Sequoia Audubon Society
                              San Mateo County, California

Field Trip Report

Swarmin’ Swainsons
August 20, 2011
Leader:  Leslie Flint

SAS in Yolo

On August 20, 25 stalwart birders showed up for Sequoia’s field trip “Swarmin’ Swainson’s” to search for Swainson's hawks in Yolo and Solano Counties.  The weather was very pleasant and it turned out to be quite a fantastic day despite the lack of Swainson's (until late in the day).  We started at the Vic Fazio wetlands and enjoyed good looks at ibis, green herons, a flying bittern, yellow-headed blackbirds and a brief look at female blue grosbeak and of course scads of egrets. A peregrine terrorized the dowitchers at the ponds near Parking Lot B. On our way to the Davis Wetlands, we stopped on Road 105 for a small flock of about 10 Swainson's far out in a field and distant birds in the air. As we were driving into the wetlands 2 great horned owls were spotted in the trees and a departing birder told us of the common ringed plover that had been found earlier in the day. Wow, we were in the right place at the right time! We hurried to the Wastewater Pond where there were already lots of birders. We had great looks at the plover and could compare it to the semi-palmated plovers. This was a life bird for most of the group needless to say and a first State record. (Photos are posted on Sonny Mencher's Flickr site) There were a lot of shorebirds as the water level was perfect.   We saw least and western sandpipers and many long-billed dowitchers, and lesser and greater yellowlegs, but not the ruff that had been seen earlier. Also present were American white pelicans, Caspian terns, stilts and avocets. As we were leaving a small flock of black terns flew over - a real treat. We stopped on the way out to check out the ponds at the wastewater treatment plant and found both red-necked and Wilson's phalaropes along with assorted gulls and ducks.

Swainson's Hawk

After lunch on the lawn of a Carl’s Jr. in Davis, the afternoon was spent searching for flocks of Swainson's which didn't materialize at first. But we had good looks at juvenile birds interacting in a group of trees over what appeared to be a snake (?) in the talons of one bird and then later several birds in the air.  We also came upon a turkey vulture roost with quite a few birds in the air and in the trees.  About 3:00 about half the group left for home and the rest of us set out looking for burrowing owls (NOT) but were lucky enough to find a flock of about 70 Swainson's in a field and in the air at the junction of Robben Road and Radio Station Road in Solano County. Along Delhi road were hundreds of long-billed curlews - maybe a thousand in all. A few of us were lucky enough to see a merlin on Levee Road before we all headed for home.

Common Ringed Plover

Birds seen and heard – 73 species:

Canada Goose
Cinnamon Teal
Ruddy Duck
Ring-necked Pheasant (by a few)
Double-crested Cormorant
American White Pelican
American Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret (78+)
Snowy Egret
Cattle Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
White-faced Ibis
Turkey Vulture (100+)
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier
Swainson’s Hawk (102)
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
American Coot
Common Ringed Plover (seen well by all)
Semipalmated Plover
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Long-billed Curlew (1700+)
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Long-billed Dowitcher
Wilson’s Phalarope
Red-necked Phalarope
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Caspian Tern
Black Tern
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Anna’s Hummingbird
Black Phoebe
Western Kingbird
Loggerhead Shrike
Western Scrub-jay
Yellow-billed Magpie
American Crow
Common Raven
Horned Lark
Tree Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow
Bank Swallow (heard by a few that were listening)
Marsh Wren
House Wren (by a few)
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Song Sparrow
Blue Grosbeak (female seen by most)
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Brewer’s Blackbird
Great-tailed Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

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