Rare and Unusual Occurrences
at Stockton, Cal.
(from The Condor, Mar., 1901)
This year seems an unusual one in the way of bird migration in San Joaquin County, having added to the list thus far several new visitants and also causing an influx of a single species heretofore unknown in this locality, though common in the eastern foothills. I refer to the Blue-Fronted Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri frontalis.) (Steller’s Jay)
This species has become so numerous in San Joaquin County, and especially within the city of Stockton, that it has for the time being, taken the place of the noisy California Jay (Aphelocoma californica.) (Western Scrub Jay) My record of its first appearance is dated November 11, 1900, at which time I saw two of this species in the vicinity of Stockton. Two days later I saw several of the birds within the limits of the city and from that time on they became quite numerous, showing very little fear in their new haunts and being seemingly at home in the white oaks (Valley Oaks) with which the city abounds. Mr. Belding (Lyman Belding) informs me that he has found them in the heart of the Sacramento Valley, but has no record of their occurrence in this locality previous to this year.
The abundance of the birds is shown by the result of a “blue-jay” shoot which five sportsmen from Stockton took part in on December 2, 1900. They confined themselves to a small area northeast of the city and as a result of their shoot brought home 220 birds, 100 of which were California Jays (Western Scrub Jays) while the remaining 120 were of the Blue-fronted (Steller’s) species. The birds are still here in large numbers and show no signs of decreasing.
W. B. Sampson
Stockton, Cal., Feb. 14, 1901
Verna Johnston, 95, a founding member of the Calaveras Big Trees Association and resident of Camp Connell, died in Carmel Valley March 1st. Verna was a science educator, photographer and writer as well as a self-described lover of nature.
Born and educated in Illinois, she came to California, where she taught biology and environmental science at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton for 37 years. A well-known naturalist, Mrs. Johnston lived to educate and reveal the beauty and wonder in nature.
She published more than 100 articles in professional journals and popular magazines ranging from Audubon to The New York Times. Her first book, “Sierra Nevada,” was published in 1970 as part of the series “A Naturalist’s America,” edited by Roger Tory Peterson. Life Magazine featured her in an article in November 1998.
In 1982, she retired to Camp Connell to “hibernate, hike and write.” It was there that she wrote two more books, “California Forests & Woodlands: A Natural History” in 1994 and “Sierra Nevada: The Naturalist’s Companion” in 1999, both published by The University of California Press. Her photos illustrate these books and the most recent is still available at the new Calaveras Big Trees State Park bookstore.
Ms. Johnston was an active member of the Sierra Club, National Audubon Society, the Wilderness Society and other groups. She was one of the first presidents of the (then) Stockton Audubon Society and was a respected environmental leader in Stockton for many years. She worked to protect native plants and animals in the Sierra and in California’s Central Valley, and was also active in helping to set aside Point Reyes National Seashore. She served on the San Joaquin County Parks and Recreation Commission during the time when Oak Grove Regional Park was developed and was a leader in having part of that park preserved as a natural area. She was also a founding member of the Calaveras Big Trees Association, where her photos will be on view at the new visitors’ center.
Verna donated books and photos to the Calaveras Big Trees Association and supported the Park in other ways as well. Her love of books and the out-of-doors also led her to establish the Verna Johnson Nature Collection at the Arnold branch of the Calaveras County Public Library.
Following her wishes, Verna's ashes will be mixed with the earth of the Sierra Nevada, the place she called "home.”
Steve Stocking, Education Chair
San Joaquin Delta College, Retired
Board Member, Calaveras Big Trees Association
April 15, 2014 – June 13, 2014
(All sightings pertain to San Joaquin County)
Submitted by Liz West
The Pacific Golden-Plover found by Jim Rowoth continued at the Ripon Sewage Ponds April 18th.
The Cassin’s Kingbirds located by Mark and Lorna Elness at Corral Hollow Rd. continued as of May 14th.
Mark Elness saw an adult male Calliope Hummingbird at his feeder in Manteca on April 25th. On the same day Terre Ronneberg had a Costa’s and a Calliope hummingbird up Kiln Canyon.
On April 26th, Ed Pandolfino found two Brewer’s Sparrows along Waverly Rd. one north and one south of Flood Rd. The Brewer’s were seen again a day later. While searching for the reported Brewers Sparrows Mark and Lorna saw the Grasshopper Sparrow originally reported March 30th. On May 7th, John Harris saw a Grasshopper Sparrow just south of Flood Rd. on Waverly. Several Grasshopper Sparrows were seen as late as May 15th.
Jim Rowoth visited the Tri-colored Blackbird colony just south of Koster Rd. gravel pond. He saw several dozen fledglings being fed May 11th. On May 17th he reported a colony of about 150 Tri-colored Blackbirds at the pond on Hwy 12 just east of the Hwy 88 and Hwy 12 split.
May 12th, David Yee found a female Black and White Warbler at Oak Grove Regional Park located off of Eight Mile Rd. in Stockton.
On May 31st, a group led by Jim Rowoth found three Lawrence’s Goldfinches feeding in mulberry trees at the Ripon Oak Grove Park, a location they had been seen previously in March by Terre Ronneberg and April by Mark and Lorna Elness, indicating probable breeding status.
On June 1st, Terre Ronneberg found a Marbled Godwit at the Tracy Sewage Ponds. It was still present as of June 2nd.
On June 3rd, David Yee found a Common Nighthawk in a flock of Lesser Nighthawks at the end of Bird Rd. He then followed them over to a gravel processing plant on Blewett Rd. There was at least one Common Nighthawk calling regularly among the total of around 12.
On June 5th, Terre Ronneberg saw a pair of Blue-winged Teal at the Tracy Sewage Ponds.
On June 7th, Terre Ronneberg found a Willet at the Tracy Sewage Ponds.
San Joaquin Audubon Society
PO Box 7755, Stockton, California 95267
For more information contact:
San Joaquin Audubon Society President: Alan Englandwdchkgsqrl@yahoo.com email@example.com
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