California birders get very excited this time of year, because of the Vague Runts. Common Cuckoo was a nice bird, to put it mildly, from a couple Septembers ago. Watsonville, CA.
It is VAGUE RUNT time here in California! Despite a disappointing shorebird season so far (one stint, some Ruffs, a couple Buff-breasteds and a Tringid that got away), passerine migrants are barreling down the coast, bringing along a bunch of eastern birds already. Just yesterday, two Philadelphia Vireos were reported (one in Marin County, one in Sonoma County), which would be the most significant songbird Vague Runts of the season already. However, I strongly suspect one of those birds was a Tennessee Warbler...if true, the Global Birder Ranking System will punish the observer swiftly and without mercy. Birder justice can be an ugly thing.
Other birds reported "locally" in the past week include Red-eyed Vireo, Eastern Kingbird, Gray Catbird, Ovenbird, Canada, Prairie, Tennessee, and Blackpoll Warblers, Northern Waterthrushes, American Redstarts, and Orchard Oriole. The Farallones have had a number of Least Flycatchers and Bobolink. These Vague Runts are important not just because they are on the early side, but because last fall was fucking horrible for rare birds in northern California. Tragically bad. I was this close to slipping into a catatonic state of depression. Hopefully the birds reported in the last week are a sign of things to come, and we won't have to face the specter of 2013's disastrous September.
The birding was so bad last September that I took pictures of a Black Phoebe. A Black Phoebe! Christ. This is not what you want to be taking pictures of in September. Photographed in some stupid park, somewhere.
All California birders should stop reading this blog right now and go flog the shrubbery for Vague Runts. September is every California birder's favorite month, and this part of the state is already producing...don't let September pass you by! I will be out birding the next three days, both onshore and off. Fingers crossed for Vague Runts!!! The window? Open.