Date: 5/1/19 12:30 am From: Randy Wardle <wrwardle...> Subject: [MBBIRDS] May birding email for Santa Cruz County
For those interested, here is the monthly birding email for Santa Cruz County for May. I hope many of you find it useful. Also, a reminder that this coming Saturday, May 4th is World Big Day, for those that would like to participate and find as many bird species as they can in one day.
May is here in Santa Cruz County, most of our spring migrants have arrived by now, and nesting activity for most species has begun in earnest. Along the coast, many Western Gulls begin building nests this month, while Canada Geese, Mallards, and Pied-billed Grebes are already among those to be seen escorting small groups of young on the water. On land, other species from Bushtits to Crows are already working hard to feed their demanding chicks.
Seabird migration is still going strong during the first week or two of May. Offshore, loons will still be migrating north, mostly Pacific Loons now, and there will still be some flocks of Brant, Scoters, Common Murres and other alcids continuing to move up the coast. This is a good time to look for Red-necked Phalaropes as well as the possibility of Red Phalaropes offshore and near coastal lagoons in places like Younger and Corcoran Lagoons, and along the lower Watsonville Slough and Shorebirds Pond in Pajaro Dunes. Caspian and Elegant Terns are back now and there is a possibility for Common, Least, and Black Terns along the coast this month. Black Skimmers also remain a possibility in the county throughout May. While the last of our wintering gulls will be gone this month, there is a chance of finding an occasional Franklin’s Gull, especially in plowed fields on the north coast.
Along the shore, where birding should remain good for the first two weeks of May, you can still look for Wandering Tattlers, Surfbirds, and Black Turnstones, though they will almost all be gone by the end of May. And don't forget to check out College Lake with your scope this month as it continues to drain for many species of shorebirds.
Most Rufous Hummingbirds have migrated through the county by early May, but a few may still be found in the next week or two up at Loma Prieta. Early May is also the time when a migrating Black-chinned or Calliope Hummingbird could appear.
While our regularly occurring migrant flycatchers have arrived, such as Pacific-slope, Olive-sided, Ash-throated, and Western Wood Pewees, there are also records for some of the rare ones in May. Keep an eye out for Willow, Hammond’s, Dusky, and Gray Flycatchers throughout the county and especially on the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains for the latter three this month. Although Tropical Kingbirds have already left, Western Kingbirds continue to move through the county. Warbling Vireos are numerous now in the county, and some Cassin’s are scattered around, mostly in the mountains, and keep an eye out for the possibility of a Red-eyed Vireo which occasionally appear in May. Though less numerous than in years past, the first Black Swifts should return to the county this month. Look for them at places like Moore Creek Preserve and Wilder Ranch.
This month is a good time to look for breeding Yellow, Hermit, MacGillivray’s, and Black-throated Gray Warblers. A few migrant Nashville are possible as well. Also look for the less common Yellow-breasted Chats this month in riparian areas.
While most of our wintering sparrows have left by now, there are still sparrows to search for in May. Grasshopper Sparrows can be found at Moore Creek Preserve, Chipping Sparrows near Litchfield Ln., and Black-chinned Sparrows in burned areas near Loma Prieta are all possibilities.
Western Tanagers and Lazuli Buntings have arrived but should soon be seen in greater numbers and in more locations as the month progresses. May is a month when a few Rose-breasted and Blue Grosbeaks turn up.
Although many of our wintering species have migrated away and most of our spring migrants have already arrived, there are still good chances to find vagrant warblers, flycatchers, and vireos in the county, especially during the last week of May. So get out into the field as often as you can this month. You never know what rare species you might find! Good Birding!