Date: 1/4/18 9:30 pm From: Randy Wardle <wrwardle...> Subject: [MBBIRDS] January birding email for Santa Cruz County
Happy New Year! For those interested, here is the birding email for January for the county. It provides some suggestions about what to look for and where to look for them during the month. I hope it proves helpful for some. Special thanks to Lois Goldfrank for her valuable input and to Alex Rinkert for his expert input and editing skills.
The new year has begun and so has the spring migration for some bird species in Santa Cruz County. Watch for Allen's Hummingbirds, which will be returning in early January. Many Anna's Hummingbirds and Bushtits begin nest building, while other species such as Great Horned Owls, doves and pigeons can be seen tending active nests. Many resident breeding birds such as Hutton’s Vireos and Dark-eyed Juncos begin singing more frequently this month.
January is a good time to look for Red-breasted and Red-naped Sapsuckers. Though rare, there's still a chance to come across a Dusky-capped Flycatcher, as well as Hammond’s or Least, for example, along the San Lorenzo River. Tropical Kingbirds can also be found in places like the Watsonville Sloughs or neat lakes and marshes on the mid-county coast.
Rare warblers can turn up. Seen in January, among others in varying degrees of rarity, have been American Redstart, Nashville, Black-and-white, Hooded, Hermit, Wilson’s, Black-throated Gray, Palm, MacGillivray’s, and Northern Waterthrush. Watch for many of these where there are flowering trees such as Eucalyptus.
This month is also a good time to try owling. Great Horned, Barn, Western Screech, and Northern Saw-whet are the most often heard, Northern Pygmy is more difficult to find, but some reliable places to try are Rancho Del Oso and headquarters at Big Basin State Park. In some places, such as the fields near Wilder Ranch State Park, Long-eared and Short-eared Owls have sometimes been seen as well.
January is a good time to look for ducks. All the regulars can be found now in the sloughs and waterways and it's a good chance to study male and female plumages. Rarities such as Eurasian Wigeons are worth looking for in lakes and sloughs near Watsonville. With diligence and some luck, all three scoter species can be spotted in January off the coast. Snow, Ross’s, Greater White-fronted, and Cackling Geese seem to be easier to find now than later on in the winter. Don't forget to keep checking College Lake as well for the occasional Tundra Swan.
This month is also a great time to study the gulls near Harkins Slough and the county creeks and river mouths. Lots of Mews are around now, along with Herring, Iceland, and perhaps even a Glaucous Gull. Both Black-legged Kittiwakes and Laughing Gulls have been spotted in January, too. If you want to take the next step, this might be a good time to learn about some of the hybrid gulls.
Don't forget to keep an eye on the weather forecast. Even though this winter has begun slowly, some storms should be on the way. Watch for interesting birds that may be blown ashore along the coast when the storms arrive.
The start of a new year brings excitement at the prospect of new county birds and, perhaps, even some lifers, too. May this be your best birding year ever!