Cosumnes birds in the last week

Glennah Trochet

Dear Birders,

Last Saturday, 23 April, I visited the Cosumnes River Preserve in southern Sacramento County eager to see the flooding occasioned by the Sierra foothills rains two days earlier.  But I started at the Twin Cities unit adjacent to Interstate 5, hoping for burrowing owls and grasshopper sparrows.  I found neither.  Behind the Farm Center gate I was delighted to see lots of water on the floodplain east of the Tall Forest and in the Triangle Pond northeast of the equipment pad.  The water was too deep to wade in knee boots out to the Accidental Forest.  The harrier nest site was flooded as well.  A long walk of ditch banks and field margins concluded with a walk down Wood Duck Slough and out to the river.  Along Desmond Road I checked the watered fields for birds.  The day's better birds were these:
Eurasian wigeon-  1
bald eagle-  an adult seen on two occasions
Vaux's swift-  1 (FOS)
downy woodpecker-  missed altogether
Pacific-slope flycatcher-  1
Cassin's vireo-  1 (FOS)
warbling vireo-  9
common raven-  2
ruby-crowned kinglet-  1
Swainson's thrush-  1 (FOS)
hermit thrush-  1
white-crowned sparrow-  18 (most of these near the Tall Forest Landing)
golden-crowned sparrow-  1
orange-crowned warbler-  15
Nashville warbler-  18 (actual count, a good one for me)
common yellowthroat-  10
yellow warbler-  3
Audubon's warbler-  150
myrtle warbler-  8
yellow-rumped warbler-  30
black-throated gray warbler-  4
hermit warbler-  2 (FOS)
Wilson's warbler-  25
western tanager-  3

The next morning I visited north of Twin Cities Road at the Denier and Shaw Forest parcels.  Water was still flowing across the floodplain in places at Denier, and there were several casual lakes as a result.  On these were 64 whimbrels and one held a solitary sandpiper.  I had another decent showing of migrants today, mostly on the forest perimeter.  The best find inside the forest block was a singing white-striped white-throated sparrow.  The notable finds included the following:
black-chinned hummingbird-  1
Pacific-slope flycatcher-  2
warbling vireo-  6
hermit thrush-  1
white-crowned sparrow-  20
golden-crowned sparrow-  3
white-throated sparrow-  1
orange-crowned warbler-  15
Nashville warbler-  10
common yellowthroat-  8
Audubon's warbler-  50
myrtle warbler-  6
Wilson's warbler-  10
western tanager-  1
lazuli bunting-  4

Coyotes entertained this morning.  From the levee on the north side of Shaw Forest I could hear a Canada goose calling.  One of a pair called nearly nonstop while the other grazed on sparse new shoots in a tilled field.  From about 100 meters away a coyote watched them with interest.  He had no chance.  On the west side of Shaw another coyote came out of tall grass carrying a pup, which she dropped immediately when she saw me approaching.  She did the mammalian equivalent of an avian distraction display until I was well past where the pup was dropped.

Chris Conard ran his monthly bird survey of Orr Ranch on Monday the 25th.  I was one of two who joined him.  We ran into high water there, so much in fact that we were unable to get into the forest.  We had only one mixed warbler flock all morning.  The highlights were these:
Lewis's woodpecker-  4-6 (hard to know how much duplication there was)
Pacific-slope flycatcher-  1
warbling vireo-  1
chipping sparrow-  2
7 species of wood warblers, all in small numbers
western tanager-  1
lazuli bunting-  1

On Wednesday the 27th, having received the owner's permission, I visited Howard Ranch in the far southeastern part of Sacramento County.  I arrived at 03:30 to do some owling.  I flushed a poorwill from the gravel road on the drive in and found a few barn owls and western screech-owls, and nothing else.  The diurnal birding was never red hot, but it was much better in the morning than afternoon.  Empids were the one group that was pretty steady all day.  At the end of the outing I'd crossed paths with some decent birds:
band-tailed pigeon-  2 (four other birds possibly this species)
calliope hummingbird-  female feeding at a flowering shrub five feet away
Lewis's woodpecker-  32
gray flycatcher-  1
dusky flycatcher-  2
Hammond's flycatcher-  4
dusky/Hammond's-  2
western flycatcher-  2
Empidonax sp.-  3
Cassin's vireo-  2
warbling vireo-  1
yellow-billed magpie-  1
blue-gray gnatcatcher-  1
white-crowned sparrow-  5
golden-crowned sparrow-  3
Lincoln's sparrow-  2
rufous-crowned sparrow-  3
spotted towhee-  1 (perhaps the least expected bird today- they should all be elsewhere by now based on previous years)
orange-crowned warbler-  1
Nashville warbler-  1
Audubon's warbler-  3
Wilson's warbler-  3
lazuli bunting-  4

All told, I walked about 13.0 miles.  The lowlight was a pair of mute swans.  Black-necked stilts are possibly nesting on an island in an impoundment there.

This morning I visited behind the Farm Center gate again.  The water has receded everywhere.  I visited the Triangle Pond, the eastern floodplain, Wood Duck Slough down to the pump station, and the Love Shack.  I also checked the ponds along Desmond Road on my way to the VC to pick up a bird salvaged by Sara Sweet, the project ecologist at the preserve.  Birding wasn't great, but it wasn't bad either.  Highlights:
black-chinned hummingbird-  1
black tern-  2
Forster's tern-  1 (I can't remember the last time I saw both terns there)
semipalmated plover-  7
nine shorebird species total
peregrine falcon-  1
Pacific-slope flycatcher-  1
no vireos
Swainson's thrush-  2
orange-crowned warbler-  2
yellow warbler-  1
Audubon's warbler-  8
black-throated gray warbler-  1
Townsend's warbler-  1 (my first since February)
Wilson's warbler-  15
lazuli bunting-  2

John Trochet