 Ring-necked Pheasants, which is above our all-time low of 7, but well below our average of over 100 prior to 2005. This introduced game bird has been declining throughout the region.  Another introduced game bird continues to expand.  We found 176 Wild Turkeys, a new count high of a species that was first recorded only as recently as 2003. A new count high of 121 California Quail was a pleasant surprise (a species that has been missed five times). We missed American Bittern for just the third time, had low numbers of Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets, and missed Snowy Egret for the first time, but found two Green Herons, which have been missed seven times. We missed Black-crowned Night-Herons for just the fifth time, but for five out of the last eight years.


Most raptor numbers were well below average and we missed Sharp-shinned Hawk for just the fifth time. We recorded a Peregrine Falcon, surprising only for the second time on count day, but missed Prairie Falcon for the only the sixth time. An adult Bald Eagle and a Prairie Falcon were seen during count week (three days before or after the count) one and three days after count day, respectively. Barn Owls were down, with only two, Great Horned Owls were up, with 16, and Burrowing Owls were up with six after two years of only three.


A new high of 422 Sandhill Cranes was a nice surprise for a species sometimes now roosting at night on the property. Rail numbers were low (probably weather related), with only two Virginia Rails and one Sora. After missing Common Gallinule for the first time last year, we found one this year. There have been only one on the past three counts where this species was detected, though prior to 2006, we averaged over 60 on the property. Perhaps this is overly anecdotal, but I’ve noticed a decline of this species in other areas I regularly visit, such as the Cosumnes River Preserve.


Shorebird numbers were again very low, and we missed Black-bellied Plover (for the 11th time) and Long-billed Dowitcher for just the 6th time. Three Long-billed Curlews were a nice surprise for a species that has become somewhat rare on the property. On the other hand, gull species were well-represented, including a single Bonaparte’s Gull (7th count), and Mew Gull (8th count), though we missed Forster’s Tern (13th count).


The Bufferlands hosts impressive numbers of Mourning Doves, and 313 was just below average. Five White-throated Swift were a lucky quick observation of a species that is missed about half the time, though the advent of new overpasses on and near the property has made this species more common. Anna’s Hummingbirds, at 27, were less numerous than expected, but that can be easily attributed to the weather.


At 13, Yellow-billed Magpies had their worst showing to date after what had appeared to be a slight improvement in recent years after earlier lows.  Prior to 2005 and the arrival of West Nile Virus (WNV) in our area, numbers ranged from 48 to 102.  Since 2005, the range has been 13-46.  Anecdotally, I’ve noticed low numbers on other CBC areas I’ve covered this year (Lincoln, Folsom, Sacramento). Loggerhead Shrike is another WNV-susceptible species and we missed it for the first time two years ago, had an encouraging seven last year, but only one again this year.  We missed Oak Titmouse for the 5th year in a row; this species has also declined locally since WNV, and there was an average of a very modest six prior to 2005. This is a hard one to figure since I find it in patchy marginal habitat fairly close by along the Sacramento River. We found only 8 American Crows, but it’s hard to make much of that on one day in one area for such a mobile flocking species. A Common Raven (3rd count and 3rd year in a row) reflects the massive expansion of this species in recent years; ten years ago this was a rare bird in most of Sacramento County.


Good access to riparian areas (lack of flooding) produced above average counts of woodland-dependent sparrows (eg: Fox Sparrows, 35, and Golden-crowned Sparrows, 201). The wetland edges and scrubby margins of the Bufferlands are some of the best places I know to find one of my favorite birds, the Lincoln’s Sparrow, and we recorded 79 of these delicately beautiful little sparrows. Open-country sparrows (especially Savannah Sparrows, 97 (average 148), and to a lesser extent White-crowned Sparrows, 442, slightly below average) came in with below average totals, which may be related to drought and the lack of seeds in the grasslands and field margins. This may also be part of a decline we’re seeing in some of our other grassland birds (Long-billed Curlew, Burrowing Owl, Horned Lark) as more of the open country in the vicinity of the Bufferlands is developed, and open grassland areas of the Bufferlands itself have been impacted by Dwight Rd, Cosumnes River Blvd, Light Rail and a large Park and Ride lot. We missed Horned Lark (for only the sixth time, but for six out of the last 8 years).


Other somewhat notable finds included a Rock Wren (recorded about half the time), only four Golden-crowned Kinglets, two Varied Thrushes, 22 Cedar Waxwings (amazingly a new count high of a species that’s been missed 15 times), six Orange-crowned Warblers, and 46 Mytrle (Yellow-rumped) Warblers along a section of the Laguna Creek riparian that seems to always harbor good numbers of Myrtles each winter. Misses included any swallows, Pacific Wren, Brown Creeper, Townsend’s or Black-throated Gray Warblers, White-throated Sparrow, Great-tailed Grackle, Pine Siskin, and, sorry to say, House Sparrow.


The large roost in the WTP Clarifiers accounted for most of the individual birds, with 190,000 being European Starlings, 28,000 Brewer’s Blackbirds, and 2,500 Brown-headed Cowbirds. Birds missed on count day but seen count week were Bald Eagle, Prairie Falcon, Wilson’s Snipe, and Western Bluebird.


Thanks to everyone who participated in another great count. This 21-year dataset, however biased by weather and evolving modes of coverage, gives a good snapshot of the birdlife of the Bufferlands.

All the best,

Chris Conard

Rio Cosumnes Christmas Count results

Andy Engilis

First I want to thank all of the area leaders and participants for their help on count day.  Also much thanks to the Cosumnes River Preserve,  Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Sacramento Bufferlands, and Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito Abatement District for opening their wildlife areas to our survey teams.  The 20st Rio Cosumnes Count was held on January 4, 2016 (started count year 96, this being count year 116).  Seventy-two observers recorded 156 species on count week + 4 species during count week.  A total of 628,000 birds were tallied despite rain nearly the entire day.  Fortunately the winds were not too bad.  New for the circle was a flock of 12 Red Crossbills that flew over the Sacramento- Yolo abatement ponds off Bond Road, Elk Grove (Area 3).  These birds have been present in and around Elk Grove  since November.  Other rarities included 1  Red-breasted Merganser (in Area 11 Merritt Island and Sacramento River), 2 Greater Scaup (Cosumnes Preserve Area 8), 1 Harlan’s Hawk (Stone lakes NWR Area ), 5 Long-eared Owls (Cosumnes Tall Forest Area 7), 1 Phainopepla (Cosumnes Preserve Area 8), and 3 Chipping Sparrows (Merritt Island Area 11).  Other montane species recorded included: Red-breasted Nuthatch, GC Kinglets, Pine Siskin, and Brown Creepers.  High counts for Snow Geese (over 11,000 birds counted), Wild Turkey (457 birds), Herring Gull  (398 birds), and 129 Common Raven (an astounding 114 birds were seen roosting on a power tower in area 4, Riley Road (Cosumnes Preserve Valensin Unit), and Lesser Goldfinch (561 birds).  Misses included Eurasian Wigeon (see on count week) and Cattle Egret.


Our starling count topped out at 394,000 birds, far lower than our highest number of 1.05 million 8 years ago!   Brewer’s Blackbirds topped out at 48,000+ birds, Red-wings nearly 14,000 birds.  A whopping 48,000 unidentified blackbird species were seen circle wide.  What was nice to see was the higher number of Mourning Doves this winter with 1,790 birds counted (compared to 141 collared doves).  The Great-tailed Grackle roost (upwards of 200 birds) at the Winco Supermarket in Elk Grove seems to have dispersed as only two were found and only 35 were observed on count day.


Thanks all for a memorable count day.

Andy Engilis




Andrew Engilis, Jr.


Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology

455 Crocker Lane

University of California

Davis, CA 95616



Office Phone:  530-752-0364

Cell: 530-902-1881

FAX: 530-752-4154

E-mail:  aengilisjr@...



Black Chinned Sparrow Yolo County Babel Slough

Mark Sawyer

Black Chinned Sparrow was seen in the same brush pile spot at babel slough. I extensively photographed the bird albeit at a distance.

Mark Sawyer
Sacramento CA

Fresno Audubon Wednesday Trip

Larry Parmeter

Today, the monthly Fresno Audubon Society Wednesday Walk took place at Merced National Wildlife Refuge, and despite the prediction of inclement weather, it turned out to be a beautiful day with lots of birds seen-82 species total-Highlights were over 1,000 Pintail, 500 Green-winged Teal, 1,000+ Shovelers, 4 Blue-Winged Teal, 85 (!) Snipe, a Bittern, a Bald Eagle, a Ferruginous Hawk, 350 Black-bellied Plovers, over 6,000 Ross's Geese, and over 5,000 Snow Geese. The best sighting of the day, though, was, in a raft of 1,000+ Snow/Ross's Geese on the south side of the auto route, at least 21 Blue Morph Snow Geese-13 Adults and 8 juveniles(and probably several more that we couldn't see); we took lots of good images of them, which will be posted-

Larry Parmeter
Fresno Audubon Society

:Fresno Co birds

Jim Rowoth

I headed south in the fog this morning to see what kind of damage I could do to my Fresno Co list today. First stop was the Whitebridge entrance to Mendota Wildlife Area. I’d seen the “good” grebes last week, so I didn’t spend much time looking for the Red-necked or the Horned today, and I didn’t see them. I spent some time trying to sort through the sparrows I didn’t find the reported Field Sparrow. However, an American Bittern flushed, giving great looks, as did a Wilson’s Snipe, and there was a flyover flock of GWF Geese. These 3 were all new for me, so I was off to a good start.

From here, I headed to Kearney Park. It was foggy and cold, but I was the only visitor so it was very quiet. I was able to follow my ears to locate 3 Yellow-billed Magpies (finally), and multiple views and vocals of Red Crossbills. These were flying north and south over the park, initially too high for me to actually see. As the fog cleared, I was able to pick out the crossed bill and notched tail of a few high in tree-tops. I headed over to the SW corner where there is a grove of redwoods, and the “kip-kip” got louder. At one point, I had a dozen birds in sight at once feeding on redwood cones, with siskins mixed in. I was also able to locate a Red-breasted Sapsucker by its tapping, and a Red-breasted Nuthatches, also in the SW redwoods.

Feeling really good about my morning, I stopped for lunch in Clovis, then headed to the end of Lexington St, where I parked and walked north on the bike/jogging trail to look for the “good” geese reported there. Luckily I had my scope with me and the sun was out, so I was treated to excellent views of the two Snow Geese, one Brant, and one Cackling Goose in the basin to the east. Plus, an always stunning pair of Hooded Mergansers and a snazzy female Ring-necked Duck.

I then drove out to the Dry Creek Grasslands (N DeWolf Ave) to look for bluebirds. I had both flavors—Western (7) and Mountain (15—scattered throughout). I may have glimpsed a soaring buteo (Ferruginous?) off to the east, but it could have been over Nevada it was so far off. Consolation was a gorgeous Burrowing Owl sitting out among the many, many ground squirrels. The snow-covered Sierras to the east were stunning in the afternoon light, and the fields pastures were green; this is a beautiful area.

Since it was about 3:00, I decided to retrace my steps and re-check both Kearney and Mendota. Back at Kearney, I found one magpie and throngs of robins in the trees. The nuthatch was again in the SW grove, but the crossbills and siskins must have already gone to bed as I could detect none. As I turned to walk to my car, a Peregrine Falcon swooped in, carrying prey (scrub-jay?), and upon seeing me, turned and flew off north.

By the time I got back to Mendota, the sun was fading. I had none of my targets this time, but there was a pair of Great Horned Owls counter-hooting off to the south.

Long day, but I ended up with 11 new species for the county. Not bad at all!

Jim Rowoth

Mariposa crossbills

John Harris

Today Ralph Baker, Dale Swanberg and I ventured into eastern Stanislaus County, ending up at Lake McSwain and Lake McClure in Mariposa County.
We started by finding Pacific Wren and Brown Creeper at Turlock Lake Campground (Stanislaus), where both species are fairly regular in winter and have been reported several times this year.
Eventually we went down to the Merced River and Lake McSwain (above Hornitos Road) in Merced County, where we hoped the Eared and Horned Grebes seen earlier might remain. They didn't. But there were Ring-necked Ducks and Hooded Mergansers there, which was nice. We were up by the dam, just before the entrance to the Lake McClure park area (entrance fee), when Ralph had two Red Crossbills fly overhead, heading downstream. We decided to pay the entrance fee and were rewarded at the first campground (by the marina) with extended views of Red Crossbills feeding in the pines of the campground area. As the trees were not large, the birds were easily viewed and photographed. There were at least a dozen, and they moved around among the trees in the area, sometimes landing on powerlines. Other birds in the campground included Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Cedar Waxwing.. I believe the pines in the campground were Aleppo Pines, a two-needled pine native to the Mediterranean area.
John Harris

Yolo County gulls

Steve Hampton

Just a note on where all the gulls are.  This winter often the landfill pond and Davis WTP levees are nearly empty of gulls.  The active face at the landfill is currently in the nw corner of the landfill, so the gulls often sit on a Conoway Ranch field n of the landfill and e of Rd 104.  While they are 200 yards off and a bit skiddish in this context, they can be scoped.  Today there were dozens of Thayer's Gulls evident among many Herrings.  Unfortunately, the county has made a mess of this dirt road during construction and I suspect it will be a 4WD road with more rain.  It's a mess.  So the gulls are far off and difficult to access. 

The landfill has acquired the old Hawk & Owl Refuge fields to the west of Rd 104 and has begun mining the soil for cover.  This will be a 50-year project.  They've dug a hole/pond adjacent to Rd 104 part way down it.  As this fills with rain, the gulls may use it as a bath and that will provide terrific viewing from Rd 104 in all but late-afternoon light.  At the moment, there's only Canada Geese there.  

good birding, 

Steve Hampton

Creed, Robinson, Flannery Rds. Solano Co. 1/11

Denise and David Hamilton

Hi All,
We went in search of Mt. Plovers recently posted on Ebird reports, but after a lot of looking, we did not see any. But it was still a great morning out there yesterday.  MANY AMERICAN PIPITS, HORNED LARKS, SAVANNAH SPARROWS,  & AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES- we saw 3 flocks of them eating thistle seeds- together over 500 of them!
A wet area on Creed Rd. had a good assortment of ducks along with 3 TUNDRA SWANS.
We scared up 1 BURROWING OWL (down in the ditch?) when we stopped to scan the field at the sharp corner of Robinson Rd.  It sat on the ground ‘chirping’ at us before flying off.
Complete list:
Happy birding,
Denise & David Hamilton

Long-eared Owls


Just as last winter when a Northern Saw-whet Owl and at at least one Long-eared Owl roosted in my neighbor’s olive orchard near the south bank of Putah Creek about 1/2 mile downstream from Stevenson Bridge, several Long-eared Owls are currently roosting in the same orchard. My brother-in-law Mike Madison flushed 5 owls out of the same tree deep inside the orchard on two successive days and when I went to investigate I flushed one owl out of the same tree and found several elongated pellets plus white-wash on the ground and along some branches, suggesting that several owls had roosted there for at least several days. I placed my blind there hoping to photograph these easily spooked owls when they returned at dawn. But despite waiting for them yesterday from about 6AM until 8AM, they did not do me the favor. When I checked this morning, they were not roosting in this tree, but walking at random through the orchard I flushed three of them, two from the same tree under which I found again several pellets. The orchard is currently undergoing fairly serious pruning involving a chain saw which might explain why the owls have at least temporarily abandoned the tree in which they were first spotted as the work is now very close to that spot. Since the olive trees are very brushy and dense they provide excellent cover for the owls but make it almost impossible to spot them before they get spooked by my approach. So far I have only been able to observe them in flight as they swoop down from their roost, fly close to the ground and then swoop back up and out of sight as they settle into a different tree. In this respect they are very different from the Northern Saw-whet Owl I photographed extensively last February. That little owl would stay put even as I fiddled with my tripod and camera less than 25ft away. That steadiness of course also makes it harder to find. So it is entirely possible that the same or another Saw-whet is roosting in the orchard again but has so far escaped detection. I hope my brother-in-law who found it, accidentally, in two different locations last year gets lucky again.
I should add that the orchard is deep inside private property and inaccessible to the public.

Manfred Kusch
South bank of Putah Creek
3 miles W of Davis

Yolo Mountain Plovers


8:30 am, Jan 12, 2016
There were 11 Mountain Plovers visible along Rd 103 about a quarter mile north of Rd 27-- same place near Davis as previously reported.
Roger Adamson

California Naturalist Course

Karyn O'Hearn

Hello fellow birders and naturalists!

Another California Naturalist course is starting up at UC Merced's Vernal Pools and Grassland Reserve beginning in February. This is a great opportunity to deepen your experience with natural history and learn about the natural environments we live in. Plus there are some great birding trips too.

Please share this information.


Karyn "Kestrel" O'Hearn
Interpretive Ranger Naturalist, Yosemite National Park
Instructor, Yosemite Conservancy
Science Teacher, Merced City Schools

"In order to see birds it is necessary to become part of the silence." Robert Lynd

Sacramento County Raptor Trip

Craig Swolgaard


A good sized group of birders spent the day yesterday looking for raptors, driving on both Meiss Road and Michigan Bar / Latrobe Roads. Apart from a number of Ferruginous Hawks, we found several Mountain Bluebirds on Meiss Road, between the shooting range and Ione Road. There is a line of eucalyptus trees that they perched on, flying out to the field to get insects. Meiss Road also produced Prairie Falcon, Merlin, Burrowing Owl, Loggerhead Shrike and while looking at the bluebirds a Bald Eagle flew overhead.

On Michigan Bar Road we stopped at the Cosumnes River bridge and saw a group of waterfowl, including Hooded Merganser and Ruddy Duck. An immature Bald Eagle flew upriver and a Rock Wren showed up as well. Between Hwy 16 and the bridge was a flock of Lark Sparrows and many Lewis’s woodpeckers. Working up toward Latrobe Road were also Ferruginous Hawk and Prairie Falcon. An incredible day!!

Good birding,

Craig Swolgaard
Georgetown, CA

Lincoln CBC 29 Dec 2015

ed pandolfino

Chris's post reminded me that I not posted a summary of the Lincoln count.

Eighty-eight folks helped count birds for the 14th edition of the Lincoln Christmas Bird Count on a fine winter day with clear, cold conditions and very little wind. Our species total for the day was 141 with one additional ‘Count Week’ bird (Red-breasted Nuthatch) getting us to 142, well over our average of 136 and only the third time we have broken the 140 mark.


With some rain earlier in the season, we had more flooded rice than in the past few years and our waterbird totals reflected that. We set new highs for American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, White-faced Ibis, and Black-necked Stilt. We even turned up multiple Eurasian Wigeons at two different locations. While we conservatively recorded three Eurasian Wigeons for our official tally, there may have been as many as four at the Lincoln Wastewater Treatment Plant, alone. Hooded Mergansers and Merlins have both shown steady increases throughout the Central Valley in recent decades and we recorded new highs for both. We were particularly pleased to find 5 Burrowing Owls (our previous high total was just 2), a species nearly extirpated from the county as of a few years ago. The good weather was probably responsible for our new high of 68 White-throated Swifts. The weather also probably encouraged folks to spend more time working the woodland areas and led to our setting new highs for Red-breasted Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Western Scrub-Jay, Spotted and California Towhees. Good crops from berry-producing trees and shrubs may have contributed to our setting new highs for American Robin and Northern Mockingbird.


The only new low total was for Bufflehead, 102 vs. our average of over 200. Yellow-billed Magpies and Loggerhead Shrikes still show no sign of having recovered from the 2005 West Nile virus outbreak. We recorded 59 magpies and 14 shrikes vs. our pre-West Nile averages of 645 and 39, respectively.


In spite of having lost significant amounts of habitat to development since this count started, we continue to record high diversity and good numbers for nearly all species. This is most likely a testament to the resiliency of most bird species and to the high quality of the habitat that remains.


Ed Pandolfino


Folsom CBC on 3 Jan 2016

Chris Conard

Hi folks,
We had a very good Folsom CBC on Jan 3, with nearly perfect weather given the time of year. The species count was 145, one short of the record, within an historic range of 123 to 146 over the past 38 years. This was a good species total since we missed all geese (except for Canada) as well as Tundra Swan. Twelve Mute Swans hardly compensate; they're getting more common in our area as they are breeding and expanding from several small reservoirs. Folsom always has relatively low waterfowl diversity compared to the Valley floor. We did okay with ducks, getting Cinnamon Teal, which we often miss, missing Canvasback and Redhead, getting 68 Ring-necked Ducks, three Lesser Scaup, 28 Barrow's Goldeneye, and 32 Hooded Mergansers (down from last year's 71). Folsom Lake was very low, so perhaps it's no surprise that the numbers of Common Loons (3) and grebes were low too, with only 9 Horned and 15 Eared Grebes, though we still got over 300 Western-types (many too distant to separate Western from Clark's).  

Three Bald Eagles, three Ferruginous Hawks and one Rough-legged Hawk were good finds, and a single Golden Eagle was a good pick up of a species that we're now missing most years. Shorebird numbers and species diversity were low, as is often the case. We missed Long-billed Dowitcher. Among 20,000+ gulls, none were unexpected species, though we did have a few Thayer's and Glaucous-winged, but missed Mew Gulls.

After last year's invasion of Band-tailed Pigeons, we were lucky to have a single party report 43. Owls included two Barn Owls (sometimes missed), four Western Screech-Owls, one Burrowing Owl, and a Long-eared Owl flushed from a day roost near Sweetwater Creek. Lewis's Woodpeckers, while not as numerous as last year, still came in at 98. Five Hairy Woodpeckers was a good total for the count (a species found about 2/3s of the time), including one continuing along Lake Natoma, but a little farther downstream (nearer Parkshore Dr) than the reports last winter from just below the Young Wo Circle access. We had six Merlins, two Peregrine Falcons and four Prairie Falcons. Five Loggerhead Shrikes from three areas, including one from the Peninsula portion of Folsom Lake, was encouraging. 

Steller's Jays were in nothing like last year's numbers, but we still had 16 among three parties. Common Ravens used to be rare, but were up to 23 among four parties.  Yellow-billed Magpie numbers were low, at 61, which is down from 134 last year, but way up from 23 the year before. Hard to know what that means. We had two Brown Creepers and two Red-breasted Nuthatches, but missed Golden-crowned Kinglets (had two on 1/1 for count week), and had three Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. Rare/uncommon sparrows included three Chipping Sparrows, two Bell's Sparrows (Sweetwater Creek vicinity), and four White-throated Sparrows. We recorded an impressive 856 Western Bluebirds, and two Mountain Bluebirds were a nice find along Payen Rd. We had nearly 2000 American Robins, and 23 Varied Thrushes (reported from four areas), down from last year's 217 (we miss this bird some years). At the tally we thought we had yet again missed Tricolored Blackbird, but four were reported from Area 4 (El Dorado Hills vicinity). There were two separate detections of calling flyover Red Crossbills (a flock of three and a single) near the older part of Folsom. Last year we had 355 Pine Siskins, a species we sometimes miss, but this year had to settle for a still impressive 115, with reports from six of eight areas. 

Thanks to all who participated and especially to the area leaders who do a lot of extra work organizing their teams (Ed Pandolfino, Maureen Geiger, Tim Fitzer, Cathie LaZier, and Scott Hoppe).

Chris Conard


Larry Parmeter

     This afternoon, we drove out to the Mendota Wildlife Refuge to try to find the Field Sparrow that was first reported on Friday-We found the site(the building next to the Porta-Potty near the gate) and the flock of White-crowns easily, but there was no sign of the Field Sparrow after an hour of looking-Another birder there told us that it had not been seen since yesterday-We did, see, among the 30 or so White-crown Sparrows, at least ten Gold-crown Sparrows, two Song Sparrows, and a Yellowthroat. In the nearby trees were several Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Black Phoebe. 

Larry Parmeter
Fresno Audubon Society

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