Date: 1/3/18 10:29 am
From: <enhunn323...> [northbaybirds] <northbaybirds-noreply...>
Subject: [NBB] Sonoma Valley Christmas Bird Count

We held our count on Friday, December 29, 2017, with perfect weather conditions. Our circle was established by Tom Rusert and Darren Peterie in 2005; this was our 13th consecutive year. Our circle extends from Glen Ellen at the north edge to Wingo at the south, Napa Ridge on the east to Shollenberger and Ellis Creek on the west. Our 108 volunteers recorded 163 species on count day and an additional 6 during count week, which is right on our long term average. This despite the impact of the recent devastating fires that scorched significant acreage on the east and north edges of our circle. Total numbers of individual birds, however, was under 50,000, 75% of our long term average. This due largely to low waterbird numbers (e.g., several geese and grebe species missed; just ONE Greater Scaup), likely attributable to the very dry December.

Highlights included two Eurasian Wigeons at Shollenberger, a Redhead and a Red-breasted Merganser on the Petaluma sewage lagoons, two late Semipalmated Plovers and a 1st cycle Glaucous (or Glaucous x Glaucous-winged) Gull at Shollenberger, good numbers and diversity of owls, including Burrowing, Spotted, Short-eared, and Northern Saw-whets. Five Lewis's Woodpeckers at three sites were notable, as was the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker returning for the third winter at a vineyard near Glen Ellen. A hybrid sapsucker was photographed northwest of Sonoma. Merlins and Prairie Falcons were widely noted. Red-breasted Nuthatches were notably common in the burned areas on Napa Ridge, feeding on knobcone pine cones opened by the heat. This and the apparent dislocation of numbers of Band-tailed Pigeons were evidence of the fires' impact. A Yellow Warbler was photographed count day at Lucchesi Park in Petaluma and four Chipping Sparrows were a surprise in a suburban yard near Sonoma. Warblers and finches were otherwise scarce. A male Mountain Bluebird was reported off Ramal Road, a first for the count, though we have no photos. Twelve Great-tailed Grackles lingered at the Petaluma sewage ponds.

Count week birds included an immature Bald Eagle of Shollenberger and several Ridgway's Rails heard at Alman Marsh in the early AM of New Year's Day.

Gene Hunn, compiler
Petaluma, CA

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