With the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area closed due to flooding and water levels high everywhere, spring shorebird migration appeared to be a bust. That changed dramatically when the Davis Wastewater Treatment Plant (DWTP) decided to pump out one pond. Acres of mudflats appeared at the height of shorebird migration and the result was remarkable. Twenty-three species of shorebirds appeared in just a few days.
The highlight was a pair of Black Turnstones (MP, SH, BW) on May 4. They represent the third county record; there are only about five other records for the Central Valley. Remarkably, they appeared just hours after a Ruddy Turnstone showed up (MP). This might be the first time both turnstones have been documented together at an inland location outside the Salton Sea. The birds seemed to disappear the next day, but then two Ruddy Turnstones, possibly different birds, appeared on May 6 and were present thru May 11. A female Ruddy Turnstone, different from the others, was at Woodland Wastewater Treatment Plant on May 13 (MP).
During all this were numerous Baird’s Sandpipers beginning May 3 (SH) at DWTP, also exceptional in spring, with a high count of four on May 4-6. A Marbled Godwit stopped by briefly on May 3 (BW), as did a Willet on May 4 and a Stilt Sandpiper on May 6 (SH). A Snowy Plover was found on May 5 (HC) and stayed four days. All the while, last month’s Ruff continued at the Woodland Davis Clean Water Facility (WDCWF) thru May 10.
A Glossy Ibis, presumably returning from last summer, was found at WDCWF on May 19 (LS, MS). There are no signs of a new colony yet. However, Tricolored Blackbirds were feeding dozens of fledglings there.
The first rarity of songbird migration was a male Summer Tanager on the early date of May 8 (DL, GT, JER). It was spectacularly photographed at West Pond in Davis, but was a one-day wonder. This was followed by an early Northern Parula on May 17 at Grasslands Park (MP, SS). The park also produced a Green-tailed Towhee, only the third spring record for the county, on May 28 (MP, SS).
Thanks to the following for their reports: Holly Coates (HC), Steve Hampton (SH),Dave Ludwig (DL), Michael Perrone (MP),Jo Ellen Ryan (JER), Sonjia Shelly (SS), Lucas Stephenson (LS), Mark Stephenson (MS), Gene Trapp (GT).
Checklists with Photos:
Black and Ruddy Turnstones: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S55781264
Glossy Ibis: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56506211
Compiled by Steve Hampton, Davis, CA