Archive for June, 2018

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is a large, and highly complicated place. With all the rivers and other waterways, all the history, all the endangered species and habitats, all the people, and all the threats on the horizon, it can be daunting for anyone to begin to learn about. Where to start?

Well, a Sea Grant Fellow working at the Delta Protection Commission has created a good answer to that question. Heidi Williams received a fellowship from an organization called California Sea Grant to work in the area of science communication. She spent her one year fellowship at the Delta Protection Commission where she worked to create virtual tour of the Delta. This broad introduction to the the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is called “A Beginner’s Guide to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.” The whole digital “Guide” can be found here, and it makes for a very interesting and well assembled read that includes an overview of many of the topics that make the Delta such a complex place to work and live. it also includes quite a few sources which allows for further reading and exploration.

Tule Elk

Tule Elk in Suisun Marsh (cover photo from the “Guide”)

Even thought it is called a beginner’s guide, I will guarantee that anyone who reads through all the materials that have been assembled in this “Guide” will learn something.



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This year, 2018, I have set up a little challenge for myself. The challenge is to see 100 or more species in Yolo County each month. Now, that does not mean that the 100 species of February have to all be different species from the 100 species in January. Rather it means that the total number of species seen in each month should get to a total of 100 or more. So, if I see a Red-tailed Hawk some time in January it gets added to the January list. If I see a Red-tailed Hawk some time in February it get added to the February list.

I am hoping this will help me to notice more details as I search to find that next species for a given month, encourage me to visit more habitat types each month, and highlight the seasonal differences as species come and go from my monthly list. This first few months, I have really been enjoying it, and will share what I see with you as the months go by.

Below is my species list from May. It has a total of 97 species, so I did not make my target. This is the first month of the year that I have ended with under 100 species, and it was a bit of a surprise. I did miss two weekends of birding this month which certainly presented a challenge, but I also missed several species that I thought I would see easily. Northern Flicker was one of the most conspicuous misses. I searched and searched for days to see or hear one, and could not find one anywhere! I also visited a spot along Putah Creek outside of Davis that I thought would be an easy place to find Acorn Woodpeckers, but found none. Virginia Rail, Barn Owl, Lincoln’s Sparrow, and an absurd lack of gulls were a few other species that I was kind of surprised I was not able to find despite specifically looking for them.

When I started this challenge, I was slightly worried that I had made it too easy. In January and February I was able to clear the 100 species mark easily, and was thinking about raising my target to 110 species or maybe even 115. Now that spring is ending and summer is just around the corner, and having ended May three species short, it looks like 100 species per month is a worthy challenge after all.

Some of the highlights from the month were a couple of Ring-necked Ducks and a lovely male Green-winged Teal at the Yolo Bypass, a Burrowing Owl that I spotted on the side of an on ramp to I-80 in Davis, a Loggerhead Shrike that flew past me just beside the Yolo County Landfill, and the lovely and colorful assortment of Central Valley breeding birds like Bullock’s Oriole, Blue Grosbeak, and Lazuli Bunting.

With five months down, and my first under-100 total, I am determined to get over 100 species in June! We will see what I am able to find!

Here is my May species list.

Species – Yolo County – May
1 Canada Goose
2 Wood Duck
3 Cinnamon Teal
4 Northern Shoveler
5 Gadwall
6 Mallard
7 Green-winged Teal
8 Ring-necked Duck
9 Ruddy Duck
10 California Quail
11 Ring-necked Pheasant
12 Wild Turkey
13 Pied-billed Grebe
14 Double-crested Cormorant
15 American Bittern
16 Great Blue Heron
17 Great Egret
18 Snowy Egret
19 Cattle Egret
20 Green Heron
21 Black-crowned Night-Heron
22 White-faced Ibis
23 Turkey Vulture
24 Osprey
25 White-tailed Kite
26 Northern Harrier
27 Cooper’s Hawk
28 Red-shouldered Hawk
29 Swainson’s Hawk
30 Red-tailed Hawk
31 Sora
32 Common Gallinule
33 American Coot
34 Black-necked Stilt
35 American Avocet
36 Killdeer
37 Least Sandpiper
38 Spotted Sandpiper
39 Greater Yellowlegs
40 California Gull
41 Rock Pigeon
42 Eurasian Collared-Dove
43 Mourning Dove
44 Great Horned Owl
45 Burrowing Owl
46 White-throated Swift
47 Anna’s Hummingbird
48 Belted Kingfisher
49 Nuttall’s Woodpecker
50 Downy Woodpecker
51 American Kestrel
52 Pacific-slope Flycatcher
53 Black Phoebe
54 Ash-throated Flycatcher
55 Western Kingbird
56 Loggerhead Shrike
57 California Scrub-Jay
58 Yellow-billed Magpie
59 American Crow
60 Common Raven
61 Northern Rough-winged Swallow
62 Tree Swallow
63 Barn Swallow
64 Cliff Swallow
65 Oak Titmouse
66 Bushtit
67 White-breasted Nuthatch
68 House Wren
69 Marsh Wren
70 Bewick’s Wren
71 Western Bluebird
72 Hermit Thrush
73 American Robin
74 Northern Mockingbird
75 European Starling
76 Cedar Waxwing
77 Orange-crowned Warbler
78 Common Yellowthroat
79 Yellow Warbler
80 Wilson’s Warbler
81 Savannah Sparrow
82 Song Sparrow
83 California Towhee
84 Spotted Towhee
85 Western Tanager
86 Blue Grosbeak
87 Lazuli Bunting
88 Western Meadowlark
89 Bullock’s Oriole
90 Red-winged Blackbird
91 Brown-headed Cowbird
92 Brewer’s Blackbird
93 Great-tailed Grackle
94 House Finch
95 Lesser Goldfinch
96 American Goldfinch
97 House Sparrow


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