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18704Sutter and Placer counties

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  • Bruce Mast
    May 26, 2014
      Tim Howe and I spent the weekend on a mini-blitz of Sutter and Placer counties. We started birding Saturday morning (5-24-14) at 6 am at Bobelaine Audubon Sanctuary south of Yuba City. This was my first time birding this gem along the Feather River and it did not disappoint. No particular rarities but we tallied 51 species in just 2.5 hours. HIghlights were probably the trio of WOOD DUCKS that flew out of the river and the SWAINSON'S HAWK that passed overhead.

      In Placer County, we birded the roads in the vicinity of Lincoln Grasslands and located a kettle of 20 SWAINSON'S HAWKS  and 4 RED-TAILED HAWKS following a hay mower. A flock of 30 TRI-COLORED BLACKBIRDS was just up the road.

      On to Folsom State Recreation Area, we stopped first at Beal's Point, where we discovered a SNOW GOOSE swimming with the Canada Goose flock. The site also hosts a half dozen GREAT-TAILED GRACKLES.

      On up the road to Beek's Bight (Folsom SRA), we were pleased to locate a calling RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW in the rocks and a pair of PHAINOPEPLAS in the mistletoe-laden oaks. A ROCK WREN was singing from the rocks near the waterline.

      We spent the afternoon birding Mosquito Ridge Rd. as far as French Meadows Reservoir. Highlights included a flock of 13 AMERICAN-WHITE PELICANS flying over Little Oak Flat, multiple TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRES, NASHVILLE WARBLERS, and HERMIT WARBLERS; Calling PILEATED WOODPECKERS and HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHERS at Placer County Big Trees, and MOUNTAIN QUAIL calling from multiple stops. A ROCK WREN was calling from the reservoir dam.

      Dusk fell at the French Meadows Reservoir dam, prompting 3 COMMON POORWILLS to start calling. I located 1 in my flashlight beam on the rip rap between the road and the water. We then owled our way back west on Mosquito Ridge Rd. On the 1st ridge about the reservoir we located a couple calling NORTHERN PYGMY OWLS. The forest at Big Trees was silent but we found a calling FLAMMULATED OWL a few miles further west.

      Camping at Little Oak Flat, we awoke Sunday morning (5-25-14) to a spectacular dawn chorus. Heading back up the hill, we returned to Big Trees for looks at the Pileated Woodpeckers and added a singing MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER to the list. Back at the reservoir, we took time to locate the active OSPREY nest. We then birded a burn area just below the dam, accessed from French Meadows Rd. The place was very birdy with a number of CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRDS, DUSKY FLYCATCHERS, GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE, THICK-BILLED FOX SPARROWS, and 4 warbler species.

      We followed French Meadows Rd. back to civilization ,stopping in the lower elevation oaks to add BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER to the trip list.

      Overall, we logged 55 species in Sutter County (28 county birds) and another 91 species in Placer County (44 county birds).

      Bird on,

      Bruce Mast