We started off at Nimbus Fish Hatchery along the American River up in Sacramento. With the ducks, gulls, and songbirds combined, it's possible to tally a respectable number of species in a short amount of time. It's also a reliable place for PHAINOPEPLA, a then-needed year bird.
It was here that we chanced upon a truly great find, an ICELAND GULL:
It eventually it flapped its wings for a bit which showed the almost-pure white primary tips quite well:
If we were keeping track, and if this is an ICELAND GULL, this is the rarest bird we've ever found in Sacramento County (and probably the state too). In fact, this would be a first county record (although I heard there was a young bird that was submitted as ICGU but was rejected by the CBRC). Regardless, finding a first county record was an exciting treat! Of course, sure, I should add that all of this obviously depends on whether it is accepted by the CBRC as an ICGU so who knows.
What's kind of goofy is that I had actually connected with a putative glaucoides ICELAND GULL here in the Central Valley back in 2012 (you can see that checklist here). Long story short, there was an adult glaucoides that was found at the landfill in Yolo County in 2012 and then again in 2013. So, one has to wonder if this Sacramento bird, which could appear as a glaucoides unless you see the spread wing carefuly, is the same bird as seen in those years. Besides, the Yolo landfill is only 23.8 miles away from Nimbus (as the gull flies).
As an aside, no one has relocated this bird as of yet. In fact, I'm not sure how many people have even looked for it, it appears that very few people have. I looked once more recently with no luck but hell, you'd think county listers would be all over that.
Anyway, so besides all that excitement, I might mention nuthatches really quickly. We saw this WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH creeping around near Nimbus and thought I'd snap a picture of it:
I took a picture not because it's a WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH, a fairly familiar bird across the continent, but because the ones we have here are a different subspecies than the ones found across most of the country. These are Sitta carolinensis aculeata and are sometimes placed in an arbitrary "Pacific Coast" group. In fact, this subspecies is only found in Washington, Oregon, California, and far western Mexico. However, if I drove up I-80 to the east, I'd find a different subspecies on the other side of the Sierra... but that story is for another time.
Anyway, you can see our complete checklist from Nimbus here.
After that, we headed to Michigan Bar Road to see if we could connect with any more county year birds. We did. For example, we found two different BALD EAGLES (which was flagged in eBird). Here's an adult:
Our final checklist for Michigan Bar can be seen here.