To many people, conservation issues are best appreciated for their local significance. Changes in the abundance of birds can provide such meaning. Yolo Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count, centered on Putah Creek, provides 46 consecutive years of records of bird numbers, which Steve Hampton has compiled onto a spreadsheet. This information will point to trends for several species from the Christmas Count results, and relate them to conservation issues.
Compiler: Steve Hampton
Location: 15-mile diameter circle centered southwest of Winters, California, spanning parts of Yolo, Solano, and Napa Counties. View the Putah Creek CBC areas in Google Earth or get the .kmz file.
The count circle is divided into 10 areas, each with an Area Leader that manages coverage. Coverage varies from off-trail canyon hiking to boat to car.
Area 1: Lake Berryessa & Thompson Canyon & Quail Ridge
Area leader is Bobby Walsh (661-993-7569). Thompson Canyon sub-leader is Alison Kent (530-297-7622, firstname.lastname@example.org). Lake Berryessa sub-leader is Bobby Walsh. Quail Ridge sub-leader is Bobby Walsh.
Area 2: Bray Canyon
Area leader is Ian Taylor (530-848-5703, email@example.com).
Area 3: North Side (Chickahominy Slough)
Area leader is Steve Hampton (916-956-0949, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Area 4: Winters to Monticello Dam
Area leader is Michael Perrone (530-753-0441, email@example.com).
Area 5: East Side (Putah Creek & Hwy. 505)
Area 6: English Hills North
Area leader is Mary Schiedt (530-400-7094, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Area 7: English Hills South
Area leader is Carl Schwedler (530-210-3104).
Area 8: Mt. Vaca (Mix & Gates Canyons)
Area leader is Eric LoPresti (508-463-5131, email@example.com).
Area 9: Solano Park
Area leader is Roger Adamson (510-219-2067, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Area 10: Wragg & Cold Canyon
Area leader is Keith Bailey (925-337-4742, email@example.com).
Putah Creek Christmas Bird Count 2016 Summary
By Steve Hampton
The 46th Putah Creek Christmas Bird Count was held on December 18, 2016, amid clear, cold, and often windy conditions. This kept bird numbers down to just 131 species, one of the lowest totals in recent count history.
The count was conducted by 80 participants, who combined for 180 party hours, the third highest total in count history. They traveled 72 miles on foot, 285 miles by car, and 6 miles by bike. The early hours were marked by 14 hours of owling.
There were no new species found on the count.
Record high counts were set for six species. These were: Bufflehead (1,094), Cooper’s Hawk (17), Peregrine Falcon (7), Long-billed Curlew (400 in one group), Least Sandpiper (105), and “Thick-billed” Fox Sparrow (8, since we’ve figured out how to find them in the chaparral).
Record high counts were tied for three other species: Sora (6), Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (1, apparently the same bird from last year), and Black-throated Gray Warbler (1, for the 6th year in a row).
There were a remarkable seven all-time low records: American Wigeon (6, due to changing dynamics at Lake Solano), Loggerhead Shrike (14), Yellow-billed Magpie (211, less than half of last year’s count), Bewick’s Wren (29), Hermit Thrush (65), California Towhee (64), and Western Meadowlark (274, possibly due to rapid orchard conversion across the valley floor).
Thanks to all the area leaders, potluck organizers, and others who helped make this a successful CBC.