Current Bird (and nature) News
Rufous-capped Warbler

Rufous-capped Warbler - Basileuterus rufifrons jouyi
at Neal's Lodge, Concan TX, March '06


MOST RECENT UPDATE: June 5, 2020
(prior updates: May 29, 22, 15, 8, 1, April 24, 17, 10, 3, March 27, 20, 13, 6)


   ** SPECIAL NOTICE **

*** Lost Maples and Garner St. Pk. are open for day use and
    limited camping; advance reservations required.
    See the park, or TPWD, websites for details.


* Utopia Park is open. *

~ ~ ~

FOS - first of season - for the first one back.

June!?! It is time to dig up interesting breeding records. A tantalizing report was of multiple Spotted Sandpiper at the park June 3, at least 3, maybe 4, which could indicate local breeding, and which is unknown.

May!?! Some FOS on May 2 were finally an Eastern Wood-Pewee (2), a Northern Waterthrush, and a Cattle Egret. May 3 had my FOS Least Flycatcher. May 8 saw my FOS Swainson's Thrush. May 9 I saw what might turn out to be the songbird of the spring, a VEERY, which are exceedingly rare here. May 10 was my FOS Blue-headed Vireo. May 11 FOS were American Redstart, YELLOW-BELLIED Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, and a GRAY-CHEEKED Thrush (in our birdbath!). A couple 'finally' FOS's were a Wilson's Warbler on May 13, and on May 15 a Black-throated Green Warbler. Right before dusk a FOS Olive-sided Flycatcher sang, also May 15. May 16 I saw my FOS Alder, and Willow Flycatchers, and FOS Mourning Warbler. A LUNA Moth before sundown on May 18 was spectacular. A major hail event the evening of 27th was likely not good for the local birds.

splish splash I was takin' a bath!

male Golden-cheeked Warbler



A 2020 Lost Maples report is on the April 26 entry in news below. For some detailed 2019 Lost Maples reports see the dated entries for Jan. 5, March 17, 30, 31, April 21 & 28, May 12, June 2 and 29, July 28, September 15, Oct. 13, and Dec. 8. These are at Old Bird News pages #31 and 32 now. For 2018 check the Old Bird News pages (#29 and #30 now) for Lost Maples reports from April 1, 9, 10, 15, 29, May 13, June 3 and 24, July 29, Aug. 26, Sept. 30 and Dec. 2. (Old Bird News pages link below)

Pro Tip: Ignore the ebird Chihuahuan Raven reports at Lost Maples, they are mis-ID'd Common Ravens which are common residents. You would think with so many reports, ONE could be proven. Guess again.

There is a page up now with a long discussion, called "The Birds of Utopia Park," which includes the park bird list. If you can't sleep it may be just the ticket. It will be getting some fixes and changes still, but the basic is up. I have been making corrections here and there, and will likely add to it as time goes on, but for now it gets some Utopia Park discussion out there.
The Birds of Utopia Park

A quick note about Utopia Park. There have been some changes in management and rules. It is now $5 per person to enter, during the off-season. Peak, from spring break until Labor Day it will be $10 per person to enter. No charge for Utopia or Vanderpool residents.

Note we now also have a 'where to stay' page, with contact info, links and names of many of the local lodging options. It is linked at top above in the NavBar under the Sites and Misc. section, and below in the link section just above the current bird news.

You may want to scroll down to the date of the last update you read, and scroll or read UP day-to-day to read in chronological sequence, some references might make more sense that way. For repeat offenders there is a link just below to jump straight to newest update. There is a broken line of tildes (~) to denote prior update breaks, usually with a photo to make it easy to spot. Sometimes this 'quick take' highlights header is archived within body of news as well since it changes. Seperated by tildes as well, as are monthly summaries.

For visiting cell phone users, often only AT&T works here, or Concan, and many local areas Sabinal to Leakey, etc. Often around Hwys. 10 or 90 (Hondo, Uvalde) you can get other signals. Then wi-fi is available at the Utopia Library, the store in Vanderpool had a sign saying they have it there too. State Park headquarters may have it? Don't tell them I told you.   ;)

Please holler if you see something good locally! THANKS!  :)  (local 830 Utopia landline WON~2349)
E-dress clickably linked at bottom of most pages: mitchATutopianatureDOTcom

Note on navbar at top of this page and the home page, and somewhere around the chat picture below is a link to a new LINKS page that is a quick handy way outta here. Who loves ya baby? It is a collection of some of the links I will publicly admit to using, though a couple with no small amount of trepidation. Space, weather, bugs, birds, blogs, bird cams, and other stuff...   Enjoy!

This page has the current bird and nature news from the area around Utopia, the Sabinal River Valley (SRV), and occasionally elsewhere in the area, such as Uvalde, Concan, Lost Maples, etc. Often unusual sightings will be in CAPS. There will also be occasional mention of butterfly (lep) or dragonfly (ode) sightings when they are out and about. Or anything natural history of interest, bats to beetles.

Entries are in reverse chronological order, with most recent day, date, and weekly post at top. If a repeat offender, scroll down to the newest photo break, and read up day-to-day.

I have been fairly good for a few years now about posting the weekly update Friday evenings. Since night life is so exciting here. Usually this is just minor local (often yard) notes from nearly every day. Some daily or near-daily notes of what is going on with birds, or butterflies, dragonflies, fish, flowers, reptiles, triops, cerambycids, buprestids, bombyliads, and so on. Anything might get mentioned. Usually just yard notes. Unless you got to be stationed at the park all day, one site of observation locally is about as good as another. The big picture only becomes amazingly fascinating by filling all the little details in, one tiny bit at a time. I have a strong interest in bird behavior and often will discuss some aspect of that which I observed.

If you're in the area and see something, please don't hesitate to let us know. For instance, we would be happy to post Lost Maples SNA, or any bird news, if it were reported to us. I love hearing from locals when they see something of interest. Perhaps other visitors might better know where to look for something of interest. E-mail link in next (pale yellow) box, and at bottom of most pages. Local (eight-three-zero) landline WON~2349. I can be at the park in 10 minutes, 8 if I was dressed with shoes on, 5 if it is a Sabine's Gull, but I might not be neatly dressed.

Thanks and enjoy! Some rudimentary maps of the area are at the bottom of the "site guide" page, if you need help locating any of the places mentioned.

Anyone birding the area should get a copy of June Osborne's neat local birding guide, "Birding the Concan Area." It is an invaluable reference for birding the local area. It covers Uvalde to Concan, Sabinal, and the Utopia area. If you're not familiar with the area, it will show you lots of the productive local roads and spots to check. Neal's Lodges has it, as well as lots of birding stuff at their store. We do have some informational stuff on the local birding sites page. Update: I am not sure if June's book is still available?

There are now 16+ (!) years and growing worth of nature notes here, mostly in the bird news archives pages linked at the bottom of this page in 6 month segments. You can fairly easily check, 10 fall or spring periods, etc., and get a good idea of what goes on when, where, or how weak migration is here.   :) If you're coming in April, you can check several years out and see when different species arrive.  For instance for Painted Buntings not till later April, earliest numbers about the 18-20th, later is better, some years not till the 21-22 are the first back locally.  Often a few days earlier down in lower altitude brush country (earlier still down on the coast) etc. Adult males mostly depart territories and the area the first week of August.

Be sure to check out the Bird List page, which is updated (2020) with seasonal status and abundance for each species. It lists all 350 plus species (!) known from the upper Sabinal River drainage.

NOTE: The FOS (First of Season) dates given are for the Utopia area. That may be the first of spring, first of fall, or first of winter, etc. In spring for example, for many species (birds, butterflies, flowers, etc.) Concan may run a week or more earlier, and Uvalde 1 to 2 weeks or so, earlier than the Utopia area does for some spring arrivals sometimes. In any given year some species will be "early" and others will be "late," compared to averages.

And here's something else.......
Sometimes I may be available as eyes and ears for hire. Send an E-mail if you desire professional expert level birding guide services while in the area. Take out the spaces around the at if you copy this instead of clicking it: mitch @ utopianature.com

Or check out the Bird Guide page.

The BIRDING SITES, HUMMINGBIRDS, BIRD LIST, and LM REPORTS, and RARITIES pages have all been recently updated!

With apologies, I am not interested in photos from other areas for identification. Please please please do not send unsolicited out of area photos. Contact your local Audubon Society if you have pictures of a bird that you would like identified, every area has one. From Houston to Travis to Ft. Worth, Big Sky, Llano Estacado, no matter where you are there are other local folks interested in your local birds, and since you are (to have a pic that you want ID'd) you should want to know them.  :)  Thank you in advance.



Back to Top
Yellow-breasted Chat

Yellow-breasted Chat

Here are links to some new pages added in the last couple years:

Here is a master index page of 'Old Bird News' links:
Bird News Archives Index
It has links to all the 'Bird News' pages, in 6 month increments. It is the 16 year plus archive file.

~ ~ ~ ~
***  This is the page for visitors with ideas, links, phones, contacts, etc., about where to stay locally.
Where to Stay
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
***  Here is a page which compiles over 16 years of observations at Utopia Park. It is a long discussion about the how and why of birds at Utopia Park, and the park bird list.
The Birds of Utopia Park
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Here are assorted links of all manner, and a handy way outta here.
Mitch's Links


The photos used for the weekly breaks are compiled in one place for each year (just for the last few years).
2015 pix
2016 pix
2017 pix
2018 pix
2019 pix
2020 pix

~ ~ ~ finally, current bird news from the greater and lesser Utopia area ~ ~ ~
BIRD & NATURE NEWS 2020


Notes without location cited are in or from yard which is a couple miles south of town at edge of the river habitat corridor. If it doesn't say where it was, it was in or from the yard. Usually a few daily yard notes is all the drivel you get. But you never know what that can lead to. Ready, steady, go!

Commonly used ABBREVIATIONS are:

To repeat since commonly used:
sps.=species; FOS=First of season (can be any season); FOY=First of Year; FOF=First of fall; LTA=Less than Annual; UP=Utopia Park; SLC=So. Little Creek Rd.; dF=degrees Farenheit; (ph.)=photo obtained; ad.=adult; imm.=immature.; ma.=male; fem.=female; juv.=juvenile; odes=Odonata = dragonflies and damselflies; leps=Lepidoptera (butterflies), town=Utopia; the park= Utopia Park at SW corner of town. WU = Weather Underground (sometimes local station readings referenced) BanCo = Bandera Co.; UvCo = Uvalde Co.



Black-capped Vireo

Black-capped Vireo at Lost Maples


Just to have this handy again for reference, recent prior updates:
May 29, 22, 15, 8, 1, April 24, 17, 10, 3, March 27, 20, 13, 6
Each week's update break is marked with a bad (usually bird) photo.

You may want to scroll down to last prior update and scroll
up to read in chrono order day to day.

~ ~ ~

 * OMG, ANOTHER page has been re-done! The BRUSH COUNTRY bird photo page has been buffed and polished with many new photos and much new text. It is the last of what I thought were the four worst pages needing updating. It will likely be the last of these for a bit now. I am too busy. We got HUMMERS, WARBLERS, and SPARROWS re-done in 2019, and now the BRUSH COUNTRY page is much improved. Get to these pages from the bird photo index page:
Bird Photos

~ ~ ~ and now for the news ~ ~ ~

** Lost Maples and Garner are open for day use and limited camping, reservations required.
** Utopia Park is open now.

June 5 ~ Another muggy 72F low, welcome to summer in Utopia. A hundred days of this ahead now. Two male Painted Bunting singing around now, there were five before the hailstorm. Still amazing the lesser numbers of birds out there. Heard warbirds about 10 and ran out front to see a Mustang, something else, and that beautiful Mosquito leaving the area, got a distant flight shot anyway of the skeeter. What a plane. Town run day. At the park there was a Barred Owl with a Red-eyed Vireo scolding it on the island. A good dragonfly of some sort was in the swampy area, might have been a Swamp Darner. My 'bridge' camera is all but worthless for dragon flight photoraphy and it wouldn't stop moving on patrol. I did not have time to wait and watch for it to hang up. Little Creek Larry said he had at least 3, probably 4 Spotted Sandpiper on Wednesday at the park. This almost has to be young with adults this time of year here. I thought it was weird how I kept seeing them on the spillway after their usual passage window has closed. Too many people when I was there today. The area below the dam is very streamy and would certainly be acceptable nesting habitat. He also saw Long-billed Thrasher feeding young just NE of town a short distance. In bad news, there are now two COVID-19 cases here in Utopia. A person took their kids to see grandma in AZ and the kids came back with it. Hopefully we won't see a blowup.

June 4 ~ Another sticky 72F low, welcome to summer. Kathy heard the White-eyed Vireo giving a Chuck-wills-widow call with perfect timing, rhythm, and cadence. Heard a warbird fly over and went out to see a deHaviland Mosquito flying over! A super rare bird. Ran down the road to try to catch some photos but it landed quickly so I missed shots. But whilst there just below 4 mile bridge, there was a singing Cassin's Sparrow. A rain chasher. We have had singing birds here a couple years out of the last 16 that I know of, but never confirmed nesting here in the upper Sabinal drainage. With that foot of rain we just got, they might nest, if there are more around. The 5 Bison were nice too, since not ear-tagged (at least on the side I could see), and looking fairly 'wild' on the prairie.

The interesting behavior of the day was about 6 p.m. Kathy sprayed some water around. A Katydid apparently dropped out of the big pecan for some. Big mistake. The pied year-old male Summer Tanager and a male Cardinal were there like a duck on a June Bug on the stone steps leading from the front porch to driveway. They were franticly looking for it. The Cardinal intimidated the Tanager away, then stomped around in the grass until he found the Katydid, grabbed it and flew to nesting thicket across the road. There was a big movement of Large Orange Sulphur butterflies today, a couple dozen at minimum were seen.

June 3 ~ The low was not very, at 72F this morning. These daily notes is going to get real redundant real fast now. It is just the breeders for a couple months. Great time to find good breeding records if you have the time and fortitude in the heat. Found lots of little tiny green pecans just started growing pecans under the big native tree out front. Not even a half-inch yet. So that crop took a big hit from the hail. The male Gnatcatcher is back singing in the big pecan. That is good because it means they were not predated, and fledged young. Had they been predated they would not return to the same tree is my guess. But I only see one, and never saw the young when they disappeared. See the one Yellow-throated Vireo too, waiting for a sighting of a second bird. Sure are few vultures soaring around, I have never seen the sky so empty of them here. Hooded Oriole came in for sugar water late p.m., still couldn't age or sex it. Chimney Swifts still circling at dusk wishing for a chimney.

June 2 ~ Low of 66F and overcast. Cardinal is singing at 6 a.m. now. Seems like there is a bit of re-shuffling of territories and mates I presume after the hail event a week ago. A Painted Bunting that was singing way up the hill behind us moved a bit closer each day for the last 5 and now is here in the yard. Because the territory was vacated. I hear a cuckoo around, but only one. Finally saw a female Summer Tanager again, likely not the one missing the last week. A Yellow-throated Vireo is still singing around but only seeing one here, not the pair. The male Yellow-throated Warbler is singing from the big pecan so he is ready for another round. Not seeing the two young he just fledged though. Finally saw a female Lesser Goldfinch too, first in a week. Cardinal numbers are half what they were, if that. There were five Chimney Swift in the dusk show as they zoom around yard through trees. Once one was so close I could hear the wing whistle, much like a Black-chinned Hummingbird wing whistle. The single soft quiet call notes are neat too, and actually very like Vaux's Swift notes with no consanant sound, though likely only given in this nest prospecting situation. I've never heard from birds out feeding.

June 1 ~ Gadzooks another month gone by! June!?! Just a month to the half-way point of the year, and still too early to tell if we'll make it. Welcome to climatalogical summer, June through August is that. Hopefully today is an indication of this years' summer season, it was wet and cool. We had a little rain and temps in the 70's F (!) after a low of 65. About three-eighths of an inch for precip. Hard to believe how nice it was out. The river is high and muddy.

Saw (and heard) a Hooded Oriole coming into the feeders but was unable to age or sex it in the bad light. Probably a first summer male. I heard the Black-n-white Warbler singing over in the draw, a trolling unmated first-spring male. We have had those summer here before, which I do not mind a bit. Still quiet out there compared to the pre-hail event birdsong sound levels. I ran over to the S. Little Creek ponds hoping for a miracle, to no avail. A dozen Black-bellied Whistling-Duck was it. Though Gulf Toads were calling. At the smaller south pond there were a few Couch's Spadefoot Toads calling. A pair of hooked up Wandering Glider dragonfly were nice, but no Band-winged Dragonlet or Plateau Spreadwing. That could change by tomorrow. Again the 4 Chimney Swifts checking out the chimneys for an unsealed one at dusk.

~ ~ ~ May summary ~ ~ ~

Well it was a wet one! All in the last half of the month, a foot (!) of rain for us at our place a couple miles south of town, others around got more and less. Put some water in that bank finally, many locals considered us about 2' behind prior to the last two weeks of rain. I would think we are out of local drought now. First time in a long time. Made for a cool May too, a bit below average temps, and nary a complaint.

Butterflies were on the weak side, in part no doubt due to all the rain. We did not get up to Lost Maples so missed a few things there, but there were not lots on flowers even on good days. The last day of the month saw my FOY Pearl Crescent which was great. Did have Elada Checkerspot, one Nysa Roadside-Skipper, but mostly it was the most common things, in low numbers. Best butterfly was a Luna Moth I saw in the sun (daylight) late in day May 18. Was only about 33 species for the month, a fair dip from April, which is statistically very rare.

Odes were weak as well, likely the weather too. Nothing unusual was seen and it was scraping mostly for a very few of the common things. Hopefully June will see their heat-induced usual explosion in numbers. Missing a visit to Lost Maples costs several species usually. It was about 13 species in total, poor at best, and also a dip from April.

Birds were good, though migration was overall weak this passage. There are as always a few neat things to see. Best songbird of the spring was a nice rufous VEERY on May 9. They are a once every 5-10 years here bird. Single Yellow-bellied (May 11) and Alder (May 16) Flycatcher were great, both are LTA - less than annual, e.g., not a sure thing any given spring here. A Gray-cheeked Thrush (May 11) was good, but great for being in our bath. They have been missed most springs the last 5 years, formerly more regular.

The best discovery though was nesting Downy Woodpecker, which is a first anywhere on the Sabinal River. The Medina River is as far west as they are locally. I could not see the nest (was on private property), but we heard the begging babies a few days and I got pic of the female with her nest-stained face (from drilling the hole) before they disappeared. I presume the young fledged, though they could have been predated, they disappeared and were not seen around after. Often parents get young away from nest area immediately after fledging though.

For a lot of things it was scraping though. Only saw one each of: Eastern Kingbird, Swainson's Thrush, Black-throated Green & Tennessee Warbler, American Redstart, and Blue-headed Vireo. Did not see any: MacGillivray's Warbler, Rose-breasted or Black-headed Grosbeak, Warbling or Philly Vireo, Mississippi Kite, and none of the scarce eastern warbler migrants like Blackburnian, Magnolia, or Chestnut-sided, and no Lazuli Bunting for me either. Most of the good weather for knocking down migrants (rain) happened after they passed by. There were no ponds for shorebirds during their passage period this year. Total was about 117 species locally for the month, without a Lost Maples visit which often adds a few. Up a bit from April's 110, May is probably the peak species diversity month here. I would guess if one birded every day all month in May over 125 or 130 is doable locally. With probably at least a half dozen more when there are ponds to catch passing shorebirds.

~ ~ ~ end May summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~

May 31 ~ Low was 65F, the chill was nice while it lasted. We beat the odds this May and had a coolish (few 90's F temps) and wet month. Most importantly we made inroads into our water deficit. In the yard just before we left I saw my FOY Pearl Crescent butterfly. About 11 to 1 we checked the river crossing and then walked around the SW corner of the 1445 knoll. Amazing lack of odes at the crossing, one Kiowa Dancer, and one dragon got away that looked like a Pale-faced Clubskimmer.

The knoll was nice though lots of green and browning leaves on the ground, live-oaks in particular were more than half denuded. Junipers fairly unfazed. Heard 2 singing Olive Sparrow, a Rufous-crowned Sparrow, and Long-billed Thrasher singing. Saw Gnatcatcher, Titmouse, Bewick's and Carolina Wren, Caracara, heard Hutton's Vireo, Ladder-backed Woodpecker and Summer Tanager, but not the Painted Bunting there. Saw one Horace's Duskywing, a Goatweed Leafwing, a few Gulf Frits, one Elada Checkerspot, and a couple Reakirt's Blue.

Best was the pair of Black-capped Vireo whence an unmated trolling male and Mr. Alpha got into a half-hour of counter-singing vocal duel. It was awesome, we were often between them, both 20' or so away (less sometimes) in the thick of course. We got some fair glimpses. I got a few more poor pics of parts of one to add to my extensive collection of those. Did not see the head on the troller to age it. Mr. Alpha male is a definitive adult with fully black nape. I still can't believe how hard these things are to see. Middle-of-the-thickest-vegetation Vireo. Probably would not have had the looks I did were it not for the trolling male. The female traveled with the alpha male during most of the encounter. The males and maybe the female were giving a scold note, a very wrenlike stacatto series of notes.

On the way off the top I saw a bird with white tail spots flit away that looked like a Golden-cheeked Warbler, but couldn't pish it back. That kinda pished me off. In the afternoon I heard a Black-n-white Warbler singing over in the corral. Some thundercells passed nearby, we had a spritz, and 75F temps at 5 p.m. in the afternoon. It likely hit 80F at peak heat (ca. 1 p.m. when we were with the vireos), but what a cool afternoon on the last day of May. Avg. high in SAT for today is 91F. We will pay for this soon is my guess. But first, more rain. Between about 9 p.m. and 9:30 we got 1.5" of rain! That takes us to an even FOOT here for May! OMG!

May 30 ~ The low of 58.5F is amazing, as is the continued northerly flow. Only got to low 80's! Incredible. It remains eerily quiet outside, with many fewer birds and lots of shredded vegetation. Still no cuckoos around, we likely lost them. Perhaps one of the bigger things I don't see is vultures. The skies are wayyyy clearer than they should be. A very few Turkey and Black were seen Thursday the day after, Friday going to town just a few, and today only a handful. They often roost out in the open in dead snags at tops of trees. They probably took a beating in the hail. Heard Turkey gobbling at dusk.

Another thing that seems reduced in numbers since the hail is Firefly. It appears we have a premature ending of their spring flight season. They got hit too. There are still some but it is way dialed back compared to what it was. Turned the porch light on again at night, and again, almost nothing came in. Just a very few bugs. Before that though a sphinx moth of some sort came in to my pipe tobacco, again. It almost landed on the pipe whilst I was engaged with it. Too close to focus these old eyes. It then never came into the light.

downywoodpecker
This is the female Downy Woodpecker that was attending
begging young just south of town in early May. This is
the first Sabinal River drainage nesting record. I could
not see the nest on private property, but was listening to
at least two begging young while I took this photo. The
staining on the face which normally just pure black and
white is the result of digging the nest hole in the tree.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 29 ~ A low of 62F is outstanding for the date. Northerly flow borders on unusual to very odd in late May. Only got up to about 82F at peak heat! A little more bird noise out there this morning, but not normal, not like was, way quieter than it was. There was bird loss. I see an area where runoff has a pile of green hackberries. That will hurt the winter birds. With all the rain the last two weeks I am sure everything will renest as it does when not in drought. They know there will be flowers and bugs. Only one of at least four male Painted Bunting are still here. Hummers are wayyyy down, still no sign of the ad. male or female Summer Tanager, and on and on. Have not heard the Cuckoos in two days now. A pair was nesting in the draw and in the yard daily. Wonder how many Luna cats were lost in all the pecan leaves on the ground.

Town run. Saw a few trees down, several big branches too, some fenceline damage, ground is covered in green leaves, the canopies are nearly half denuded, open areas are matted (beat) down. The ground in the woods at the park is solid green leaves, of Cypress, some Pecan and lots of live-oak. The main park area live-oaks lost lots of leaves. A lot looks pretty beat up. Heard the Red-eyed Vireo singing in the woods but no Pewee. It was nearly bird-free. River is muddy, looks like the Rio Grande. Some others had 2.5" of rain, the hail missed the Little Creek area east of town. Larry still has all his hummers, and nesting Chat.

May 28 ~ The 60F low was nice, but the 1" hail carnage is not. Many thousands of leaves down from the trees in the yard. The ground is green where it was bare. My wonderful Frostweed was doing so well this year, a dozen stalks now, it is shredded. We lost a lot of shade, and probably much of any pecan and hackberry crops. Fair bit of garden damage I'd call severe. There were reports at SAT of 1.5-2, and 2.5" hail! I see storm reports of large trees down, a closed road, and roof and other damage here around Utopia. There were 50-60 mph gusts, SAT had one at 80 mph! It was by far the most severe event we have seen here. It sounded like we were inside the engine of a locomotive at peak roar of the hail carpet bombing. I heard rain reports around Utopia of .75 to 2.5" of rain, depending where you were. We were in the 2.5" band here. Which brings us to 10" in the last two weeks! There was major hail all over central Texas. Georgetown north of Austin had 2.75" hail!

Paying attention to it developing on the radar as I am wont to do, the Frio cave bats split as it hit last night. Most heading SE and riding the outflow boundry. Which is surely a food rich smorgasbord for them. A fair number though bolted back for the cave and were going back in as the first big cell was arriving. Hopefully they all made it back in before the hail hit. Was interesting to be watching on the radar as it unfolded. Then we had to unplug everything, just as it was really getting exciting.

The biggest thing is the silence. Not total, but hauntingly, eerily, quiet. There was bird mortality. At about 3 hours of light now, I have heard one distant Painted Bunting, there are usually 3-4 close ones counter-singing. Certainly the alpha male's Hackberry has been silent all morning, and he has not showed up to sing in the big pecan either. These are his two primary singing stations. Nor have any males been to the white millet feeder as of 10 a.m. They take turns first thing and all day. I see a couple females at the feeder. They would have been down in the dense thick cover on the nest. By noon I have seen one male Painted Bunting. Certainly the main yard singer and beta bird 2 are both absent from their singing posts. Incredible.

The hummer feeders are strangely devoid of birds. There are a few, but it is nothing like yesterday whence hundreds. And so it goes. I am straining to hear everything I can. The Yellow-throated Vireo sang, hopefully the mate on nest made it. I don't know how anything does out in the branches. I would think the cavity (hole) nesters fare fairly well. I hear most of them, but not as much Titmouse. For many species, especially the residents, all the first batches of young were out of the nest and many were working on round two. That first set of juvies that fledged in the last month probably took a beating. It will take some days of observation to get any good idea of what went down. It does not seem good at a first glance.

Around 6 p.m. there was a tardy Least Flycatcher working from a fenceline. So the last two spring migrants I had this year were Leasties, the other prior the 23rd. Just after 4 p.m. we had another round of severe thunderstorms, no hail, and not too much lightning, another half-inch of precious precip. Late nearing last sun a male Indigo Bunting was on the patio, great to see, and never saw more than one male Painted all day, were 4 or 5 here yesterday.

Some areas around KRVL had 5" from the cells this afternoon, there were tornado watches, and some others did get hail. We added a half inch or so. We cannot get over the dearth of some birds here today. Where are all the Cardinals? The Lesser Goldfinches? Hummingbirds? The male Painted Buntings? The begging baby Chickadees following the parents? Between the two of us all day we only saw the pied first year male Summer Tanager, no female, no ad. male. Did not hear the usual distant ones I hear either, or the Great Crested Flycatcher and Field Sparrows, all were singing yesterday. The hail event last night was a major mortality event for the birds here.

May 27 ~ Likely a record for the date, the low was 58F! I saw KRVL had 57! Amazing. A great treat to get through May on the cool wet side. The bummer of the morn is there is no Gnatcatcher sound in the big pecan. All day, every day, for a month the pair has been right out the door. Maybe they fledged young yesterday? I did not see anything. Seems like they would be around? In my experience when a nest is predated overnight the male is still around calling in plaintive and distressed fashion in the morning. So I guess a good sign I don't see that. Hopefully they fledged their young late yesterday and I missed it. Now the Yellow-throated Vireo is the boss of the tree. It is chasing everything out. A pair of Black-bellied Whistling-Duck flew over low and slow eyeing the big pecan right at dusk. They are looking for a hole to use.

Some flaming citiot put a half-gallon low-fat milk with a couple inches still in it, in the open bed of the truck. Tucked in a corner where hard to see. The only time and place I parked and left it was at the park last Friday and Saturday when I walked into the woods. I found it, seemingly right before she blew captain, thankfully. The milk was somewhere between sour cream and cottage cheese, the milk bottle was expanded so tight it would have bounced like a ball, and was just about to pop. Can you imagine the ignorance required to think this would be funny? No one here is this stupid and prickish. You come out here to get away from the shat you live in, and do this to the locals? Surely it was the citiots blaring the stereo at the screen enclosure those two days nearest where I parked. I was beyond careful about parking far away and not walking near their camp. The arrogant ignorance of the citiot never ceases to amaze me.

A severe line of thundercells came across the plateau this evening, more NW to SE than the usual W to E this time of year. We had three big cells go over, the first was the worst. It hit about 10 p.m. like a freight train. We were carpet bombed by half-inch to ONE inch hail. Sounded like you were in Buddy Rich's snare drum and he was showing how fast and loud he could be. With lightning strikes for cymbals. It broke my rain guage, and an outdoor flood light. We wondered how the birds make it, it was so bad. Hear the river roaring for the first time in 6 months, they must have gotten dumped on good up valley.

May 26 ~ The weak cold front passed that helped instigate the rain cells yesterday evening, the low was 62F this a.m.! At SAT the record lows for yesterday and today are 61 and 63F, so we are very near as cold as it gets in late May here. No doubt those too were rain-cooled lows. Ya gotta get up early for dawn chorus now, some are starting before 6 a.m. The Yellow-throated Vireo is daily making that rolling trill that sounds wrenish, or titmousey, or even sorta like the Tex-Mex (mccallii) Screech-Owl trill. A quick short deep guttaral thick almost bubbling, oscillating, lulululu, fairly un-vireolike, a call I don't have on tape. My recorder has gone to tape heaven unfortunately. There are numbers of just-fledged House Finch, Lark Sparrow, and Lesser Goldfinch out of the nest now.

May 25 ~ Another 63F rain-cooled low, and nary a complaint. At noon it was only 67F! Great for the date. No migrants, that train has left the station, watch the tail lights fade. I have a very very few migrant warbler dates this late in May. With all the migratory breeder songbirds here now there is no shortage of cool stuff to see. The Cuckoos I think are over in the draw this year. I presume the male Indigo Bunting on the patio is one singing down the road a bit, but which means it is flying a couple hundred yards to top the tank with white millet. Hearing the begging baby Yellow-throated Warblers still moving around yard and adjacent vicinity. I have not seen a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird all (long) weekend. Methinks they have bugged out, my best guess is headed north to catch spring again. Another group of thundercells went by in the evening, but we only got spritzed here, the heavy was to the south and east of us.

Finally took a break for the holiday weekend. About 5-6 p.m. we rolled over to the (south) 1445 knoll and took a mile walk. Heard three Black-capped Vireo, 2 Olive Sparrow, and Kathy spotted one ad. fem. Golden-cheeked Warbler. I suspect the warbler is a finished and done breeder wandering around now, as it moved quite a bit, perhaps more than if it were staying within a territory feeding young now. Will keep an eye on the area and see if they are breeding there. The rest was the usual regulars. At least a couple pair of Gnatcatcher seem to be nesting there, some Summer Tanager, Painted Bunting, Lesser Goldfinch (lots of juvies, on Zexmenia), Black-crested Titmouse, Ash-throated Flycatcher, and Ladder-backed Woodpecker. In flowers that were FOY, saw Rock Flax, Prarie Brazoria, Navajo Tea, Green (Pearl) Milkweed Vine, and a white Eupatorium I think is Thoroughwort (havanensae). The Zexmenia is going great, so is the Slender-leaf Hymenoxys, the Blackfoot Daisy still showing well. One Black Swallowtail and one Funereal Duskywing was it for bugs. Nice to get out for a mile. Later found I also harvested, or collected without a permit, a couple chiggers.

May 24 ~ A rain-cooled low of 63F felt great. Got warm though, was upper 80's in the afternoon. The humidity was XXL from the rain event last night. Power came back on apparently just before 2 a.m., went out at 9 p.m. or so last night. No migrants, worked on stuff here including garden. The Yellow-throated Vireo pair must have set up shop in the big pecan the way they are chasing everything in it. Including the Gnatcatcher and Ladder-back that have active nests in it! Looks like 3 species nesting in the tree at once. Awesomeness.

Heard warbirds go over and ran down 187 a couple miles, grabbed a couple shots, F-8 Bearcats. Later from the yard I saw the Spitfire which I only got a very distant shot or two of. That is a very rare bird. Whilst down 187, again heard the Orchard Oriole singing, must be nesting there. Cliff and Cave Swallow were gathering mud at a wet spot, surely ones nesting under 4 mile bridge just to the north. Several Scissor-tails in that area.

Another MCS marched from the Rio Grande to SAT and beyond. Hit us about 6:30. I saw reports of 1.25" (half-dollar) sized hail at Garner St. Pk., and 61 mph wind gusts near both Hondo and Vanderpool, we had some XXL gusts here too. Lots of lightning, we pulled the plugs as usual. It was just under 2" in a couple hours, again! We have 3.5" from this event and last nights, in 24 hours. We need the water. I just added it up and we are at 7.5" in the last 10 days. It's the first good thing that happened all year.  ;)

May 23 ~ Low was about 73F, and muggy of course. No migrants through yard. Before noon I checked the woods at park in town, no migrants again. Checked 354 Pecans, one Least Flycatcher was the big little migrant of the day. Hope you enjoyed the spring passage, it is over. The Cave Swallows are nesting on the north side of the bank, maybe 10 pairs or so. Two of the nests are right next to the bird deterrent scarer-offer thingies. No migrants around the yard all day, but a pair of Yellow-throated Vireo are in yard so much I wonder if they are nesting IN the yard this time. The Ladder-backs now have a hole in a broken off branch on the big pecan, so something else besides the Gnatcatcher nesting in the tree now.

Just at dark another MCS hit us. It ran east from west Texas and northern Mexico right down Hwy. 90. Looked like Amistad got some water as it was building. It was roaring about 40+ mph when it hit here, constant lightning, took the power out shortly after 9 p.m. This morning looks like it was a bit over 1.5" of precious holy water for us. The river is full and we are getting some going into the water bank. Finally.

goldencheekedwarbler
Golden-cheeked Warbler. Probably an adult female in a very
little-seen plumage, post-breeding pre-basic molt. Note the
admixed upperparts feathers, new green (crown and back) feathers
coming in replacing old dull worn grayish ones (as scapulars).
Late season females can get quite gray above from wear before they molt.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 22 ~ The low of 72F was not very. Some stratus, the gulf clouds, but spotty sun started early, so a hot sticky one. Was 85F on the cool shady front porch, so 90 in the sun. No migrants in yard in the morning. Did the town run stuff. The park also had no migrants, and neither did the 354 pecan patch. Turn out the lights, the party is over. We may get a tardy stray or two yet, but most of it is long past us. Sure was fun while it lasted. Always over too soon, especially when it is a bit of a weak showing as we had this spring. Regardless we always get to see a few strays that we will not otherwise see all year. This spring passage, best-in-show were the April calling nocturnal migrant Black-bellied Plover, and the May Veery. It is back to the breeders for the next couple, or few if rainy, months. At least we have a great set of them to watch and study. If I could just get those Black-capped Vireo pics I want...

May 21 ~ A rain-cooled 64F low is fantastic. Around .85 was the total for us here last night, but east of the valley floor, maybe Seco Creek area, there were spots of 2-3". It poured and we need the water badly. Except for what it does to the grass in the yard I have to cut. Did not hear any migrants in the yard in the morn. Dawn chorus is going at 6:15 now, some start earlier. Too dark to see but it sure sounds good. The morning symphony. Carolina Wrens must think no one can hear them.

I ran down to just past 4 mile bridge and 361 for a half-hour around noon. Was chasing a warbird pic, but missed that, saw a B-25 and a F-7F, which flew right over our house a few minutes earlier. Did see some Scissor-tails doing display flips though. Also one male Orchard Oriole, singing Summer Tanager, couple Bewick's Wren, some Cave Swallows, and then along 361 the usual Dickcissel, Bell's Vireo and Painted Bunting singing. The sometimes wet spot wasn't ... and back to the salt mine. Chimney Swift show went on again this evening. Fireflies are down from peak numbers which now seem as though they were early in May.

May 20 ~ A low of 67F and the gulf low stratus got here just before sunup to give us a cloudy morning. Keeps the heat at bay a few hours, which is nice. It was a hot muggy one in low 90's F. There was a dull gray-brown Cerambycid (Longhorn Beetle) at the door first thing, about 1.5". Got a docushot and moved it to safe spot. Any 'bycid' is a good one to me. One of these days I will get a local bycids page up. Heard one Yellow Warbler go through early first thing. The Chimney Swifts were flying around still this morning, screaming by, literally at point blank, sooo awesome. Once a hummer chased after one! What was he thinking? Could not begin to catch it, and thinks he really gave it whatfer! Gotta admire hummingbirds can-do attitude. In So. Carolina I saw one chase a Pileated Woodpecker.

No migrants over the day, it might be over. A few stragglers show late, usually first-spring (or first-summer if you prefer) birds, if you have the stamina to still be out there looking. I heard a singing male Black-and-white Warbler out front which is likely a trolling first-summer bird. We have had a few of those summer in the area before. There were at least two juvie Yellow-throated Warblers with the adults in the yard pecans. Heard the Red-eyed Vireo singing over in the corral again. The back garden nest box had loudly begging Bewick's Wren babies the last few days, all is silent now, so they must have fledged today. Another great Chimney Swift show at dusk.

One really weird thing that happened the last few days was the imm. male, first-spring (or summer) male Summer Tanager stole the female from the adult male. The female is now with the pied not even fully red male. Wow. The original alpha male must be very old and just could not hold his own against the young buck. What seemed the usual pair were going as usual for nearing a month it seemed, and as with the Vermilion Flycatcher a second male is always trying to horn in. The male song wars got really bad several days ago, and then this. The old male is around, but staying fairly low-key, and being chased away from the female by the young male now, who is accompanying her everywhere, as to bath daily. We all get old. I feel for him. Certaily a Tanager can live over a decade, which must be near a hundred in tanager years.

Just after 9 p.m. a MCS (mesoscale convective system - when thunder cells join) that formed out by Del Rio marched east over us. Lots of lightning, and about seven-eighths of an inch of rain. Outstanding. Some places had 2.5-3" of rain, many in the east half of Uvalde County! What was interesting was the radar. The Concan (Frio Cave) bats had just emerged an hour before it got here. Often when a cell or system moves in, they dive back into the cave. But that takes time. You can watch that sometimes on the radar. An exploding donut followed by a collapsing one. This particular system was moving east at 45 mph. It appeared to me the bats got caught out and could not get back in time. The outflow boundry in front of it suddenly got super thick and heavy, right as it passed the cave area, increasing by a factor of 10. Like it was a huge nasty squall line, but was dry as it went by us a few moments later. I am sure it was the bats that got caught out, and they were riding it. What happens to them next then is anybodies guess. In the day I have seen a big MCS a couple hundred miles long, march 400 miles, and have many hundreds of vultures on it as it passed over, virtually sweeping the skies clean on its way. How do bats deal with such an event?

May 19 ~ About 63F for a low, clear and another hot one. About 3-5 p.m. it was 90F on the cool shady front porch, surely mid-90's in the sun. Junction was 100F at one check. Here comes the summer. Today is to be peak heat of this blast. No migrants in the morning, the party is about over. It is back to breeders. A cutoff low is supposed to form as we enter the upcoming weekend, which will give us one last chance (if rain) to knock down the last spring migrants. Some models have it getting stuck over Texas for a week due to highs on either side of the continent (an omega high). That could be interesting, not to mention wet. Sometimes such a setup has resulted in big rain events here, particularly in May and June. Hope the forecast and my wishful thinking pan out.

I heard begging fledgling Yellow-throated Warblers in the Mesquites across from the gate. So our local pair got a first set of young out. Still have male and female Ruby-throated Hummingbird. In butterflies, saw 8 Queen at once on the Blue Mist, a couple Monarch were around off and on. A Texan Crescent was nice, a Dun Skipper, Funereal Duskywing, Reakirt's Blues, numbers of Lysides, a Gray Hairstreak, Gulf Fritallary, lots of Pipevine Swallowtail, some Red Admiral.

The highlight of the day was at dusk. Four Chimney Swift spent 20 minutes circling the yard and two chimneys, which are unfortunately sealed. Now trying to figure out how to put a 'swift extender box' on top of them. They were screaming by me at head height often, going under the big pecan at the front porch. Once two split going on either side of my head not two feet from me on each side screaming at full volume. It was full frontal audio assault and it was awesome. It was the best Chimney Swift show I ever had. Amazing. Ignored (but noted) a couple Black-bellied Whistling-Duck that went over low at the same time.

May 18 ~ The low of 60F was great, and dry air too. Got up to about 90F in the sun, 85 in the shade. Heard one Yellow Warbler early. The, or a, Great Crested Flycatcher was going off in top of the big pecan first thing. The pair of Ash-throated Flycs are using a distant box at far NE corner of yard away from house. Glad they didn't take a closer box actually, they are such, uh, tyrants shall we say, around the nest. You do not want to be around if they get predated. They viciously go after every bird smaller than themselves for about 3 days.

No migs all day. Around noon a medium gray bird exploded out of the Am. Germander patch around one corner of house, surely it was that darn Catbird again. Only other item of interest was about 8 p.m. when coming from the draw and road, up about 20' I spotted a LUNA MOTH flying towards me! It flew to the Pecan outside kitchen, then right over me in the driveway, into the big Pecan right off porch where I lost it. OMG! Another LUNA! Wonder if that is what the green caterpillars the Yellow-billed Cuckoo is pulling out of the Pecan are?

May 17 ~ Low of 58F is fantastic for the date. No migrants around early. Was good conditions for moving last night, hopefully some new stuff will drop in this morning. At 9 a male Ringed Kingfisher flew over the house calling, southbound. Kathy saw a Black-and-white Warbler quickly come into bath mid-morn. At 11 we went to check a couple spots. Saw my FOY fledged juvenile Vermilion Flycatcher on 360. At the 354 Pecans there was a female Mourning Warbler under the magic Mulberry, and in all the tangled vines growing over it. She gave some decent views. Also heard a C. Yellowthroat out in the blooming Mexican Hat. A Willow Flycatcher was there too, after my FOS late yesterday. No Yellow Warbler, no other migrants, no sign of the Downies. Several singing Bell's Vireo there are nice. Kathy saw a Giant Swallowtail. The 4-6 Dickcissel continue singing, surely some are nesting.

At the park, for migrants it was one female Common Yellowthroat and that was it. Just the breeders. Back here about 3:15 Kathy spotted the Catbird at the bath again! It was warm (86F) so the window was closed and could not get it open without it flushing. Durnit, they are sharp-eyed and ginchy. Just after 5 p.m. a Lincoln's Sparrow was at the bath. First one I have seen here in a couple weeks, and a great late date. All but the tardy ones (maybe highest altitude or furthest north nesters?) are gone by late April and earliest May. There was a Pewee singing at last light over toward the river. Whence dark, heard E. Screech-, Barred, and Great Horned Owl, Common Nighthawk and Chuck-wills-widow. Firefly numbers seem on the wane already. Maybe I am missing peak flashing.

May 16 ~ Was quite the rain event last night, from about 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. a couple inches fell, and another .75 from 11 to whenever it stopped, for a 2.75" total. Incredible. No dust for a day or two. The rain-cooled low this morning was 57F! Sunny and wonderful. Got up to 82F or so in the afternoon. Couple Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks went over early. A Yellow Warbler or two was all I saw for migrants in the yard in the morning. About 11-2 I looked around town a bit, mostly at the park. About 1 p.m. Kathy had a Catbird bathe in the bath here! Missed another much-wanted photo-op. To make up for the one prior I just made up for. Barely got a day without that monkey on my back.

The 354 pecan patch had only the breeders, no migrants. No sign of the Downy Woodpecker or young. Utopia Park had some migs though. About 4 Yellow Warbler, one singing a weird abnormal song, one Wilson's Warbler, 3 Common Yellowthroat (2 male, 1 fem.), and a male Mourning Warbler, for a FOS finally on them. Thought I have heard a couple so far but hadn't seen one. Nine individual migrant warblers means there was movement. I presume after the system passed over birds flew. Best was an Alder Flycatcher up in the swampy area by the island of course. It is the single location locally where I have seen most of them. I do not get a postive ID on one every year here so always a treat. There was a Catbird singing out on the island around the Mulberries but I could not see it. Saw the ad. ma. Green Kingfisher carrying food (small fish) calling for the juv., so it is still attending the young. When the juv. called back it shot off for it.

I had 8 Queen at once on the Blue Mist Eup. at the porch, and at least a couple Monarch were around. After dinner about 7:20 and after, there was a Least Flycatcher in the Mesquites right across from the gate, and at the draw there was my FOS Willow Flycatcher. Good day for Empis, three species in a day here is great. I had a Least a half-mile down the road when I left this morning. Saw two male Ruby-throated Hummingbird here today, presume some females still here.

greatcrestedflycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher showing the diagnostic
pinkish-orange mouth-lining. Nice rictal bristles.
The better to funnel those bugs right into that maw.
This bird was letting an uppity 1st spring male Summer
Tanager that landed too close in a threatening way as if
an attempt to displace it, that it needed to back off
and work on social distancing better. It opened beak
real wide aiming it right at it, and the tanager left.
Winning through intimidation.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 15 ~ Overcast, gulf flow, low of 72F is not very, summer is almost here. The highs have yet to catch up though, about which no one is complaining. This morning there were three Yellow Warbler and a White-eyed Vireo at the bath all at once. But with the bath being in a dark shady spot, when it is overcast I have to jack ISO up to 1600 and so any shots are pretty grainy. I didn't care when Kathy said 'there is a Yellowthroat at the bath'. Now have grainy male Common Yellowthroat pics at the bath. Our yard Yellowthroat was two years ago when Kathy had a male bathe when I was in town on a Friday and missed it by 10 minutes! This didn't bother me a bit, I was totally over that warm muggy sunny Friday afternoon when I got home about 1 p.m. and heard what happened. I had nearly completely forgotten about May 2, 2018 when I missed that yard male Yellowthroat bathing in the sun in the bath.

Mid-morn, the Yellows came back and a Wilson's Warbler was with them. Then an hour later there were four Yellow Warbler at once at the bath, two males and two females, plus the Yellowthroat came back. I think maybe a better pic the second go-round. A minute after they left a FOS female Black-throated Green Warbler came in and bathed! Followed by a first spring male Golden-cheeked Warbler! Gadzooks! Five species of migrant warbler, plus the Yellow-throated, at the bath this morning. In a living nightmare, now I have a problem though getting the pix off the camera. Something has gone sideways. Have ordered a new cable. Camera takes pix fine. A Chimney Swift shot by the porch at eye level 6' from me, no doubt checking the chimney, how I wish it was not sealed. There is a chimney shortage here. We need some benevolent folks to sponsor a few Chimney Swift towers around the area.

Town run fer stuff. I saw Annette Long at the store and she said a couple weeks ago she had a big giant dark hummingbird. No doubt a Green (now Mexican) Violetear. Hasn't seen it again though. They are about 4 mi. NW of town in Bandera Co. Great bird! Except the part about it going by our feeders. One Spotted Sandpiper continues at the spillway at park. A couple Yellow Warbler and one male Common Yellowthroat were at the park, the Yellowthroat was 25' up in a willow. Those were the only migrants. There was one Yellow at the 354 Pecans, and no trace of the Downy Woodpecker female or begging young. At least I got a shot of the nesting stain discoloration on the anterior part of her face on Monday. Right before dusk a FOS Olive-sided Flycatcher sang. I love that song! Quick three beers! Any song with beer in it is good.

May 14 ~ We had a surprise rain cell move over about 3 a.m., we got a half-inch of beloved rain! Some areas around got an inch! So badly needed! We are parched. Not enough for the aquifer, but just what all the trees, shrubs, and flowers need. Plus we had an amazing rain-cooled low of 59F! Saw a male Yellow Warbler early working the Mexican Hat flower patches which are starting to bloom now. What a pic that would make. Hooded and Orchard Oriole were in the yard in the morning. After 10 a.m. there was a pair of Common Nighthawk out in the broad daylight, they must have been so thrilled about the rain and temps. The male boomed right on the female right over the slope behind the house. It was awesome, he was too small and fast in the dive for me to find in the miniature viewfinder of my POS toy camera.

At the Blue Mist patch there were a couple Dun Skipper, a couple Southern Broken-Dash (male and female), a FOY Nysa Roadside-skipper that was very worn. Best was a Texas Wasp Moth, which I usually see in fall, and only very rarely get them in spring. A couple Monarch and some Queen were on it all day. An Elada Checkerspot came into wet spots from water we spray about in the heat. Some local stations hit 90F today. Later afternoon a Least Flycatcher was on the north fenceline. Still a great Firefly show going on just before dusk but maybe reduced a bit from a week or two ago.

May 13 ~ Mist and about 67F for a low. Went to get a pic of the Downy Woodpecker begging babies before anything happens. I was too late. No begging babies, no sign of mom, nothing. So maybe she was away and they were being silent? Or in the last two days did they either fledge or were they predated? If they fledged seems like I would have heard them. So we have a nesting attempt with begging young, but no photo yet, and no idea if it was successful yet. It is the first Sabinal River drainage breeding record, which might end up another case of defeat snatched out of the jaws of victory.

Checked the park, and neither it nor 354 had any migrants at all, as if to make sure I would not get cheered up after not finding the baby woodpeckers I heard to photo. For migs it could have been too early, these spots are often better later in morning after stuff has found it or stacked up a bit. Probably the same Eastern Kingbird as Monday was flycatching from the same big Pecan tree on 187 just north of 354. Gate was still closed so walked the whole park, nothing there but the residents. One Spotted Sandpiper on the dam was the only transient, likely one of the two there Monday, a couple days ago. Briefly talked to Eric Whelchel and he said they have a couple Bobwhite coming into their yard. Great yard birds! I think near SE corner of town. They are scarce locally, mostly just small numbers in pastures down-valley south of town, but have seen them out N. Thunder Crk. Rd. long time ago. On 360 there were a dozen Cattle Egret in with the cattle. Heard a half-dozen Red-eyed Vireo from the car while driving around, and about 4 Eastern Wood-Pewee.

A couple Orchard Oriole were in the yard in the morn. Just after noon besides a male Yellow Warbler there was finally a FOS Wilson's Warbler out front in the pecans. It was a first spring male or a female, not an ad. male. Who cares at this point, nearing missing it for the spring. So far, five times this spring I thought I heard a Wilson's, but never could lay eyes on one. The pulling teeth for warbler species continues. The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher pair continues all day every day in the big Pecan right off the front porch, but I can't spot the nest.

May 12 ~ A disturbance moving over last night gave a brief showerlet, overcast, low of 65F, but looks like we missed the real precip. Some got it good to the east of us over the day. Got up into the low to mid 80's F. A female Yellow Warbler hit the bath but otherwise no migrant motion. The male Ladder-backed Woodpecker came into the bath in the afternoon, first time we have seen that. He was too ginchy for me with the camera. Saw the Southern Broken-Dash (butterfly) again. A couple Monarch and at least 5 Queen on the Blue Mist Eupatorium. The male Whirlabout was around again today, as was a Funereal Duskywing.

As of this date, the fledgling baby birds I have seen out of the nest so far this spring are: Eastern Phoebe, Carolina Wren, Carolina Chickadee, N. Cardinal, Chipping Sparrow, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Green Kingfisher, Black-crested Titmouse, Yellow-throated Warbler, Mourning Dove and Eastern Bluebird. And a branching juvie Red-tailed Hawk. These are the earliest nesters here. The early birds. Everything else seems underway as expected.

May 11 ~ Low of about 62F was great, overcast with gulf flow, was still clear and calm at midnight last night. One Yellow Warbler in yard in a.m., a singing male. Had a P.O. run about 11 so braked for birds. At the 354 pecans there was a FOS male American Redstart, redstarting all over the place in all its awesomeness. Too far for pix though. The rest was the breeders. One is a potential breeder of significance. The weird begging noise was happening again at the same spot. The female Downy Woodpecker flew from the immediate area. I think we have nesting Downies. It is begging baby woodpeckers I am hearing, it just took a day and a couple visits to figure it out. There are no records ever of Downy nesting on the Sabinal River. I think the hole is on the other side of a branch so we can't see it. Got a pic of the female as she moved away from the source area of the begging baby woodpeckers sound. The anterior portion of her face is very discolored, as in the usual nest staining one sees after they have drilled a new nest.

On 187 just north of 354 there was a FOS Eastern Kingbird flycatching from the big pecan just north of the intersection. At Utopia Park there was a FOS YELLOW-BELLIED Flycatcher! First one I have seen (and heard!) in seven springs. They were formerly more regular. It is always a great bird here. Three FOS birds in an hour. There was migrant motion last night. Last few days had an easterly element to the flow aloft. Also heard the Northern Waterthrush at the park (day 3 if same bird). There were two Spotted Sandpiper on the spillway. My first this spring, but Larry had them a month ago on Little Creek. No other passerine migs at park besides the Empi, and to think I used to hate 'em. Now one makes my day.

Later, back at the hovelita at 2:45 p.m. there was a GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH at the birdbath! It is a yard bird, and the first one I have seen in the last 5 springs here. They have been very rare lately, formerly they were more regular. It was soaked and I only got a minute bare-eyed on it but close right out the bathroom window 20'. At first it was preening the wet out in the adjacent brush pile and I could see it was a thrush. Then it came back to the bath for a second soaking (chasing the male Yellow-throated Warbler away), and after another round then flew over fence towards draw. It was so wet it took me half the time to figure out what the heck it was. As it was splashing it turned and faced me showing the bold black spots all over the breast, OMG. I was on my way for camera when it shot away, it did not come back that I saw. Great yard bird here.

Now we are up to four good 'eastern' migrants today. Bet it was good out there if you could pound the bushes, pecans, and Mulberries all day. It was a miracle I caught the thrush when it came in. Hadn't checked the bath in an hour. BAM! Only takes one good bird to make your day, and I got two today with that Yell-bell. Feelin' lucky. There are still multiple male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and I saw a female again today. They are nesting. Migrants do not hang around for 6 weeks doing nothing. In leps, in the afternoon I saw a FOY Whirlabout, a nice fresh male.

May 10 ~ A great for the date low of 53F or so was fantastic. And dry. Wow. Looks like the last of temps in the low 50's for at least 4 months. Heard a Yellow Warbler go through yard early. we checked a few spots around town from 11a.m. to 2p.m. Alas no Veery at the 354 Pecans, and not even a single Yellow Warbler there, but otherwise, lots of breeder types there. A Downy Woodpecker is very irregular here, and so always good. The only passage migrant was a FOS Blue-headed Vireo, finally. Other vireos (all singing on territory there) were Bell's, White-eyed, Yellow-throated, and Red-eyed. It was a five vireos almost at once stop. Other breeders there were Yellow-throated Warbler, Chat, Dickcissel, Indigo Bunting, but I don't hear the usual pair of Orchard Oriole. Heard Eastern Wood-Pewee, and Great Crested Flycatcher as well. An Olive Sparrow sang from the mesquite patch on north side of road past the main pecan patch. Heard some weird begging noise I could not find or figure out.

Then a look at the park woods. Heard the Northern Waterthrush, likely of yesterday. Saw one female Common Yellowthroat and a warbler chip or two got away. Heard Eastern Wood-Pewee. The rest was the breeders. One juvenile Green Kingfisher is a new fledge of the year. Kathy saw it snap an insect from its perch, likely a mosquito. We heard juv. Yellow-throated Warblers in the Cypresses, Blue Jay, saw a few Summer Tanager, some Cardinal included just fledged young. Yellow-billed Cuckoo called from across the river.

We checked the north end of town and a few Bell's Vireo singing as usual. One Cave Swallow at the Sr. Ctr. We saw a female oriole eating Agarita berries that have to still be bitter. I think it was an Orchard. Kathy spotted a tiny baby Blackbuck with mama. The baby was Jackrabbit sized, a day or two old maybe. Then we checked a private place a half-mile south of town, and the Red-tailed Hawk nest. One of the young is out on a branch now, two still in the nest. Nice bit of birds bathing in a shallow stretch of the river there, included a male Painted Bunting and Kathy saw an oriole she thought was Hooded. Heard another E. Wood-Pewee. More begging baby Yellow-throated Warbler out of the nest. As we left a Catbird flew right in front of us, and eventually flew again and landed for a bin view. In odes, saw a Kiowa Dancer damselfly there, and one Pale-faced Clubskimmer.

Finally we checked the golf course pond at Waresville. More Bell's Vireo on road in (363). Only a couple Martin at the delapidated Martin House, and unfortunately now, a couple House (English) Sparrow which are new. There are at least a dozen, maybe two dozen, nesting female Red-winged Blackbird with a few males present. One male Common Grackle hanging out with them is a bit odd. In the entryway of the unused empty building there, besides a Barn, there is a single Cliff Swallow nest, full jug with long nozzle, and we saw one adult with it. Weird for the colonial nester to be nesting alone. Will have to work on confirming mate. A few pair of Scissor-tailed and Vermilion Flycatcher in the area, heard singing Summer Tanager.

We had a great flyover of a first spring (yearling) Zone-tailed Hawk. It was in remige molt. An adult type inner primary (the outer wing feathers) on each side was coming in (two had already done so), and it was missing one of the central rectrices. No doubt about to get replaced with its first adult white banded tail feather. Neat plumage to see well at this stage. Got shots. On the way out on golf course entrance road there was a Scissor-tail as often on that fake Utopia sign by the ancient tractor just east of the clubhouse and driving range. It let us roll right up to it and was hawking stuff right around us. Once I was looking down on it right out the window as it hovered right over the ground, tail splayed six feet away, OMG! Whaddabird! Later afternoon at the house there was one of those neat Black Rock Squirrel. Haven't seen one here since last summer maybe. It was eating birdseed out back.

May 9 ~ A nice cool 54F for a low was outstanding. I saw KRVL had a 51! A couple Yellow Warbler went through yard early, and another warbler that got away. That was it for migrants though. The pair of Gnatcatchers are in the pecan all the time now, I think they may have chosen it. I saw a female Brown-headed Cowbird going down branch after branch looking between each ball moss clump, for a nest. Ima get dat bitch. Which seems likely a rap song title.

About 2pm went to town for an hour, few more errands and running into people ends up two hours real fast. On the way I stopped at the 354 pecan patch and a VEERY was coming into the decrepit grown-over, barely stayin&apos alive, top blown off by lightning, Mulberry. It was an eastern type, purely rufous above, stem to stern. Once when it flew in it gave a great wheeeerrrr call note. I thought I was gonna die, I haven't heard that in sooo long. It was going out into the pecan patch after each few berries. Way out. You could not see it most of the time when it was in the tree, and then it would bolt way out into the woods across the road. Once it stopped on a nearby branch and gave good views, while finishing a berry, but flew as I got my camera on it. Made my day anyway.

At Utopia Park saw a second-one-of-the-spring Northern Waterthrush on the island. What was probably a Common Yellowthroat got away, and might have heard a Mourning Warbler. The pair of Common Grackle seem into nesting at south end of island as usual. I heard (and glimpsed) baby Yellow-throated Warblers up in the tops of the Cypresses on the island, out of the nest now. Still slow going on the odes there. Saw a Checkered Setwing (FOY) though. Some type of Forktail (Ischnura) has been common on the low stuff in the woods lately.

Later afternoon Kathy spotted a Rufous-crowned Sparrow at the bath. Which we haven't seen around the yard in months. I heard one sing upslope behind us whilst watching the one at the bath. So there were two, surely a pair. Also a Field Sparrow was singing just over the fence. Later a mostly blue headed first-spring male Blue Grosbeak was around the bath eating some seed heads of some grass I let go to seed. Have to cut most of the yardish area for appearances, but leave some patches for this sort of thing, and the bugs.

We are being innundated with just-fledged juvenile Black-chinned Hummingbirds. Here comes the wave, flood is more like it. It started yesterday, we could tell the consumption went way up. Today it is worse, and sure enough there are a bunch of those gray-headed little buggers out there.

commonyellowthroat
Common Yellowthroat, male, at our birdbath.
Sorry about the grainy, was early in morn,
bath is in shade, and was heavy overcast.
It wouldn't stop flicking wings and tail.
I have seen more this spring than any in the
last 17, by at least a factor over prior best year.
The only warbler that showed well this spring here.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 8 ~ The front blew in just after 9 a.m. here and blew 20-30 mph all day. Low barely hit 69F right before it, but the cool air kept it in the 70's all day. Great for the date. Thought I heard a Black-billed Cuckoo this a.m. The Yellow-billed pair that nests here is around and making all sorts of different noises as breeding commences, but this to me sounded like a Black-bill. Could not find it, another point for B-b. The tonal quality is quite different. Think I will let it go though.

Town run day. Looks like they are over masks here for the most part. The only thing different at the park was a poor look at a FOS Swainson's Thrush in a Mulberry on the island. No warblers. Great looks at a male Summer Tanager and Yellow-throated Vireo though. Also saw Chimney Swift and Blue Jay. No Kingbirds on the fencelines south of town, it is peak week for Eastern here. Dickcissels still singing along 354. If we don't get rain soon the Dicks won't stick.

Saw Judy Schaeffer at the park. She said she has had two different Catbirds over the spring visit her water feature. She also mentioned she too still has male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at her feeders. After the P.O., gas station, feed store, groceries, and the park, I saw Rosie for chicken fajita tacos and my work in town was done. About 4 p.m. here at the hovelita an Eyed Elaterid (the giant click beetle with the false eyes on thorax) was on the porch. A couple fresh mint Monarch on the Blue Mist Eup. are likely local emergences, at least a half-dozen (at once) Queens were there too.

The Firefly show is just incredible. A couple dozen going off at once, and several dozens over a few seconds. At least a hundred in the yard in front of house. More on sides. A Chuck-wills-widow landed on a snag in the draw I can see from steps to driveway and went off for 5 minutes. A couple times it went to double speed like I have never heard before. It was calling fast already, and all of a sudden was double-time. Maybe it was seeing a female flying around? Had it been a male in its territory it would have gone after it, and not just gone for being more impressive of voice. I have lots of Chuck tape, but no recording of this type of calling.

May 7 ~ Low of 65F, much warmer than the 58 predicted and hoped for. Some mist, strong southerly gulf flow ahead of another front set to arrive tomorrow. The longer we last into May like this, the better. It was only 70F at 1 p.m., and then about 80 at 4! Great for the date. Had an Orchard Oriole and a Red-eyed Vireo in the yard in the morning. The rest was the breeders. Still Rubies here fighting at a feeder, presumedly over at least one female.

In the afternoon there were two fresh Monarch and 3 Queen on the Blue Mist Eupatorium. Then a fresh FOY Southern Broken-Dash showed up briefly, nice to see. A Vesta Crescent made a pass as well. Later afternoon the pair of Chats hit the bath together. Then after that a bit the pair of Yellow-throated Warbler did the same! Late at dusk there was a Least Flycatcher out in the yard. Some Chimney Swift flying around too. Heard Common Nighthawk and Chuck-wills-widow. Great firefly show as it gets dark, probably a hundred of them out there now.

May 6 ~ Overcast with northerlies, 65F for a low. Heard a Least Flycatcher out at the road, and an Orchard Oriole in the pecans out front. More yard work while coolish. Some Mexican Hat is opening up now, actually saw the first one a couple days ago. Also saw my first American Germander (aka Wood Sage, but it is not a sage) flower yesterday. The pair of Gnatcatcher are still around. Still a couple male Ruby-throated Hummers here, so must be females around. I have not had time to watch the feeders. Pretty soon we will have the first wave of juvenile Black-chins out of the nest. A Yellow Warbler was around a bit in the afternoon, which sang a little. Fiery Skipper and Funereal Duskywing out in yard (leps). Three or four Chuck-wills-widow in earshot at dark. Heard Nighthawk booming, Barred Owl and Tex-Mex (mccallii) Screech-Owl.

May 5 ~ Feliz Cinco de Mayo! A weak front is on the way inbound today. Southerly moist gulf flow overnight in front of it had us at a muggy 72F for a low, like summer. Some puffs of northerlies in the morning. Heard a Baltimore Oriole and a zeet that was likely a Yellow Warbler. Yellow-throated Warbler was in the bath again. Got up to about 80F in the afternoon with gusty northerlies, but drying out. Heard presumedly the same Gnatcatcher out there, maybe it is nesting in the draw, a nice patch of smaller but leafy pecans are in it. Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo singing around yard, presume they too are nesting nearby. More yard and garden work.

May 4 ~ Low of 69F is not very, overcast, the standard gulf moisture flow. Got very warm in the afternoon, 87F on cool shady front porch, prolly 92 in the sun, some local stations had 93-95F. Here it comes. Heard one Yellow Warbler about 9. Otherwise just the breeders, but at least a great set of them. Kathy made the morning minutes before noon, spotting a male Golden-cheeked Warbler coming into the birdbath. I got the window open so could shoot unobstructed through my magic screen and got some pics over the 5 minutes it was around. It came in and got soaked, went up into tree to preen it in, then came back down to repeat and finish the treatment with a second rinse. Whaddabird! Kinda doesn't matter what else happens today. Only takes one good bird to make your day. Got more yard work done despite the heat. Kathy saw a male Painted Bunting at the bath. Saw my FOY Six-lined Racerunner, racerun across the yard. Great firefly show as dusk arrives. Screech-Owl is calling nightly from yard lately.

May 3 ~ A low of 67F makes ya think summer is on the way. Misted a bit early. Not much migrant motion, a female Yellow Warbler, and later morn a male Yellow Warbler. We checked a few spots locally a few hours mid-day. On the way down the road a quarter-mile from the house heard the FOS Least Flycatcher che-bek several times. Saw the first Skeleton-flower open of the year too. There is a great patch of Cedar Sage blooming at the 360 crossing.

No migrants at the 354 Pecan patch, but potential breeders singing are Dickcissel, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Red-eyed, Yellow-throated and Bell' Vireo, Yellow-throated Warbler and Yellow-breasted Chat. No migrants at the park either, not even in the Mulberries. Weird. Heard the Eastern Wood-Pewee again, but no Waterthrush. In town saw a Yellow-billed Cuckoo leave a big Mulberry on Cypress St. Looks like Chimney Swift are using the chimney on the back of the Lost Maples Cafe building, if you need a look.

At the NW corner of town, from the car pretty close, we watched some Barn and a Cave Swallow gathering mud at a roadside puddle. Interesting how the Barn would bring vegetation in their beaks, and then gather mud on top of that. Obviously then when they plaster with it, the pieces of fibrous vegetation act like rebar in concrete adding additional tensile strength to the mud nest. Brilliant engineering. The Barns were mostly at a stage using the wettest mud, the Cave was using soft, but not wet juicy mud.

Behind the storage spaces on that north running NWmost street in town there was one Bell's Vireo singing, and a Western Kingbird on a powerline. We checked the 356 crossing at the county line just NW of town. Not much there but a mean unhappy crossing monitor troll. The cosmic kismet was not lost on me as we watched a screaming Red-shouldered Hawk eject a Red-tailed Hawk, obviously from its nest area. It went ballistic on this Red-tail, which apparently felt discretion was the better part of valor this time. Was real low right overhead just above treetops, a great show. Heard Great Crested Flycatcher and Yellow-throated Warbler there. For odes, no dragons besides that lady, just a couple damsels. Some White-flowered Nutgrass in bloom, if you can call that flower a bloom. A rather primitive one I'd say.

Took a quick look at the Red-tailed hawk nest just south of town, another singing Eastern Wood-Pewee there, and one female Yellow Warbler. Then on 187 just north of 360 there was my FOS Zone-tailed Hawk soaring low. Which are usually back in March. After 7 p.m. I heard a Least Flycatcher calling out by the gate, which could be the one heard just down the road before noon. Before 7 p.m. Kathy found the FOS Plains Threadsnake (was known as Texas Blind Snake) in the kitchen, which I took outside. It was the usual 4" or so. Looks like a skinny scaled earthworm. Neat beast. Had a Tawny Emperor butterfly circle yard, FOY.

May 2 ~ About 65F for a low, misted much of the morning. In yard 1 Yellow Warbler for migrant. Heard a Hooded Oriole sing so one is coming in and it is a male, don't know age yet. Went to park for a look. At the 354 Pecans there were a couple Yellow Warbler, a few Dickcissel in the pasture on north side of road, singing Red-eyed Vireo in the woods on south side, singing Bell's Vireo at east end of that first big pasture on north side of 354. The Mulberry on Cypress St. just north of park entrance had a hundred Waxwings in it.

At the park there were lots of people. But the woods were all clear. One Northern Waterthrush was my FOS, as was finally an Eastern Wood-Pewee. My latest FOS date in 17 springs for the Pewee. Thought I heard a MacGillivray's Warbler on the island but could not pick anything out. Had one Nashville Warbler, heard the Green Heron. Saw fledged baby Cardinal. Saw ripe Dewberries, only tested one, they are still great.

A second Pewee was south of town a half mile along the river. Took a pic of the Red-tailed Hawk nest with a couple well-grown young in it. Saw some Water Willow (Justicia - not the tree) in bloom. Lots of Dodder going too well on it as always.
goldencheekedwarbler
Golden-cheeked Warbler, male, May 4, 2020.
Utopia is where you can see this in your birdbath.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 1 ~ OMG, May!?!?! Happy May Day! Is it time for a revolution yet? About 57F for a low was nice. Sunny, green and springy. One male Yellow Warbler was the only passage migrant in the yard in the morning, and could well be the one here the last few days in the pecan flowers. Heard Cuckoo out in yard again, the local breeders are likely back. It is a great dawn chorus these days. Heard begging baby Chickadees, so first batch is out.

Town supply run. Utopia Park is now open, though I forgot to ask if for camping as well, but doubt that. Probably just day use for now. A Common Yellowthroat was the only passage migrant I saw. One warbler got away though. A Great Crested Flyc. was in the woods, and Blue Jay is always nice. I did not hear any Bell's Vireo at the NW corner of town where usually. Late afternoon Kathy found on the patio (and gave to me apparently) a dead Mourning Dove. I think our relationship has reached an important milestone. Just kidding, it's not the first dead bird she gave me. I don't know how others decide it's true love...

One item of interest is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird presence. Note we are not in any area mapped as their breeding range in the standard field guides. Though rarely some do seem to nest here in spring before departing. At least a few males and at least one female continue here. I saw a male displaying, which they usually only do if nesting. Three days this week I saw a female Ruby at the feeders that had what I call a 'nest band'. I don't know if that is a real word or term used outside my dystopia, but I use it. For that band of mashed down feathers across the breast where the rim of the nest makes an imprint on an incubating bird. Incubating birds sometimes show this, nest band, hummers in particular as they fit tightly in the nest. Often you can see this band of pressed or mashed down feathers that leave a distinct imprint or mark of wear across the breast of female hummers. Not possible to acquire this without sitting in a nest incubating. So I would say at least one 'pair' of Rubies is nesting here this year.

The Firefly show at dusk is outstanding. Probably about 75 going off now, dozens at a time, it is awesome to watch. Before dark it has peaked and fading. Chat, Chuck-wills-widow, and Vermilion Flycatcher are the 3 species calling as the show goes. Just before dark Eastern Screech-Owl called. Had two Monarch today, one pale worn migrant, one mint fresh but not the one from yesterday. Also two Queen one fresh, one old and worn. Saw a couple open Mexican Hat flowers.

~ ~ and now for a brief interlude ~ ~

~ ~ ~ April summary ~ ~ ~

It was a dry one unfortunately, and a bad month for that. Spring rains are critical for flower blooms and bugs. We got about an inch of rain, between 3 and 4 is average. So far spring bloom has been much reduced. A chilly low of 43F the last morn of the month was great. Temps were moderate. Water level in the river is below average and normal.

Butterflies were average, 40 species over the month. Nothing unusual, but that is as expected in spring. Always great to get those last Falcate Orangetip and Henry's Elfin of the year though. The early spring fliers fade fast. Have to check my pix and the books on some hairstreaks yet, may be another sps. to add. Monarchs had a good spring, double the number I saw last spring. A Green Skipper at Lost Maples is always nice to see. No Amblyscrites, big yellow swallowtails, or Arizona Sister flying yet.

Odes picked up at the end of the month, mostly due to a walk up Can Creek past the ponds at Lost Maples the 26th. Most of the month they were slow. I count 16 species for the month, a big jump from the 4 in March. The 26th along Can Creek was the first day of the year with more than 10 species. A Pin-tailed Pondhawk that day at the upper pond at Lost Maples is a very rare find in Bandera Co., might be a first county record. A couple Flame Skimmer there were nice too. The rest was the expected suspects.

pintailedpondhawk
Here is a poor docushot of the Pin-tailed Pondhawk
at Lost Maples April 26. It was on the other side
of the pond 75' away.


Birds were good, how can you go wrong in April? All your old friends showing back up daily. I count about 110 species locally Utopia to Lost Maples, that I saw, hardly getting out. Most in the yard. Others saw some I missed. When you record seasonal arrival dates, it gets more fun every year. More data = more fun. I had four earliest-evers (n~17 springs) this spring. A Vermilion Flycatcher late in Jan., Yellow-throated Vireo March 13, and in April Yellow-breasted Chat the 4th, and Blue Grosbeak the 8th.

Only one rare bird was seen, er, detected, as it was heard only. As many a nocturnal calling migrant shorebird are. A northbound Black-bellied Plover on the 20th will be one of the best birds of the year here no matter what shows up the rest of the year. Nothing else was unusual, save a Peregrine that dove on the White-winged Doves at top of the pecan in our yard. A Catbird was here a couple days April 22-23. It has been weak though for passerine migration overall. Have not seen a dozen species of warblers all spring so far. Hoping things pick up first half of May before migration is over.

~ ~ ~ end April summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ another version of April, the update header,
this an archive copy, more FOS date particulars... ~ ~ ~

April 1 saw my FOS Hooded Oriole and Grasshopper Sparrow. An Osprey was at Little Creek the 2nd. Five Bell's Vireo were around town the 3rd and since. On the 4th I heard my FOS Yellow-breasted Chat. On the 5th, four Swainson's Hawk were my FOS as was the one Broad-winged Hawk in with them, and a Chuck-wills-widow after dark the 5th. The 8th I heard my FOS Blue Grosbeak out back, saw that beautiful blue boy the 9th, the female arrived the 17th. A Peregrine on the 11th was very nice. My FOS Western Kingbird was the 12th. My FOS Indigo Bunting was on the patio the 13th. Also the 13th was my FOS female Summer Tanager, the male was March 27! The 15th was my FOS Bronzed Cowbird, and late in the day, two male Painted Bunting! My FOS Firefly was the 16th. The 19th brought FOS Red-eyed Vireo and Orchard Oriole. The FOS migrants for the 20th were a singing House Wren at the front porch, then probably my mega-rary of the spring, a BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER flew over calling at about 9:25 p.m. (!), finally about 10:40 p.m. my FOS Yellow-billed Cuckoo called. The 21st was my FOS Great Crested Flycatcher. Kathy got the FOS Catbird at the bath the 22nd, which was back the 23rd. The 24th my FOS Tennessee Warbler (female) was in the yard. FOS Dickcissel was the 26th, as was Cliff Swallow at Vanderpool. At Lost Maples (finally) on the 26th saw FOS Louisiana Waterthrush and Scott's Oriole, though both meaningless dates, they arrive in mid-to-late March. FOS Brown-crested Flycatcher was the 27th. The 29th saw my FOS Green Heron, Common Nighthawk, and female Painted Bunting.

~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~

April 30 ~ An awesome 43F for a low felt great! We cherish these last cool mornings until fall. The SAT record low for the date is 44, so we were getting near one here. Though it was mostly calm after about 10 p.m. last night, no evidence of migrant motion here this a.m., the male Yellow Warbler could well be a holdover. Saw the female Painted Bunting at the bath again. Surely one of our local bunting mamas. Heard a Cuckoo call in yard in later afternoon.

Did more yard work whilst cool out. The male Vermilion is right on the cut areas as soon as I leave. Our greggi Blue Mist Eupatorium has tons of buds, first few flowers are opening now. Will be the best spring bloom in years for our porch patches. Probably that growfast I gathered from the corral. There were two Monarchs that hit it, one worn pale, obvious migrant from Mexico as almost all we see in spring. But as rarely, one was mint fresh, which means likely a local emergence from an egg laid in earliest March when they first return. Couple Queens were around too, they are all fresh now.

The Firefly show at dusk is spectacular, over 50 were going off in the main yard area out front, more were in other parts. Three Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks flew over at last light. Then heard Common Nighthawk and Chuck-wills-widow as it was getting dark. After dark heard Barn, Barred, Great Horned, and E. Screech-, Owls.

Apr. 29 ~ Drizzle early morning as the front passed, but no real precip here on the dry west end of it. Northerlies behind it 15-20 mph gusting higher. Checked the park early briefly, it is said to be opening shortly. One warbler got away for the only passerine migrant. A FOS Green Heron was nice to see, likely one of the island's breeding pair. In the yard there was one Yellow Warbler and a couple Orchard Oriole later morn. A couple Gnatcatchers, but each alone, not sure if it was the pair that was prospecting around. Later afternoon I saw my FOS female Painted Bunting. The only other greenie I had seen was an imm. male, not a female. Early evening probably the same male Yellow Warbler was around, and a Nashville Warbler hit the bath. A Turkey walked by just out the kitchen window. Little does it know what happens in there. Outstanding was nearing last sun a couple FOS Common Nighthawk calling high up overhead. The male 'boomed', repeatedly at the female, once very low and close, coming straight at me so good and loud. Awesome. Whaddabird! Got more yard work done. Saw one Pale-faced Clubskimmer (ode) skimming around yard.

Apr. 28 ~ About 62F for a low was great. It was about five-eighths of an inch of rain from the MCS last night about 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. or so. At least it was something. I heard a Hooded Oriole and saw it fly off, but did not even get to sex it in the bad light. Have not been seeing one around, would be nice to have them coming in again. Two male Yellow and one Nashville Warbler were all I saw for warblers but Kathy had a glimpse of something else that must have left the yard. The pair of Great Crested Flycatcher were whoopin' and hollerin' it up all around the house early. The Brown-crest was still out there as well as the pair of Ash-throats. One Great Crest did a long pretty fast series of identical musical short quick weep notes, just like one I had at Harbor Park in L.A. once. The Barking Frogs are sure going off, since as they were soon as the rain hit last night. Saw a male Cooper's Hawk chase another male Coop out of the big Pecan at dusk. The chasee looked like last years imm. or sub-ad. now male.

Apr. 27 ~ About 62F for a low, cloudy morning, sunny a few hours afternoon, clouded up again later afternoon. Most of the day had (too) strong southerlies. The FOS Brown-crested Flycatcher was calling around the yard in the morning. Probably attracted by all the whoopin' and hollerin' from the pair of Great Crests and Ash-throats. A three Myiarchus morn in the yard. Besides the Brown-crest, one Yellow and one Nashville Warbler was otherwise it for migrant motion. Nice of them to hit the bath together.

Kathy heard a Cuckoo, and saw the Chat at the bath. The pair of Yellow-throated Warbler were at the bath together late afternoon. Three male Painted Bunting out back on the millet at last call. Saw a Buckeye again (butterfly). One Pale-faced Clubskimmer (dragon) hunting where and when I just finished weed-whacking in the morning. Great Firefly show, must have been 50 at dusk. Twinkle twinkle little beetle. Later p.m., from about 10 it rained as a MCS moved over west to east. We are in dire straights for any precip so that was great. Quite a bit of lightning with it. Looked like one wee bit ran over Lost Maples too.

Apr. 26 ~ We did Lost Maples, finally! The night sky sure looks great at 5:40 a.m., Cygnus and Aquila at zenith, like a summer sky. Always amazed hearing Purple Martins up there in the black of night calling. Should be a constellation Progne, not to mention Bubo and Caprimulgus. The low of 46F felt awesome. We left before 8, slowed to listen at THE field on 354 and yes a couple singing FOS Dickcissel. Hardly any Scissor-tails between here and Lost Maples, only one pair, on a side road, none on 187. Saw some FOS Cliff Swallow at Vanderpool where they nest under the Hwy. 337 bridge just 100 yards or so east of 187.

You have to show a mask to enter the state park, but once on the trails most were not wearing them. Thinking we could ID news sources, political persuasion and science savy or lack thereof by mask presence? Campgrounds are still closed but it seemed some are sneaking into the back-country remote sites overnight since no patrolling that.

Check in is at a kiosk, office seems closed, the feeders that were at HQ are not. There is seed being put out at the trailhead or overflow parking area feeding station now. Seems the pair of Chimney Swift are back in the Murphy House there at that lot. Around the feeding station there were single male Painted and Indigo Bunting, some Scrub-Jay (texana), a White-tipped and several White-winged Dove, an Inca Dove, one each ad., and fem. or imm. male Scott's Oriole, a begging fledgling Chipping Sparrow and the usual Titmouse, Cardinal, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Carolina Wren, etc.

First the misses. We did not see or hear any Olive Sparrow, Audubon's Oriole, Zone-tailed Hawk, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, or Blue Grosbeak (!). Both Acadian Flycatcher and Eastern Wood-Pewee were still not back yet, will soon be tardy for them. Though overall spring seemed behind or latish for the date, far fewer flowers than usual for late April. Perhaps drought related. The water is very low, especially once you get past the first pond, it is down a foot or more. Overall bird numbers seem way down. Again. So do bugs. Saw no herptiles but a Cooter (the turtle, Texas River C.).

We had great looks at a couple Golden-cheeked Warbler, both were first spring birds. They used to be scarce along main prime territories in canyon bottom, now for a few years (at least 3), they seem to predominate. Way more 'B' song singing than you used to hear, from these first summer birds, often with a trill at end. Doesn't seem right. Watched a female bathe and preen at very close range. Heard several others singing, but they are already into nesting so not the roar of song in early spring, that has passed. Heard and glimpsed a few Louisiana Waterthrush, man I love those piercing intro notes of that song. Heard a half-dozen Black-and-white Warbler singing but never saw one, shoulda been a dozen. Several Chat singing. Saw a couple Green Kingfisher along Can Creek (the creek to the ponds), so likely nesting again this year along it somewhere. Migrant songbirds were a few warblers, maybe 3 Nashville, and one singing Orange-crowned, plus one that got away which was likely a Tennessee. Other than 3 House Wren, no other migrants were seen. It was weak for that, and weird for the date.

Glimpsed one of two heard very close Black-capped Vireo. We ate lunch listening to one sing incessantly. Red-eyed, Yellow-throated, and White-eyed were all fewer than usual, and only one Hutton's. Were a few Ash-throated Flycatcher, heard 3-4 Canyon Wren but didn't see one, though a looker, the song is the best part anyway. Plus all the usual things like a couple N. Rough-winged Swallow, Common Raven, Turkey and Black Vulture, some Summer Tanager. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher seemed nesting in decent numbers.

In butterflies, no Arizona Sister. Three fresh Red-spotted Purple were awesome as a couple Little Wood Satyr were dull. A Green Skipper was great, at THE Green Skipper spot. Six or more Spicebush Swallowtail, but no other swallowtails was weird. On some Antelope Horn were a number of Southern (Oak) Hairstreak, a couple others I have to study pix of, some Olive (Juniper) Hairstreak, and lots of little beetles. Did not see any Monarch cats though. Lots of Red Admiral and American Lady, one Questionmark, some Sleepy Orange.

Some odes were flying and that was great since there hasn't been much activity yet locally. First good day of the year. Saw a bunch of Springwater Dancer, one American Rubyspot, a Dusky Dancer, several Violet Dancer, and a bunch of damsels I did not pay attention to. Lots were tenerals so for me not ID'able. Dragons included several Prince Baskettail, numbers of Dot-winged Baskettail, several Blue Dashers, two Flame Skimmer, a Green Darner, what was surely a Springtime Darner at the second (upper) pond, and best, a Pin-tailed Pondhawk, which is a rary in Bandera Co. (ph.). Half-dozen Common Whitetail. A female Eastern Amberwing was ovipositing in the upper pond. No saddlebags or leaftails yet. But, there was action jackson. Odetivity. Finally, and a rary to boot. First day with over 10 species this year.

Saw one Monarch on the ride home, and another in the yard later afternoon. Three Savannah Sparrow were at a grassy lot in town. At last call on the millet out back there were two each male Painted and Indigo Bunting, and 20 Lark Sparrow. Had no migrants in the yard in the afternoon. Often if it was a good day a warbler or two will hang out in the pecans since full of flowers right now. Firefly show was awesome at dusk. Chuck-wills-widow is belting it out real close outside now.

Saw a few Scarlet Clematis in bloom, one Coreopsis flower, a few Indian Blanket on the way home, lots of roadside Engelman's Daisy, a Fleabane presumed Prairie, only one Snapdragon Vine flower, and one False Day-flower. Flowers are not yet going well. Need more rain.

We had a great walk, save all the unmasked people. Did about 4 miles total in about 5 hours. It was amazing to see so many people there, and only one other couple was looking at birds. Most were talking as if trying to be heard in a crowded city park, none showed any interest whatsoever in the nature. It was just a place for their blow steam off march. Used to be the folk that went there had an interest in it. This was quite different. The quarantine fever edition. Late p.m. about 10:30 I heard a Barn Owl call as it flew over northbound.

Apr. 25 ~ Was warm most of the night until just pre-dawn, whence cooled to about 62F. Front passed and the winds picked up early, was 15-20 mph and gusting higher. Since going birding tomorrow worked on things here, gardens, yard, etc. In the morn there were a couple Nashville Warbler, a Yellow or two, both sang, and heard another Oriole that sounded like another Baltimore. Two days in a row now, but have not laid eyes on one yet. Since the wind did not start until after sunup I presume there was migrant motion last night and it is new stuff. Nothing different though. Kathy had a couple Field Sparrow at the bath, so maybe a pair is nesting close-ish by?

Here is a big bonus break for all the depraved and
deprived birders not getting out enough lately.

These are a few shots of the female Golden-cheeked
Warbler we watched bathing at Lost Maples April 26.
goldencheekedwarbler
Golden-cheeked Warbler, female, testing the water.

goldencheekedwarbler
Golden-cheeked Warbler, female, bathing.

goldencheekedwarbler
Golden-cheeked Warbler, female. She left and preened a bit,
returned, keeping an eye on us, and bathed some more.

goldencheekedwarbler
Golden-cheeked Warbler, female, after bathing.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Apr. 24 ~ For a few hours overnight got into the upper 50's F but was 61 or so at dawn. Sunny and quite nice. Heard an oriole uphill behind us early that surely was a Baltimore. Heard a Nashville Warbler or two, the White-crowned Sparrow sang a bit, a Clay-colored still hitting seed on patio. One male Yellow Warbler in the Pecan buds. The dusk Firefly show is great, at least 50 tonight, gonna be a good showing this spring.

Town errand run day. Park still locked up and no time to walk in when doing errand run. Seeing very few Scissor-tails around, and still no Zone-tailed Hawk. Some Chimney Swift over town are always nice. Got warm in the afternoon, I saw 86F in the shade on the front porch, had to be 90 in the sun. Had to use the AC on the way back from town. Five months of smokin' hot fun dead ahead. Just pray or dance for rain.

Later afternoon the pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatcher were around the yard again. About 5:30 I found a FOS Tennessee Warbler (female) in the pecans out front. An eastern warbler! Maybe there is hope for this spring. It has been a mighty weird one. Normally I would have been to Lost Maples 4 times or more the last month or so, and the park in town here a dozen times. Instead of both no times. The next 2-3 weeks is the peak 2-3 weeks of spring migration here. This is it if you want to see all the cool migratory stuff as it blazes through. Will it be gorey or glory?

Apr. 23 ~ Low was about 52F and felt great! Dry and sunny. Green and wonderful. Dawn chorus is starting by 6:30 a.m. now. Just a few things before that, stuff that often sings at night (like Chat and Vermilion Flyc.) anyway. Barred and Great Horned Owl and Chuck-wills-widow were all going off for last call just before 6:30. That first roar and crescendo of birdsong about 6:30 to 6:50 is outstanding now. Saw one male Yellow Warbler at the birdbath briefly, 2 Nashville, and heard an Orchard Oriole.

Saw two FOS Dun Skipper (butterfly), another Monarch. The Red Satyr flew by again late in the day. Otherwise it was the same gang. Except at 7:45 p.m. I heard Kathy whispering 'look at the bath', whence I got to the window just in time to see a soaked Catbird fly away. Surely the same bird as yesterday evening. I watched the bath all day for it, checked it 25 times, every time I walked down the hall. It didn't come in until it knew I gave up. Dang thang, was out there all day hiding. About 10 p.m. heard my second Cuckoo of the spring, giving 'the rain song', coo calls. That's cuckoo coo calls.

Apr. 22 ~ Fog, mist, drizzle, about 68F for a low. About .1 of an inch of precip, makes .3 for the week. Couple Nashville and a Gnatcatcher were around briefly. Stuff is grounded until this moves out. Clay-colored, Lincoln's, and White-crowned Sparrow all still here, Chipping number only a dozen or less, Lark is the common one now. Heard the Great Crested Flycatcher over in the corral. Later afternoon got some sun finally. Two Nashville singing later. Almost 6 p.m. Kathy spotted a FOS Catbird at the bath! I got to the window with camera just in time to watch it fly away. A male Painted Bunting there got scared from it flushing and left too.

The rest was the regular yard gang but which is much improved over the winter avifauna. Painted and Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, Vermilion Flyc., Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-throated Warbler, Chat... all the migratory songbirds make it great, especially with everything singing off and on all day. Heaven. Or utopia. In butterflies there were 5 or 6 dozen Lyside Sulphur, they are on the move now. One Little Yellow, another Monarch, and best a FOS Red Satyr, which is rare here on valley floor. Then there was a great Firefly show at dusk.

Apr. 21 ~ Fog and mist in the morn, about 62F for a low. Not much for movement early, a Nashville or two was it. Did see male Indigo and Painted Bunting down on the millet. About noon had my FOS Great Crested Flycatcher, which is likely the corral breeder returning. Great to hear that again! First I just heard the rolling trill and thought that was a GC and not the Ash-throats that have been prospecting boxes here, so gave a few GC whistles, it took 3, and BAM!, it whistled back 5 times. Kathy heard the Roadrunner singing up the hill. A Hutton's Vireo sang for a bit.

A few Nashville Warbler went through, the White-crowned and one Lincoln's Sparrow are still around. Late saw two male Painted Bunting at once as well as my first green one of the spring. Which was an imm. male not a female, as often the case with the first green ones you see back. Later afternoon heard an ad. male singing from the big Pecan, first song from them of the spring, was quiet and hesitant, but was PB song. One very worn pale Monarch was around yard in afternoon. Saw a Frog-fruit flower open.

Apr. 20 ~ A cool 50F for a low, and sunny is nice. Early there was singing Bullock's Oriole and Nashville Warbler, plus a calling Orchard Oriole. Bullock's always beats Baltimore back, usually a week or so difference. I get the sense that the Bullock's are likely mostly birds nearly at their breeding grounds, whereas I suspect the Baltimores are mostly birds on their way much further north. Kathy pointed out the fluttering of the baby phoebes in the nest over the bathroom window. They are very near fledging. I grabbed a pic just in case they make the jump.

A male Painted Bunting was on the seed out back. Better for scarcity here but not color, was a FOS singing House Wren in the tangle I am growing by the front porch. Mostly it is a patch of butterfly flowers, which currently is just enough low green leafy to pull an requisite undergrowth indicator species down out of the trees. It is working as planned. It is where that male Mourning Warbler photo was taken last fall. Ovenbird is my target species. Build the habitat and they will come. I would have had a great pic of the wren if not for auto-focus.

A couple Nashville Warbler were around in the afternoon. Later when watering an hour before dark I saw at least a couple just-fledged Phoebes in the Pecan nearest the nest. Another seemed to go whilst I was 20' away, so I backed away. I saw in my pix of the nest this morn there were four young in the nest. At dark I checked it and they were all gone. I could hear them over in the draw. So they got them out and away today. Almost 5 p.m. I had a FOS male Yellow Warbler in the big Pecan, though surely heard one yesterday. Heard a Bullock's Oriole right at last sun, likely a different one from first thing this morning. The Chuck-wills-widow goes off close by right at dusk. Were at least 30 Firefly in front yard, they are popping now, the yard is all sparkly and awesome, most excellent.

Around 9:25 I was outside when a Barn Owl called from way high up, a migrant heading north. A BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER called almost immediately after the Barn Owl called. It was much lower altitude than the owl and slightly south of it, closer to me. In a few moments the owl called again, clearly bearing due north, and the plover called back again, also bearing due north. I could not believe what I was hearing. The owl called a third time, now north of the house, and the plover called back again! I thought I was gonna die. I heard the plover one more time and that was it. It is my first in Uvalde County. They are rare but regular at Mitchell Lake in SAT, but that is the nearest spot for them. The 2000 Blankenship UvCo list showed a few records for spring and fall, presumably at the fish hatchery. Currently in ebird where 345 species listed for UvCo, there are NO records. Which means no one has seen one in recent modern times in the county. It is a mega-rary here now, of course new for my Sabinal River Valley list, and yard list. Whaddabird! Then about 10:45 p.m. my FOS Yellow-billed Cuckoo called. I often get my FOS cuckoo as a calling bird at night. Whadda four-twenty!

Apr. 19 ~ Drizzle and mist in the a.m., were some light showers overnight. We got about .2 of an inch of precip. By noon was clear and the post-frontal blow was getting started. Nice and calm for a few hours though. After 1 p.m. winds were NW at 15-20, gusting 25+ mph, blown out. Warmed into upper-80's F with very low humidity.

During second cup of coffee before 8 a.m. whilst on the living room sofa I heard my FOS Red-eyed Vireo singing in the yard. A bit later went out and saw two Orchard Oriole, also FOS. That male is gorgeous. A bit later there was a Nashville Warbler, a female Orchard, an imm. male Bullock's Oriole, and a male Painted Bunting in a pecan out front. First male Painted Bunny since the 15th when the first two were here, and this one was not either of them. There was migrant movement. After breakfast we went out and checked a couple spots along the river for a couple hours and near a couple miles of motion lotion. Just to get out and move around is a treat. Was not jumping with migrants though.

At the 354 pecan patch there was a second Red-eyed Vireo singing, heard 3-4 each Chat and Bell's Vireo singing, one Indigo Bunting, all of which are likely territorially singing. Probably heard a Yellow Warbler. Then along .75 of a mile of river saw one Green Kingfisher and one Common Yellowthroat. There is a Red-tailed Hawk nest on private property (not visible from road) south of town a half-mile or so, looks like maybe 3 fairly well grown young in it. Lots of singing Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo and Yellow-throated Warbler everywhere. Saw a fair bit of Engelmann's Daisy in bloom, a big yellow Primrose that might be Fluttermill or Missouri, maybe Square-bud, some Mulberry trees have red berries now. Saw 50 or so Waxwing. Of course saw the usual coots like Mockers, Cards, TVs and BVs, White-wings, Barn Swallows, and such.

Apr. 18 ~ Ran about 51-65F for a temp spread, cloudy, some mist in the morning. Light northerly flow overnight so likely not much migrant motion. Saw a couple Nashville in yard and that was it for passage birds. Still the White-crowned (ad.), Lincoln's, and Clay-colored Sparrow in yard, the latter singing. Late afternoon we went to the 1445 knoll a mile south for a mile walk. We roll over and do the walk there. No Golden-cheeked Warbler or Black-capped Vireo, at 5 p.m. anyway. Did have singing Black-and-white Warbler and Olive Sparrow. Black-crested Titmouse, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Bewick's Wren, White-eyed Vireo, probably a Long-billed Thrasher singing in distance, Ash-throated Flycatcher and Summer Tanager. Mostly too cool for butterflies. A few ladies, mosty American, one worn Painted, a Red Admiral, a Monarch, a Sleepy Orange, couple Reakirt's Blue, a Variegated Fritillary, and a Comm. Checkered-Skipper. Couple Yellow-throated Vireo singing on the old riverbend ridge where they nest. One good patch of Antelope Horn blooming I want to check when warm out, that stuff is Hairstreak honey. Saw my first open Green (Pearl) Milkweed Vine flowers.

easternphoebe
These are a couple of the Eastern Phoebe fledglings just
before they left the nest later this same day, April 20.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Apr. 17 ~ Drizzle mist at 62F for a low. Got up to about 72F Breezy north winds from a cold front hit in the afternoon. As of dark we saw no precip, but maybe overnight or tomorrow. The Yellow-throated Warbler pair are not in the big Pecan at daybreak, so maybe they are picking somewhere else, likely as usual over in the Cypresses nearer river. Was nice dreamin' for four days they were there at dawn. They were back in it at 7:30 p.m. though, whence it gets last sun in yard being the tallest tree.

Over day a couple Nashville Warbler went through. Heard a Gnatcatcher. One Clay-colored and one Lincoln's Sparrow still, and late in day one nice ad. White-crowned Sparrow. Town run fer stuff. Nice to see Chimney Swift and Cave Swallow since I don't see them around the house. Lots of Barn and a couple N. Rough-winged Swallow. Weird not seeing any Zone-tailed Hawk over town yet though, usually before late March they are around. Maybe just bad timing and am missing them, has been drizzly lots of the days I have been here. Saw lots of masks, very few tourists, at least Rosie is still making great chicken fajita tacos. At the 360 x-ing saw the first Blue Curl flower starting to uncurl.

Sure would love to see Lost Maples without the hominid crowds in spring, not to mention Garner. I can't imagine what that would be like, except the 80's all over again. Bet the birds don't mind the peace and quiet. Of course there is pressure to get the parks back open, watch the TPWD web page, or specifically the pages for those parks to see when stuff opens back up. Though not sure if I would race there when it happens. Late in afternoon I saw my first female Blue Grosbeak back, on the patio. Shortly afterwards the male was singing happily. At last call on the seed out back the male Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting were a foot apart for a couple minutes. Heard Turkey gobbling at dusk. Saw at least 5 Firefly as it got dark.

Add-on: I forgot to mention that Marsha Jo at the park said there was a small group of baby ducks there a few days. Of course there would not be such a thing now. But, Little Creek Larry and I have both had small groups of Bufflehead there in March and April prior springs. I have little doubt that is what she saw. They would be described as baby ducks.

Apr. 16 ~ About 51F for a low, slight southerly breeze, flow has turned around, and some sun. Did get up to 70 or so. Was too busy to look much. Had to trim a Hackberry that was screeching on the roof. Every year I cut it back, and every year I have to go back up on the roof and wrestle with it more to have peace. Since trying to keep as much as we can for the shade. The birds looked the same things from the little lookin' I did. But did not see the Painted Buntings. Kathy saw the female Summer Tanager at the bath. The male was there too of course. More pix of course, because dozens aren't enough of that. You always think you are still going to get that one magic perfect pose, if you just keep shooting. It is like searching for the lost chord. It's the journey friends. Barn Owl called going north about 10 p.m. The butterfly of the day was my FOS summer form Questionmark. Pretty snazzy when fresh. At the porch light after dark a couple Antlion were my first this year. Even better was my FOS Firefly over the yard! Hope we get a good light show from them this year.

Apr. 15 ~ A chilly 39F for a low is about 5dF above the record for the date. Kerrville had a 38. Nice to see the sun. There was a FOS Bronzed Cowbird on the patio in the morning. Heard the Indigo Bunting singing. At least three Nashville Warbler went through yard mid-morn. One or two sang in the afternoon. One each White-crowned (adult), Clay-colored and Lincoln's Sparrow, maybe 20 Chipping left in that flock, and a couple dozen Lark here now. Most of the Field Sparrow seem to have moved away lately, not hearing them sing. The pair of Gnatcats were still through the yard over the day. Saw my FOS Four-lined Skink, looked a pregnant female. In butterflies saw Reakirt's Blue and Comm. Checkered-Skipper.

Shortly before 8 p.m. Kathy spotted the FOS Painted Bunting at the birdbath! She said it flew over house so I watched over by patio where they feed alot and in a few minutes BAM! there it was. Then the male Indigo popped out of the ground cover right next to it. Then a SECOND male Painted Bunting dropped in right behind them! After the long brown winter, I thought I was gonna have a color overdose. Oh my! My early Painted Bunny arrival dates are once on the 12th, once on the 13th, then this is the 4th time on the 15th. The ten other years are later than the 16th.

Apr. 14 ~ Another 41F low, mostly cloudy all morning. Some sun in afternoon whence warmed to about 64F or so. Fourth day, the Yellow-throated Warblers are at the top of the big Pecan at first light again. Singing, chipping, the pair together. Looks like they might have picked our tree this year. The male loves the birdbath. Later I heard a warbler flight note that sounded a Yellow due to some zzzz quality to it. Otherwise I saw no movement through yard. Still light northerlies so migrant progress likely shut down for the most part. Male Summer Tanager hit the bird bath again as yesterday.

Apr. 13 ~ Northerlies continued lightly all night, was 41F for a low with 10+mph winds on it, KRVL was showing a 34F chill factor. A bit chilly for the date, the local record is 33F. Good thing I bundled the 'maters' up that are outside. Warmed to about 65F or so. A Chuck-wills-widow was calling over by the north fence about 6:40 a.m., almost sounded like he was on an unused birdbox. Have seen them use that as a platform before. Late morn my FOS Indigo Bunting was on the patio eating millet! Finally get to see that blue again! Wonder if it is the one that nested in the draw and fed here daily last year?

The other new arrival of the day was in the afternoon, I heard the male Summer Tanager making a call it has not made since returning. Looked to see whaddup and the FOS female was on a branch near it. Probably its mate from last year here. A Monarch or two went through northeast bound, seemingly looking for milkweeds. Another Shining Flea-beetle, and I see the Am. Germander is already getting chewed up. Lots of Black-chinned Hummers, over a hundred. Probably over a dozen Ruby-throated. Yellow-throated Vireo and Blue Grosbeak singing is great to hear.

April 12 ~ It was about 72F before the first crack of light, and foggy. Shortly after sunup the first northerlies arrived clearing it out, and dropped it to about 66F. Then it blew like heck all day, often from the west, 20-30 mph. Nice dry air. Warmed to the low 80'sF! I saw Hondo had winds at 32 gusting to 47mph! You know how I hate land birding in the wind. Can't even take a picture of a flower in it. It blew until the last hour of light. And lightly overnight. About noonish after spraying some water around I saw a Roseate Skimmer dragonfly, my first of the year.

As yesterday morning, at first light the male Yellow-throated Warbler is singing from the very top of the big pecan right off the front porch, with the female chipping around it. Almost looks like they might be picking that tree. They are IN it at first crack of light. It certainly has enough ball moss for them. I would be thrilled needless to say. Just before 4 p.m. I had a FOS Western Kingbird fly over the yard, going north up the river habitat corridor. A bit later there was an adult White-crowned Sparrow in a stick pile, another passage bird. One Lincoln's and 2 Clay-colored Sparrow continue. Two Monarchs went through yard in afternoon, a third roosted. Three B-b Whistling-Duck flew over at last light.

April 11 ~ A drizzly day running from about 62 to 68F. Too wet to be out, but not much precip yet. Maybe overnight it will hit. The system has all the bird movement on hold, though should be good when it breaks. Sunday is the frontal passage with strong northerlies, so it won't be until after that, Monday or Tuesday. Saw the male Blue Grosbeak just off the patio. Also saw the pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers working around the yard still together. I would love if they would take up territory here.

Great was about 2:45 p.m. when I was outside and the White-winged Doves flushed from the top of the big pecan. I looked up to see a Peregrine Falcon shoot, and I mean shoot like a bullet, right over the house 50' up, and right on the doves rears. I could not see if it got one or not. Don't get many from the yard and most are high-up migrants passing over. This one actually made a play for birds IN the yard!

After dark a big thunderstorm cell ran from Del Rio to just south of Utopia, and then lighter to Tarpley. It dumped 5" a few miles either side of the Frio Bat cave by Concan! Here a couple miles south of town we only got a little over a quarter inch, a few miles further south they got an inch in a narrow strip. You could watch the bats emerge on the radar, then an hour later they all raced back into the cave, then after it passed they re-emerged again about 11 p.m. or so.

~ ~ here is an xl pic break, with a few poor pics ~ ~

These are bad pix of a very neat bird... Chimney Swift. They are very fast so very hard to shoot with the POS I use. They eat bugs, like swallows and Martins, and so are your friend. There is a Chimney Swift society (.org) with a webpage and directions how to build a tower they will use. Too many sealed chimneys nowadays.

chimneyswift
This one was calling as it went over a chimney, head is
lifted up in an odd position, wings bowed down. Why it
slowed enough for me to catch it.


chimneyswift
What I like about this pic of the speed demon with the 14" wingspan is that it is the same exact pose you see a several pound albatross with a 7' wingspan in, out at sea. Standing on a wingtip, cutting the wind effortlessly, with incredible speed. That long thin wing works well.


chimneyswift
This one is going away. Note that knife-shaped wing with fairly straight
trailing edge. The tail is often held closed into a point like this.
Learn the shapes of birds.


chimneyswift
See ya!

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

April 10 ~ A low of 62F was nice, overcast but no precip. No migrants through yard first few hours of light, as expected with the northerly flow from the frontal passage. The male Blue Grosbeak was singing at dawn, been back two days, singing his third. Hummers are thick, seems at least a half-dozen male Ruby-throated, maybe a dozen. Some females. A hundred Black-chinned, at least. Two Clay-colored Sparrow still, but only one Lincoln's left.

One interesting transient though, a lone Scrub-Jay. It was at least a hundred yards upriver of the draw to our north at first. A couple minutes later after some patented calls it was across the road, then another minute of scrub-jay talk and it was in the Mesquites in the corral right over the fence. They seem out of place in a Mesquite. I have not had one from the yard since last fall. They are thinly but widely distributed in the hills where there is a terrestrial gradient, whilst very scarce on the flat valley floor. As is the case for a number of species here, such as Poor-will, Scott's Oriole, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, and our beloved Golden-cheeked Warbler.

Town run fer stuff. As I got to 187 I saw a small Stick Insect on my arm, so stopped to put in a bush. It was green and banded dark and light. Finally seeing some masks being worn around town. Gas is $1.89 for the cheap grade, we should be packed with tourists this weekend of course and are not. Which has its upsides. Weird not doing my Friday park check and walk. I don't have the hour plus it takes to walk all the way in. I will be sneaking in there as peak passage hits. Being good friends with the resident manager, having a silver tongue, and being friends with the JP, might keep me from being arrested. They all know I am incorrigible. Worst case scenario I will get community service, at the park. LOL. Waiting for those days with major motion moving up the river habitat corridor.

Saw lots of the Spiderwort (Western?) in bloom around town, nice purples and a few of the magenta ones. Western Horse Nettle (the nightshade) is also going now. Several Bell's Vireo singing, esp.at NW corner of town. At least Rosie is still turning out the world class tacos. The store is low on some items, rationing others, out of some things. The sandwich shop in the north half of building is pickup and delivery only now. It is a brave new world out there. Play it safe! Did a bunch of yard and garden work late in day.

April 9 ~ Low was 65F, what a difference a few dF makes. A little activity at the bath about 10 a.m. was two Orange-crowned Warbler, at least one male Nashville, and a first spring White-crowned Sparrow. All transients so neat. The first Orange-crowned when I first saw it in binocs had so much orange showing I couldn't believe it. Probably an adult male. Ran for camera and the magic screen, whence only the dull one came in that showed no crown color.

The White-crowned Sparrow was tweener of crown stripes so a pretty neat first spring plumage. The eyeline stripe had molted from first winter plumage and was black, and the pale line above it was white. So on the side of the face, the stripes were adult type black and white. But the crown stripes were still immature type, dark brown with a buffy central crown stripe. Pretty neat to see a tweener plumage here.

Saw the male Blue Grosbeak sneaking into seed out back after only hearing it yesterday. They are shy at best, but more so when they first return. Heard a Bell's Vireo singing upslope behind us in the live-oaks. Was 85F in the shade on the front porch in the afternoon, saw local station reports at 88 and 90F! The wind turned northerly about 1:30 but it still warmed until late afternoon. There were some thunderstorms around lots of central Texas today as the front passed but they all missed us. We got zip. Saw my FOS Shining Flea-beetle.

April 8 ~ The low was about 72F, and in the warm muggy afternoon it got into the upper 80's! It is the warm day before the front hits tomorrow. But which will be in afternoon, so we will see the 80's tomorrow again before temps drop. Friday is said to be about 72 or so for a high! A second front is scheduled for Monday whence we are to see lows near 40F! Saw some Bluehearts open.

Saw at least a dozen Lyside Sulphur (butterfly) go by over the day. Saw one Myrtle Warbler go through the yard about mid-day, heard a Nashville or two early. The FOS of the day was a heard only Blue Grosbeak. A couple Ash-throated Flycatcher were prospecting nest sites as were the pair of Vermilion Flycatcher. Male Scissor-tail was in the top of the big pecan to catch last sun, then heads over to the taller Cypresses along river to catch it again. After dark heard a couple Chuck-wills-widow, Great Horned and Barred Owl. Several Barking Frog, lots of Blanchard's Cricket-frog, and the Rio Grande Leopard Frog are roaring.

April 7 ~ One of those weird overnights whence it was about 61F at midnight, and 67F at dawn. And foggy. Some sun by noon and warmed up to about 83F!. Saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk work north up the river habitat corridor, a migrant. Two Yellow-throated Warbler together seemed like the female has arrived. Male bathed again in the later afternoon. The Purple Martins sound excited about being able to get out and fly around after a few days of mostly not. After 11 p.m. I heard my first Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks flying upriver this spring.

April 6 ~ Ran about 59-69F for a temp spread in overcast with occasional mist. So its work inside. The one migrant warbler in the yard briefly was an Audubon's. Heard the Chat again, 3rd day but it still hasn't showed itself yet. It was in the Mulberry so I know it could see me. Yeah, the old man is still here... and so is the birdbath. I love hearing the Clay-colored Sparrows singing in the yard. It is a top-tier candidate for the least songy song. A mechanical unmusical rattle-trill, flatlined at one pitch. I can't believe they turned down my proposal to rename it Songless Sparrow. jk   ;)

April 5 ~ A little bit of drizzle overnight, a couple hundredths. Ran about 54-64F for a temp spread under overcast skies. Misty in the a.m. but lifted a bit in the afternoon. We went over to the 1445 knoll less than a mile away. Did not hear a Black-capped Vireo this week but was late in day so not prime-time. There were a couple each singing Gnatcatcher, White-eyed, and Hutton's Vireo. A couple Orange-crowned Warbler are migrants. Great was at least 4 FOS Swainson's Hawk thermaling over the knoll. One other hawk was in with them was a FOS Broad-winged Hawk! Also a Red-tail was there, and Ladder-backed Woodpecker, some Bewick's and Carolina Wren, Black-crested Titmouse. Heard a few Barking Frog.

In flowers a couple Blue Gilia were open, the first White Rock-lettuce, and the patch of Diamentia was roaring. Saw one Mountain Laurel flower. The Slender-stem Bitterweed is impressive in a few spots. Lots of Paralena and Blackfoot Daisy, a couple Pincushion Daisy. A couple Mejorana flowers were open (Shrubby Blue Sage). Then we checked one other high spot with some trees and BAM! Singing male Golden-cheeked Warbler. We got a brief view of it, and a couple more bad pix distant against the bright gray sky. Even a quick look and a listen is enough to make yer day though. It was about two-thirds of a mile from the hovelita. A roadside puddle had several Clay-colored and Lark Sparrow, one Lincoln's. Some of the other locals heard or seen were Vermilion, Ash-throated, and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo and Warbler, and Summer Tanager. Nice patches of Cedar, and Mealy, Sage are blooming at the 360 crossing.

Late afternoon out back a Cooper's Hawk took a Mourning Dove out of the air as it rocketed in a failed escape attempt. After 11 p.m. on my last check outside there was a FOS calling Chuck-wills-widow! Along with the Barred Owl over at the river. I am certain I also heard an Upland Sandpiper. Whip-ip-ip. They are very rare here in spring.

April 4 ~ Low was about 46F! More rain pre-dawn and over the morning into early afternoon. It was another 1.1 or so, then 1.85" with yesterday's total, as of 6 p.m. We needed it badly, the aquifer is still wayyyy down. Hummers are swarmed on the feeders. Insectivores no doubt hunkered down in the cold and wet, like us omnivores. Had a couple Nashville and 1 Audubon's Warbler go through yard as it was breaking up a bit briefly in mid-afternoon. Might have hit about 54F for a short while. It was very near (if not) record low maximums for the date in much of central Texas. I heard a FOS Yellow-breasted Chat in the afternoon over across the road where one holds territory. Saw one female Ruby-throated Hummingbird, my FOS for sure ID of the year for a female, though thought I had one a few days ago.

hermitthrush
Hermit Thrush at the bath. Note rusty tail.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

April 3 ~ Low was about 65F or so, still misty, waiting for rain and a front this afternoon. Got up to about 75 after noon before the cooler air dialed it back. Saw a couple Nashville Warbler in the yard early. Town run, and no park check as it is closed and I didn't have time for a long walk. Little Creek Larry said he had an Osprey yesterday at his place. He has had a male Hooded Oriole at his feeders for almost a week. We still have the female at ours but only 3rd day. He also said he had a Spotted Sandpiper, I think over at Little Creek. Slow driving around town I heard FIVE Bell's Vireo, my FOS. Mostly at north end and northwest corner of town, but the one at the P.O. is back too. Saw one Savannah Sparrow. Some Bladderpod sps. was in bloom, a few Bluebonnets too. Got about .75 of an inch of precip about 2-7 p.m., and the temps dropped into upper 50's F. It is supposed to stay in the 50's tomorrow!

April 2 ~ Maybe 62F for a low, cloudy, occasional mist off and on all day. Didn't see anything new or different. Great was the Gnatcatcher that has been hanging around singing now has a second bird with it, moving around together, as in a pair. I would love if they picked a territory that includes the yard. Lark, Clay-colored, and Lincoln's Sparrows on the seed. Saw another Nashville shoot off. Later afternoon in some mist a dozen Barn Swallow and a half-dozen Chimney Swift were feeding low out front.

April 1 ~ A low of about 51F felt great, and mostly sunny is nice too. Third morning in a row I had a bare-eyed look and listen to what seemed a Nashville working through the trees. A FOS Hooded Oriole showed up on the office feeder, oddly a female (first time for a female first here), which drank for minutes, and came back shortly for another couple minutes. She was thirsty and needing some instant energy to burn. She kept coming back every half hour or so and tanking up for what seemed an inordinate amount of time, each time. Must have just got here, and burned most of what she had to do that.

Exciting was when I was taking some pix at a bird bath frenzy out the magic screen when I caught motion right below me up against the house. There in the ruderal mess below not 5' below me was a FOS Grasshopper Sparrow! I could only get a docushot through the screen it was so close. I couldn't angle the lens out the just barely big enough hole and shoot straight down. Called Kathy in so she got to see it. It is the first one IN the yard (had it just down the road before)! Number 226 NIB. No introduced birds. 230 WIB. In or from two acres, in seven years (and a week) here at this camp.

The Grasshopper was overdue really, I had wondered why we hadn't snagged one yet. For big picture sparrows as a group (including Lark Bunting, Junco, Spotted and Canyon Towhee) the Grasshopper is sparrow sps. #20 in the yard. And was the most overdue one. Cassin's, Brewer's, and barely Swamp are the only three I really can hope for now. LeConte's is but a wild crazy fantasy, unless I do that sedge pond I always wanted.

Clay-colored Sparrow still on patio, counted 4 at once at last sun seed-eating frenzy out back. There were 20 Lark Sparrow though! They have really filled in the last week. Still a few Lincoln's Sparrow in the stick piles, and hitting the bath. Yellow-throated Vireo and Warbler both singing through yard. Love that Vermilion display overhead too. There is a second male trying to horn in so lots of amazing flying skills being shown as one tries to keep the other away from the totally nonplussed female. Summer Tanager is singing a little.

~ ~ ~ March summary ~ ~ ~

We lucked out with some rain in March, 4-6 inches in most areas locally, of very badly needed precip. Saved the spring bloom. Too late for a few of the earliest bloomers, but in time for most. We did not freeze in March, though two of the coldest mornings of winter (15F and 20F) were the last few days of February.

Butterflies were fairly normal, the 30 sps.over the month is normalish. Spring is not the time for rare things, we are just thrilled to see a new season flying again. Awesome to see Elfins and Orangetips. One big satiny white thing got away. The best butterfly was a moth. The Cercropia I found at the gas station will be a highlight of the year.

Dragonflies are just barely getting going. I saw a couple damselflies fly off without an ID over the month. One was a Forktail (Ischnura sps.) and a couple were Dancers (Argia sps.). Finally on the 31st I got my first damselfly ID of the year, a Violet Dancer in the yard. For dragons, the only type seen in multiples was Dot-winged Baskettail, as often the case in March. Two Pale-faced Clubskimmer and one Common Whitetail were the only other two species seen. Just a few of the earliest emergers are expected in March. April is when they get actually get started, and it does not really pick up steam until May.

March birds are great for all the returning migrants and breeders. The month starts out like winter and ends in full-blown spring. There is a constant wave of arrivals of species that haven't been around, often for 6 months or more. As in all of our summering insect eaters. First-sighting-of-the-year species show up nearly daily all month, so March is guaranteed to be fun and exciting. It was 90 species I saw locally over the month, very locally. Mostly around the yard, a few at the park in town, or between here and there. We didn't go anywhere. The weekend we planned to go to Lost Maples was the first one it was closed.

The only rare bird was a Common Pauraque at our place Mar. 1-10. My first record for winter or early spring, all my priors were late summer. The flip side of all the arrivals is that by the end of the month lots of winterers are gone or departing. The excitement of old friends arriving makes it hard to pay proper attention to departure (last) dates of winterers. Arrival dates are easy by comparison. Wintering Sharp-shinned Hawk and Brewer's Blackbird for example largely depart by the end of March, as do most of the wintering Chipping Sparrow, Myrtle Warbler, and many others. So March is when winterers are bugging out whilst breeders are showing up, to eat the bugs that will soon be out.

~ ~ end of March summary ~ ~

~ ~ ~ another archive version of March, but with
more FOS date details, the March update header ~ ~ ~

March started off with a bang on the 1st with a COM. PAURAQUE calling at dusk at our place! It was still giving great vocals on the 9th. Judy Schaeffer reported the first Black-chinned Hummingbirds at her feeders Mar. 2. A Catbird was reported at Lost Maples Feb. 27 in ebird. I bet the first early few Golden-cheeked Warbler are back now (on 6th) or this weekend. Here are some of my March FOS dates. White-eyed Vireo the 10th, Yellow-throated Warbler the 11th, Yellow-throated Vireo, Black-and-white Warbler, and female Black-chinned Hummingbird on the 13th. On the 14th was the FOS Monarch, FIVE of them. The 15th saw my FOS Ash-throated Flycatcher (2). My FOS Barn Swallow and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher were on March 17, as well as a spectacular Cecropia moth. Late evening the 17th we had 2.5-4" of rain locally depending how lucky you were! Heard a FOS Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on the 18th. Another inch or so of rain fell pre-dawn the 20th! Birds and plants are popping daily now, the spring show has begun. My FOS Golden-cheeked Warbler was a male singing in the yard on the 23rd. Male Rufous Hummingbird in the yard the 24th. The 25th saw my FOS Common Yellowthroat and Great-tailed Grackle. The 26th I saw FOS Clay-colored Sparrow (3), and a (male) Ruby-throated Hummingbird. The 27th my FOS Summer Tanager was in the yard. On the 29th was my FOS Black-capped Vireo near our place. The 31st saw my FOS Chimney Swift and Cave Swallow in town.

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

Mar. 31 ~ A 52F or so low felt great, and some sun is nice to see. Light northerly flow. Got up to about 75F. Saw another of what was surely a Nashville Warbler, heard flight notes too. Vermilion and briefly a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher were in yard. Summer Tanager and White-eyed Vireo singing. Did a quick town run to the P.O. in the later afternoon, still no bread at the store. There were finally some Cave Swallows back at the bank, my FOS, and over the (closed) park entrance a couple FOS Chimney Swift were high up along with some Barn Swallow. Nice to see a couple more aerial insectivores have returned. Saw FOY Rose-bellied Lizard in a pile of big tree flood debris at the park. In the yard saw a Pale-faced Clubskimmer (ode) patrolling where water was sprayed.

Mar. 30 ~ Ran about 62-72F for a temp spread, overcast, some mist and drizzle occasionally. There is a Gnatcatcher circling the yard singing like it wants to set up territory here. That would be awesome. A, or the, male Summer Tanager sang for a bit in the yard pecans. All but the big native one are still just sticks, the grafts leaf out later than the natives. The native one is just starting to leaf out but well underway. There were 50 plus Cedar Waxwing around for much of the day. A couple each male Ruby-throated Hummer and Clay-colored Sparrow. Got some Poverty (Roosevelt) Weed (Baccharis neglecta) sprigs in the ground, in hopes of some shrubbery. Nice to have Lark Sparrows back singing in the yard. Outstanding was just after 11 p.m. I was outside and a Long-billed Curlew called as it flew over northbound. Around half of my local records are calling nocturnal migrants, mostly northbound in March.

Mar. 29 ~ A low at about 42F felt wonderful. We will miss this soon. A few things got away early when I was outside without bins. A sparrow looked like a Cassin's, a seet flight note looked like a Nashville Warbler when it zoomed away, and a couple slim medium birds with long tails looked like Hooded Oriole. But they all got away. Each would have been a FOS. Still Clay-colored Sparrow on patio and in with Chippy flock. One Horace's or Juvenals Duskywing flew by. Also saw a, or the, Disparate Forester moth again, briefly at some open Texas Persimmon flowers. There must be 600 or more open Crow-Poison in the yard now.

Noonish we walked over to the draw and up it a bit for some Poverty Weed cuttings. Right when we got out of the gate I heard Scissor-tails and there were 3 males and a female in the top of the big Pecan! In the draw heard Hutton's Vireo, Bewick's Wren, and Black-crested Titmouse. The afternoon was cloudy. Later about 5p.m. I went over to the 1445 knoll for a quick look. Kathy was busy with other things.

Saw a Roadrunner and a Great Horned Owl. Probably a half-mile from where I parked I found a mini-flocklet. It had my FOS (occasionally singing) Black-capped Vireo in it, so my day was made. Two Olive Sparrow, one Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, two Orange-crowned Warbler and a Hutton's Vireo, were the rest of the flocklet, all of which moved together, including the Black-cap. It likely just arrived, none were there last Monday. Was too cool and cloudy for butterflies though. Did see a FOS Common Whitetail dragonfly, and a couple Dot-winged Baskettail. Also a couple blooming Pink Mimosa (Mimosa borealis). An open area with a thousand blooming Slender-stem Bitterweed looked great. Saw one Pincushion Daisy flower open.

Mar. 28 ~ Low was about 70dF (!) from warm moist air from the south being sucked up in front of the inbound front. Just after 8:30a.m. the front got here and it dropped to 64 or so. We missed the rain part. Dry air and northerlies behind it 15 mph gusting to 25 by mid-morning, and blew most of the day. Breezy land-birding blows. Was supposed to be at Lost Maples today, durnit. Worked on more garden and yard stuff. A few Monarch went through, at least two male Ruby-throated Hummingbird here now, a few Clay-colored Sparrow and maybe 4 Lincoln's Sparrow continue around yard. Heard the first extended singing of Lark Sparrow for the year, man they can really go, what a great singer. Saw some Texas Onion Flowers. Have not seen the Sharp-shinned Hawks, probably in a week. The wintering daily yard few have departed.

grasshoppersparrow
Sorry about the gray clouding from the window screen.
This is looking down on the crown of a Grasshopper Sparrow.
Nice median crown stripe. The eye position is interesting
to me, allowing it to see above and behind it to a degree.
I'd have seen twice as many birds with eyes like that.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Mar. 27 ~ Low was barely that at 66dF or so. Cloudy and springy. The Ruby-throated Hummer is guarding the front porch feeder. Nothing like showing up and taking over. The Brewer's Blackbirds are really thinning out, so departing now. There were 41 Waxwings in the big pecan early. The Yellow-throated Warbler bathed again this morning. When I got back from town that first spring male Turkey was in the yard.

In some flower news, Kathy spotted the FOY Rain Lily. I saw a few Bluebonnet open on 360 near 187. Along the back fence there is a bunch of Prairie Fleabane open now, some Blackfoot Daisy, some Blue Gilia (FOY), and out of nowhere in the yard a single stalk of Puccoon sprung up and is blooming, which is new for the yard list.

Town run to top up supplies, I think we have a nearly a months worth of most stuff now save a few perishable items. Just in case. As of yesterday Utopia Park is CLOSED until further notice. So I can't tell you what was there. It and Lost Maples are both off the options list right now. Was looking forward to a date at Lost Maples tomorrow, but which now is out. At least there is habitat from the front door here for us to access so we can still bumble about the great outdoors a bit. Guess I will be birding the knolls and river habitat corridor.

Mar. 26 ~ Low of about 65dF, almost foggy, cloudy until early afternoon whence some sun and warmed to about 84. In the morn I had 3 FOS Clay-colored Sparrow with the Chippy flock in the blooming (male) Mulberry. Always nice to see them. A couple or few Blue-gray Gnatcats around yard. Thought I saw a Ruby-throated Hummingbird early, no light or color, but it had a big long tail projecting way past wingtips which fell near base of tail and a short straight bill. No way was it a Black-chinned. Well whaddya know, the last hour of sun the front porch feeder was being guarded by an adult male Ruby-throat! A young Turkey was around a bit.

Saw another Disparate Forester moth, and a FOY Texan Crescent butterfly. A few Monarch went through. Late afternoon Kathy spotted the Yellow-throated Warbler at the bath, great to see that again, surely this is the nearby breeder that uses yard daily. He has been singing from the area for a week, but we had not seen him back at the bath yet.

Mar. 25 ~ About 52F for a low felt fantastic. Sunny is nice too, and the birds are singing, it is wonderful out. I ran to town early quickly, and saw my FOS Great-tailed Grackle (2 males) at the gas station, their primary natural habitat of choice here. At UP there was a FOS Common Yellowthroat. Since they do not winter here we know it is a passage bird on the move, very cool, and a good early date. Not to mention, a migrant warbler! Nice to see some Barn Swallows flying around town. Cypresses are now putting out their first green leaflets, the biggest oldest ones first.

It got up to about 87F or so in the afternoon! I saw 90's reported along the Rio Grande! The standard daily lately few Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went through the yard over the day, as well as a few Monarch. Thought I saw a Zone-tailed Hawk go by on one break outside. Some Turkey Vulture are dropping innermost primaries already. Mated local breeding residents, surely the males, as females have an egg to lay. Saw the first ones a week ago, now several are showing it. The Rufous Hummer must have tanked and split first thing as I did not see it all day, it was here at dark last night.

Mar. 24 ~ Ran about 64-84F today, and finally a mostly sunny day. More sun than we have seen in over a week, so a treat. Birds were mostly the same, love hearing Yellow-throated Vireo in the yard singing again. Vermilion Flycatcher displaying lots over the pecans. Couple Barn Swallow over the yard were nice, wish some would find the carport. In the afternoon, a FOS for me was a Rufous Hummingbird, an adult male with a little bit of green flecking in the back. Good bird to snag as a migrant here in spring. Barred Owl calling at river before dusk. Some butterflies were moving, but nothing different. Mostly Red Admiral and So. Dogface, but 3-4 Monarch went through over the day. Add-on: a FOY Pale-faced Clubskimmer dragonfly was out front before dusk.

Mar. 23 ~ Still gray and misty in the a.m., about 62dF. Outstanding was about 9 a.m. hearing singing and then seeing (in the dying Hackberry) my FOS Golden-cheeked Warbler. He gave a half-dozen measures and time for me to enjoy in the bins before flying north over the house. Whaddabird! Something about getting my FOS from the back porch is special too, especially since the last couple weeks have been too busy or wet to get out. I had been dyin' for one.

Late afternoon took an hour spin into the live-oaks behind us. Took advantage of the wet ground and dug up a couple of a blue flower for transplanting. There were butterflies on it: Monarch, Painted Lady, and 3 FOYs: Julia's and Fiery Skipper, and a Nysa Roadside-Skipper. In a mile we saw at least 4 Monarch. Checked the 1445 (south) knoll, heard a Hutton's Vireo and a Rufous-crowned Sparrow. On the knoll we saw a FOY Elada Checkerspot, one Henry's Elfin, one Black Swallowtail, and a Funereal Duskywing, among a few of the more common things. Heard a few Gnatcatcher as we drove around. Back at the hovelita at last sun kip notes attracted my attention to my FOY view of a male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, which flew over southward toward the grass airstrip. Might be the local breeder.

Mar. 22 ~ Still gray, mist and drizzle the only things on the menu. Stayed 50dF or so all morning, but slowly warmed in the afternoon into the 60's, so took the chill out of it. By the afternoon we had added another .25" of rain to the total, so 5.25" for us here since Monday the 16th. It was a wet week. Supposed to dry out and get to near 90 this week! That heat will make the green explode. Too wet and mucky out there so catching up on inside jobs, like bird notes. Saw my first Dakota Verbena flowers open today. There were 21 Cedar Waxwing around briefly. Great Horned Owls were calling after dark.

Mar. 21 ~ Another gray day with mist and drizzle, the occasional light shower, wet, muddy, and we flatlined at ca. 50dF all day. All told it was about three-eighths of an inch of precip over the day, so 1.25" from Friday and Saturday, and for us here 5" since Monday. Water is life. Great to see some growth on a couple of the cuttings of Texas Plum Jerry and Judy Schaeffer gave me. One is really booming already. Have to go collect a couple other species right now when doable, want some Poverty Weed for some shrubbery.

The hummingbirds were swarming due to the cold and wet, there are dozens here now, and lots of females too. Saw the imm. female Cooper's Hawk going after a male Brown-headed Cowbird, was rooting for the hawk. Ran to town to grab a couple more last stock items. They had been out and got a new shipment of frozen fish. I got the last loaf of bread of a few the sandwich shop gave the store for locals since they were out all week. Gadzooks! Big Ern must have cancelled the Bar-b-q due to rain. Park was too muddy to bird.

yellowthroatedwarbler
Yellow-throated Warbler, male, presumedly the local breeding
individual that uses the yard daily or so all spring to fall.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Mar. 20 ~ Happy Spring Equinox! A cold front got here overnight and wrung some rain out of the atmosphere. At KRVL it was 69F at 4 a.m., 59 at 4:30, and we were about 55 at dawn, where it stayed all day with northerlies on it. We got about seven-eighths of an inch of rain! Aquifer needs it badly. Town run fer errands, but park was too muddy to bird. Was a Green King below the spillway where a creek or stream. Town was about normal for a Friday, except the store is out of milk, bread, flour, and a few other things. Amazing.

The main thing, what really matters though, is Rosie's chicken fajita tacos. One is enough for all but the most eager eaters. In case I haven't mentioned it, with birder tourist season maybe coming soon... she opens early usually (by 7 I think) for breakfast tacos. I recommend the chorizo and egg, with cheese added. I put some of both the red and green salsa on it. One and you feel like you just ate somewhere in Mexico.

In town I heard some rain news for the week. Some lucky folks east and north of town had over 4" in the one big rain event the 17th. Many had an inch the day before that, and the inch many got last night, so some had around 6" of rain locally this week if you caught all of them right. Most got at least 4", which is outstanding, unbelievable, amazing, stop me any time. We are happy campers here now. The spring bloom will go off well.

Late evening when all the sparrows came down I got a good count of 125 plus Chipping Sparrow. Since the equinox worked them for a FOS Clay-colored to no avail, suprisingly. But there was an imm. White-crowned among them which is new here. There were a dozen Field, and a few Lincoln's, as well as a couple Lark. At one point I had those five species in a single binoc field of view.

Mar. 19 ~ Another 64dF low and still cloudy. Saw four Lark Sparrow at once, which was great, one was singing a little at dusk. Gnatcatcher and a couple Myrtle Warbler went through yard. Singing Yellow-throated Vireo and Warbler around the house are likely the local yard vicinity breeders. Saw the female Flacate Orangetip again today. Also a pale morph female Orange Sulphur. The first Blue-eyed Grass (the dwarf Iris) flower is open now on a clump we protectively guard and take care of. What a beautiful flower. Also saw my FOY Tube-tongue flower. Heard Barred Owl over at the river at dusk and after dark. A couple bats were flying around going in and out of the pecans, so I presume they were our Red Bats.

Mar. 18 ~ Soaked ground is great to see! Great timing for a good rain. Low was 64F or so, some mist but mostly just cloudy all day. Heard some single kip call notes from a FOS Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, but which I did not see. Ran to pickup a few things in town trying to fill in stock holes (like extra bird seed) here just in case. The park was too muddy to bird. Saw Little Creek Larry and showed him my Cecropia photos from yesterday. He said he had one at his porch last night but it was gone this morning. Yesterday must have been the day they popped locally.

Here at hovelita a Gnatcatcher went through, Ringed Kingfisher and Barred Owl calling over at the river. The imm. female Cooper's Hawk took an ad. male Cardinal in the afternoon. Great was after dark finally hearing frogs! After the big rain they came out. One Chorus (Strecker's) Frog, and a few Rio Grande Leopard Frog were going off. I was concerned at not hearing a Chorus Frog yet this year so that was nice. Only heard one though, so there was no actual chorus, which remains concerning.

Mar. 17 ~ Happy St. Patrick's Day! More clouds, mist and drizzle, about 65F for a low. That male Vermilion Flycatcher is sure a bright spot in the yard among all this gray. Mid-morn my FOS Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was in a Hackberry outside. After 1 p.m. a second one went through yard moving north. Heard Ash-throated Flycatcher and Yellow-throated Vireo.

A quick town run noonish for a few things. Finally the Barn Swallows are back on Main St., my FOS, at least a half-dozen. Nothing at Utopia Park. The beast of the week I almost stepped on at the gas station, my first ever local CECROPIA moth. These are one of the big fancy 5" silk-moths. I think it was cold, it couldn't get off the ground. I put it in the car after grabbing a couple docushots. By time I got over to the store it had warmed up and was flying around so I let it out. It was last seen gaining altitude at 40' over Main St.! Pic below.

A slow-moving thunderstorm cell found us in the evening. We had 2.5" in 45 minutes! It was 2.75 total with a second round that went by an hour after the big one. I could hear the river rushing from the front porch for the first time since last June or so.

Mar. 16 ~ About 2:30 a MCS moved over and dropped an inch of rain! When you are down a foot or two every inch matters, especially in sprouting season. Low was 62F, maybe got up to about 72. Best was my FOS Lark Sparrow finally! It is clear our breeding population departs for the winter. A few Myrtle Warbler moved through yard. At one point outside I swear I heard Northern Rough-winged Swallow but did not see it. Musta been going by behind the house. Heard a Ring King over at the river. I see a couple of those internal short branches of the big Pecan has leaf bud sprouts breaking stems. A couple Texas Persimmon have some new leaves coming out as well. A few Silver-puff flowers are up for a couple days now.

Mar. 15 ~ About 64dF for a low, another misty and drizzle morning. Was a peek of partial sun briefly early afternoon, but mostly low clouds, might have hit 74. There were two (FOS) Ash-throated Flycatcher out there early. Heard a Yellow-throated Vireo across the road, later in afternoon it was further up habitat corridor and another sang to the south, so two today. Yellow-throated Warbler singing from nearest Cypress hearable from porch might be our local nester back. Couple Myrtle Warbler went through. One ginchy ad. White-crowned Sparrow flushed too quickly to check, so probably a migrant. Probably three Lincoln's Sparrow in yard now. Saw another female Falcate Orangetip butterfly during the partial sun period. Got some more garden and yard work done.

Mar. 14 ~ Ran about 68-80dF for a temp spread, misted much of the morning, drippy. Saw 10 Am. Goldfinch coming in to the sunflowers. Kathy and I both thought we heard an Ash-throat up the hill behind us, but from inside, and not outside to verify it was not the White-eyed Vireo which does and has been giving a near-perfect Ash-throat ka-brrrrr. Might have had one but want something solid for a FOS date. In the later afternoon it lifted a bit so I took a quick spin over to the south (1455') knoll less than a mile from our place. One of those bumps, a pimple, on the flat valley floor. It was 4:45-5:45 so birds were pretty quiet, no Olive Sparrow, Black-cap Vireo, Golden-cheek, or Gnatcatcher there yet. Heard Roadrunner singing. A couple sparrows shot off low in thick stuff that were Olive or Rufous-crowned.

Great were flowers and butterflies. The Mountain Laurels there are going well, a couple spots smelled fantastic. I saw FOY flowers of Diamentia, Blackfoot Daisy, Slender-stem Bitterweed, lots of Paralena, two types of Acacia shrubs were blooming, and some beautiful bluish-white thing I have never seen (ph.). A couple Agarita were still going, but most is over. The live-oaks are very yellow and dropping leaves, the Buckley Oaks are blooming. A couple Dot-winged Baskettail dragonfly were flying but no Pronghorn Clubtail yet. A few Asilid (Robberfly) were out on the trail.

It was the first day this year with over 8-9 species of butterflies, which was great. New emergences. A bunch were FOY including at least FIVE (all worn migrants) Monarch around and on Laurel flowers. Some of the Laurel trees there are 16' tall. Other FOYs were Black and Giant Swallowtail, a worn Queen, a Northern Cloudywing, 2 Funereal Duskywing, a Reakirt's Blue and 2 Checkered White. Other species were Red Admiral, American Lady, Variegated Fritillary, Little Yellow, Dainty Sulphur, Sleepy Orange, Southern Dogface, Comm. Checkered-Skipper, Pipevine Swallowtail, and always a treat, 2 Henry's Elfin. Eighteen species in an hour means we are out of the winter butterfly desert. New stuff is flying! The Crimson Patch were not out yet though.

cecropia
This is a Cecropia, one of America's big fancy moths.
Wingspan is about 5" and what a beauty! March 17, 2020.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Mar. 13 ~ Happy Friday the 13th! About 64-74F for a temp spread, and cloudy, typical springy thingy. A wee bit of sun this afternoon. Supposed to continue like this for the next week, with various low-end chances at rain. We need it. Nothing different around yard in a.m., two or three Lincoln's Sparrow continue, and heard Belted Kingfisher over at the river. Did the town run 11-1 or so. Suprised to still see no Barn Swallow along Main St., they are tardy.

The park had 3 singing Yellow-throated Warbler, after hearing two along the road in Cypresses as I left house. So FIVE singing males today, they are back. One male Green Kingfisher up at the island, couple each Blue Jay and Lincoln's Sparrow, one male Common Grackle, a Kinglet (Ruby). In the Hackberries by the entrance sign were a dozen Myrtle Warbler. Bunch of FOY Blanchard's Cricket-frog were calling. When I got back home (with Rosie's tacos) there was a FOS Yellow-throated Vireo singing just past the draw adjacent to north side of yard. Great to hear that again. Musta just been in the yard a bit earlier.

At 7 p.m. I looked out a window and there was my FOS male Black-and-white Warbler about 10' away in all of its awesomeness. Whaddabird. Ten minutes later I saw my FOS female Black-chinned Hummer, the usual week behind the first males. No Pauraque heard tonight by 8:30. Lots of Peach trees blooming in town, the Redbuds are going great, and lots of Dewberry flowers on the island at the park. Birds are hitting the growing green flower buds popping out on the Mulberry and Hackberry trees. They love them.

In general here it is as if nothing different is going on at the moment. The only thing unusual or abnormal here now is spring breakers. We have toilet paper, water, and hand-sanitizer at the store, it is 100% carry on as we were. The store said spring breakers were taking pix of the TP to post (!) to the intertubes. Great, the locals thank you. Lots of folks talking about how many big chain stores are out of the three above items in San Antonio and vicinity, and even at convenience stores half way here from SAT. Please calm down people.

Mar. 12 ~ Cloudy, about 64-80dF for a temp spread. Sure is great to hear all this birdsong again! And Martins overhead. Mostly stuck at the desk and did not catch anything different. Wondering where the Barn Swallow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Black-and-White Warbler, and Ash-throated Flycatcher are. Probably some of each are around by now, I just have yet to see one. I was busy and forgot to be outside at Pauraque time to listen for it. About 11 p.m. I had a FOY, my first mosquito bite. I thought I saw one earlier this evening, but this is now confirmed, scratch scratch. A Red Bat is circling the big Pecan as one always does in bat season, presumedly it lives in the tree. Almost forgot, FOY Shining Flea-Beetle today.

Mar. 11 ~ About 60dF for a low and overcast, but clearing and warming quickly. The male Mulberry is really breaking stems with flower buds now. Heard Turkey gobbling this morning. A quick town run about 10 a.m. so a look at the park. Heard a Green Kingfisher, saw 3 Gadwall, a Hutton's Vireo, and best was a calling, not singing yet, FOS Yellow-throated Warbler. A migrant warbler! Actually a returning breeder, rather than a transient, fine with me. Just unplug if that first bright warbler of spring doesn't put some spring in your step. Early side of arrivals, but not earliest ever for them.

Here is an interesting tidbit from looking at my spring arrival dates for Yellow-throated Warbler, which well illustrates why you should record dates. Spring, fall, wintering, breeding, all of them. The last four years of spring return-arrival dates are ALL FOUR earlier than the ALL dozen return-arrival dates the 12 year period prior to the last four. Fascinating. For the times they are a changin'.

Today a second male Black-chinned Hummingbird showed up, and the FOY hummer squabbles followed almost a full second later. At and after dark heard no Pauraque tonight, but the Barred Owl was calling over at the river.

It got up to a smokin' 82dF on the cool shady front porch, had to have been 85 on the sunny south side of the houselet. There were a number of butterflies moving, best was my FOY Falcate Orangetip, a female. Several Dogface were moving, Variegated Frit, Red Admiral, American Lady, Pipevine Swallowtail. Either a Questionmark or Goatweed Leafwing flew over above me, wings did not look jagged so probably a Leafwing. One Little Yellow. At least 8 species, probably the high diversity day for me so far this year. Nice was a FOY Disparete Forester moth, what a beauty. I am sure that was what blasted by me yesterday but I did not get a second confirming view.

Mar. 10 ~ Ran about 60-72dF for a temp spread, cloudy, but no precip. The male and female Vermilion Flycs were moving around the yard together this a.m., great to see. About 7 a.m. heard my FOS White-eyed Vireo out back, at 9 it and another across the road were both calling. Still looks like just one hummer here. About 11 a.m. a bird flew up into top of the big Pecan right off front porch, no light, just a silhouette against gray sky, luckily it called, an Audubon's Oriole. Wasn't there 5 seconds and flew north up river habitat corridor. How much goes by that we don't see? Heard a Purple Martin overhead in afternoon. Bewick's Wrens still working on nest in box on big Pecan. A few Myrtle Warbler went through yard northbound. A Turkey was gobbling at dusk, which forgot to mention, thought I heard it a day or two ago. Saw a couple Anemone flowers, a few Yellow Wood-Sorrel, and my FOY Crow-poison flowers. Kathy said she had the Crow-poison yesterday.

Mar. 9 ~ Only about 60dF for a low, with some much needed light rain. Precip is critical here in spring. Another good day to be a desk jockey. It was about .2 of rain by the end of the day, which is great. Did not hit 70dF. In the late afternoon had to run to town, saw two male Vermilion Flycatcher on way. Then later p.m. my FOS female Vermilion Flycatcher was in our yard, likely our local breeder.

At the park there were a couple Myrtle Warbler, Kinglet (Ruby), two Lincoln's Sparrow which are migrants, did not see the female sapsucker. A pair of Blue Jay were gathering mud and some aquatic vegetation, no doubt for a nest. I keep forgetting to mention the Willows are breaking stem with new leaf growth. Today was the first Dewberry flowers I have seen this spring.

About 7 p.m. I was out front with bins luckily when a Double-crested Cormorant flew upriver. I have only had one or two from the yard. Was hoping for Neotrop, as need that for the yard list, no luck, short tail, big and fat, big thick kinked neck. Barred Owl calling over at river after dark.

Went out just after 8p to listen for the Pauraque. After a few minutes of silence I gave one patented wheeer whistle and BAM! The wind of my whistle had yet to dissipate and it went off. Flew all around the yard, at one point right over the big pecan right off front porch. This went on for a few minutes, it was a great audio show. It gave two examples with the intro notes, which I had not yet heard from it.

Mar. 8 ~ Low in low 50'sF, cloudy and breezy, too windy from south. More work on stuff here. Two or three Lincoln's Sparrow out there now. Still no Lark Sparrow back yet. Field remains in good numbers, over a dozen at least, and several singing all around. A single waxwing. The rest was the regular gang, but at least they are all singing now. I can't believe how red the male Cardinal have gotten over the last couple or few weeks. It seems fairly sudden that they all finally wear the duller tips off the plumage and become a whole 'nother level of both brightness and saturation. I mentioned it to Kathy a couple weeks ago, that some were getting brighter, now many of them are at full strength color. Seems like just one male Black-chinned Hummingbird here so far.

Mar. 7 ~ About 45-65dF for a temp range, mostly cloudy, pretty breezy out of the south. Some mist in a.m., a little bit of sun later in day briefly. At least one male Black-chinned Hummingbird showed up here today, our first this spring. Worked on stuff here, trying to get yard and garden stuff done before distractions start arriving from southward. I have an extra shovel if anyone wants to help gather some growfast over in the horse corral. I probably said this before, but moving here I thought there would not likely be any situation ever again in which a snow shovel was the best tool for the job... wrong again! At least two Lincoln's Sparrow were in yard, they are on the move now. Otherwise it was just the regulars that I saw. I got distracted and forgot to be outside at 7:07 to listen for the Pauraque.

anole
An Anole, aka American Chameleon. Over a dozen live
around the house, they are coming back out now after
wintering in the cracks in the stone outer layer of house.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

March 6 ~ Ran about 42-68dF, partly cloudy, not cold or hot is great here. In the morn a couple Golden-crowned Kinglet moved through the live-oaks behind the house. Thought sure I heard one call from a White-eyed Vireo but it didn't call again. One Lincoln's Sparrow at the bath is surely the one around the yard the last five days or so.

Town run, saw no Barn Swallows on Main St. yet. At the park there were: 6 Gadwall, a Ringed Kingfisher, a few Myrtle Warbler, a Hutton' Vireo, couple Kinglet (Ruby), a Common Grackle which is new and could well be the returning island breeder, a pair of Blue Jay, and one female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Which is also new and has drilled a couple young pecans real good, one looks a bit too much. A Myrtle Warbler was hitting the sap wells when the sapsucker was gone. The town highlight of course is some of Rosie's chicken fajita tacos to bring home.

The Mountain Laurel flowers around town look done and spent already, seems early for that to be over. The Redbud trees are going well. In the yard saw a few Yellow Wood-Sorrel flowers. I sprayed water around and in less than a minute my FOY Henry's Elfin (lep) came in for a drink a few feet from me. Saw a few Pipevine Swallowtail. Clouded up later in afternoon. A little cool at dusk, did not hear the Pauraque.

March 5 ~ Ran about 42 to 72F today, sunny and nice. In the morning a couple dozen Robin and a dozen Cedar Waxwing hit the bath and left with over a quart of water. Saw the White-crowned Sparrow out there at the seed. Great to hear bird song really getting going from the residents. Cardinals, Wrens, Titmice, Chickadees, Field Sparrow, and all the migrants will be returning soon. I heard what surely was a Barn Swallow today but it must have been just passing over and I didn't see it. Just two call notes I heard. Saw a, or the, imm. fem. Sharp-shinned Hawk take a male Brown-headed Cowbird today, that was neat. If you could just train them to do that. In the p.m. I heard a Ringed Kingfisher over at the river. At dusk, 7:07, the Pauraque burst into 5 minutes of call as it floated around the area. I got one glimpse when it crossed the yard. It was calling in flight, just the wheeerr part, trolling I suppose. Too cool. I saw one Anemone (Wind-flower) open today, my FOY.

Mar. 4 ~ Low about 54F, high in low 60's, and cloudy till afternoon. But we got rain overnight! An inch, maybe 1.1"! We need it badly right now as things are trying to sprout or bloom. The Laurel flowers we have out back are much reduced, I presume due to lack of rain. A dry February hurts spring. I see buds breaking stem on the male Mulberry tree. It is about to explode green out there. Just add water. Were some waxwings around early. The blackbird flock is still around. Saw a Lincoln's Sparrow that had just bathed, probably the one I have been hearing the last two days. Finally in afternoon the winds behind the front cleared it out with 20-30 mph northerlies for a while. Still no hummer here. Too windy and did not hear the Pauraque.

Mar. 3 ~ More of same cloudy and overcast, low was just under 60 and high not 70dF. Kathy saw the adult White-crowned Sparrow briefly come into the birdbath again. Wish I could get pics of that. Sure neat hearing Red-winged Blackbird singing in the yard. Again thought I heard a Lincoln's Sparrow out there but didn't see it. The pair of Bewick's Wren continue to work in the box I just put up right off the front porch. Got a nest shelf up in the carport out back today. The Eastern Phoebe pair nests under the eaves on north side of house and I doubt they will move, they have been at the same nest now 7 years. I am hoping to catch a pair of Barn Swallow. Barred Owl calling after dark over at the river. Did not hear the Pauraque tonight.

Mar. 2 ~ Cloudy and overcast all day, ran about 55-70F. Judy Schaeffer reported the first Black-chinned Hummingbirds I have heard of this spring locally today. There were at least 18 Am. Goldfinch on the sunflowers this morning. Thought I heard a zzzzeet note of a Lincoln's Sparrow but didn't see it. There was a pair of Bewick's Wren taking material into a box I placed yesterday. That sure took long. Location, location... Actually a pair used it before successfully in a different spot, but had quit. Some wasps used it one year, a big spider another, which I let it have it that year. The pair of Lesser Goldfinch is still around, they might be some of our local breeders. I was outside at 7:07 p.m., two minutes before the Pauraque started calling last night. At 7:08 it went off into a nice series, just giving the wheeeerr, no intro chips, but very neat to hear here.

March 1 ~ Ran about 53-74dF today, cloudy morning, sunny afternoon. Doing a bunch more yard stuff before spring birding starts distracting those easily distracted thataway. Two bird boxes put up, some soil moving, outdoor cleanup it has been too cold to do. That one single Robin that seems to have stuck it out all winter here despite others coming and going, was up in the big Pecan squawking at first sun early. Kathy saw a Hermit Thrush take a bath. Funny to have a male Red-winged Blackbird cracking sunflower seeds on that feeder, this is not normally seen here. Late afternoon I saw what I suspect is the yard-corral breeder male Vermilion Flycatcher! He is back!

Then mind-blowing was at dusk, about 7:09 p.m., a COMMON PAURAQUE began calling! I called Kathy out, it called for a couple minutes at least. My first local late winter or early spring record, all my prior local records were late summer in July, August, and September. Can't help but wonder if this was one that was here last year from Aug. to September. Weird for a first nightjar of the year too. Have not had a Poor-will yet, though I bet some are out and calling now on these warm evenings where foothills and rocky slopes.

~ ~ ~ February summary ~ ~ ~

Overall it was very dry, but at least we had a wee bit o' rain, like a half-inch, plus some fog-mist days. River is up from Jan. rains, but ground moisture is needed badly as things start to sprout. Wild food crops were poor and now are depleted. The first Agarita, Mountain Laurel, Dutchman's Breeches, and Redbud flowers were seen open.

Butterflies were few and far between, the 12 most expected likely last-years leftover species for the month, mostly just one or two of each. Missed any fresh new Henry's Elfin and Olive-Juniper Hairstreak this Feb., but did have a fresh Gray Hairstreak. The only dragonfly I saw locally was one fresh Green Darner. One damselfly was seen briefly in park woods but got away.

Birds were sorta weak, at the end of a slowish drought influenced very low foodcrop supply winter. Finally a good look at an ad. fem. Rusty Blackbird in corral was nice the 15th, which may be a 6th year returnee. The first returning spring migrants are of course on the Feb. menu. First Purple Martin was back the 13th, and the first spring migrant flock of Turkey Vulture was 23 on the 18th, Sandhill Crane were northbound the 22nd. The highlight of the month was fascinating, though not anything countable, an intergrade or hybrid Sapsucker that was partly a RED-BREASTED, which are accidental in Texas.

~ ~ ~ end Feb. summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ archive copy Feb. update header ~ ~

February. The ground is turning green with sprouty things. The first Agarita flower showed on the 5th! Hard freeze the 6th at 22dF, and 25 on the 7th. Some good birds were reported around the Knippa area in January: Mountain Plover, White-tailed and Ferruginous Hawks. Then in Uvalde a Morelet's Seedeater, another of which was seen near Brackettville. We had a bat hanging out, literally, under the eaves over a week. My first actual returning breeder passerine showed about 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 13, a calling male Purple Martin soared around overhead! A local saw a small brown hummingbird, surely a Rufous, at blooming Agarita Feb. 13. An ad. fem. Rusty Blackbird was here at our place Feb. 15. My first fresh dragonfly of the year was a Green Darner Feb. 17. On Feb. 18 saw the first flock of Turkey Vulture, 23 of them came in a string low after the front hit. Very interesting was an intergrade (hybrid or backcross) Red-breasted x Red-naped or Yellow-bellied Sapsucker on Feb. 21 right across the road from house. First northbound Sandhill Cranes I saw were Feb. 22. Coldest mornings of winter were Feb. 27 at about 15dF for us here, and the 28th was about 21dF. About a week to Golden-cheeks!

~ ~ end archive copy update header ~ ~

~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~

Feb. 29 ~ Low in 50's, high was about 70F or so, cloudy morning, sunny afternoon. Sorta springy. Lots to do here getting yard and garden stuff done and ready for a growing season. Worked on a couple birdboxes too. Did not see anything different around yard but a beat old worn (last years model) Vesta Crescent (lep) which is my FOY. Must have been in suspended animation through winter, or just arrived from elsewhere. In afternoon went to park and tagged trees with Marsha Jo in prep for a flood debris cleanup and Chinaberry tree removal project below spillway towards the road (1050). Flushed one Lincoln's Sparrow, which is new there, and saw about 25-30 Cedar Waxwing.

yellowbelliedsapsucker
This is a female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, note all white throat.
Note big black crescent on breast not present on intergrade or hybrid
sapsucker below. Due to black crown with only a very few red feathers,
this is not an adult, so then, a first-spring bird not yet a year old,
just acquiring its first adult plumage. White areas on posterior head
and nape still show some muddiness to them from immature plumage.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Feb. 28 ~ Another chilly one at about 21dF here. Birdbath wasn't frozen solid like yesterday. It sits on a big flat rock on the ground so the ground heat makes it freeze slowly. It has to be really cold for 6-8 hours at least. Town run fer errands. The park had a couple Gadwall, a Ringed Kingfisher, a couple Myrtle Warbler and a Kinglet (Ruby). Slow. It will start popping with migrants soon. No Barn Swallows on Main St. yet, any day now. Judy Schaeffer said she hasn't seen a Black-chinned Hummer yet, but her Rufous was still there a couple days ago. Any day now for Black-chined arrival too. Kathy spotted a So. Dogface (butterfly) which is a FOY - first of the year. Got up to about 72dF or so, 50dF diurnals! A few waxwings were around, an imm. fem. Sharpy dove through yard. An adult White-crowned Sparrow at the birdbath might well be a migrant.

Feb. 27 ~ Holy cow it got cold. Our themometer read 15dF! I saw 20 at KRVL. Surely was the coldest morning of the winter so far, a couple days before the end of climatalogical winter (Dec. - Feb.). The birdbath was frozen solid. Seemed the same gang around yard. I did see a sapsucker fly from across road, across the yard to far side of the corral, but did not go after it. Had a quick town run later in afternoon, nothing in the woods at the park but a Barred Owl, at least 30 Turkey Vulture were roosted in the dead Cypress snags. Saw my FOY Common Checkered-Skipper in the peak 60dF afternoon heat here at the casita.

Feb. 26 ~ A chilly 33dF low with 15-25 mph winds on it meant chills in the 20's! Might have hit 50dF or so out of the wind, but was chilly all day. Buried in the office as usual on Wednesdays, thinking of how great it was that it was not this cold and windy yesterday. We lucked out on the weather. Best thing I saw here today was open Mountain Laurel flowers on the one I toss seed under. Lots of buds and one good open bloom I could smell. The scraggly Agarita out back is about done blooming now. Was the same gang here. The big 200 or so Brewer's Blackbird flock has had 1 Eur. Starling in it the last few days, besides the dozen plus Red-wings and two dozen Brown-headed Cowbirds. About 17 or so Am. Goldfinch chowing down sunflowers. Still lots of Field Sparrow, and more Chipping getting rusty crowns.

Feb. 25 ~ Chilled down to 35dF with the northerly flow building, thankfully the winds were not too strong at 10-15 mph. Guided a couple great couples from MI today and we birded the brush country Sabinal to Uvalde. Warmed up nicely and winds stayed low so we lucked out on the weather which was great. The big Sunflower field just N. of Sabinal had been cut harvested and ploughed under, and had very few birds save Meadowlarks. Over the day we probably saw nearing a couple hundred meadowlark, most that I saw well enough to say, which was few, were Eastern.

We checked the UvCoRd 309 crossing at the Sabinal River (creeklet there). Did not get Green Jays this time. There were Long-billed Thrasher, heard Verdin, heard my FOY White-eyed Vireo, some Myrtle Warbler, Olive Sparrows, Green Kingfisher, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, and some other stuff. They saw a Kiskadee fly off fearless leader missed, and I forget which one of the ladies spotted an Audubon's Oriole feeding with Cardinals, at times on the ground as they are wont to do. Two or three Common Yellowthroat chupped from the tangles. One day there will be a megarary here.

We jogged over to lower Sabinal Rd. to head west. Saw lots of Red-tailed Hawks (15-20 over the day), mostly eastern types, but a couple western dark below types, and not one fuertes, which is really odd. Saw one male Sharp-shinned Hawk, and a nice Merlin, a couple Harris's Hawk, many Caracara, one field had 19, probably saw 40 over the day. Along the road somewhere had a Cactus Wren, and I caught a glimpse of a Curve-billed Thrasher, we saw a few White-crowned, Savannah, and Vesper Sparrows, but no big flocks (drought), saw a couple Say's Phoebe. The area around the house with all the Martin houses was good. There is a corn (deer) feeder just east of the house behind the treeline on the north side of the road. Several Green Jay were calling there. There were Martins at the houses, the pastures had Sandhill Cranes, a Harrier, and 2 Vermilion Flycatcher were in the corral across from the house.

Just south of Knippa we had a flock of about a hundred Am. Pipit dematerialize on us. Then we checked around UvCo 101 north of Knippa and saw lots of dirt clods, more Red-tails, but no Plovers or fancy hawks. We had good Mexican food for lunch in Uvalde, then went to UvCoRd 202 crossing at the Nueces River. I cannot believe how parched the drought has it out there. It is dire need of some serious rain. South of Hwy. 90 it is D2 or worse, it looks D3 or worse to me. The trails were too overgrown to negotiate along the river, but the road out across the river is always good. There were a hundred Gadwall and a dozen or more Ring-necked Duck, a few Green-winged Teal, the usual Black Phoebe, several Green Jay calling from woods, Great Egret, a Ringed Kingfisher flew around, a couple Song Sparrow. We saw a pair of Carolina Chickadee, which have been being reported there. They are mighty scarce once you get south off the plateau if west of SAT, save around Uvalde where a very very few seem to maybe reside or at least occur intermittently.

Then we went to Cook's Slough for the heat of the afternoon. It was great as usual. There were at least 20 Neotropic Cormorant, saw a Kiskadee, more Olive Sparrow, a flock of Myrtle Warbler had one male Audubon's in with them, saw an Orange-crowned Warbler or two, one White-eyed Vireo, heard a couple Gnatcatcher, saw a few Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, some Gadwall and Green-winged Teal, a Coot or two, a Harris's Hawk, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, more Vermilion Flycatcher. There were a couple Green Jay glimpsed, same for a Green Kingfisher. Best bird was a Winter Wren, not seen by most, but I got a good ID look. Not mentioning every bird, and we didn't cover half the slough.

On the way back on Hwy. 90 a few miles east of Uvalde I saw a drive-by Prairie Falcon on a tele pole north of the RR tracks on north side of 90. It was a great day of birding the brush country, with great company. Ran out of time for the hatchery, the city park, didn't check Dunbar Lane, and of course Ft. Inge is closed during the week. There is lots to bird down there.

Feb. 24 ~ Another mostly overcast day running 54dF to about 65 or so, strong southerlies early, then calm, then cleared out as front passed and light northerly flow, but not blowin' hard yet. Nothing different around the yard but too busy to look much. Several Common Raven, a Caracara, Red-tailed, Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawk. Great was my FOY Gray Hairstreak. After dark there was a Barred Owl calling over at the river.

Feb. 23 ~ Cloudy and 54dF for a low, I think it hit about 68 or so at peak heat. Front arriving tomorrow. Had work to do here so mostly just yard looking and the same gang. About 200 Brewer's Blackbird, and an ugly 30 Brown-headed Cowbird. The Cowbirds are a huge increase the last few days and obviously spring migrants are arriving, the inglorius bastards. One Cedar Waxwing. Late afternoon we took a spin around up the hill behind us in the live-oak-juniper habitat. It ranged from quiet to dead. Could not find a flock of sparrows. Had a glimpse of a Roadrunner and a Rufous-crowned Sparrow sneaking away. No Spotted Towhee, heard a couple titmouse, saw a couple Cardinal, one big buck Axis Deer. Some few Agarita in bloom but still not much going, one Redbud had buds out just about to open. Buckley Oak has leaf buds just barely breaking stem still. Saw a few Dutchman's Breeches flowers open, the only thing besides Agarita going. We saw 3-4 moths of some sort, and 1 American Lady butterfly.

Feb. 22 ~ We ran about 38-62dF for a temp spread, sunny with 10-15 mph southerlies, gusting higher. Saw a sapsucker fly out of the yard early but I was on my way to town so didn't chase it. Was probably the intergrade I saw yesterday. About 20 American Goldfinch here going through sunflower seed on that feeder. Had to do a dump and recycle run so went to town too. Park was quiet, which we will soon start missing. Spring breakers start in a couple weeks or so. Best was a flock of Sandhill Crane overhead moving north. First migrant group this spring. Best event in town was Big Ern's Bar-B-Q being open. So I brought 2 lunches and dinner home and we got to have BBQ in Feb. without having to do the work.

sapsucker

sapsucker
This is the hybrid or intergrade sapsucker seen last week.
Note on the top pic the amount of red on head is out of limits
for normal Red-naped or Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. This
requires Red-breasted Sapsucker genes. On the second pic
note red on breast below throat, again, requiring Red-breasted
genes. Note also there is no black crescent on the breast.
Note the solid red forehead to nape over crown. It could be some
sort of backcross or who knows what kind of combo. It is
of interest in Texas since it is partly Red-breasted Sapsucker
which are very rare in the state.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Feb. 21 ~ Froze, 30dF for a low, warmed to about 55dF in the afternoon. Most of the morning the big blackbird flock was over in the corral or in our pecans. There were a dozen chorusing Red-winged Blackbird amongst the 150 Brewer's and 12 Brown-headed Cowbird. They sang lots of the morning, which was great to hear. First time this year there has been a real chorus of them going this spring. I can't believe how green the ground has gotten in the last week or two.

Town run day. Right after I pulled out of the driveway onto the dirt road I caught a bird flying, close, out of the corner of my eye, just at the far corner of the yard. Saw it was a sapsucker, hit the brakes, so did it, landing in a bare pecan right by the road. I slouched down in my seat and got a couple poor docushots of it. It was a male, apparent Red-BREASTED x Red-naped Sapsucker intergrade, hybrid, or backcross. It could be that the Red-nape parent was impure, maybe a cross with a Yellow-bellied. I can't rule that out. But mainly, it was significantly a Red-breasted, and anything with Red-BREASTED Sap genes in it is a very rare bird in Texas. But which you don't get to count as anything unless pure since hybrids or intergrades are not any whole species. It is the first Sap with Red-breasted genes I have ever seen in Texas. Was very lucky to have gotten a shot of the head! It flushed and was flying toward our yard last I saw it, probably landed in the pecans. But I was late already and had a docushot so headed to town to do my errands. I suspect it is the first half of a Red-breasted Sapsucker ever reported in Uvalde County. There have been a few of this type of hybrid reported in Texas in the last decade or two. There are only a very few pure Red-breasted records in the state.

The park had one Pied-billed Grebe, the 5 Whistling-Ducks, 2 Gadwall, and one American Wigeon, which flushed away alone. Up in woods was one male Ringed Kingfisher at the top of the slough. Otherwise, a couple each Blue Jay, Eastern Bluebird, and Myrtle Warbler, a Kinglet (Ruby), and a few Chipping Sparrow was it. In town a couple Redbud trees had some open flowers! Pink trees! At the library a couple Mountain Laurel flowers were open! I walked over and took a big hit off some buds. It was awesome man. It had been a year since I got that groove on. When I saw them it was like a Pavlovian response, the sirens sweetly singing. Don't tell me there is nothing to aroma therapy. I took two more big hits before I left the bush muy tranquillo. Laurels before the last week of Feb.! I used to think of them as a March to April thing. Gadzooks! Some major signs of spring knocking at the door out there!

Feb. 20 ~ Still flatlining in the 40's dF, but now with a 10-20 mph north wind on it, so chilly. As of the afternoon we are at 48 hours in the 40's and gray. Looks like we are missing all the rain, just a little mist was all we got. Was about 150 Brewer's Blackbird and 10 Brown-headed Cowbird with them over in the corral. They are real ginchy and hard to work, I never got them all in bins, again. New in with them was about 10 Red-winged Blackbird, mostly females. At one point the Red-wings landed on the patio and were eating white millet! Some Cowbirds too (yech). The Brewer's never land on the patio. Clouds finally cleared right before sundown. Now it will get cold soon as the wind stops.

Feb. 19 ~ Spent the day in the 40's dF flatlining, supposed to be that way through tomorrow until the front passes and it gets cold. A little mist, but mostly just overcast and a light north wind. An adult Cooper's Hawk took a Cardinal in the morning. Was about a hundred Brewer's Blackbird and 10 Brown-headed Cowbird but I only got parts of the group in bins and never could see them all. Lots of Field Sparrow out there, maybe very near a couple dozen. About 85 Chipping Sparrow today. No bat.

Feb. 18 ~ Another foggy morn about 64dF or so. Where it stayed until the front began arriving mid-day, and started dropping. Late afternoon after the front hit about 5:40 a low train of 23 Turkey Vulture went by. Amazing to watch them tach northward with good progress into a north wind without flapping. My first spring migrant flock of them this year. We have had a very few around already. Usually these first arrivals are our local breeders. Shortly after everything was tanking up on seeds with the front bearing down. I counted 21 Field Sparrow at once! Biggest flock I have ever had here. They must be building up as 8 was my high count recently. So again a couple 'common' birds provide a couple great data points today. No bat. At the park advisory board meeting I saw Judy Schaffer and she said she had one Rufous Hummingbird over-winter at their place in town this winter.

Feb. 17 ~ Warmed from the 40's after midnight to 60dF at sunup. Fog, mist, and wet out. Good for ground moisture which is critical right now during sprouting season. Finally in the afternoon it burned off, cleared up, and got warm, to about 78dF or so! As is customary the day before a front arrives. In the fog noonish a couple Killdeer flew over calling, shapes just barely seeable. Later afternoon I snuck up the hill to see how the Agarita bloom was. Not even 10% is blooming, a couple bushes very well though, lots of bees on them. One American Lady was an old worn leftover, a Red Admiral was brand spanking new, you could tell by the fresh paint. No Elfin or Juniper Hairstreak yet. Better was my first new dragonfly of the year, a male Green Darner, with still shiny wings, so just emerged, likely today. Nearest water (river) about 3/4 of a mile or more away from where I was. Usually Dot-winged Baskettail is first dragon of the year. There were the smallest buds just barely breaking stem on the Buckley (Spanish or Red) Oaks. The magic Golden-cheek trees. When their new leaves unfurl, Golden-cheeks appear. Did not see the bat under the eaves today after his event on the porch yesterday. Methinks that was it for that.

Feb. 16 ~ Very foggy for a few hours early, about 47dF for a low. Slowly burned off to overcast in afternoon and warmed into 70's! Had too much work to do here to get out. Was the same gang around the yard. Maybe 10 Am. Goldfinch, only a few Cedar Waxwing today. The bat was on the ground on the back porch, it doesn't look well. Mighta got a better shot of it. Tried to give it a fly I swatted. Stop laughing please, I said 'num nums?' with my offering. After lunch it was gone, so it must have flown off. To get away from that dead fly maybe. Been too cold with no bugs at night for a long time now. Not normal behavior, something must be wrong. Maybe due to the dearth of bugs in the fall it was not able to fatten up enough to make it through winter?

Feb. 15 ~ We ran about 38-58dF for a temp spread. Was 25 Waxwings here today, and the Brewer's Blackbirds were up to just over 50. Mostly over in the corral but sometimes up in the big pecan. There was one female Brown-headed Cowbird in with them. In the afternoon I heard a weird call out of the flock so grabbed bins and walked over into corral. An ad. fem. Rusty Blackbird was in with them. First time I have binned one all winter. I thought I heard one in Nov. or early Dec., but have not seen one. There was an ad. fem. that wintered here for the last 5 prior years. Maybe this is it? I have not been serious about working them this winter when they are in the corral as they mostly show after rains when it is muddy and cold, and there are not the usual hundreds. Every time I did work the flock I got nuthin' but Brewer's.

commongrackle
Here is the mystery bird I posted at the end of last year.
It saw a Cooper's Hawk and dropped like a rock off
the snag into thick willows below. It is just growing out
a new tail, so does not have the full tail we expect on
an adult male Common Grackle. Taken Sept. 20, 2019
The cropped blowup of the bird is right above Dec. 27 entry.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Feb. 14 ~ Happy Valentine's Day lovers. We had a chilly 29dF low, a minor freeze. I see the bat under the eaves this morning. Town run day. Saw Little Creek Larry, who said he saw a small brown hummingbird yesterday. Which is surely a Rufous and likely a migrant as they move very early, starting in February. It was at wild Agarita flowers. Several folks mentioned to me they have Agarita in bloom now. The park was slow, a couple Myrtle Warbler, a couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet, no ducks, no Coot. Heard Blue Jays in town. Turkey Vulture over house here. A big imm. female Cooper's Hawk was flushing the seedeaters here, besides the Sharpy or two. Probably a few dozen Agarita flowers now on the bush out back. Forgot to check the Redbuds at the library.

Feb. 13 ~ Low was about 36dF or so, chilly but bearable. Sunny, and warmed to about 60dF later afternoon, very nice thank you. Too busy to look much but at a 5:30 p.m. break for my lizard brain to soak a few last rays of sun, a male Purple Martin burst into call right overhead. Soared around a bit calling in its full awesomeness. This is usually the first neotropical migrant passerine that breeds here to return from winter in the tropics. They get them down on the coast in January! A sign of spring if I ever saw one. There were about 30 Brewer's Blackbird over in the corral since it is nice and muddy. The American Goldfinch flock was at least 20 birds. A couple Robin were out there early morn. The bat is roosting a couple eaves over from where it was when Kathy first found it. Away from our in-and-out traffic at the back porch door.

Feb. 12 ~ A chilly day was still at 41dF in the morning. But we got a half-inch of rain overnight! So very mucky out there, but wet. Had a quick town run early, at the park there were the 3 Gadwall and the 5 Whistling-Duck, but not seeing the Coot lately. Methinks it either left or got picked off. Since I was there, ya know, I grabbed a couple egg, cheese, and chorizo breakfast tacos from Rosie to bring home. Oh my. Then I didn't care if I didn't see any birds. In the afternoon all of a sudden a bat seemed to fly out from under the eaves and was flying around the patio. Then out over the yard and across the road. We must have not seen it and it was up there. Hated that we flushed it in the day. Maybe it got a bug or two. Now I know to check up there real good.

Feb. 11 ~ Was clear for a while last night but more fog-mist-drizzle in morning. Light north winds and a low of 42dF, chills in 30's. Damp and wet, good day for the desk. Keeps the dust and juniper pollen down anyway. Temps did not increase all day. It flatlined at 42 all day, with some wind and wet on it. Feels like winter. It's lovely out, come on down. The male White-winged Dove are showing beautiful mauve napes and rear-necks now. Breeding season is on the way. There are at least 35 White-winged Dove here now, Kathy thought 10 more than that. That was just one good flush event count I got. I probably didn't see them all.

Feb. 10 ~ The sorta low was 66dF with fog and mist. Front is inbound shortly, streamer showers by mid-morn. Cooler northerlies arrived in the afternoon, a few spits and spritzes. About 50dF by 5 p.m. and dropping, but no freeze behind it. Only saw the same stuff in my peeks about as I tossed seed. Was 19 Waxwing in the flock today. Some of the Chipping Sparrow are showing lots of rusty on their crowns now, I presume the older males get it first. One of the Am. Goldfinch here is showing the first bits of yellow as well.

Feb. 9 ~ Warmed overnight from mid-50's to 60dF or so by dawn, with fog, mist and drizzle. Keeps the dust down anyway. A dozen open Agarita flower clusters now on the scraggly one growing out of limestone rock out back. Worked on things here since 40 pct. chance of rain and very breezy. Then sorta cleared in afternoon and got up to at least 75dF! Hondo and Uvalde had 80! It is the warmup before the next front.

Birds were the same gang, but with more singing. Was 14 Cedar Waxwing in the flock today. The number seems to be different every day. Which when considering how few are around this winter is interesting. Saw the Turkey Vulture again. Saw a newly minted fresh and shiny Pipevine Swallowtail that was not the dull old beat up one I saw a couple times in January. As in a new emergence. Just a reminder at the risk of being redundant, get yer bird boxes ready!

Feb. 8 ~ Ran about 35 to 60dF, fog, drizzle, mist in morn, but no precip of consequence, but you would be soaked if out in it. Nice and sunny in late afternoon. In the morning saw my first Turkey Vulture of the year from the yard, which is likely a new spring arrival. It or another was out there again in the afternoon. There are over a half-dozen Agarita flower clusters open now on the scraggly bush out back. At least a hundred Chipping Sparrow, 6 or so Field. Caracara and Sharp-shinned Hawk.

Will mention a couple good birds down in the brush country in January which I saw in ebird. Two Morelet's Seedeaters north to near Hwy. 90 is great, one near Brackettville, another in Uvalde! I think both photo'd and likely new county records. Though I have encountered Seedeater twice in UvCo prior, I never got pix to prove it. Then near Knippa there were Mountain Plover, White-tailed and Ferruginous Hawk. That brush country is great in winter.

redbat
Here is the bat that is hanging around. It looks pretty
rusty-toned in person, methinks it is a Red Bat.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Feb. 7 ~ Another chilly morn at 25dF. Gotta longjohn. Had to throw hot water on the iced birdbath. Warmed up incredibly though, way more than they said, to an amazing 73dF! No one complained. One Utopia station showed 75. 50dF diurnals. At 6 p.m. it was still 70 or above! Reminds me we could have White-eyed Vireo here in a week, and we will have Golden-cheeked Warblers back in a month!

There was an ad. male Lesser Goldfinch here this morning. It could well be a spring migrant returning. In the old days before thistle seed feeding, they did not winter here. Most still don't. They return in Feb., formerly about the 22nd. Like many things they have been returning sooner (only a very very few stay the winter) each year. Since we have not have one around, I would not be surprised if this were a spring arrival of a returning bird. The House Finch are really getting going singing, always great to hear their enthusiasm.

Town errand run. Mostly just errands. And Rosie is gone so no Tacos today. How will I live? A park check saw the 5 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck continuing, a dozen Myrtle and one Audubon's Warbler, a couple Kinglet (Ruby), and one male Green Kingfisher. Which I couldn't spot across the river as it called from low in thick Cypress branches. Then when the male Egyptian Goose mounted the female and began bellowing this obnoxious sonorous honking I wasn't sure if it was just the decibels, or the force of the honk that hit it, which flushed said GreenKing to a new now visible perch, at a safer distance from those damned introduced non-native feral geese.

The bird of the day Kathy found, a bat! The FOY bat. Whilst I was in town, about noon-thirty she was on back porch coming inside when it flew in over her head and hung up under the eaves! It was still here when I got back and got some hopefully usable shots. It was in dark shade with bright sun out and so color was hard to tell. Seemed too big for Brazillian Freetailed. Great close views though, it was there all afternoon. It disappeared some time around dusk. We missed it flying off, musta been during dinner. Edit add-on: OK whaddyaknow, in the pix it looks fairly rusty toned and I suspect it was a Red Bat.

Feb. 6 ~ The wind finally stopped after midnight, so it got cold. Low was about 22dF! There's yer winter, right there. I see so far for Dec. and Jan., the first two months of climatalogical winter, the U.S. ran 4.5 dF above normal. It is not your imagination. The birds went through that first round of seed pretty quickly. By noon it was mid-40's and bearable in sun out of the wind, but breezy, and that air is cold. Stayed windy until late in the afternoon. Not so bad being stuck at the desk. Late in the day an adult female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker went through the yard, achieving bird-of-the-day status by doing so. Was in the big dying Hackberry and went to a pecan before crossing road toward river. First sap I got to study well in my bins this year. Finally. Saw a second Agarita flower cluster open today on the same bush along fenceline on slope out back where I toss seed.

Feb. 5 ~ The front hit before midnight last night, we did not get any precip from it here. The winds are 20 gusting to 30 mph, and the low was 34dF. Chill factors in low 20's! Warmed to almost 40 at peak afternoon heat when sun came out, and bearable if out of the wind, but it blew hard all day. A great day to be stuck at desk in office. Shoveled extra seed rations. It was 33dF at dark, chills below 25, feels like winter. Can't wait to see what we have tomorrow morning! So winter hit on a Wednesday this year. Saw two dozen waxwing in the flock today. The big event of the day was an open Agarita flower! First spring flower of the year. On the early side, which is not really probably as good as it sounds.

Feb. 4 ~ The warm day before the front. Low was about 52dF, got up to about 75! Foggy early but sunny in the afternoon. The birds were the same gang. Saw a Caracara, the local nester Red-tailed Hawk, a Sharp-shinned Hawk or two, heard a Kinglet (Ruby). Had to run to town quickly later p.m., saw the Whistling-Ducks at the park, and on way home along 187 a Turkey Vulture. This is probably the one I saw in the park 10 days ago and the one early returnee. Valentine's Day was average former return date for them. Heard the Screech-Owl right over back fence at dusk.

Feb. 3 ~ Cool and gray, maybe 52dF for a low. Stayed overcast but warmed to about 64dF. Some sprinkles on and off over the day might have totalled a tenth of an inch. In a.m. saw a Long-billed Thrasher eating Hackberries over in the corral which flew into the big dying one in the yard. Mid-morn counted 18 American Goldfinch on the ground eating sunflower seeds, biggest single flock I have seen this winter. A dozen Cedar Waxwing and as many House Finch. The rest was the same gang.

Feb. 2 ~ Happy Groundhog Day! In some areas aka as the Woodchuck. When Kathy and I lived in New Jersey we shared a yard with one, it was awesome. Very neat beast. Here it froze again, another 31dF barely, but chilly. The birds were the same. We are probably right about at peak of what could be called the winter minimus, diversity-wise. In Feb. we see the first of spring passage migrants and local breeder returns.

This winter without the usual bug crop, few hackberries, no pecans left, and fewer seeds due to no fall bloom from drought, birds are fairly down overall. Even the seedeaters are low in numbers. Worked on stuff here and didn't get out. When it is a little slow get yer other stuff done. Put that time in the birding bank. Spend it going off on a tangent on the intertubes. It is certain if you went out and beat the dickens out of the bushes a couple days a week you could turn great things up closer than you want to know. There are virtually always good birds out there, undiscovered. No matter where you are. One way to find them is to look where others have not. Where they have been, look harder, e.g., more thorough coverage.

Feb. 1 ~ We froze, but barely, about 31dF for a low. Might have hit 70 at peak heat, pretty nice out. Had to do some yard work I have been way behind on before everything starts growing again. The sparrows and a Mockingbird sure like the fallow look and habitat. Lots of grass is sprouting and the base ground color is now more green than brown. There were at least 21 Cedar Waxwing in the big Pecan, the flock is slowly growing. A few American Goldfinch were at the sunflower feeder. The pair of Bluebirds were in the yard lots early, surely our box breeders. It is great to hear some birdsong again! Cardinal, Carolina Chickadee and Wren, Bewick's Wren, Eastern Phoebe and Bluebird, Field Sparrow, White-winged and Mourning Dove, and House Finch are all singing daily. Ten species singing now.

americanredstartfieldsparrow
This is a flashback from last fall. Field Sparrow
on the bath, American Resdart on rock.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ January summary ~ ~ ~

It was a wet one with 3-4" of rain depending where you were locally. We were at four here. Above average Jan. precip. We are still way behind but likely moved from D2 to D1, so major major improvement. It was getting dire again. Temps were above average, some locals asking where is winter. There was that Tuesday, and then that Wed. was sorta...    There was more cold in Nov. and December. Averaging 4-5dF above normal nationwide.

Butterflies were 6 species locally, which is at the low end of the range for the month. These are old individuals still hanging on through the winter. Dragonflies were 2 species, Variegated and Autumnal Meadowhawks, as expected. Did see a couple Cucumber Beetle and a Syrphid (nectar or bee fly) over the month. Heard Field Cricket one warm evening.

Most food crops seem mostly depleted and bird numbers are down overall. The family of 5 Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks wintering at Utopia Park is a first here in my 16 winters. The Coot there is likely its 3rd winter. Not being seen much this winter are: very few Robin and waxwing, almost no Siskin, no Flicker or Junco, only 2 Saps so far, and on and on. A male Vermilion Flyc. showing up Jan. 26 is likely a record early returnee. Small but fair numbers of Verdin and Pyrrhuloxia are in the valley this winter. Only saw one ad. ma. Pine Warbler all January.

I only count 70 sps. of birds I saw locally over the month. We did not get up to Lost Maples, and besides weekly park checks once or twice, only cruised the local roads and hole-in-walls a few hours one day a week. I am sure another 10-20 sps. are around if you dug in all the nooks and crannies. Too busy with work. We saw another ten or so species Jan. 5 down in the brush-country around Sabinal. The exciting stuff was a Prairie Falcon, 7 Green Jay, a Harlan's Hawk, Kiskadee, Swamp and Olive Sparrow and others. A few dF warmer down there makes a big difference in birds.

~ ~ ~ end January summary ~ ~ ~

~ Jan. update header ~

January. We birded around Sabinal Jan. 5 and saw: 1 Prairie Falcon, 7 Green Jay, 12 Long-billed Thrasher, a couple Olive Sparrow, heard a Kiskadee or two, saw a Harlan's Hawk, a Swamp Sparrow, 5 Harris's Hawk, Verdins and Pyrrhuloxias. Great birding down there now. Up here, we got rain! Finally some precip Jan. 16 & 17, about 3"! Another half-inch overnight on Jan. 21-22, another .75" on the 28th. Enough to lift us out of D2 level (extreme) drought to D1. Jan. 24 at Utopia Park there was a nice bright male Pine Warbler and a male Ringed Kingfisher. An adult male Vermilion Flycatcher was at the golf course pond by Waresville Cmty. on Jan. 26.

~ ~ end Jan. update header ~ ~

~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~

Jan. 31 ~ Low of 42dF and overcast, mostly cloudy but slowly warmed to 60 in the late afternoon. Heard a Ringed Kingfisher over at the river early in morning, first in months from yard, they have not been around. Maybe they are returning to breed. Heard the Verdin as well. Town errand run and so a park check. Lucky me. It is a dirty thankless job, but someone has to do it.

One male American Wigeon was nice, but no Gadwall, Coot, or Whistling-Ducks. Up near island eating Mayflies were at least a dozen Myrtle Warbler and a few Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Some Titmouse and Chickadee in the woods. Picnic area had a couple Blue Jay, and a small flock of Chipping Sparrow with a few Bluebird and more Myrtles, but they were moving quickly through the trees. I did not see the Pine Warbler but was late so didn't have time to work them. Was one Audubon's Warbler. After the P.O., gas, Ranch Outpost and grocery store I did squeeze in a final stop at Rosie's for chicken fajita tacos to bring home. Just know if I die on a Friday afternoon, I was very very happy.

Jan. 30 ~ About 38dF for a low and overcast. Might have hit 50 at peak heat. About a hundred Chipping and a half-dozen Field Sparrow on the seed. Two Ground Dove, 3 dozen Cardinal. Still can't believe I have yet to see a Flicker or Junco this 'winter', and just a couple fly-bye Sapsuckers. We do need some more cold. I already know that I will regret saying that. Thursdays are desk, phone, and computer days inside here.

Jan. 29 ~ Happy Curmudgeon's Day, finally one I can get behind. Was about 38dF for a low, light northerly breeze. Coolish. Saw an Am. Goldfinch on the sunflower feeder. Heard a Robin early. Wed. desk day for me. Afternoon warmed to 64 or so. The KSAT Hi-Lo records for this date are 5 and 89dF! Otherwise it was a dull day at the desk. I have to make sure all the bird boxes are in order quickly, it is that time folks. These residents get to making a choice for the first round in February. They have already had Purple Martin down on the coast.

Jan. 28 ~ Had some rain overnight, looked about .75"! Turned out to be a wet January, we are at about 4.25" for the month. Great news, we needed it badly. Low was about 50dF, got up to 65 or so. Strong winds from noon on, 20 mph gusting to 30. I did have the Verdin out front by the gate again today. Spiffy little bird, love being able to see one in the yard.

Mid-morn I had to run around town to help a buddy get to the med. ctr. so a quick look at the park while waiting. Going up to B & R (north of town a few miles) and back I saw 4 Kestrel and 4 Red-tailed Hawk along the roads, and meadowlarks but no time to stop and work those. At the park were the 5 Whistling-Duck, 3 Gadwall, an adult male Ringed Kingfisher, a few Myrtle Warbler, a Ladder-backed Woodpecker, and a Kinglet (Ruby).

I dropped my friend off at a ranch south of town. There was a real nice looking Bulldog there, surely AKC, a beauty. And took to me real well, very nice dog. It got kinda excited about getting scritches and ran a big loop around the yard, came back and jumped up on my leg. It was then the odor hit. It had stepped in a big pile of itself, apparently the step before it jumped up on me, because my leg was now covered in freshly spent Bulldog. AKC no doubt. Proving once again, no good deed goes unpunished. At least it was a quick dash home and into other pants, and there were no important meetings I was on my way to. I hate when I get home and have to call my wife out to hose me off before I can enter the house.

Jan. 27 ~ Was about 40 for a low and got up to a toasty 75dF. The warmup before the next front. Counted 14 Cedar Waxwing in the flocklet today. Heard a Verdin out front toward road. The rest was the same gang. A few of what looked the same butterflies were out too. Saw the worn Pipevine Swallowtail, the American Lady, the Orange Sulphur, and a Sleepy Orange. The four wintering butterflies visiting the yard this year. Otherwise the same stuff.

Jan. 26 ~ We ran 50-80dF for a temp spread and mostly sunny, pretty darn nice except the part about it supposed to being winter now. I saw an American Lady (butterfly) here in the yard as it warmed. We took a couple hour spin-about mid day. Pulling out on 187 there was a Gulf Fritillary. The park is empty long as you are there before church gets out on Sunday. Nearing noon there were two Barred Owl countersinging there, one right over main picnic area, the other across and below spillway. A Robin and a couple Blue Jay were alarming on the one in the park. We had maybe a half-dozen Myrtle Warbler, a Kinglet (Ruby), a couple Gadwall, heard the Whistling-Ducks but didn't see them.

We went out UvCoRd 355 aka Lee St. to Little Creek. There, right where that road meets the creek and turns left there were some ducks (besides the barnyard menagerie). It was over a dozen American Wigeon, twice that many Gadwall, and 45 or so more un-ID'd ducks at the further south pond that looked mostly Gads. Durnit, did not bring scope. Heard Verdin and Pyrrhuloxia in that area again as well. On the way back into town, along the closer straight section nearest town, east of the jog at edge of town, there was a flock of at least 6 White-crowned Sparrow, plus 2 Cardinal and 1 Long-billed Thrasher working the hedgerow.

Then we checked the golf course pond by the Waresville Cmty. Amazingly there was an adult male Vermilion Flycatcher there, acting like it was the one that owns the joint all spring to fall. It has not been there prior this winter. Last year set my record early date at Feb. 16, prior to last year my earliest was Feb. 24. Most years most arrive the first week of March. This is over two weeks earlier than my anomolous earliest. Holy cow! Late Jan.!?!?!?!? The Red-winged Blackbird flock in the dead cattails around the pond is now 75-80 birds, overwhelmingly males but a few females. Nothing else there this time but one Eastern Phoebe. Did have an Orange Sulphur there.

Jan. 25 ~ Ran about 51-59dF for a temp spread, overcast, misting from shortly after noon on. It's a 'wet out'. Too wet to be out. So worked on stuff inside. The 13 waxwings were around a couple times. I heard the first Field Sparrow song of the year, which was great. In the summer they sound mournful, but now it sounds cheerful. Or is it me? Late in p.m., there were at least 8 at once on the seed out back, through the office window. Here anyway, you never see big flocks of them like many other sparrows. A Sharpy was diving around as usual off and on.

vermilionflycatcher
This is the male Vermilion Flycatcher at the golf
course pond by the Waresville Cmty., Jan. 26.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Jan. 24 ~ About 36dF for a low, a bit chilly. Mostly sunny and got up to the mid-to-upper 60's dF. Saw two Robin up in the big Pecan early. About 8 waxwing were around too. Town run for errands. At the park there was the Coot, 3 Gadwall, a Ringed Kingfisher, and best was a super bright male Pine Warbler. In fresh plumage they can really light up in the right sunlight. There have not been many around this winter, so a treat. Maybe a half-dozen Myrtle Warbler, 45 Chipping Sparrow, a Kinglet (Ruby), missed the P-b Grebes. There was one Belted Kingfisher below the spillway.

Jan. 23 ~ About 50dF for a low and sunny, calm, so a very pleasant break between winter systems. No freeze showing on the 10-day, which takes us to February. I see the first little reddish budlets of new growing Agarita flower clusters breaking stem. One of the first earliest signs of spring being on the horizon. Some parts of it happen very early a way down south. There are some green leaves poking up out of the ground, and I have seen a few open Straggler Daisy flowers here and there. But they can pop a flower any week of the year with a few warm days and a little bit of water. Heard a wee bit of Cardinal song, a couple White-winged Dove sang, several Carolina Wren and a Bewick's Wren were singing, and Chickadee and Titmouse both gave snippets of song. I heard six species sing today. Very nice.

Jan. 22 ~ Held steady around 50 all night, with drizzle and eventually a few showers pre-dawn. Foggy after that. We got another .6 of an inch of rain all told. Fantastic. We need it badly. Winter rains are critical for spring sprouting. Stayed in the 50's all day. I saw a small group of 13 Cedar Waxwing in the big pecan. Later one imm. Sharp-shinned Hawk dive-bombed another imm. sitting in top of the tree. This is why the seedeaters keep flushing. The rest was the regulars.

Jan. 21 ~ About 35dF for a low, mostly cloudy, light breeze and chilly early, stronger southerlies most of the day as something approaches that might give rain overnight. Got up to low-mid 50's but with the wind was still chilly. The ground is still wet from all the rain a few days ago. We were at D2 per the U.S. Drought Monitor, which is severe drought. We likely improved a level to D1 with the 3" rain event. Just south of us along and below Hwy. 90 and toward Mexico is some D3 which is extreme drought. I did not see anything but the regular cast today, hence the drought news. LOL

Jan. 20 ~ A brief freeze, about 30dF for a low. Mostly sunny, got up to about 60dF at peak heat. A quick look at park in town since I had to run up there. Little Creek Larry said he had a small flock of Robin and a flock of 50 or so Cedar Waxwing around town earlier. I asked and he said he too has not seen one flicker all fall and winter yet. There were 3 Gadwall and the Pied-billed Grebe on the park pond, one Great Blue Heron, and a Green Kingfisher up in the slough by the island. One Myrtle Warbler. Slowsville. Best thing today was hearing White-winged Doves singing, a couple at least, maybe three, giving full 'who-cooks-for-you' song. Great to hear again after months of not. One month since the solstice and they are triggered.

Jan. 19 ~ About 35dF for a low and sunny, but with a northerly breeze on it, so chilly. Actually was 10-20 mph until later afternoon. Got up to about 58dF or so, nice when the wind finally stopped. Same stuff around the yard, but there were 7 Cedar Waxwing in a small group in a Hackberry. I walked around up the hill behind us a bit. Glimpsed a Spotted Towhee tail, saw some Titmice and Cardinal, flushed a pig. At least got a mile in for the legs. Only a month until blooming Redbuds, Agarita flowers and Elfins. In two months Golden-cheeked Warblers will be arriving back in numbers.

Jan. 18 ~ Was in the 40's early a.m. as the last few drizzles finally cleared. It was over 3" of rain total here for the event. Probably 3.25 or so. The ground needed that, though it is a bit mucky out there now. A second front overtook the first and cleared us out noonish, bringing with it the post-frontal blow. Was 10-20 mph gusting higher the rest of the day until dusk when it finally laid down. So worked on stuff inside. The Bewick's Wren was singing a bit, and heard a Cardinal doing 'quiet song', that under-the-breath gibberish they do especially early in the singing season.

harlanshawk
I specialize in bad pix of good birds. This is the
Harlan's Hawk we had south of Sabinal a few
weeks ago. We saw it much better than this, close.
And it was awesome.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Jan. 17 ~ Stayed in 50's all day and rained, and no one complained. There was about 1.5" from the event as of early morning. Then by 3 p.m. we were at 3" here! Most of it a good slow-soaker as they call them, so just what the aquifer needed. It was getting grim, this is more than welcome relief, at last! Especially for the early sprouting stuff, these winter rains are critical. Some gets going in a few weeks. Only thing in the yard was a heard White-crowned Sparrow singing in the rain, which was nice.

Town errand run. Checked the park briefly in the rain. Saw a Zone-tailed Hawk that had adult tail feathers with white bands. Wondering if it is a different bird than the imm. that has been around, or is that one getting adult tail feathers now. Also saw one Green Kingfisher, the 5 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, and the Coot. One Turkey Vulture was in with the Black Vultures. It has not been with them all winter so far and I suspect just showed up recently. They are very rare here in winter. Most winters they are (or were) absent mid-November to mid-February. The last couple or few winters I have seen a very few in that period.

Jan. 16 ~ It was about 65dF just before dawn, and by mid-morn 55 as the cold air arrived. But we got rain! Supposed to be a couple days of it as the front moves over us southward, stalls, and returns tomorrow moving north. It was off and on drizzle and showers all day. We were nearing an inch by dusk. We were so parched it is great. Heard a Robin. Kathy heard some Waxwings. Had a good flock of Chipping Sparrow come in for the seed, about 120, surely my highest count so far this winter. If I tried to chase the flock around the weeds and brush down the road, I would not likely see half of them. But with bait, I can scrutinize them at a level simply not possible in the field chasing them around. Still no Clay-colored Sparrow in with them, never saw it again after Thanksgiving weekend. Had hopes for it wintering.

Jan. 15 ~ Wow a 65dF low is a bit balmy for this time of year. Muggy, in January. Too busy to lookabout. Will mention a report I saw from early Jan. of a Rufous-backed Robin seen at the same spot as last winter just west of Uvalde. This seems very likely a returning bird, where UvCoRd 202 hits the Nueces River. Was the same gang around the yard. I drove through the park early in the drizzle, saw four Gadwall, that was it.

Jan. 14 ~ Low of about 55dF and low overcast. At least it is not cold. Heard a few measures of Cardinal song this morning, the first wisps of that this year. Great to hear again for the first time in months. Clouds finally cleared in afternoon, about 3 p.m. it was 74dF on the cool shady front porch, hotter in the sun. I saw an 80 reading at KRVL and at least one Utopia station was 79dF! So this is Jan.? Did not see anything but the usual suspects today.

Jan. 13 ~ Was upper 30's dF at midnight last night, lower 50's by sunup, with a dense fog advisory. Might have hit lowest 60's dF for a high. The lone waxwing continues to whistle for friends, to no avail so far. As in birding, the key is perserverance. At least I am getting to hear one a little bit this winter. The rest was the usual gang. Heard a Kinglet (Ruby), the Myrtle Warbler was out there, Caracara cruising over, some Field Sparrow among the Chippies. Too busy at work to bird.

Jan. 12 ~ Barely froze, maybe 30dF and overcast with low clouds early. Most of the day was breezy and slowly warmed back to about 60 barely, briefly. The birds were the same gang. Same as it ever was, it is the winter doldrums here. Too much work to do here. Carolina Wrens are getting a lot more vociferous. Nothing else is really going yet like they are.

Jan. 11 ~ It was the post-frontal blow today, 10-20 mph gusting higher northerlies. Too windy to bird. Low was 40dF so chills were around freezing early. Got up to 64 or so. Heard that single Waxwing up in the Hackberry again. Were about 15 House Finch in the big Pecan, they are increasing in the yard lately after being scarce for a couple months. A few each American Goldfinch and Field Sparrow. One Caracara flew over and some buteo I wish I would have seen before it was the north end of a southbound bird. Saw the Lo-Hi record temps for this date at SAT are 10 and 80dF. So you only have to be prepared for a 70dF temp spread. Great Horned and Barred Owl were calling at the same time out front after dark.

longbilledthrasher
This is a Long-billed Thrasher wondering what I am looking at.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Jan. 10 ~ Low was about 64dF (!) with heavy overcast and southerly gulf flow. Winds picked up to 10-20 mph gusting 25 and higher. Got up to about 80dF in the afternoon! A few dF short of a record methinks, which at SAT for this date is 84dF. Weird when it is this warm and all the trees are leafless. Save the Junipers, which are really spewing pollen now, you can see the rust color on the males. Park had the Coot and 5 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, but that was it. The woods are dead this winter, no bugs. Saw a very few Mayflies. Heard one Cedar Waxwing in yard. The rest was the same gang. A line of thunderstorms went by around dark from a front passing central Texas. The Utopia rain kryptonite held and we got a half a tracelet of rain. Just 15-20 miles east they had 2-3 inches.

Jan. 9 ~ A low of 58dF with some fog was balmy, high was about 72. A few American Goldfinch were around but the rest seemed the same. Heard the Ground Doves. Which are no longer hyphenated (was Ground-Dove). It is official, lose the hyphen. When can we lose the 'Common' part? I already did. Either the Sharpy or the Coop flushed all the seedeaters a couple times. A Caracara went by.

Jan. 8 ~ We were 26dF again, chilly with iced birdbath. NOAA had KRVL for a 34 low, they had 25! Then zonal flow returned, gusty southerlies, warmer moist air, near 60dF by noon. Heard one Cedar Waxwing in a Hackberry mid-morn. The rest looked the same out the office window. It is back to the salt mine time for me. Heard Chickadee singing song briefly. Late afternoon I had a quick zip through town and at the park pond saw the Coot and 5 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, my first water birds of the year.

Jan. 7 ~ Was about 32-70dF temp spread, sunny after some clouds in a.m. Was all the same gang around the yard. It is back at the desk and computer for me. Ready to go back to bird around Sabinal again, took two days. I really would like to see that pale small hawk north of town, and more better looks at that big female Harlan's would be nice too. No way can I get down there this weekend. Maybe the one after?

Jan. 6 ~ Ran about 30-75dF for a temp spread today. Nice. But it is back to the salt mine Monday after the holiday break. I heard a White-throated Sparrow out there a couple times, surely the tan-striped bird I saw yesterday morning. A few Field and about 75 Chipping Sparrow as usual. Other than hearing a Verdin over in the draw, there was nothing different. Same yard gang. That's OK, I am still fairly drunk on all of yesterday's great birds.

Jan. 5 ~ A 26dF low! NOAA had KRVL for 38, they were 29, off by a category again. We rolled down the hill to bird the Sabinal area about 9:30, in no hurry for that cold. As I threw out the noon batch of seed right before we left I saw a tan-striped White-throated Sparrow out back. The one here in Nov. and Dec. was a white-striped type, so this is a new one.

The short version around Sabinal: Prairie Falcon, Kiskadee, Green Jay, Olive Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Long-billed Thrasher, Harris's Hawk, an awesome female Harlan's Hawk, Verdin, Pyrrhuloxia, etc. It was a great half-day of barely scratching the surface down there in the sticks of the flatlands. Could not find any Geese, only had a couple Cranes fly over, no Mountain Plover. Due to the drought and much of the farming being rain-fed, there was little corn this year. I did not see one good fallow corn field. Lots of cotton, some sorghum or somesuch. Lots of fields were left fallow.

As we approached the high spot a few mi. north of Sabinal I said "this is Harris's Hill" to Kathy. By time we got over it we had two Harris's Hawks on tele poles. Stopping to view one an orange-billed, black-lored White-crowned Sparrow popped up, as in the Rocky Mtn. oriantha type. Always nice here. The big Russian Sunflower field just north of Sabinal that had the 500 Am. Goldfinch last year is not yet harvested, still dried seedheads intact, so the clouds of birds are not there yet. Should be by the end of January. There were birds there but not like after they harvest the seed heads. Some Cardinal and a couple Pyrrhuloxia were hitting them at SE corner of field.

We heard an Audubon's Oriole as we drove around the NE quadrant of residential Sabinal. Nothing at the city park. At the dry Sabinal River crossing just southwest of the school where the Western and Couch's Kingbirds and Rusty Blackbird were last Jan., we saw none of that. It was bone dry, no water. There was a very tame Roadrunner there, a flock of at least 160 White-winged Dove, one Myrtle Warbler, a Verdin, couple Titmouse and a Kinglet (Ruby). Might have heard a Pine Warbler there.

Further east on that road past the water treatment plant out in the pastures there was a flock of over 100 American Pipit, and a few Killdeer. Kathy looked up to look for the Cranes calling overhead and spotted what was the rarity of the day, a Prairie Falcon up high moving fast. Always a great bird to see. It moved west too quickly for a pic. Appeared to go down somewhere west of 2730. Saw some Savannah Sparrow. Couldn't pick anything out of the pipits but you could mostly only see them when they flushed. Thought I heard a Sprague's. Another Harris's Hawk was soaring way high with a couple Black Vulture there.

We then went out Lower Sabinal Rd., the one that goes to Uvalde south of Hwy. 90. Saw more major brush clearing and loss of habitat. It is like they are at war against habitat. Only had a couple tiny small groups of White-crowned Sparrow which was odd. Very few sparrows everywhere we went. Lots of Red-tailed Hawk, mostly fuertesi, but a couple belly-banded eastern types. Tallied a dozen Red-tails over the half-day. Couple more Harris's Hawk, one a sub-adult, and now at 5 in a couple hours. Some Kestrel. About 8-9 Bobwhite were nice. Some Long-billed Thrasher, but best was some Green Jay. A house (with martin houses) on the road about half-way between Sabinal and Knippa has some planted ornamental oaks in the front yard. The Green Jays were harvesting the acorns. There were at least 4 and probably 5 right at once in the group. They were crossing the road, grabbing acorns, and heading back over into the brush. They were doing their hawk call imitation too. What species of hawk is that they imitate? There was one imm. male Vermilion Flycatcher in the corral across the road from the house. Heard a few more Verdin along the road. Did more fields, nothing.

Then we went to UvCo 309 which is about 3 miles south of Sabinal. A couple hundred yards west of 187 it crosses the Sabinal River, which is a creeklet there. You can walk some dirt tracks upriver a bit, south side is better, you can get further. As last January here, we had Great Kiskadee (heard 2) and I saw a Swamp Sparrow, my first this winter. There were at least 6 Long-billed Thrasher in the area, and I might have had a Brown. It was rufous to and over the crown. There were at least a couple Olive Sparrow in the area, (easiest ones to see ever) as well. Perfect place for a rare Robin or somesuch. At least a couple more Green Jays were nice too. Another couple Myrtle Warbler and Kinglet (Ruby), at least two Common Yellowthroat also there. Someone dumps poached deer carcass remains just south of the crossing at the start of the track on that side of creeklet, and I suspect the jays and thrashers are working on them. Also there we saw one Variegated Fritillary, one Reakirt's Blue, two Dainty Sulphur for butterflies, and two 2 Autumnal Meadowhawk for dragonflies.

Then we checked almost a mile south on 187 around the Ranchero Crk. crossing but it was dry. It can be good when water. Another half mile south is UvCo 312a running east off 187. It is farly well vegetated on both sides for much of the public mile and change. More Long-billed Thrasher, over a hundred Meadowlark, most looked Western, 5-6 more Bobwhite in the road, more Verdin and White-crowned Sparrow, lots of Cardinal. A half-mile or so out this road is where the female Harlan's Hawk was. It first came up from low, and later in the poor blurry pix you can see its crop is well distended so it must have just finished eating something.

Along the various roads over the day we saw 5 Roadrunner, heard at least 7-8 Verdin, only saw a half-dozen Pyrrhuloxia, 2-3 Say's Phoebe, only a couple Vesper and no Lark Sparrow, maybe a couple dozen Savannah Sparrow, 8 Kestrel, a couple N. Harrier, 7 Caracara, about a dozen Long-billed Thrasher, 3 Olive Sparrow, 7 Green Jay, 2 heard Kiskadee, 75-100 each of Mockingbird and Cardinal, 8 L. Shrike, 15+ Bobwhite, and some lesser things. Did not see any Cactus Wren or Curve-billed Thrasher, did not hear an Orange-crowned Warbler or a White-eyed Vireo. Somewhere had a quick view Cooper's Hawk. Lots of Mourning Dove, a few Collared-Dove, cowbirds and blackbirds, prolly some other stuff I didn't pay attention to. Like some Titmice, a Lincoln's Sparrow, a couple Ladder-backed Woodpecker, etc..

Amazing what an entirely different environment it is just 20 miles away down off the plateau and into the brush country. On the way back we had cold stuff in an icechest so could not stop for a compact buteo on 187 north of Sabinal. It looked like a pale morph Harlan's Hawk, in fact very like the one I saw in Utopia 5 years ago. It was where a UvCo county road crosses 187 in both directions, about 3 miles north of Sabinal. Lots of hawks down there this winter, which was great to see.

Jan. 4 ~ A chilly one here, about 28dF briefly just after sunup. Birdbath iced over. NOAA had KRVL for 36dF low, it was 26! Off by a category again. About the fifth time so far this cold season. Keep it in mind if headed out thisaway in winter. Long johns, check. It warmed up though, above average to about 74dF or so here, so 50dF diurnals again. Great to be able to open everything up and air it out. Kathy heard a chickadee whistle a short bit of song notes. FOY for that. Worked on stuff here since planning on skipping out for a half-day birding tomorrow.

greenjay
Whaddabird! Green Jay, near Sabinal Jan. 5.
This is how you see everything in south Texas
brush-country, through branches and twigs in the brush.
What this shows well is how bright plumage in dappled
light becomes a type of camo.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Jan. 3 ~ We ran about 44-64dF for a temp spread today. The post-frontal blow got here about 10 a.m. and it was 15-25 mph all day, gusting to 30. Sunny, but blown out. Town run and park check. A flock of 50+ meadowlark on UvCo 360 east of the river looked like Eastern. At the park did not see the Coot, Pied-billed Grebe, Whistling-Ducks, any kingfisher, or Great Blue Heron. The new year list remains waterbird free. There was a winter flock in the park, a few Robin, some E. Bluebird, a couple dozen Chipping Sparrow, 6+ Myrtle Warbler, and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Heard a Pine Warbler. Didn't see anything different in the yard, Kathy saw a Hermit Thrush at the bath. Planning to bird the flatlands of the Sabinal area down in the brush country on Sunday.

Jan. 2 ~ Still hovering around 50dF, won't go up or down, overcast and foggy early. It is Thursdays back at the salt mine here anyway. Just the regular cast outside. The main yard inhabitants are Carolina and Bewick's Wren, Carolina Chickadee, Black-crested Titmouse, Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Chipping and Field Sparrow, Cardinal, Eastern Phoebe and Bluebird, Mockingbird, House Finch (just 1 pr.), American Goldfinch (2 or so) plus Ground, White-winged and Mourning Dove. Then daily a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Myrtle Warbler or two pass through, and Common Raven and Black Vulture fly over. Either a Sharp-shinned or the Cooper's Hawk flushes all the seedeaters a couple times per day. Both are regular. Those are the basic winter gang here. Seeming like we lost our Rufous Hummers that were here. Every couple or few days we see Red-tailed Hawk, Caracara, and an Orange-crowned Warbler. Most nights we hear Great Horned, Screech-, and often Barred Owl. Some years we are covered in Robin, Waxwing, Siskin, and American Goldfinch, but not this year. Barely any of any of them.

January 1 ~ Happy New Year! Here we go again! Sure that was so fun, heck ya, let's do that again. But can we take a different route this time? Did not cool down much last night, was about 48dF for a low, cloudy, misted a couple hundredths over the day, might have gotten into low 50's dF for a high. Still not seeing the Rufous Hummingbirds, about two weeks for the female and four days now for the male. Did work about 80 Chipping Sparrow and had only a few Field among them, no Lark, no Clay-colored. The rest was the same gang. Since coolish and wettish worked inside on things. So far it looks very birdable next weekend though. Finally.

~ ~ ~ above is 2020 ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ ~

July through December 2019 is now at Bird News Archives 32.
Bird News Archive XXXII
July 1 - Dec. 31, 2019

January through June 2019 is now at Bird News Archives 31.
Bird News Archive XXXI
January 1 - June 30, 2019


blackcappedvireo
Black-capped Vireo. Note gray nape, not completely black.
This is another third year male, still without fully black head.
Second year male head is mostly gray like females, but have a
few black flecks and small patches of a few black feathers
here and there when return the first time. Definitive
(fully mature) adults have fully black heads with no gray.



The older weekly break bird photos are now at the 2019 photos page. 2019 pix


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

To Top of Recent Bird News
Back to Top
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Always read UP from bottom to go in chronological sequence. Weekly or so updates are generally noted with a break.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Links to all 15+ years of archived bird news pages below. Broken into 6 month increments. One day I'll quarter it out by season as well, so all 10 years of each season are together, perhaps making say, searching springs easier.

Odd numbered archives are January through June.
Even numbered archives are July through December.
(except a couple when the split missed, prolly due
to excessive amount of drivel in spring)


Here is a master index page of them:
Bird News Archives INDEX
Index page with links to all 'Old Bird News' pages.

Bird News Archive XXXII
July 1 - Dec. 31, 2019

Bird News Archive XXXI
January 1 - June 30, 2019

Bird News Archive XXX
July 1 - December 31, 2018

Bird News Archive XXIX
January 1, 2018 - June 30, 2018

Bird News Archive XXVIII
July 1, 2017 - December 31, 2017

Bird News Archive XXVII
January 1, 2017 - June 30, 2017

Bird News Archive XXVI
July 1, 2016 - December 31, 2016

Bird News Archive XXV
January 1, 2016 - June 30, 2016

Bird News Archive XXIV
July 1, 2015 - Dec. 31, 2015

Bird News Archive XXIII
January 1, 2015 - June 30, 2015

Bird News Archive XXII
July 1, 2014 - December 31, 2014

Bird News Archive XXI
January 1, 2014 - June 30, 2014

Bird News Archive XX
July 1, 2013 - December 31, 2013

Bird News Archive XIX
January 1, 2013 - June 30, 2013

Bird News Archive XVIII
July 1, 2012 - December 31, 2012

Bird News Archive XVII
January 1, 2012 - June 30, 2012

Bird News Archive XVI
July 1, 2011 - December 31, 2011

Bird News Archive XV
January 1, 2011 - June 30, 2011

Bird News Archive XIV
July 1, 2010 - December 31, 2010

Bird News Archive XIII
January 1, 2010 - June 30, 2010

Bird News Archive XII
June 1, 2009 - December 31, 2009

Bird News Archive XI
January 1, 2009 - May 31, 2009

Bird News Archive X
July 1, 2008 - Dec. 31, 2008

Bird News Archive IX
January 1, 2008 - June 30, 2008

Bird News Archive VIII
July 1, 2007 - Dec. 31, 2007

Bird News Archive VII
January 1, 2007 - June 30, 2007

Bird News Archive VI
July 1, 2006 - Dec. 31, 2006

Bird News Archive V
January 1, 2006 - June 30, 2006

Bird News Archive IV
July 1, 2005 - Dec. 31, 2005

Bird News Archive III
January 1, 2005 - June 30, 2005

Bird News Archive II
June 1, 2004 - Dec. 31, 2004

Bird News Archive I
Winter 2003-04 Summary Notes
and Mar. 31 - May 30, 2004
All photographs within this site are copyrighted
and may not be used without permission.
All Rights Reserved.
© M. and K. Heindel 2004-2020
www.utopianature.com