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: December 14, 2018
(prior updates: Dec. 7, Nov. 30, 23, 16, 9, 2, Oct. 26, 19, 12, 5, Sept. 28, 21, 14, 7

We had THREE Red-breasted Nuthatch visiting our yard Dec. 2-3, at least two are still here this week. On Dec. 2 an adult male TOWNSEND'S WARBLER was near the HQ building at Lost Maples SNA, and a Grasshopper Sparrow was across the road from the rest area a couple miles north of Lost Maples on 187. A dark chocolate Red-tailed Hawk was on 187 between the first river crossing (Fisher) north of town and the W. Sab. Rd. turnoff, they are very scarce here. Got a report of a Brown Creeper at the park last weekend (ca. 9th). There was a first-winter Red-naped Sapsucker in cypresses at 3-mile bridge on the 9th. There is a chaseable Coot at the park.

Record early record cold in mid-Nov., with 20dF (!) here the 14th. Nov. came in like a lion. Seems to be leaving like a lamb. We have not been able to get out as usual, bad weather or windy conditions rear their ugly heads every time they see I might be able to sneak out for a few hours. Landbirding in the wind is tough. A second RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH has shown up this week and been seen with the first one around the yard through the 29th. The first one has been here since Oct. 30. An EASTERN TOWHEE was on UvCo 359 on Nov. 1. One SPRAGUE'S PIPIT flew over calling Nov. 7. A Rufous-Allen's (prob. Rufous) Hummingbird has been at our place since Nov. 7 (still here the 30th). One or more usually winter at Judy Schaffer's heated feeders in town. My FOS Golden-crowned Kinglet showed up Nov. 15. A flock of five Audubon's Oriole were in our yard the 16th. My FOS Pine Warbler was Nov. 22nd. Two Townsend's Solitaire were at the 1050 passlet about 5 mi. west of Utopia on Nov. 24. My FOS Junco (Slate-colored) was Nov. 27. I heard a Brown Creeper at Utopia Park Nov. 30. The Buckley Oaks are showing good color now for a nice fall look.

In October we weren't able to get out much with rain almost every day, and muddy everywhere when not. Had first of fall American Wigeon and Orange-crowned Warbler on Oct. 12, Oct. 19 a 2nd (different) Ibis at the same Bandera Co. floodpond and a tardy Mourning Warbler at Utopia Park. My first N. Flicker and Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler were Oct. 21. A male-female pair of Downy Woodpecker were at Utopia Park that day as well, maybe first time I have seen a pair together here in 15 years, haven't been seeing them in Nov. though. My earliest ever in 15 falls American Goldfinch showed up Oct. 25. Robin and Cedar Waxwing showed up Oct. 29, a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH on Oct. 30.

A few of the better things in Sept. were: on September 1 FOUR Mourning Warbler at Utopia Park. On Sept. 7 there was a LEAST SANDPIPER at the golf course, and a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was in our yard, plus a seemingly different Yell-bell Flyc. here on the 9th. Also on Sept. 9 there was an AMERICAN BITTERN on S. Little Creek Rd. at the southerly smaller floodpond, but in Bandera County. Sept. 14 there was a Black-crowned Night-Heron at Utopia Park up on the island, and, an adult male MacGillivray's Warbler went through our yard the 14th as well. An ad. male Broad-tailed Hummingbird was at our feeders a bit Sept. 15-17. A White-faced Ibis was in Bandera Co. Sept. 23 at the W. Sabinal Rd. floodpond. A couple Long-billed Curlew flew over southbound Sept. 29. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet showed up on Sept. 24.

Golden-cheeked Warbler

The light was bad, but the bird was good.



For some detailed 2018 Lost Maples reports see the dated entries below (or at Old Bird News #29 and #30 now) for April 1, 9, 10, 15, 29, May 13, June 3 and 24, July 29, Aug. 26, Sept. 30 and Dec. 2. Ignore the ebird Chihuahuan Raven reports there, they are mis-ID'd Common Ravens which are common residents.

In news section between May and June entries, there is a chronological list of my local arrival dates for the entire spring from the first arrivals in January. For those that like to see when what arrives roughly.

There is a new page up 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 info 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 also have a fairly new '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.

Of expected but scarcer or local things around, there are the usual: Zone-tailed Hawk, Canyon Towhee and Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Long-billed Thrasher, Ringed and Green Kingfisher. Some few Audubon's Oriole are around, like Bushtit, you could see one anywhere anytime, or nowhere at no time. It's birding!%^*@%! Again some White-tipped Dove and Olive Sparrow have been at Lost Maples, and around Utopia, the new normal. Both nested at Lost Maples last year (begging juvenile seen and heard).

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, if you are lucky with a photo. Sometimes this 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 Hwy 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 very 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.

If you are a frequent flier scroll down past the Rufous-backed Robin sketch and a few 'recent' highlight photos below that, and you'll quickly be at the most recent news. Or hit the " jump to bird news " link just above. Entries are in reverse chronological order, with most recent day, date, and weekly post at top.

I have been fairly good for a few years now about posting a weekly update Friday evenings. Since weekend night life is so exciting here. Usually it is 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.

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 bird news, if it were reported to us. 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 fully 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.

There are now 15+ (!) 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 (2016) with seasonal status and abundance for each species. It lists all 340 plus species (!) known from the upper Sabinal River drainage.

The 10th (!) winter bird count totals are up on the Bird Count Page

A newer page is the butterfly rarity photos: Rare Butterflies

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.

Commonly used ABBREVIATIONS are:

"in or around town" - refers to Utopia
UP - Utopia Park off 1050 just west of 187
UR - Utopia on the River grounds (2 mi. S. of town)
LM - Lost Maples SNA
SRV - Sabinal River Valley (Clayton Grade to Lost Maples)
  the upper Sabinal River drainage biogeographic area.
FOS - "First of Season" (usually used for the first
   spring or fall migrant of that species locally)
FOY - First of Year, usually used in winter and spring.
Odes - Odonata - a dragonfly or damselfly
Leps - Lepidoptera - usually butterflies
UvCo - Uvalde County
BanCo - Bandera County


First a 2011 highlight ...

Rufous-backed Robin

This is a sketch of the Rufous-backed Robin that Kathy and I saw at Ft. Inge Uvalde on Feb. 19, 2011.




Broad-winged Hawk   Broad-winged Hawk

This is a begging juvenile Broadwinged Hawk at Lost Maples SNA
the first nesting in Bandera Co. and likely the furthest southwest
nesting ever for the species. Taken August 1, 2015 through binocs.



Some things from 2012 ...

albino House Finch

This albino House Finch complete with red eyes was in our yard in July and August, 2012.



Cerambycid

This Cerambycid (Long-horned Beetle) on Sept. 9, 2012 was
a beauty, and the first of this type I've seen,
Tragidion coquus, thanks to Mike Quinn for the ID!
It seems this is kind of a mega rary here in Texas.
The blind acorn occasionally finds the squirrel.



Finally..... a good (and favorite) bird.....
American Woodcock

American Woodcock (Timberdoodle) at Utopia Dec. 15, 2012



Something from 2013 ...
Texas Coral Snake

Texas Coral Snake ~ Do not handle! Thanks to Nancy Walling for her photo.
Red next to black is a friend of Jack,
Red next to yellow will kill a poor fellow.
This was at Lost Maples, April 26, 2013.



Ringed Kingfisher

Ringed Kingfisher is surely breeding locally now, this a male at Utopia Park on January 23, 2015.





Two-tailed Swallowtail

Two-tailed Swallowtail at Lost Maples April 27, 2014.



Texas Blind Snake

Texas Blind Snake was the longtime common name for Leptotyphlops dulcis,
aka Worm Snake, but now is called Plains Threadsnake. They only have
vestigal (mostly non-functioning) eyes, you can see it is wormish, but
is scaled. They eat ant and termite larvae in particular and come to
the surface mostly in spring, often after rains. May 12, 2014.


Zebra Heliconian

Zebra Longwing (or Heliconian) on Texas Thistle, in yard June 2014



Louisiana Waterthrush

Apparently the first ever documented over-wintering Louisiana Waterthrush on the Edwards Plateau, present at Utopia Park from early December (at least) to March 11 at least, this pic taken Jan. 25, 2015. The bird returned for a second winter Nov. 2015 remaining present at least to Feb. 27, 2016. It has returned again for a third winter so far, this in Sept. of 2016 and was seen to latest December.



Rusty Blackbird

A Rusty Blackbird, adult female, which is a returnee wintering for its second year around UvCo 360 south of town. This photo taken in our yard December 24, 2014, the bird continued to early March. This bird returned Nov. 2015 for its THIRD winter (we know of) so far, and was still present March 9, 2016. It returned again Oct. 2016 and was present through Feb. 2017, for her fourth winter here.



Cedar Waxwing

See der waxwing? OK, Cedar Waxwing. See anything? Let us know! :)
(e-dress above the photos)



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.

There is a page of photos from 2016: 2016 pix

And now for something completely different... I will probably make some changes yet, I was looking for some more pix, but anyway meanwhile at least the basics are up... Here is a new page with some photos and discussion of hybrid Cliff x Cave Swallows: Clave Swallows
~ ~ ~ ~
***  Here is a new page for visitors with ideas, links, phones, contacts, etc., about where to stay locally.
Where to Stay
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
***  Here is a major new page I have been working on for half of last year, and which compiles over a decade of my study at the site. 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


There is now a page of photos from 2017: 2017 pix
The pix used for weekly breaks for whole year.

There is also a page of the birdnews photos from 2018: 2018 pix
The pix used for weekly breaks for whole year.

~ ~ ~ finally, current bird news from the greater and lesser Utopia area ~ ~ ~
BIRD & NATURE NEWS 2018


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!

To repeat since commonly used:
sps.=species; FOS=First of season; FOY=First of Year; FOF=First of fall; LTA=Less than Annual; UP=Utopia Park; UR=Utopia on the River; SLC=So. Little Creek Rd. (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:
Dec. 7, Nov. 30, 23, 16, 9, 2, Oct. 26, 19, 12, 5, Sept. 28, 21, 14, 7
Usually each week's update break is marked with a photo.

You may want to scroll down to last prior update and scroll
up to read in chrono order day to day.
~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ and now for the news ~ ~ ~

***  Note - above are two new links to pages with just the photos used for this bird news page's weekly breaks. 2017 photos, and 2018 photos. Closer to soporific than terrific.

Dec. 14 ~ Wind blew all night and day, but backed off a little. Over the day it was often 15-20 mph gusting to 30. Unbirdable. Temp range was 38-58dF. I forgot to mention I saw Carla Nuckles the other day and she said upvalley in a pecan orchard there were over a hundred Raven. Today Little Creek Larry said he had 20+ at once together playing in the howling wind yesterday, appearing to be having fun and enjoying it. He also had an Eastern Towhee over there near Little Creek today, and yesterday and today a pair of PINTAIL are on the flood pond up the road. Pintail are hard to come by around here.

Saw the Coot at the park. Bird of the day got away, up in the woods I heard a dry chit note that was likely a Pacific Wren. The western Winter Wren, now a full species. Sounds just like a western Wilson's Warbler (which is immpossible this time of year here), only one single dry chit note of a certain special unique quality and tone, heard it three or four times. I think it went over to the island. Will have to come back tomorrow when not on an errand run with schedule, and no wind. UPDATE: Nov. 15 - I refound it, it is an unprecedented Wilson's Warbler in winter.

One last item of interest in case you don't know... I told Kathy today that last night about midnight I saw a comet. She asked if I saw Donner or Vixen. I had to explain...  ;)  There is an actual comet visible now. Was about straight up at midnight last night. No head or tail, just a green fuzzy round area a quarter degree wide. If you know where to look easily findable with binocs. They say it may be bare-eyed visible in dark skies. It is Comet 46P/Wirtanen. It is in Tarus, and the astronomy sites on my link page will have maps where to look, and pix, as at space.com. One of the 10 closest since 1950, but a bad angle, we're looking down the tail from behind.

Dec. 13 ~ Low about 45dF and calm first couple hours of morn. The winds arrived from the front about 11 a.m., and will blow until tomorrow evening! A day and a half blow. They are 20-30 mph sustained, gusting 40 and higher. By 3 p.m. there were 48 mph gusts recorded at Uvalde and Hondo. I heard that go over here. There is a teeny ridgelet just on NW side of yard, so we get a wee bit sheltered and do not take a direct hit when N or W winds. Heard Nuthatch or two early morning, saw a Vesper Sparrow on the patio again. As the wind hit I saw a Painted Lady briefly caught in an eddy on lee of the house before it got blown away. Otherwise it was the expected gang o'suspects. Thursday so stuck at the desk, and once the wind hit was glad to be. Went to the garden tub (about 3 x 6 feet) to grab the few last tomatoes, and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet flew out of it. It was about half covered in plastic because I had opened it up. Looked pretty lush and maybe buggy ... to a Kinglet. Amazing how it keyed in on it so quickly.

Dec. 12 ~ About 49dF for a low was a welcome respite. Cloudy and humid. Had a quick town run this a.m., saw the Coot at the park pond. Little Creek Larry said he saw a Brown Creeper there on some big cypress trunks last weekend, maybe the 9th. Recall I heard one there Nov. 30. I saw the Turkey Vulture at the main Black Vulture roost tree in river upriver of main lake. Which means it is attempting to winter, a very rare phenomenon here. I saw it mid- and late November, and figured it would soon depart. It must have other ideas. Saw two Red-breasted Nuthatch at once in the big pecan again today. Saw the Orange-crowned Warbler by the cottage again, so it is sticking too. It must have seen I was cameraless the way it danced on the ends of close bare branches in great light.

Dec. 11 ~ Another 26dF for a low, another frozen birdbath to thaw first thing before sunup, when so nice out. Did not see last evening's White-crowned Sparrow today but was chilly and busy. Seemed like it knew where it was going when it hit the seed straight from a brushpile 75' away. Still no hummer, last seen on the 4th, a week ago. Did have two Red-breasted Nuthatch at once again though. Had a quick errand run to town, saw the pair of Green Kings at the park. They get started on breeding activity like pair bonding behavior about as early as owls (e.g. now). I saw the male trying to entice female with a fish. I told my wife who said she hoped Ms. KF told him that she is a kingfisher and can catch her own fish anytime she wants. That was pretty much the highlight of my day.

Dec. 10 ~ I saw 27dF at 7 a.m., so probably hit 26, Seco Crk. WU staion had 25, and Kerrville 28. Cold. Sunny and no wind though. Heard a nuthatch this a.m., after not all weekend. About 10:30 it worked the pecans for 20 minutes during which it never called. Twas the ad. male. Some American Goldfinch and Pine Siskin, Robins and Waxwings to go with the chill. Canyon Towhee. Only different thing was an adult White-crowned Sparrow that came into the seed at dusk. A Pipevine Swallowtail (lep) was my first of the month, and pretty beat and worn. Saw a couple Sleepy Orange and a Dogface.

Dec. 9 ~ We were 32dF at 7 a.m., and still some breeze from north, so, cold, but sunny. Still no hummer, now day four without seeing it, and no nuthatch since Friday either. Same gang in the yard. About 3 p.m. it warmed to 50dF and the wind slowed to under 10 mph so we took a quick spin out. Some Field Sparrow along the corral as we left. There are Brewer's Blackbird along 360 east of the river, and I saw a female Rusty Blackbird with them, which surely is the same one that has wintered in the area the last five years, often visiting our yard when they hit the corral next to us.

We went to the 3 (or 4) mile bridge (heard it called both - it is 3 (or 4) miles south of town), a Sabinal River high bridge crossing, and checked around it. There were at least a half-dozen Lincoln's and one Song Sparrow there, one House Wren along the fenceline, and best a first winter Red-naped Sapsucker in the Cypresses on west side of bridge and river. I do not get them every winter, they are not a sure thing annually here. Any LTA - less-than-annual, is a good bird to see. A Loggerhead Shrike was working the fenceline along the access road on SE side of crossing.

Then we went out UvCo 361 since we hadn't done that a while. A half mile south of the crossing, it takes off to the west. The low spots have water. I wish I had been checking it during fall shorebird season, we never had one before so I didn't think of it. There were at least 11 Killdeer at various wet spots along the road. One flood pond area had a small group of birds around it including my FOS Say's Phoebe, finally. Saw about 5 Vesper and 4 Savannah Sparrow, 5 Kestrel, a couple hundred Brewer's Blackbird around the corrals, a Great Egret hunting one of the wet draws, a second Say's Phoebe, several Eastern Phoebe, a dozen Eastern Bluebird, and a Ladder-backed Woodpecker working a roadside fencepost, some more Lincoln's Sparrow, a few Mockingbird. Saw one imm. or female Vermilion Flycatcher. Nothing rare, but great to get out and see some sun and birds though, and take a few pix. On way back here, on 360 east of river where has been one, there was an adult male Vermilion Flycatcher. Rare in winter here, this one has been around a month or more and seems to be attempting to winter so far.

Dec. 8 ~ The wind from the front is finally here. Only a little light rain over night, that part is done, we have 2.25" at minimum here for the event. This a.m. it is low 40's with 15 mph northerlies, gusting higher, chill factors just over freezing. Only going out to put more seed out, so did not see squat. Might have gotten to 47dF peak heat, but the wind blew all day, chill factors might have broken 40 briefly, maybe. It was yucky. Heard everything flush as in an accipiter attempt late in day. That is all.

grasshoppersparrow
Ahhhhh grasshopper... when you can identify the sparrow...
This was at the rest area just north of Lost Maples Dec. 2.
Pardon the fuzzy and pixels, was a long-range high-mag grab.
Grasshopper Sparrow.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Dec. 7 ~ Rain started sporadically pre-dawn, a cold front is moving in, temps dropping after about 3 a.m., so moisture being wrung out. We needed it, was gettin' dusty already. But cold and wet out. Did not see the hummer this morning, again. Had to wait for a break in the rain to do a town errand run, too cold, wet, and muddy, to bird. In a flooded pasture on UvCo 360 just east of the river there were a hundred Robin on the ground. Only thing I saw at the park was a male Green Kingfisher on the spillway. Not complaining. Missed the Coot at the park, so know if you chase it, might take a couple tries. Rained all day, we are at 2" at 5 p.m. Heard a nuthatch.

Dec. 6 ~ Thursdays at the desk. Did not see the hummer again today for the second day. Did hear nuthatch a couple times. Saw 10 American Goldfinch at once, most so far this season. Just a few Pine Siskin. Had to be 6 or more Titmouse (Black-c), and at least 4 Carolina Chickadee. At least 30+ Chipping Sparrow hitting the seed, Canyon Towhee still around. A few Myrtle Warbler, some Eastern Bluebird, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, at least 30 Cedar Waxwing in one flock, couple dozen Robin. Might have hit 60dF at peak heat.

Dec. 5 ~ About 45dF for a low, overcast, humid, cool and damp, maybe got up to 54dF for a high. Did not see the hummer, or a nuthatch, but Wed., so stuck at the desk and computer. The Sharpy was out there, it was kinda quiet the times I got out for a stretch, listen and lookabout. No bees or butterflies today. Oh for that nice warm sunny Sunday with a Townsend's Warbler. This is why it is important to make those memories on days off. So you have some awesomeness to consider whilst at the salt mine.

Dec. 4 ~ We had about 36dF for a low, but I saw 33 at KRVL and Seco Crk. WU stations. The Hummer was out there this morning before sunup, after being absent the last two days. At least a couple nuthatches, was not paying attention. A quick dash to town, saw an Inca Dove with about 1 tail feather. The park had the Coot and Pied-billed Grebe, heard a Green Kingfisher. Just the regulars in the woods. Best was two butterflies: a Monarch and a Mestra. The Monarch will likely be the last of the year for them, a tardy straggler over 6 weeks behind the peak of the passage bell curve. Then here at the casita a Texan Crescent flew by. In early December you scrape up your last sightings of the year for many of the few species that remain flying. Got up to lowest 60's at peak heat.

Dec. 3 ~ About 45dF for a low, cloudy and overcast. Did not see the hummer again this morning. Two mornings, no bird. It already got down to 20dF here in Nov. so it would be wise to go. Heard a nuthatch distantly. At least 4 Myrtle Warbler went over. Before noon I had two nuthatches in the pecan, after 1 p.m. all three were there again. Looked like an ad. male, an ad. female, and an immature. In other words, they each appear different in the new pix I got. They are still finding stashed sunflower seeds in the bark crevices. Had 4 Pine Siskin and 5 Am. Goldfinch come to the feeders. Probably 35 Chipping Sparrow, saw the Canyon Towhee, counted 6 Titmice and 4 Chickadee at once, and a single flock of 25 House Finch was in the top of the big pecan. We have only been having a few around.

Dec. 2 ~ We got up earlyish to sneak a walk in at Lost Maples since it had been a couple months and I was startin' to get withdrawal heebie-jeebies. In case you wonder what is outside here at 6 a.m. in the black, the answer is nothing. But Leo is at zenith. Got colder than they said, was in the upper 30's dF here, I saw 36dF for NOAA at Kerrville and at the Seco Creek WU station. From about 7:40 to 8 a.m. there were THREE Red-breasted Nuthatch in the yard at once! THREE!!! Amazing! I kept going back and forth with them until two were on the same branch and another calling from a tree behind me, which then flew into the big pecan as well. Weewow!

Swung through park on way by town but no ducks on the pond, so kept going. No birds in the woods early, too cold still. On 187 just east of the W. Sabinal Rd. cutoff there was a small male chocolate morph (western) Red-tailed Hawk. All dark chocolate brown. These are pretty darn scarce here, I have only seen a few. Some sparrows were along road, as well as meadowlarks in some pastures. Got to Lost Marbles about 8:35, it was already busy. We generally avoid it during leaf season as the trails are often too noisy to bird. It is apparently still leaf season. Though only a very few maples have anything left on them, some Buckley Oaks still look good. Most on the slopes up there have lost there leaves though. The 1050 pass west of town has more color right now.

Coming out of HQ I heard a few birds at the east end of the circle so after taping the permit in the window we walked over thataway to see if there was a flock. A lot of winter birding is finding flocks. Doesn't matter if you just hear chickadees, titmice, or kinglet, go check it out. There is often other stuff with them. First I see a Hutton's Vireo, then a Blue-headed Vireo, the only one I have seen all fall. There were a couple titmice, a kinglet, and a bird flies across an opening one juniper to another. As I am getting on it Kathy says look at this bird in an imperitive sorta way. By time she gets done saying that, I called adult male TOWNSEND'S WARBLER. It was not very cooperative, but I did manage a docushot of it (below).

My first in BanCo, though there is an old prior park record, I think from maybe 20 some years ago, maybe another more recent. I do not see one listed in ebird for the Lost Maples list. I have seen 4 in Utopia (UvCo) in 3 falls over 15 years, so missed it 11 falls locally. Plus we found that hybrid Hermit x Townsend's at Garner S.P. one year. I told Kathy right then, the day was going to be downhill from there today. First thing, hadn't moved the car from where we parked to grab the entry permit. It was over. There were also single Orange-crowned and Myrtle Warbler heard in the vicinity. The flocklet kind of melted up the slope and we lost them. There was LOTS of traffic going by entering park.

Again we did not do the trails, but worked the main canyon floor a mile or so. It was not particularly birdy, but there were tons of people, it was packed and a pretty noisy. Surprising it was still soooo busy. Saw Scrub-Jay, a couple Lincoln's Sparrow, 3 Lesser Goldfinch and the rest was the regular expected stuff, Cardinal, Chickadee, Titmouse, Ladder-back, Carolina and Bewick's Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Raven, etc.. Anothers of Hutton's Vireo and Orange-crowned Warbler at the day use area, where more titmice, chickadee, kinglet, and Cardinal. We went back to HQ around 11 and could not relocate the little group of birds. Probably when first sun hits that open bowl at canyon mouth around the HQ is when to look. There were some mayflies along the creek, which is THE critical wintering insectivore passerine sustenance here.

We went up the grade north from the park to get up on top of the plateau at a nosebleeding 2300' for a peek and stopped at the rest area about a mile or two up 187. There is a Rufous-crowned Sparrow stationed there (usually - it called when we pulled in) and were some Vesper Sparrow across the road. I walked over to get a better look at the Vespers and a GRASSHOPPER Sparrow flew up out of the roadside verge and into a bush. Got docushots of it. I virtually never see them in winter around Utopia so a great bird to me, though likely good numbers are in all these grasslands we can't get to. Always a treat to see, one of the most beautifuly colored and patterened sparrows. You will be seeing a poor pic of it one of the weekly breaks no doubt.

A Roadrunner popped up into a bushlet 125' off the road to see what or who was pishing off the side of the road. One of very few of those I ever pished up. We would never have seen it if it didn't respond to the ruckus I was making. You can't blame the bird though. It was seduced by my patented and copyrighted full flock mob scene imitation which is custom tailored to fit the appropriate scolders at any given location. If you want to have some fun, tell those hotshots you run into that you are pishing for Roadrunners. Then tell me how hard they laughed. Think you are a hot Johnny Pisher? Can ya get a Roadrunner up?  ;)

As we were nearing home back at 1300' my ears popped. Just barely, but it happened. From that 1000' climb. Amazing. We don't get no altitude here. Back at the hovel in the afternoon I did not see the Rufous-Allen's Hummer all day, nor did I see it in the morning as usual. Temp got up to about 75dF here with little to no wind! Weewow! It was very nice out. A pair of Variegated Meadowhawk (dragons) were in the yard. At dusk a Ringed Kingfisher went off over at the river. Some butterflies we saw today were Dainty Sulphur, a Queen, Red Admiral, Gulf Fritillary, Sleepy Orange, Variegated Fritillary, Common Checkered-Skipper, So. Dogface, and one Reakirt's Blue.

Dec. 1 ~ Ran about 60-75dF for a temp spread, dry front passed, was windy all day at 15 mph gusting to 20-25, but not cold. Too windy for me to enjoying birding for landbirds in trees. Dutifuly worked on my fall report. Had a nuthatch and the hummer, some robins and waxwings, Chippies and the imm. Sharpy. Did I complain about the wind yet? Forecast looks good so tomorrow we will try to get up Vanderpool way, after noon since a Sunday, for a b-double-e-double-r-u-n. I mean to Lost Maples for a bird walk. Just a coincidence, at a cosmic level, that we should finish up on a Sunday, and be at a place at 11:59 making beverage selections of the sort they can sell when the clock strikes 12 on Sunday.

Here is a pro tip for visitors: the Shiner (native Texas) 6-pack called Brewery Tour is very interesting with six different examples of their specialties, including a Wicked Ram Ale (IPA) (I sixer those anyway), an interesting cream ale, some other type so Texan it has Jalapeno in it, and I found the Black Lager fascinating. UPDATE: Not all the Brewery Tour 6 packs are the same, there are multiple versions, so you may want to check for the Wicked Ram IPA for instance, or get a six of them anyway. The Black Lager and Cream Ale was in all of the few I checked though.

townsendswarbler
This is the adult male Townsend's Warbler Kathy and I found
near HQ at Lost Maples SNA Dec. 2. Sorry it is fuzzy, it shows
the bird for the record, was a miracle to get an image. I got six
with nuthin' but fuzzy junipers, one nice sharp one with its
head turned away, and this. Note it has a prey item at the tip of
bill, looks like a small spider maybe, the only reason it slowed
down enough for me to get a pic.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ November summary ~ ~ ~

We had record early record cold, hitting 20dF on the 14th, and the lower 20's 3 mornings straight. An early hard freeze. Lots of frontal passages, but no significant rain, very dry, just cold and wind. River still high from the 20-30" of precip in Sept. and October. A weak pecan and hackberry crop will not likely hold birds in the area very long into winter. Seed crops are good though. A Rough Greensnake was one of my favorite highlights for the month.

As can be expected with an early cold, insects flamed out fast. Odes were 11 species, and barely that, just the last few of the last things flying. Nothing unusual, the 11 most likely, always nice are a few Autumn Meadowhawk as expected. Butterflies were better with 44 species, but nothing new after the 17th. That Nov. 17 bug was the butterfly of the month, my first and only CRIMSON PATCH of the year, in the woods at Utopia Park, in mint condition, landed in the sun briefly. The runner up was my only Great Purple Hairstreak of the year, on Nov. 4, which also saw my only White-tipped Black (moth) of the year. It was very good the first week of November with a limited southern origin fall invasion, but between the 7th and 9th a front hit and it was about over. Dribs and drabs for a week until the deep freeze hit and that was it save stragglers.

Birds were good though, for the little looking had. I count 87 species and we didn't make it up to Lost Maples so missed a few easy things. It is pretty crowded there on weekends in November for the leaf thingie. The trails are often too loud for birding. November is the tail end of fall migration, and the leading edge of winter birds showing up. An EASTERN TOWHEE on the 1st was great, LTA - less than annual for me here. Was an ad. female, but which I'll gladly take. A SPRAGUE'S PIPIT on the 7th was good, they too are LTA for me, easy to miss if you don't just spend all of Nov. in green sprouting fields. Five Horned Lark on the 22nd were about as rare here. For some reason the field birds are tough here.

A Rufous-Allen's Hummingbird spent the month at our place, which is very unusual for us. The big Nov. surprise show was Red-breasted Nuthatch. One showed up the end of October, I thought I heard two mid-November, finally saw two together at once in our big pecan on the 26th, and Dec. 2 had THREE at once in our big pecan. That explained my confusion ageing and sexing what I was seeing. It is an adult male, ad. female, and an immature. First time I have seen more than a single here, so pretty remarkable. Two Townsend's Solitaire were at 1050 pass 5 mi. west of town up at the top of the pass, which are not a sure thing annually, so always great to see.

~ ~ ~ end November summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

Nov. 30 ~ It was clear and about 50dF at midnight last night, at 6 a.m. it was 60dF and fog-mist, so the low was at about 12:01 a.m. Weird weather they got here in Utopia. The hummer was around but didn't hear the nuthatches. The rest was the usual gang. On 360 the male Vermilion Flycatcher continues along the pastures east of the former Utopia on the River. At the park was the Coot and a Pied-billed Grebe. Can't help but wonder if the Coot is the one that wintered last year. I heard a Brown Creeper but could not find it. Methinks it flew or was flying over to the island when I heard it. Do not see them every year here so that kinda stung, but not as bad as the bee yesterday. Also there and the first I have seen locally in weeks, was a Turkey Vulture, presumedly a tardy migrant. Little Creek Larry said he had a couple Snipe at the So.Little Crk. pond this past week.

Nov. 29 ~ We had a 37dF low, Seco Crk WU station showed 38, and Kerrville 45. Again way colder than forecast. But sunny so got nice. Saw the hummer and heard the two Red-breasted Nuthatch again. Both are still here, hope they stick all winter, wish they would find the sunflower feeder. The first one has been here a month so far. Too cool, I love 'em. Whatabird. The hummer is at three weeks. Other than that the same old stuff all day. Thursday so at desk. At dusk there was a House Wren jeering over in the corral. Saw a Buckeye (butterfly) besides the expected half-dozen types still flying.

The bees are swarming the hummer feeders now that there is no nectar or pollen out there. Two flew into my shirt, one on my chest I felt crawling, pulled the shirt away knowing what that feel was, and it flew out. The other went under from below and was discovered by the sharp stinging sensation on my stomach. Nothing this stupid should be allowed to have a stinger. Luckily it hit me right in the fat and so was not nearly the bother a sting usually is. The evidence is clear, I was saved by beer!

Nov. 28 ~ We had a 36dF this morning, the Seco Crk. WU station showed 37, and Kerrville low 40's, so the city heat island kept them much warmer than we were. Heard the nuthatch and saw the hummer. About 23 waxwing and 44 Robin flew over. Great was my FOS Slate-colored Junco out back on the seed, a sharp lookin' male. My latest ever date for a 'first one of the fall' arrival, except the year I did not see one all fall and winter. In the afternoon I saw an ad. ma. Sharp-shinned Hawk coming in over the corral trees out front. A Mourning Dove bolted from a water trough seeming to aim to be behind the Sharpy after it passed. The Sharpy wheeled on a dime, gave 9 cents change and grabbed the dove as it was climbing. You heard about 6 wing-whistles of climbing dove and then silence. Lotta weight for a little Sharpy. Saw a few butterflies: Vesta Crescent, Dainty Sulphur, Little Yellow, Queen, a Fiery or Whirlabout Skipper, couple Dogface, some Snout. It is fadin' fast.

Nov. 27 ~ It was 26dF here on porch this a.m., Kerrville was progged for 32 by NOAA, they had a 26, as did the Seco Crk. WU station. The R-A Hummer was out there before 7 a.m. before sunup. About 50 Robin and 20 Cedar Waxwing were eating some hackberries early. Had 4 Pine Siskin at a seed tube, most for me so far this fall. The imm. Sharpy dove on everything and missed again, it is going to be around doing this all winter. The Canyon Towhee was out there and is apparently getting a bit territorial. Some waxwings and robins were coming into the birdbath for a drink and the Towhee displaced a perched waxwing by flying right at it, flushing it. Then as a robin departed from a drink heading back to the junipers, the towhee flew right on its arse for 20 feet and sounded like it was mumbling something all the way. Can't wait to see what it does when a few hundred each waxwings and robins show up. Mighta gotta waxwing drinking shot.

Nov. 26 ~ About 45dF for a low with some cool north wind on it. The R-A Hummer still here. A Merlin shot over early. Hutton's Vireo was out there. Outstanding was having TWO Red-breasted Nuthatch AT ONCE together in the big pecan right off the front porch. Finally got a usable pic of at least one of them (below). Interesting was that twice it pulled a sunflower seed out of a bark crevice. The seed-stashing Chickadees and Titmice must hate these guys being here. This is why it keeps returning to the big pecan. He thinks it is a magic tree. Just like me. I wonder if it thinks when pecans get big they have sunflower seeds in the bark crevices? Of course this is the first time in 15 years I have seen two together at once here, generally as you get near south Texas you only see singles. I do not see them here more years than I do, by far. So two at once, in the yard, is somewhere between fantastic and awesome. I had a quick town dash at noon, at the park had the pair of Green Kings on the island, Blue Jay, Red-tail and Red-shouldered Hawk. A new guest that was not there Thurs., Fri., or Sat., was a Coot. Got a winter plumaged Myrtle Warbler pic while a group was working the run-over pecans in the streets of town. Which fills a gap on the warblers page since it is actually the most-seen warbler plumage around town, a winter Myrtle.

Nov. 25 ~ Upper 40's dF for a low, maybe got to 62dF or so. But the front got here (dry) with 15mph gusting over 20 northerlies, too windy to bird. So worked on stuff here. Glad we took a spin around yesterday. Had the hummer and the nuthatch early, as well as a Hutton's Vireo, plus all the regular gang. A dozen Robin and 3 Waxwing were in the big pecan. Saw the Sharp-shinned Hawk terrorizing things. Heard a Field Sparrow. Canyon Towhee was about.

Nov. 24 ~ About 41dF for a low, overcast until the afternoon. Sun came out about 3 p.m. and warmed to low 70's. A nice little flock was here mid-morn. At least 6-7 Myrtle Warbler and one Orange-crowned, 3 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and my FOS Hermit Thrush (2) were in the same Hackberry with the warblers. Finally on them. The R-A Hummer and the R-b Nuthatch were both out there at the same time as the winter flock. I did not see the imm. White-crowned Sparrow that was here at dusk.

We took a drive around noonish to peek about a little. Our annual trip this weekend to go see fall. We go out 1050 to the 1050 pass, 4-5 miles west of town. Don't worry, it is not a pass like you think of. It is no Donner or Tioga Pass. More like that Frontierland train ride at Disneyland kind of pass. It is the lowest thing I have ever heard called a pass. It is a little mini-pass I guess. A passlet. There is one formal pullout, and a wide shoulder on the way up it (westbound side), so you can get out and look and listen in a few spots. When no traffic it can be ok. Great color now, sometimes some birds, Golden-cheeks breed on these slopes. We just heard a Scrub-Jay this time.

At the Bear Creek Pond just before the passlet there were ducks! Counted 11 Gadwall, 18 American Wigeon, 3 Ring-necked Duck, and best, one wild Mallard, which are very rare here. There was one blonde frankenduck on the pond, someone's easter duck, a new addition. We did find and see fall, had great views, got photos of it. The pass has very nice color now from the Buckley Oaks, the slopes are covered in yellow, orange, rust, and a little red. The maples are a crapshoot any given year, the Buckley Oaks a sure thing. Should last a couple more weeks at least, sometimes some through December. I saw some Brickelbush that had gone to seed, but so it bloomed this year.

Right as you top the passlet I had a brief but close bare-eyed view of two Townsend's Solitaire on the powerline. Stopped at the first wide spot right at top and they flew as I moved to get out. Could not refind them. Surely my earliest record locally, but I think others have had them at Lost Maples around Thanksgiving in some years in the past. Just the other side of the crestlet we saw my two FOS Spotted Towhee (finally), both females. At the park in town was a female Green Kingfisher on the island. Heard Blue Jays. Two different pastures had flocks of 50 meadowlark each. The ones on 360 looked Eastern, the ones at the north end of town in the Blackbuck pasture looked Western. None called, since a birder was listening. A Merlin stooped on the 360 flock but I think us approaching or the stock fence made it decide to call it off. What a bullet of a bird.

redbreastednuthatch
Here is one of the Red-breasted Nuthatch around the yard now,
caught red-handed stealing a stashed sunflower seed out of a
crevice in the bark of the pecan. The chickadees and titmice
are not likely as thrilled about our new visitor as I am.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Nov. 23 ~ Foggy and about 50dF this morning. Early I had the R-b nuthatch I missed yesterday, the R-A hummer, some Robins, and a couple Myrtle Warbler. Sunny by 11 a.m., and the afternoon got up to at least 71 or 72dF! Nice to open up and air out. Town run, nothing much moving but since the flowers are cooked, it was mostly errands. Thought I heard a Hermit Thrush on the island at the park but couldn't coax it into view. That was too an errand. Had to make sure there were still not any new park birds there. On the way back just south of the corral on 360 I had to hit the brakes and run off edge of the dirt road to avoid a snake. Missed it thankfully, a 20" Rough Greensnake. Which looks and feels smooth as silk. Has to be my first November record. Got a couple (now I see exposure-messed-up) photos, dang white balance or digital metering can not handle caliche. Has to be my first November record. What a beautiful animal. Heard a couple Waxwings here in the trees mid-afternoon. Right before dusk I saw my FOS White-crowned Sparrow out back office window on the seed, an imm., finally. I have thought I heard them a few times in the last couple weeks but hadn't seen one yet.

Nov. 22 ~ Happy Turkey day turkeys! Mid-to-upper 40's dF for a low, overcast and humid. Got up to about 60dF at peak heat. Saw the hummer out there, missed the nuthatch today. Didn't hear or see any Turkey, had a couple stuffed Cornish Gamehens though. Might be my favorite bird. Tonight it is. Mid-morn a flock of 5 Horned Lark flew over coming up off the grass airstrip, good thing a couple called. Only maybe the 2nd or 3rd time I have had it from the yard here. They are regular in the ag fields down around Hwy. 90 but rare up here in the hills.

We took a couple hour lookabout around noon since we had a break. This is the only Thursday of the year that can happen. A flock of sparrows along 360 had 35 Chipping, some Lark, a Field or two, and a couple Lincoln's were in the same area. Some Myrtle Warbler, a dozen Cardinal. A flock of 20 some Cedar Waxwing flew over calling, my first flock of the fall, had only had a single. Near Utopia on the River there was a adult male Vermilion Flycatcher. The park had a couple Blue Jay, and heard a Green Kingfisher. Saw an(other?) ad.ma. Vermilion Flyc. on the way back on 187 over a half mile from the one on 360. I guess if it is moving around a lot it could be the same bird. A half-mile in under an hour seems a lot compared to what I am used to from them but my observations are mostly during nesting season when tethered. Also on the way back at the 360 crossing a decent flock of E. Bluebirds, a few Myrtle Warbler, and my FOS Pine Warbler, a bright adult male. Had a glimpse of what surely was a White-throated Sparrow at the crossing too, thought sure I heard one call at UP as well. Still no Hermit Thrush.

There is some great color going on now. Anywhere there is good color on the hills, you are seeing Buckley (Spanish) Oaks. Oh maybe a few other things here and there have some, but 99% of the color now is Buckley Oak. And they are beautiful. Some very nice yellows, oranges, pinks, reds, they are the best sure thing color show in fall here and should be good a couple or few weeks at least now. The divides (higher ground between the river valleys) are covered in them. Mostly tied to slopes, thickest on steeper ones, they like an altitudinal gradient. These are a favorite tree of Golden-cheeked Warblers.

Nov. 21 ~ I saw a 38dF before 7 a.m., later saw KRVL had 32 and Seco Creek WU station 34. Maybe it dropped a little after I looked, it happens if you check early at dark-thirty. Overcast and humid so chilly. After 8 a.m. heard a Ringed Kingfisher over at the river, and a flock of 60+ Robin dropped in across the road. After 10 a.m. there was a little sparrow party on the patio. The 20 Chipping is my highest count so far this fall, a thrill which doesn't last very long. There were also 5 Lark, and best 1 Vesper Sparrow! The Vesper came right up to the back porch steps just feet away. The real fast tail flick they do as they forage flashes the white outer tail feathers. Heard the hummer and nuthatch out there.

With a little free time over the last week I did my need-it-or-not once-every-five-years update to the warblers page (at the bird photo index). Added and refined text here and there, and added some photos to better illustrate our warblers. Besides feathering in some of the weekly update break warbler photos that were not there, a couple new ones are not anywhere else on the site. I am partial to that Black-and-white near the end without full tail.

Nov. 20 ~ About 40dF for a low, chilly. Eventually warmed to the mid-60's dF in the afternoon which was quite nice. Saw the R-A Hummer, the R-b Nuthatch, and the Canyon Towhee, the rest was the regular gang. Some butterflies came out in the heat. A Red Admiral, couple Gulf Fritillary, few Sleepy Orange, at least 2 So. Dogface, a Vesta Crescent, a Fiery or Whirlabout Skipper, and best, a Texan Crescent flew by - only my second for the month, plus one Dainty Sulphur. Was swamped having to get biz done as our normal peak busy day is a holiday this week so all has to be done early.

Nov. 19 ~ About 45dF for a low, cloudy, humid, a bit chilly. Got up to about 57dF under overcast skies in the afternoon. Heard the Nuthatch early, saw the Canyon Towhee. About 11 a.m. I saw the R-A Hummer after not seeing it for a couple days, again. Must be visiting someone else's sweet stuff, the two-timer. Counted 16 White-winged Dove on the seed, and maybe as many Chipping Sparrow, which is double what there has been. A flock of big fat finches flushed out of the big pecan before I saw them, that I wish I could have ID'd. Was over a dozen. My impression was crossbills. A couple Lesser Goldfinch were around.

Nov. 18 ~ A dry front came in before dawn with northerly winds. It dropped from 55 to 44dF between 5-9 a.m., chill factors with winds are in the high 30's dF. Only barely broke 50dF at peak heat, maybe low 40's chill factors. Worked on stuff inside. Thick cloud layer but no rain. Knew not to get up and look for Leonid meteors in advance. Here, apparently 'meteor shower' means cloudy with no chance of stars. That is how the overwhelming majority of them play out here. Canyon Towhee is out there, did not see the hummer yet at noon and missed it yesterday. There is an imm. Sharp-shinned Hawk harassing the seed eaters all day missing repeated attempts. So just the regular repeat offenders sneaking in on the seed as they can.

Nov. 17 ~ Foggy and in the 40's dF for a few hours early. Did not see the hummer, but had the Nuthatch and a Golden-crowned Kinglet again (maybe yesterday's?). The rest was the regulars in the yard. We looked around a couple hours around noon. The golf course pond at Waresville Cmty. had a couple dozen Red-winged Blackbird fairly evenly split of sexes. There was finally my FOS Savannah Sparrow there as well. At Utopia Park we had single Great Blue Heron and Great Egret at the pond, up on the islad was a male Green Kingfisher, in the woods were Carolina Wren, Titmice and Chickadees, a few Cardinal.

Best bird was a bug, a CRIMSON PATCH butterfly flew by and landed right in front of us in the sun for a few moments at the edge of the woods. It quickly took off and disappeared whilst I fumbled with camera, which made a bad heavy ker-plunk sound and voila! the lens goes in and out again. We know it will break again quickly. It is the first Crimson Patch I have seen all year, it was in immaculate mint fresh condition as if a fresh emergence. What a beauty! May well be the last new species of butterfly for my local butterfly year list. We are having a very weak year for diversity locally, at drought levels.

We drove out Jones Cmty Rd. to check the wet spot on W. Sabinal, where there were 7 Killdeer, probably migrants from northward. Heard a couple more Savannah Sparrow, saw a L. Shrike, a few Kestrel, Red-tailed Hawk, 4 E. Bluebird, but not a lot. Coming back just before the house along the corral there were some Field and Lincoln's Sparrows. Saw a couple Monarchs out there, and a few minor butterflies, but flowers are toast now. Frozen in time and place.

theonacheckerspot
Theona Checkerspot


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ update header (partial) archive copy ~ ~ ~

Of course I am always looking for a few good bugs... What appears to be only a second Uvalde County record, a Slaty Skimmer was at Utopia Park July 13-14 (ph. below). What looked like a Blue-faced Darner (C. adnexa) was at Lost Maples July 29. Haven't gotten to working with the poor pix yet. An apparent Lassaux's Sphinx Moth was at the porch light for photos Aug. 30. A Twelve-spotted Skimmer was in Bandera Co. at the S. Little Crk. Rd. pond Oct. 5 (ph.).

There is a RIVER! And it is mighty high. We have had repeated rain events for most of the last 8 weeks. Major events Sept. 2-10, and the 15th-16th. Minors in between, it rained most of September, yet no one complained. It has rained much of October so far as well. Many local reports are of in the area of TWO FEET of rain in September. We have had about 7.5" in Oct. so far. So we have a fall flower bloom. But so far few butterflies. It also got cold early with a four day event with highs in the 40's dF last week, three days in the 50's this week, winterish high temperatures. And 80dF today.

So much for that D3 we were at the USGS drought monitor, Couch's Spadefoot Toads were calling. If you can hear them, there is no drought. Oct. 1-2 there was another 3.25" for us here, but it was 5" and more upvalley, all the low water crossings were flooded, locals were calling water levels epic. Then Oct. 15 we got another 2.75", low-water crossings down again. The rain just won't stop. The ground is so saturated it is all runoff at this point. Still some chiggers and skeeters out, that would love to see you.

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Nov. 16 ~ NOAA had Kerrville at 37dF for a forecast low last night. We had 27 here. Off by a category. They had 29 there. Last three mornings here were in the 20's, and last four froze. The R-A Hummer and R-b Nuthatch were both out there early. There were 6 American Goldfinch, had only been seeing 1-4. Better yet, was a flock of 5 Audubon's Oriole working the yard for a while around 9:30 a.m. Mostly in the Hackberries, and working the ball moss clumps particularly. Wish they would take to a hummer feeder here like the Seco Ridge birds did. Guessing the hummer would not be as excited about that as I. About 10 a.m. I saw my FOS Pine Siskin in with some American Goldfinches on the patio.

Town run. At least two FOS Song Sparrow were at the 360 x-ing. A Zone-tailed Hawk was in a tree just south of town, and a male Green Kingfisher was at the park, but that was it. The hard freeze cooked all the remaining flowers at the various gardens around town. Normally this is a great week or two for vagrant butterflies from the south as we finish the fall bloom, that appears shot now. There were a few things about, mostly singles, and little to nothing to nectar on. Perfectly good flowers nuked. Saw a couple ea. Vesta and Phaon Crescent, one Theona Checkerspot, couple Dogface, couple Large Orange Sulphur, 1 Orange Sulphur, a couple Little Yellow, American Lady and Red Admiral, Pipevine Swallowtail, a Whirlabout, 10 Sleepy Orange, a few Gulf Fritillary. It is fading fast now. One female Variegated Meadowhawk dragonfly, one Blue-ringed and one Dusky Dancer in damselflies.

Nov. 15 ~ About 26.5 for a low here, KRVL had 26, Seco Crk WU station, 25dF. Chilly willy. Got up to the lowest 60's at peak heat. The Pigeon spent the night in the big pecan, then fed with the White-winged Doves on the patio early, then took off with some White-winged Dove heading north toward town, to go party with its new friends. I heard back from the American Racing Pigeon Union people, the bird is from Kerrville. At least the owner knows he has a carouser now. It was born this year so still inexperienced. Heard the Nuthatch, and a Hutton's Vireo, saw the Ruf-All Hummer, probably a Rufous. An Audubon's Warbler moved through the yard, looked ad. female. Saw my FOS Brewer's Blackbird when five flew over calling. Then I had my FOS Golden-crowned Kinglet upslope behind us, a couple Ruby-crowned were out there too.

Saw a few butterflies. One Monarch, a couple Gulf and one Variegated Fritillary, a few Sleepy Orange, a Vesta Crescent, a So. Dogface, a Red Admiral, an American Lady. Amazing this stuff can take 20dF! The tomatoes we had left, and covered, couldn't take however cold it got in the makeshift greenhouse. Looks like most have met a premature demise. Not fried, but frozen green tomatoes.

Nov. 14 ~ If there was any doubt winter was coming the record lows this morning should remove that. We had 20dF! Kerrville had the same and the WU station at Seco Crk. reported 19dF! The historical record low for Uvalde for this date is 37dF! Yesterday's low (28dF) and this morning's (23dF), both broke hundred year old records at San Antonio. The panhandle of Texas had 10, 11, and 12dF! It was a killin' freeze. Lots of purple leaves out there. Temps got up to freezing about 9 a.m. Some of our Frostweed stems blew open and froze their ribbons of paper-thin ice, something you usually see in later Dec. or January. We got up to about 55dF on the cool shady front porch, probably near 60 on the sunny south side of the house.

First thing early there were a HUNDRED Robins in and around the yard. First big flock of the season. Hadn't had a full handful yet prior. I heard one Waxwing in with them. All the puddles along the roads were frozen, bird bath was too, had to use warm water on it twice before it quit refreezing. There were a dozen Vesper and a couple Lark Sparrow along the corral early. Canyon Towhee was around. The imm.ma. Rufous-Allen's Hummingbird was out there flycatching after not seeing it the last couple days. So it is still here. Heard the Red-breasted Nuthatch out there. Saw Meadowlarks over on the airstrip.

A few butterflies popped out when it got over 50dF: one male Fiery Skipper (not the female skipper of yesterday), one Red Admiral, one Gulf Fritillary, two Sleepy Orange, two Vesta Crescent, one Clouded Skipper, one American Lady, and late one Queen. The Pigeon looked fine today after being in the cottage a couple days and eating seemingly a couple pounds of seed in two days, so I put it out on the patio. It flew up to roof of cottage an hour, then sat in the Mulberry an hour, then it was gone. I recorded the band info so I can report it and maybe find out where it was from. It was the pigeon people's plastic bands, not a USFW aluminum type for wild birds of course. Dang thing has shown back up now at sundown. I tried to coax it into the cottage but gave up. It is roosting in the big pecan.

Meanwhile Kathy found a barely moving bat on the front porch. We brought it in and warmed it, took pix, took it back out just before dark and it flew off, not particularly strongly. It did not look to be in great shape. I do not know what it is eating these last couple or few nights. Probably starved? Never a dull moment here. On another subject, the deer and horses are sure hitting the fallen Mulberry leaves as annually. They both appear to relish the fresh fallen Mulberry leaves, must be something good in them they want.

Nov. 13 ~ The winds blew all night, still 15-20 gusting to 30, the low temp was 30.5dF here, wind chills around 20dF. Winter is here. An early first fall freeze. Might be some record lows around the area for the date. Winds finally laid down near the end of the day, and you know what that means. Tonight to tomorrow morn, it gets real cold, as in low-to-mid 20'sdF. There goes the last of my Blue Mist Eup flowers. A few Robin here again in the morning. Thought I heard the nuthatch from inside. There was a Sharp-shinned Hawk bothering the seedeaters. Amazing was at peak 45dF heat a skipper (butterfly) was out, a female Fiery or Whirlabout. Only butterfly I saw today, no surprise.

Nov. 12 ~ It was in the low 50's dF in the early morning. That was the high for the day. Mid-morn the northerlies started puffing and were howling by noon, continuing to do so all day, and they say much of the night. So temps dropping from about 9 a.m. on. Was often 15-20 mph gusting to 30. Tomorrow morning will be the first freeze of the season. Early. I did not see the hummer in the morning, maybe it was smart enough to go yesterday afternoon. The little passerine flock was around early before it got bad, and included the Red-breasted Nuthatch (which makes two weeks here now). Of the few I have seen here prior, none have stuck around more than a day or few at most, so this is a treat. Loosely associated with the Bluebirds, Chippies, Myrtle Warbler were 3 Robin and 3 Lesser Goldfinch.

Right after the front started blowing out of nowhere was something I have only seen a couple times from the yard, a Pigeon! As in Rock Dove, Feral Pigeon. Nearly at my feet. A nice fairly natural colored (checkered) type. I caught it, it didn't look real well, put it in the cottage, so it could crap all over in there, it ate a bunch of seed, and is banded! Haven't gotten the number off it yet but clearly it is a pet bird. So, a lost banded pet pigeon makes landfall during intense storm front at a birder's place with large bags of seed and shelter. If you made it up they would say it is too corny. Bet it's glad to be indoors tonight.

Nov. 11 ~ About 45dF for a low, misting a bit early. Chilly. Got up to a smokin' 55 or so for a high, but still drizzly. The R-A Hummingbird was out there early. I heard the Red-breasted Nuthatch right over the shed out back, close, and swear there was a second distant bird calling at the same time. We have to get stuff done here before the big hard freeze next week. The lows Tues. through Thurs. are progged to be below freezing, with mid-20's on Wed. morning peak cold. Likely near records for the date. Every day for the last five, the NOAA forecast is a degree colder for next Tues.-Wed.-Thurs. mornings.

Not a lot of bird activity around the yard though. Racoons and squirrels decimated what pecan crop there was here, and the hackberry crop is weak. Seed crops seem good though, and that is a lot of what most attract to yard feeders. There are four each Carolina Chickadee and Black-crested Titmouse hitting the sunflower tube pretty hard all day. Not even a dozen Cardinal, the Canyon Towhee, maybe 8 Chipping and a few Lark Sparrow, the pair of Common Ground-Dove, a few Mourning and less than 10 White-winged Dove. A female Ladder-backed Woodpecker was on the pole next to the sunflower feeder watching stuff use it, but did not go to it. A few Eastern Bluebird, a Myrtle Warbler, a couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet, heard a Flicker.

Nov. 10 ~ Cloudy in a.m., sunny a few hours late afternoon, temp range of 45-53dF, if you can call that a range. Not much of one. Humid, and chilly. Not much bird action around yard, probably a Cooper's Hawk hiding nearby the stuff has seen. Saw the imm. ma. R-A (Rufous-Allens) Hummingbird at all three feeders over the day, so it is still here. I heard the Red-breasted Nuthatch but didn't run out to see it. When the sun came out and it 'warmed' up I saw 4 butterflies: 2 So. Dogface, a Gulf Fritillary, and a Common Checkered-Skipper. Worked on stuff inside, nearish heat. Hard freeze next week.



Spinyback Spider
This is a Spinyback Spider (Gasteracantha cancriformis) female.
It is about a half inch across, males are little tiny things.


Spinyback Spider
This view gives a better idea of the amazing bright yellow coloration.
There is another color form with a white sheild with red spiny points.
That is a hard protective exoskeleton on these neat beasts.

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Nov. 9 ~ A few spits of rain overnight as the front arrived but just a trace. Was about 48dF for a low, but with 15-20 mph northerlies on it, gusting higher, it felt more like upper 30's. Birds seem pretty hunkered down. Next week we are supposed to freeze or so a couple mornings. At the park in town there was one Great Egret, and at the island a pair of Green Kingfisher interacting, probably the local breeder pair. A couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a Myrtle Warbler, heard a Blue Jay, Cardinal, Chickadee, and Titmouse was about it. Didn't bother looking for butterflies, too cold for them. On the way back on 360 there was a flock of a dozen Eastern Bluebird, and an imm. ma. Vermilion Flycatcher. Did not see the Ruf-All Hummer here today.

Nov. 8 ~ About 60dF and soupy again, a little drizzle here and there. Saw the Rufous-Allen's Hummingbird early after not seeing it all afternoon or at last light yesterday. Noonish a little flock was around the yard and in the corral. Was a few Eastern Bluebid, a couple Myrtle Warbler, a handful each of Chipping and Lark Sparrow, a Hutton's Vireo, the Red-breasted Nuthatch, and a Nashville Warbler. I would guess the Nashville is the same laggard I saw two days ago in the corral. Canyon Towhee was out there as well. There was a Desert Checkered-Skipper out in yard too, but only a very few butterflies on the fading Blue Mist due to cool moist air.

Nov. 7 ~ It was cooler at midnight than at 7 a.m. when 70dF, and foggy. Sunny afternoon, 75dF on cool shady front porch, 80 in the sun and at some local stations. A front is to arrive tonight. Heard the R-b Nuthatch again in the early a.m. Great was an imm. Rufous-Allen's Hummingbird in the morning, which I did not see yesterday. So still the odd stray hummer out there migrating that needs a refuel station. Looked like probably an imm. male. A real surprise was a single pipit that flew over, called a couple times, heading for the grassy airstrip it seemed, which was a SPRAGUE'S Pipit. Now is prime-time for them, and any single lone pipit right now is more likely not a Water Pipit. But hearing it call removes any doubt. A Ringed Kingfisher flew upriver high over the cypresses 'chakking', at last sun.

Had a weird pale Duskywing (butterfly) on the Blue Mist for a couple hours. Got a few Mavica pix, hopefull will be enough to ID it. I know the usual regular ones here fairly well after 15 short years, and did not recognize this beast. I guess it could be a very pale worn Mournful, but the trailing edge of ventral hindwing was not typical of that species (no sub-marginal white dots).

Nov. 6 ~ A low of 52 and sunny. Just right. To the east where more humid was a fog advisory, it didn't make it here. Got up to 80dF in the heat of the afternoon. Saw a Julia's skipper on the Blue Mist Eup, and a dozen Queen. Heard the Red-breasted Nuthatch go through the yard again, wish it would spot the chickadees and titmice at the sunflower seed feeder. The rest was the expected. Late afternoon I took an hour walk through the Huisache Daisy patches in the corral for butterflies. Not as warm tomorrow and rain chances, so strike while the iron is hot. The bummer of the day was while trying to shoot some butterflies, the camera lens malfunctioned and the SX40 seems bricked until I can get it to a Canon repair shop. Major bummer. Lens won't go in and out, apparently came out of the track. Scat. No it was not banged. It had happened a couple times and moving it in and out it got back on track.

Heard the nuthatch over by the river, saw a few Vesper Sparrow, and best was a very late Nashville Warbler, maybe my first November Nashville, and two American Goldfinch. A couple new butterflies were a Checkered White, and a few Whirlabout. Otherwise it is amazing how much things change in a couple days since I was last there. Here is a list. At least 30 Pipevine and 2 Black Swallowtail, single Large Orange and Cloudless Sulphur, 60+ Sleepy Orange, 60+ Dogface, a few Little Yellow, one Lyside, the Checkered White (missed it in Oct.), 20 Gray Hairstreak (no Mallow Scrub-), 1 Dusky-blue Groundstreak, no blues, one Fatal Metalmark, 20 Theona Checkerspot, 50 Bordered Patch, at least 500 Vesta, 15 Phaon, and one Texan Crescent, 4 Red Admiral, 1 American Lady, 35 Monarch, 20 Queen, 1 No. Mestra. For Skippers it was 15 Sachem, 12 Fiery, 3 Julia's, 1 Dun, 3 Whirlabout, 4 Eufala, and 10-20 un-ID'd were mostly Sachem or Fiery types. Single bushes had dozens of butterflies on them, it is an outstanding show.

Also a few metallic green native halichtid bees, and some of the black-n-white bees, and some bicolored red-n-black Sphecids. A couple of the 1.5" black with pale yellow bands on rear sides of adbomen scoliid wasps. A pair of mating Soldier Beetles (Cantharidae), that gold Meloid (blister beetle) that is common in fall on sunflower types. Tons of flies (Diptera) of various sorts I try to ignore.

Nov. 5 ~ Only 58dF for a low, overcast and humid, the southerly Gulf flow is back. The Red-breasted Nuthatch came through the yard again in the morning. Same route as before, Mulberry to kitchen Pecan to porch big Pecan, toward river via a Mesquite across the road. Same bird, now since Oct. 30, makes a week. I have heard more 'nyets' in the last week than in the prior several years. What a great little bird they are. I heard it again about 11 a.m., and again about 1 p.m. it was in earshot. Otherwise it was just the regular suspects over the day. It only takes one good bird to make your day. If it is good enough it can make a week or month.

Some butterflies on the Blue Mist, Salvia, and flying by. A couple Monarch, 8 or so Queen, a dozen each Dogface, Sleepy Orange, and Vesta Crescent, some Large Orange and Cloudless Sulphur, another crab spider (#5), Pipevine Swallowtails, a Mestra, nothing unusual, but some stuff to watch. The Texas Powdered-Skipper showed again, a Fiery Skipper stopped briefly, as did a Common Checkered-Skipper. The flowers are past peak but at least some are still going bringing things to the porch.

Nov. 4 ~ A dry front passed, we had northerlies for most of the morning, then easterlies, it finally laid down late afternoon. Heard a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a Hutton's Vireo, a couple Myrtle Warbler, saw the Ground-Doves and Canyon Towhee. No hummers again, the last two left Friday Nov. 2 after the morning sometime. We worked on stuff here until peak heat and took a walk through the Huisache Daisy (an acre's worth total) patch mostly at the far end of the corral for butterflies. Saw a pair of female Ladder-backed Woodpecker goofing around real close. Also 5 Vesper and a Lincoln's Sparrow, an ad.ma. Vermilion Flycatcher, 50 Black Vulture, no Turkey Vulture they are gone for the most part. Two Red-tails were the local breeder ad. Fuertes, and probably their young they fledged, but which is not welcome in these parts any longer. I heard one loud 'nyet' that surely was the Red-breasted Nuthatch, but it never called again so I let it go.

Butterflies were pretty good for limited diversity. At least there are numbers of a few things. Interesting how some are amazingly fresh, mint condition, and others amazingly worn, within any of the species we saw. Vesta Crescent is the most abundant with 300++ of them still, saw 1 Pearl Crescent and maybe 15 Phaon Crescent. Very nice was a Texan Crescent, which I did not see in October! Fifteen Pipevine and a pair (male and female together) of Black Swallowtail. A few Large Orange Sulphur (saw Cloudless at the porch Salvias today). One Lyside, 10 Dainty and 1 Orange Sulphur, 8 Little Yellow, and at least 75 So. Dogface. Great was a GREAT PURPLE HAIRSTREAK, first one I have seen this year I think, was a female (ph.). Probably 20 Gray Hairstreak, a Dusky-blue Groundstreak, no metalmarks or blues. A couple American Lady and a couple Red Admiral, 3-4 Buckeye, a No. Mestra, 40 each Gulf, and Variegated Fritillary, 2 Theona, (both ph. - one all orange type), 20 Bordered Patch is a big increase in them, 7 Monarch (another 5 in yard and went by over day), and 30 Queen. In skippers there were 10 Common Checkered-skipper, 1 Clouded, 2 Eufala, 10 Sachem, and 16 Fiery Skippers, and one Orange Skipperling. One White-tipped Black moth was my first of the fall (ph.), not a sure thing annually, and a pretty bug.

Off to a roaring start for November butterflies since I got to look at flowers little each of the last three days. You have to get all you can quick and early as when the first hard freeze hits, it is all but over until next spring. The Texas Powdered-Skipper was on the Blue Mist Eup at porch today again. A whopping 40 species for the month now, on the 4th. Amazing. But which means I won't be adding many more. There were a dozen Queen at once on our Blue Mist when we got back from our walk. No Firefly tonight.

Nov. 3 ~ We had 40dF for a low here, so chilly. Got real breezy out of the south early though, 15+mph. Warmed to about 74 or so. I went to town earlyish for the annual town craft fair (I think always first Sat. of Nov.) but at 9:30 a.m. the jelly lady was already out of Agarita. This is second year in a row of very poor crops for them and supplies are short. Especially for people at my part of the totem pole, the part below the ground. Got a couple others... and I gotta say I had no idea there was jalapeno everything jelly. Made off with a breakfast Taco from Rosie and went birding. Went to stop for more for lunch on the way home but the line was too long. Saw a Painted Lady in town on Judy Schaefers white (Boneset?) Eupatorium, among many butterflies.

At the park there was a Green Kingfisher and a Blue Jay. It was still coolish but on the flowers out front at entrance another Theona, 12 Phaon, 20 Vesta Crescent, and one Fatal Metalmark. A couple Dainty Sulphur, a Little Yellow, one Yellow-margined Flower-Buprestid. Too windy at the garden at north end of town. Went out W. Sabinal Rd. for a bit, to sneak a peek in Bandera County. At the wet spot by Haby's my FOS Merlin landed and was walking over to the water, no doubt to bathe. Just as I got my camera up and out a Kestrel stooped on it and flushed it away. Near Roy Heideman's place on the Fisher Rd. section there was my FOS Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in the trees along the road with a group of Chickadee, Titmouse, Myrtle Warbler, Cardinal, and I thought sure I heard a White-crowned Sparrow or two. Also heard one loud 'nyet' contact call of a Red-breasted Nuthatch but never could find it. At the Fisher gate there were a couple (FOS) Northern Harrier hunting in the pasture there.

Drove a couple miles up W. (Lower) Sabinal Rd. to the crossing where there was a Texas River Cooter. Just a few of the regular expected things: E. Bluebird, N. Cardinal, Car. Chickadee, B-c Titmouse, Bewick's and Carolina Wren, numbers of Mockingbird. Heard a Western Meadowlark sing from a pasture. On Jones Cmty. Rd. just south of W.Sab.Rd. there was a small group of Meadowlark at least one of which looked Eastern. On 360 just west of 187 by the corrals there was an ad. ma. Vermilion Flycatcher, the first of that age-sex class I have seen in a couple weeks. Neither of us saw a hummer here at the house all day. None at closing time yesterday either. They are gone. First day without a hummer here since March 2. We will keep at least one feeder up through the winter in hopes of Audubon's Oriole or a stray vagrant hummer.

northernharrier
Nothern Harrier, formerly called Marsh Hawk, often drifts slow and low over pastures and fields
dropping quickly on anything tasty. They have a white rump or uppertail covert area above.


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Nov. 2 ~ Probably the coldest morning since early April if not March. We had 39dF here, I saw KRVL had a 37 and the Seco Creek WU station a 38! Chilly, but sunny and warming up to 70dF or so. Saw two hummers in the morning, might be the only ones left. Around 9:30 a.m. I was outside and heard a distant Red-breasted Nuthatch calling repeatedly. The Russians are coming! Nyet, nyet, nyet, nyet, nyet. So either the one from two days ago is still around, or another one is. Then 10 minutes later I heard an Audubon's Oriole. Is this utopia or what!?! A great combo, sub-tropics, meet coniferous. Generally where one of them is, the other is not. Its like getting Scorpio and Orion together. About 10:30 the Nuthatch went through the yard, again hit the Mulberry, the kitchen (N.) Pecan and the big Pecan off front porch, got a docushot. Same route the one two days ago took, probably the same bird. When it flew across road over the gate it then landed in a Mesquite. They sure look funny in a Mesquite.

Town run, park had a Ringed and a Green Kingfisher and that was it. Couple Myrtle Warblers around town. At the garden at the curve at north end of town was a Theona Checkerspot and a Metalmark that looked Rounded, I'll have to study pix to ID. A few Monarchs were seen floating around, and we had two on the Blue Mist here for a while. Also here at the porch were single Dun, Clouded, and Julia's Skippers Not seeing any hummers this afternoon or at the evening last chance time, those last two might have split today. Almost forgot, near the golf course entrance a Canyon Towhee flew across 187 in front of me on the way home. The individual here in our yard was present as well.

There WERE two new crab spiders that showed up on the blue mist and took a couple butterflies, a Sleepy Orange and a Vesta Crescent. They eat on them for a while, drop 'em, and go back to set-trap position. When there is a week or two of food in the one they just killed and dropped, ate for an hour and now its not fresh enough? If I wasted food like that it would cost ten thousand dollars a month to feed me. I don't know what they thought I was running here but this is a butterfly refueling station, not a spider smorgasbord. With apologies to my spider expert friend.

redbreastednuthatch
Docushot of the Red-breasted Nutchatch in yard Nov. 2.
So pale below not a male, I would guess female, maybe an immature.


November 1 ~ Clear and cool after the frontal passage yesterday evening. Low was about 44dF with 10+mph northerlies on it, chilly. I had a quick town run before noon, went out the back way to UvCo 359 and 1050. Just south of that intersection on 359 a female Eastern Towhee flew across the road right in front of me. First one I have seen in a couple years at least. They are pretty scarce here, Spotted outnumber them about 100 to 1. You can easily go a few years without seeing one locally. Whereas Spotted are common in winter. So a great bird. A Ringed Kingfisher was at the park. Nothing but the regular residents in the woods. Saw a few Monarchs but did not have time to look at the flowers and it was still pretty chilly. Nothing through the yard either. Did see one Monarch, a couple Queen, few Dogface and Vesta Crescent, no skippers. There were about 4-5 Ruby-throated Hummingbird still here in the a.m., but I only saw one late in day, so they probably mostly departed today on the northerlies.

~ ~ ~ October summary ~ ~ ~

Another wet month, we had 8 inches of rain at our place, others around more and less an inch and two, pending how lucky you got with the biggest cells. More than double average Oct. rainfall. After a two foot September. The river is running high and mighty. A Coral Snake and a 6' Indigo Snake were a couple highlights of the month for me.

Butterflies picked up with 52 species and so the best month of the year for diversity. It was almost all invaders from southward, and so far this years' fall invasion has been rather limited in species diversity compared to really good years. Nothing fancy rare, but when everything is scarce, anything is good to see. Saw an Imperial Moth caterpillar at the park (thanks Lou). The bazillion kagillion Snout flight of the last week of September thankfully faded away in October, but numbers were still good early in the month.

After the Snout flight, the most common butterfly was Vesta Crescent. I saw over 400 in less than an acre of Huisache Daisy at once late in the month. No big Monarch flight this year but over 125 in the same Huisache Daisy patch late in month for a couple days was nice. A couple Western Pygmy-Blue were nice, but most obvious was all the stuff not present. Just a few Bordered Patch, almost no blues, no metalmarks, very few hairstreaks, only a few Phaon Crescent and barely any skippers, big or small. Large Orange and Cloudless Sulphur made a fair showing this fall. Mestra were here but in low numbers. A couple Ailanthus webworm moths, one Texas Wasp Moth.

Odes were pitiful. All the bad weather made it rough for them. I saw only about 16 species the whole month. They are all but crashed for the year. A few Autumn Meadowhawk showed up late in month as expected. Best maybe was a Twelve-spotted Skimmer in Bandera Co. (ph.) where rare. I saw what looked a male Ivory-striped Sylph on Oct. 30 floating around yard but it disappeared when I got back out with camera.

twelvespottedskimmer
Here is a docushot of the Twelve-spotted Skimmer in Bandera Co.,
taken from 75 yards, at least, maybe 85 yards. It is surely my
longest distance dragon docushot. Pardon the pixels. Oct. 5, 2018

Birds were fair, nothing real rare though. It was about 82 species for me locally this month, tying a weak August. The 106 species in between, in September, shows what a movement month that is here locally. Too much rain and work to make it to Lost Maples this month so missed a few sps. there. Bird of the month was a Red-breasted Nuthatch in our yard Oct. 30. The second Ibis of the fall at the W. Sabinal Rd. wetspot was good Oct. 19, 4 Greater and 2 Lesser Yellowlegs there were even better. Two Coots together at the S. Little Crk. ponds was interesting. In general some wintering type things seem a bit slow to arrive, but an American Goldfinch was record early Oct. 25. A pair of Downy Woodpecker at the park was the first time I have seen a pair here. A juv. Broad-winged Hawk is rare to see in here in October, especially on a roadside fencepost. Am. Robin and Cedar Waxwing both showed up early, Oct. 29. A late Mourning Warbler on Oct. 19 was very nice.

~ ~ ~ end October summary ~ ~ ~

Oct. 31 ~ And there goes another month! I guess them flying by is better than the alternative. About 68-75dF temp spread, overcast, mist, drizzle, a showerlet early afternoon. Hearing thunder about 4 p.m., by 5 we had rain, by 7 or so it was .75 of an inch. Another band or two just spritzed us, maybe .80 now. Once the front passes this evening we are in for northerlies and cooler temps.

Nary a nuthatch to be heard today, it was here until dusk last night so I was hoping it would stick. Heard the Hutton's Vireo out there. The fairly small but big highlight of the day was a Spinyback Spider (Gasteracantha cancriformis), a nice yellow form female. What an awesome animal, amazing structure, I don't see many here. If any of my shots turn out will post one. Had another crab spider on the Blue Mist Eup, which I can assure you was not the one yesterday that had the Vesta Crescent.

Oct. 30 ~ About 65-75dF for a temp spread, overcast in a.m., sunny in afternoon. Bird of the day was a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH in our pecans mostly, in the late afternoon for over an hour. Great to hear that call! Sure glad I was out on the porch stringing the whacker. Second time around an hour after first encounter I got a docu shot of it. Pretty sure Putin must have sent it, as it kept saying 'nyet, nyet, nyet, nyet, nyet'. Those Russians are everywhere, even in my Nuthatches!

Also great was a Dusky-blue Groundstreak butterfly, first of the month at end of month, with rain predicted tomorrow is likely the last new one for October. Saw the Texas Powdered-Skipper again. Otherwise had a few Myrtle and the Orange-crowned Warbler, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and the rest was the regular usual. But a new butterfly for the month and a nuthatch makes a great day! Four or five Firefly at dusk. I heard Hackberry pits raining down on the carport for over an hour after dark. The Ringtail is up there again...

Oct. 29 ~ Low was low-mid-50's and overcast, a bit of mist in morn. It is getting yellower of leaves out there. Lots of pecans have no leaves along 360, the Cypresses are mostly rusty along the river, Sycamores are mostly dropped already. Looks pretty fallish. There are still a half-dozen Ruby-throats around the feeders. Heard the Hutton's Vireo, and Canyon Towhee. A few Myrtle Warbler stopped by. The big surprise was first hearing, then seeing a FOS group of 4 Robin and 1 Cedar Waxwing up in the big pecan. They went over to a juniper with berries just over the north fence. There does seem to be a fair juniper berry crop this year.

Saw a couple Monarch hit the Blue Mist, one Orange Skipperling was nice, only 2nd this month, saw the Celia's Roadside-, and the Julia's, Skippers. A big dark skipper flew by, either Cloudywing or Duskywing. That hurt, any duskywing would have been new for the month. A few Firefly at dark. Heard a Great Horned Owl calling at dark before dawn.

Oct. 28 ~ A crisp 48dF for a low was nice, KRVL had a 45! Blue skies, clear and dry. Like fall. Finally a couple sunny days in October. Too much to do though now before it gets cold. Heard a Hutton's Vireo, a Myrtle Warbler, and the Orange-crowned Warbler, but no migration motion. There are still 4-6 Ruby-throated Hummingbird here, all imm. males. The Blue Mist Eup. had a couple Monarchs on it for much of the day, 8+ Queens, and a dozen Vesta Crescent. What looked the same Texas Powdered-Skipper was here again, three days out of last four.

We took a late afternoon mile walk through the Huisache Daisy patches in the corral for butterflies. Saw my FOS Vesper Sparrow (2). The following estimated numbers are very conservative and surely undercounts. There were well over a hundred Monarch nectaring, maybe 125. Probably 50 Queen. The most common butterfly was Vesta Crescent with 400+ at minimum, probably 500. Only saw a dozen Phaon and no Pearl Crescent. At least 50 Variegated and 25 Gulf Fritillary, 4 Buckeye, 1 Red Admiral, 1-2 American Lady, at least 100 So. Dogface, a dozen Pipevine Swallowtail, one No. Mestra, 20+ Gray Hairstreak, no blues, 10 Sleepy Orange, 2 Orange Sulphur, 4 Dainty Sulphur, 3 Little Yellow, a couple Cloudless and one Large Orange Sulphur flew by, 10 Fiery Skipper, 4 Common Checkered-Skipper, 1 Sachem, and 1 Bordered Patch. It was probably a thousand butterflies, in an hour, of a couple dozen species. Mighta gotta coupla shots. I lived and worked in N.Y.C. and north Jersey a couple years so can legally talk like that.

Oct. 27 ~ Another 50-80dF temp spread and mostly sunny skies, just about perfect. Heard a Kinglet and a Myrtle Warbler early, and the Orange-crowned Warbler which I think has mostly been one bird, one that wintered last year. A small bit of Monarch lift-off going on as soon as it hit near 60dF. After 10:20 or so, 5 in a couple minutes, then 5 more in a few more minutes. Most movement I have seen all fall here. All thermaling gaining altitude to fly for the day. Noonish we headed out to look at some flower patches.

The single most loaded spot was a patch of Huisache Daisy at the far end of the corral adjacent to us. There were well over well 100 Monarch, probably 125+, nectaring on it. Saw one Buckeye (ph.), lots of Vesta and small numbers of Phaon Crescent, Gulf and Variegated Frits, Queens, but very few small types, mostly big stuff. One Black Swallowtail. Heard and glimpsed what seemed a White-crowned Sparrow there too. On the way back from town right near that patch of daisies, a female Indigo Bunting flew up off the ground, getting late.

Around town we checked all three of the deco gardens, one each at north and south ends of town, and the one at the park entrance, plus the library garden and woods at the park. Only thing at the park was a 6 foot Indigo Snake sunning. Very nice. It shook its tail at us, that real fast quiver, for making it move out of the sun methinks. At the entrance garden there was an Orange Skipperling, which is new for the month, yesterday's Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak was still there, as was an all-orange (where color) Bordered Patch. A Western Pygmy-Blue might have been the one of last week at the other garden two hundred yards away? Must have been 50 Vesta, and 25 Phaon Crescent, just at the park garden, about 100 and 50 for totals. A couple Ceranus Blue were nice. A couple dozen Dogface at the park garden, a few dozen more at other patches, we probably had a couple dozen go through our yard as well. Lots of Variegated Frits especially at the south end of town garden with the windmill, and the corral, total was 45 or so, many were very fresh.

Monarchs were at all stops and often going by as well. A few dozen were seen besides the herd in the corral. Saw one fresh American Lady, two Orange Sulphur, several Large Orange, and several Cloudless Sulphur, Dainty Sulphur, Little Yellow, Sleepy Orange. A few Reakirt's Blue, 10 Gray Hairstreak. In skippers there were some Fiery, a Whirlabout, Eufala, Julia's, Dun, and Sachem. Nothing rare but nice to see several hundred butterflies finally. We saw about 35 species in a couple hours and change. Mostly the common bigger stuff, very few of the smaller things. Library garden was dead, that orange-ish yellow smallish sunflower composite is what most is on at the deco gardens, or Huisache Daisy if you can find or access a patch. One more Yellow-margined Flower-Buprestid too.

broadwingedhawk
Juvenile Broad-winged Hawk, wondering why I just have
to take its picture when it is all wet and trying to dry out...

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Oct. 26 ~ Low 50's and fog early, but getting sunny by mid-morn. Heard a Screech-Owl at 7 a.m. before sunup but getting light out. Got warm in the afternoon with local reports of 79-82dF! And the people were happy. We need to dry out. Town run, so a stop or two around errands. OK, more like 5 stops around 4 errands, but we shouldn't quibble. As I turned into the park a small buteo flushed off the entrance sign which looked like a juv. Broad-winged Hawk, but it got away, never saw it again. The park had one Gnatcatcher, one Myrtle Warbler, and a huge green caterpillar I hope to get an ID on (ph.). Lifer cat for me whatever it was. Nothing in the woods, but a few male FOS Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies in the slough. Must be autumn.

A big uptick in butterflies though, at the entrance garden. A Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak was my first of month, but most amazing was 40 Vesta, 10 Phaon and 2-3 Pearl Crescent. A crescent invasion. Also there was Reakirt's Blue, Gray Hairstreaks, lots of Dogface, couple Variegated Fritillary, Eufala and Fiery and Common Checkered-, Skippers, Dainty Sulphurs, Little Yellow. I'll have to check all the flower gardens tomorrow when hot and I have time to goof around without a to-do list and time constraints.

The W. Sabinal Rd. pond had two Caracara walking around knee-deep in the water like a couple goofy waterbirds, but they moved away before I got camera up and out. The S. Little Crk. Rd. pond had the same 3 Pied-billed Grebe, a couple Killdeer, and 50 Barn Swallow. Little Creek Larry said he heard Geese (White-fronted) calling overhead in the dark yesterday morning before sunup. In total driving around I saw a half-dozen Monarch scattered about.

The Blue Mist Eupatorium around the porch here was pretty good again. Nearing late dates for Julia's Skipper and Celia's Roadside-Skipper, the rest was more of the same as yesterday, including the Clouded Skipper and the Texas Powdered-Skipper. It musta been a dozen Vesta Crescent, and a dozen Dogface.

Oct. 25 ~ Near 60dF for a low, 5-10mph northerlies, some fog early but cleared by 10a.m., revealing what I think is blue sky and a bright object, perhaps the sun. We are alleged to dry out for a week or so, which we now need as badly as we needed rain two months ago. I am starting to mold. About 30-32 inches have fallen in 8 weeks now. Which used to be the average annual rainfall here. Welcome to our brave new all-or-nothing world.

Birds were few, single Myrtle and Orange-crowned Warbler, a Gnatcatcher and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet were about it for transients. But one FOS flew over calling, an American Goldfinch. I actually thought I heard one a couple days ago, but didn't see it, was only one measure of calls. I let it go. This is 3 weeks earlier than average fall arrival. My prior earliest ever was Nov. 2, next earliest Nov. 10, and 11. So this is a week earlier than my prior (outlier by a week) early date.

It got into the low70's dF in the afternoon, man that felt great, and the butterflies thought so too. Had Clouded, Fiery, Julia's, Dun, and Texas Powdered-, for Skippers on the Blue Mist Eup. Some Queens, a Red Admiral, Gulf Fritillary, some Dogfaces and Sleepy Orange, Pipevine Swallowtail, a half-dozen Vesta and one Pearl Crescent, Large Orange and Cloudless Sulphur, and one metallic green Halichtid (small native bee). Next couple even warmer days should be great at the flowers.

Oct. 24 ~ Light rain off and on overnight, about a third of an inch, so we have an inch since yesterday. Temp range for the day low to high 50's dF. Some days it is better to be stuck inside working at the desk at the box o'bolts. By the end of the day it was 1.25" now for the last couple days of light rain. So we are about 7.5" for the month. Because 24" wasn't enough in Sept. Saw a few Firefly at dark.

Still a half-dozen Ruby-throated Hummer around, and the Canyon Towhee. Did not see much else though. Ran to town late and quick about 6 p.m. On the back way out nearish 359 I saw my first two Yellow-shafted Flicker on the ground under a live-oak. Heard my FOS Sunday the 21st, these the first I have seen, so nice. At the park there were 2 Cave Swallow feeding low over the water, nothing in the woods, an imm. fem. Vermilion Flyc. at the entrance area, and about 35 White-winged Dove in town. That is all.

Oct. 23 ~ Cool and damp, occasional mist and drizzle. Another gray day. From late yesterday to this morning there was about two-thirds (.65) of an inch of precip to add to the total. The main event ahead is tonight and tomorrow, then we are alleged to see the sun and dry out. The highlight of the day was my first flock of Yellow-rumped Warbler in the yard of the fall. We saw some Sunday, but had yet to have one in the yard. Ten fed in the pecan with the most nuts for a half-hour, darn near silent. If I had not been out there, they would have been un-noticed. There were 8 Myrtle, 1 Audubon's, and one hybrid Myrtubon. Which was a neat one with a snow white throat, the shape of an Audubon's throat. Have seen this before and pretty neat if you ask me. Also among them was a Gnatcatcher, and one tardy Nashville Warbler, which will likely be my last for the fall. Hutton's Vireo and Canyon Towhee were in the yard. Still maybe 6-8 Ruby-throated Hummer here. They will blow out as soon as it clears, Thursday methinks.

Oct. 22 ~ About 55dF for a low and not going up too much, NOAA mentions possible record low highs for the date today. Heard a Ringed Kingfisher at dawn over at the river. Which is still high, but cleared up fairly well now, at least for their fishing. A tardy Indigo Bunting called from the yard early morning. Had 3 silent Ruby-crowned Kinglet in just half of the crown of the Mulberry. I didn't know you could get 3 of them together at once and not hear a 'chiddit'. By afternoon the light rain was making it to the ground, it had to moisten up the atmosphere to make it down, took most of the day. They say we will have a dry spell, and are even threatening sun, starting Thursday, but rain the next couple days. What a surprise. In the a.m. counted 11 Queen and 1 Monarch on the Blue Mist. A few Firefly still.

Oct. 21 ~ About 52dF for a low, cloudy but a drier atmosphere. Had two Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at once together in the a.m. so some movement happened. Was broken clouds, stars, and light northerlies last night. Had a glimpse of what seemed a Sharpy (Sharp-shinned Hawk) shoot by, and heard and glimpsed what seemed a White-crowned Sparrow out back where seed tossed. Heard the Canyon Towhee out back, maybe a half-dozen Ruby-throated Hummers around still. We went out for a mid-day couple-and-a-half hour roll around the area to see how things have changed since the big chill this past week. Saw on the Lost Maples webpage all the trails there are closed right now, so just the mile of main canyon bottom area where driveable is open.

At Utopia Park we saw no landbird migrants but a pair of Downy Woodpecker is the first time I have seen two together here in 15 years, and a pair at that, is pretty nice. I heard that flush call Wood Duck makes whilst hearing a or a couple ducks flush, up in the woods by the island. Missed seeing it or them. Saw one Barred Owl there. Saw only two Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, those at the golf course where also an ad. ma. Vermilion Flycatcher. We had a group of 6 FOS Myrtle Warbler around the county line crossing bridge. Another imm. male Vermilion Flyc. was at Jones Cemetery. There was a little group of birds at the entrance road turn into the cemetery, with a couple Orange-crowned and a few Myrtle Warbler, a Gnatcather, some Chipping Sparrow and Eastern Bluebird.

The only bird at the W. Sabinal Rd. floodpond was a Pied-billed Grebe, the first time I have seen one in that shallow mudhole there. The ibis, egret, and yellowlegs were gone. Over at the S. Little Crk. pond there were 3 Pied-billed Grebe, and 1 Coot. Maybe 40 or so Barn Swallow. Nothing at the library garden, the hot spot was the garden at the southwest corner of the 187 x 1050 junction. There were 3 first-of-month species (all ph.): Phaon Crescent, Western Pygmy-Blue, and Desert Checkered-Skipper. At least 8 Vesta Crescent, one probably Pearl Crescent, a couple Common Checkered-Skipper, a few Little Yellow with one a pale morph female (ph.), Fiery Skipper and Whirlabout, Cloudless Sulphurs, Pipevine Swallowtails, a Gray Hairstreak, a Sachem, a Mestra, a Variegated Frit, a Monarch and some Queens, one Yellow-margined Flower-Buprestid (ph.).

At the old Preston Place another Phaon and a few more Vesta Crescent were in the Frostweed patch, but no birds. At the golf course pond there were 3 Red-winged Blackbird, nothing else but another Monarch. We heard our FOS N. Flicker out on the course somewhere. The golf course entrance garden had a Buckeye, a couple Sachem, a Giant Swallowtail and more of the same butterflies. Over the couple-and-a-half hours and about 10 mile loop were maybe 10 or 12 Monarch total. Another was here on the Blue Mist Eups with a dozen Queen when we got back. More Vesta Crescent here too. A few Firefly at dusk.

Oct. 20 ~ Maybe a 55-67dF temp spread for the day. Lots of threat, but no rain. Had the Canyon Towhee after it not being around the last 5 days during the cold and rain. Or at least not being seen nor heard. Which is not like them. Did not hear White-eyed Vireo, but the Orange-crowned Warbler was around. No migrant motion, seemed kinda dead so worked on stuff here. Tomorrow supposed to be nicer so will give it a day to turn over. Some butterflies finally came out. Six Queen on the getting beat up Blue Mist eupatorium. Saw three Crescents together at once, two were Vesta, one a Pearl. A few Pipevine Swallowtail, a Gulf Frit, couple Dogface and Sleepy Orange, Large Orange and Cloudless Sulphur, but in total individual numbers, that 4 days in the 40's with chills around freezing on a couple of them took a toll. Same for odes, many fewer dragonflies around now. I did see a half-dozen Firefly at dusk though, a few of them made it through it.

coralsnake
Texas Coral Snake is a stunning beauty. Always remember there are a dozen
harmless snakes with red, black, and either white, cream, or yellow bands.
They are all but one, harmless and beneficial. On all but one the red bands
touch black bands. The only dangerous one is also beneficial as it is beautiful.
It is the only one where the red bands touch yellow bands. It is only dangerous
if you pick it up and play with it, as their mouths are too small otherwise.
So look but don't touch. And remember the old saying:
Red next to black is a friend of Jack,
red next to yellow will kill a poor fellow.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Oct. 19 ~ A quarter inch of rain overnight, but low in 50's dF so an improvement in temps. In a.m. .75 counting yesterday, now 3.25" for the last 4 days, 6.25+ for October so far. It is a mucky mess out there. The afternoon saw temps in the 60's, we had 67 (!), the warmest it has been since last Sunday. Finally, a few butterflies even came out briefly. The 360 x-ing was a too dicey for me in our small truck and no weight on back wheels. It had 5-6" roaring hard and fast over it, while the next three crossings northward (1050, county line, and Fisher (couple miles north of town on 187) were all dry. The 360 should have been raised a few inches more when it was raised. It is often marginal when those three are dry.

Saw a FOS Lincoln's Sparrow along the corral as I was leaving, and another along county line road just NW of town. Also had a glimpse of what was likely a White-crowned Sparrow on county line. Did not see any Scissor-tail or Vermilion Flycs along the roads. The park is a muddy mess along the river, especially the woods. I only saw one bird in them, but it was good, an adult female Mourning Warbler, which is surely my latest fall date for one. Still no Yellow-rumped Warbler. Then over to the floodpond on W. Sabinal Rd. by Haby's, in Bandera Co., which was great. A different Plegadis Ibis than the one prior was there, this an adult, the prior an immature. White-faced is the default here and out of breeding plumage it is a dicey ID to make. Also there was one Cattle Egret there, and best, 4 Greater and 2 Lesser Yellowlegs. Wow man, BanCo shorebirds on the ground in fall. Awesome. Hard to come by in the west end of the county or the upper Sabinal drainage.

With that, a detour, and back to town via the S. Little Creek floodpond. It had a Belted Kingfisher, a Great Egret, a Great Blue Heron, two Pied-billed Grebe (accidental there), and 2 Coot. Also a hundred Barn Swallow, at least a few Cave in with them. Another hun or two of Barns were scattered over pastures around the area. Then right where 355 hits (or leaves) Little Creek at the 90 deg. corner, there was a juvenile Broad-winged Hawk on a fence post at road's edge! I stopped just in time, got a couple shots through the window, it flew to the dead snags over the floodwater just west of that bend, along the live-oak treeline. Got a few more shots with the window down now. I virtually never see them here in October, much less on the ground. Great bird. Never did stop drizzling the whole couple-and-a-half hours I was out.

Oct. 18 ~ About 49dF for a low, very humid, light breeze, so chilly. Late afternoon and early evening about a half-inch of rain fell. Puts us at 6" for the month and 3" for the week. Not much bird action out there. Have not seen or heard the Canyon Towhee all week, which is quite off considering the cold and rain. Hope a Cooper's Hawk didn't take it. Saw a dozen or so each of Cardinal and Lark Sparrow out there, the pair of Ground-Dove. Orange-crowned Warbler around, and heard White-eyed Vireo still.

The ad. ma. Ruby-throated Hummer is still here with a half-dozen immature males. Waiting for a break to bolt no doubt. It is important to keep feeders up, especially when extended rains in fall, as their main food source, bugs, are not available as usual. This allows them to still build reserves to burn, and keep the tank full and be able to go when they get a chance. We have hundreds of Black-chinned here all summer every year. None ever stayed the winter despite the feeders being there. I have no records Nov. - Jan., only a few records in October, earliest returns are latest February. We have hundreds of Ruby-throats here every fall, none ever stayed the winter Nov. - late March, despite feeders being there.

Having feeders out does NOT keep migratory birds from migrating. This is a myth. They all go, every time, all the time. None of either have ever wintered here. Just like no American Goldfinch or Pine Siskin summer at your feeders here. If one didn't migrate, there is something wrong with the migratory bird. Other hummers have shown up in fall and wintered, cold hardy types (Rufous, Broad-tailed, Anna's), but neither of the two abundant ones that are most commonly present have ever stayed. Despite the free bottomless sugar water special we offer, at your choice of four well presented easy-to-use feeders. By the thousands they leave the feeders every year, like clockwork. To migrate. Because they are migratory birds. It is what they do. See what happens when I can't get out to bird enough?

Oct. 17 ~ Still chilly, damp, and gray, but at least the wind laid back a bit, and we spent much of the day in the lowest 50's dF, so warmer than the last two days. No rain today, but more is inbound. Lots of flooding up on the Llano and Guadalupe Rivers to our north where the rain bomb that hit drained. Also southward on the Nueces below Uvalde it was flood stage from the Real and Edwards Co. rains. Couple rough days out there. Avg. high in Hondo this date is 90dF, today it was lowest 50's at best.

Saw the flock of Lark Sparrows again, and the ad. male Ruby-throat is still here, but I think some hummers took off in the break yesterday. There are fewer around today. Maybe 6 or so it seems. Third day now without a butterfly, dragonfly, or even just a fly. Since I have heard it mentioned, yes there is a lull in the numbers of birds around right now. All the migratory breeding birds are gone for the year. The wintering species have not generally showed up yet. The resident species in fall often leave the feeders for wild food crops. Fall is when fruit, seed, and nut crops ripen and so the birds key in on these at this time. Things like Cardinal, Chickadee, and Titmouse, all regular feeder users, are around far less than normal now. I saw a flock of 75 Lesser Goldfinch on a wild seed crop recently, none at the feeders. Usually it means good food crops and it is not cause to worry. Actually them being at the feeders now would be.

Oct. 16 ~ Stayed in the low 40's dF over night, and we had another rain, and more is to come. I see 2.5" now here, in 24-30 hours. We are at 5.75" for Oct. so far. There was and-or is, some flooding along Nueces and Guadalupe Rivers where they had 5-8" and more. Yesterday later in day Vanderpool and Lost Maples areas were listed for minor flooding (low water crossings out). Likely more of that ongoing with the overnight addition. The river is a lot louder this morning than it was yesterday. We have had 30" of rain since Sept. 2, close to the annual average, in 6 weeks. All I am seeing outside is hummers at the feeders. Had a good count of 14 Lark Sparrow at once on the seed out back. Since I haven't been seeing but a very few, for weeks now, as if the local birds weren't around, I can't help but wonder if these are from elsewhere.

Oct. 15 ~ The front arrived about 1 a.m., light rain and stronger winds. By dawn it was 42dF, with 15-25mph northerly winds, chill factor was about 33-34dF. A big drop from that 85dF yesterday afternoon. I heard of some upper 20's chills up near Vanderpool. It was 32 or so up in the pandhandle early, by 11 a.m., upper 20's dF! Rocksprings was 37 with 15-20 mph winds in rain. Incredible. The record low for Hondo this date is 54dF, so we are over 10dF below the record. Average there is 90dF for a high this date! This is WAYYYYYY early for such an event. At 3:22 p.m. peak heat, Leakey was 39dF with a 31 chill factor. By about 5 p.m. we had .85 of an inch of precip so far. Not much. Must be a dozen Ruby-throats as one feeder is packed (8 ports), the other three seem to be being guarded. Don't know if I will see much through the foggy windows today. Had to find some long pants, moccasins, set up heaters in the fish tanks, and will have to relearn which knob it was in the shower that has hot water.

Oct. 14 ~ Still balmy, which will end late tonight when the front arrives. Last warm day in front of it, and last chance to get anything done to prepare for cold, wet, and windy. They are talking chill factors in the 30's dF tomorrow! This is way early for a few-day period of high temps in the 50's dF. No birds ahead of the front it seemed. The Orange-crowned Warbler around the yard the last 3 days is likely the same bird. Heard the White-eyed Vireo still out there. Had to do a bunch of stuff to get garden and house cold ready so didn't get out. At least a dozen Ruby-throated Hummers around, and saw the ad. ma. in a.m.

Got up to 85dF or so. Watching the Blue Mist Eup I saw a Celia's Roadside-Skipper, a Clouded Skipper, 24 Queens and finally late in day a Monarch, a few Sleepy Orange, Dogface, and Gulf Fritillary, Giant and some Pipevine Swallowtail, a few each Large Orange and Cloudless Sulphurs, and a Vesta Crescent (ph.). A male Little Yellow flew by. At 11:30 p.m. the winds were still out of the south here and no rain yet, but it is coming. Radar showing leading edge of rain and front at northern Bandera Co. and Real Co. nearing Lost Maples.

Oct. 13 ~ Still balmy, low 70's to low 80's dF for a temp spread. A few spits but no real rain as advertised, so far, and they have backed off of chances for tomorrow. Had the Orange-crowned Warbler around yard in morning. Heard a chup that sounded a Black-throated Gray Warbler but could not find it. Had one Nashville. Went to town for a look around. The park had one Common Yellowthroat, nothing else, but a real squeaky alarm note I wish I could have seen the source of, out on the island. The corn field out on Jones Cmty. Rd. just past the cattle guard had 700-800 Barn Swallow over it. Nothing at the W. Sabinal Rd. pond. Nice to see some Shrikes and Kestrels around. Saw the male and female Vermilion Flyc. on the E. side of 360 again, and a few Scissor-tails around.

The pond on the golf course by Waresville Cmty. had at least 5 Thornbush Dasher dragonfly around it, 2 Common Yellowthroat, and one Red-winged Blackbird. At some flower patch stops saw a couple Bordered Patch butterfly, had only seen one this month, a Tawny Emperor (ph.), a Red Admiral, a Eufala Skipper, and a first of month (or three) Common Checkered-Skipper was great, lots of Noctuid (False Underwing) moths. The Clouded Skipper was still on our Blue Mist Eup here (+ 2 doz. Queen). A Vesta Crescent was in the yard late in day as well.

In the afternoon there was a notable uptick in Ruby-throated Hummer numbers here at the hovelita. It was well over a dozen here, maybe 16 or 18, when it had been 4-6. One was an adult male, so clearly new since none in prior 4+ days. A pair of adult Caracara were feeding their single still begging young in a far corner of the yard late in latest afternoon. That red face can really incredibly bright when they are in the mood, or food. Great Firefly show at dusk, which will be over when the cold front hits tomorrow night. So I am taking skeeter bites to enjoy the last couple days of it until April. After the weak flight and early flameout in spring (late May-early June), and almost none all summer, it was great to have a good fall flight in the yard.

Harris's Hawk
The camera dial had moved off of my standard settings so the image is messed up, sorry.
But I liked it anyway for what it showed. This is a sub-adult Harris's Hawk.
I love tweener plumages. The barred feathers are those of an immature. The solid
colored ones (rufous and brown) are those of an adult bird. Tweeners allow you to
see how the molt actually progresses (taken Sept. 7, 2018). And taking photos
gives you a chance to study it at length, leisure, and detail not possible in a
flyby view. Sure there were imm. and ad. feathers, but which was which specifically?

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Oct. 12 ~ Low 60's for a low, rain in forecast daily for the next week. A real cold front progged for Mon.-Thurs. keeping temps in the 50's dF! Town run fer stuff. The only thing at the park was a (Texas) Coral Snake, which is as pretty a beast as there is, my first in the park. I got a shot or two, but its head was already hidden. There was nothing at the W. Sabinal Rd. pond but cows. At the S. Little Crk. Rd. pond there was a Green Heron (definitely a migrant there), my FOS American Wigeon (1 male), and a Great Egret. Little Creek Larry mentioned a week ago he had seen a Great Egret around. Lots of pastures had swallows over them. In total I estimate 400-500 at least, and all I saw were Barn. There was a male and female Vermilion Flycatcher on E. 360 over nearish the former Utopia on the River. On W. Sabinal Rd. there were 4 male Scissor-tails together near the pond. About 3 p.m. or so I had my FOS Orange-crowned Warbler in the yard, finally. Heard an Indigo Bunting out back, where seed tossed. Monarch and a couple dozen Queen on the Blue Mist Eup., one Clouded Skipper. The great Firefly show continues, still about 50 going off in or adjacent to yard last half hour of light.

Oct. 11 ~ Low about 60dF, KRVL hit 56! Cloudy in morning, sunny in afternoon, about 76dF or so for a high. Feels like fall. River quieter, but still pretty noisy this morning, after the last couple days of roaring. Maybe by tomorrow the 360 crossing will be usable. At least we have a 'back way' out of here for that. One Hutton's Vireo in the big live-oaks upslope out back, and one Gnatcatcher went through in morning, another in the afternoon. A handful of hummers is all that remain, all imm. male Rubies, in other words, fighters. Some few Turkey Vulture going over southbound. One Monarch, 24 Queen, single Fiery and Clouded Skippers, 2 Mestra. The Firefly show continues at dusk.

Oct. 10 ~ A fantastic low of 57dF with clear dry skies is great. Feels like fall. Ran up to town early, had to go out the back way, the 360 crossing is not doable now. Nothing at the park. The 1050 bridge was obviously covered yesterday, flood debris on edges still. In the pasture with all the cows on Jones Cmty. Rd. south of W. Sabinal Rd. there were 6 Cattle Egret. Nothing on the W.S.R. pond but it looks great again for a couple more weeks. There was a FOS group of 6 Meadowlark, at the north end of town, which looked Western to me. As I pulled back in here shortly after 9 a.m. there were three Nashville Warbler in yard, and about 10 I heard a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. So there is some migrant motion, it set my migrant motion detector off. But alas it is Wednesday, whence I am hitched to the box o'bolts all day.

Got up to about 78dF in the afternoon, warmish. Saw one Monarch, a couple dozen Queen, a couple Celia's Roadside-Skipper, one Julia's, a Fiery and a Dun Skipper, one male Black and a couple Giant Swallowtail, the Snouts have finally relented. Saw one of the sphinx moths with burnt-orange hind-wings, smaller than a White-lined, not sure of type, and it would not stay anywhere long. It briefly hit the Blue Mist Eups, but was more interested in the Wood-Sorrel. There were maybe a half-dozen Ruby-throated Hummingbird here today, all imm. males. Most of the time there were not any at the feeders. Seems dead out there now. Checked a number of times for some hawk flight behind the front as can happen, I saw nothing. A few Turkey Vulture was it.

Oct. 9 ~ A few little showers overnight off and on, but some real rain arrived in the morning. We got 2.5" in just over an hour. We had .75 since yesterday, so now 3.25" for about 24 hours. There had about 5" or more upvalley around the Sabinal River headwaters and Lost Maples area according to the radar totals. The river was already roaring, but about 11 or noon the water got here and it was major. Out of banks, the 360 crossing down, the river was 100 yards across in spots it is normally 10. Amazing. The front passed by earliest afternoon, skies cleared, dry air filtering in, and wonderful.

The only avian action though was the hummingbird departure. There were three to four dozen here in the morning, and not a dozen in later afternoon, maybe a half-dozen at sundown. They blew out. The northerly winds did not much turn around with frontal passage until much later, after dark. It just cleared, and the southerly flow stopped. They left anyway. I knew they were just tankin' up waiting for the moment to make the move. And they did.

Oct. 8 ~ Some light rain in morning, about two-thirds of an inch. Camp Wood 30 miles west had 5" overnight. Around Lost Maples they got 2-3 inches this morning. One Gnatcatcher in yard. In the afternoon fairly quickly the river got very loud, a rush of water from the rain upvalley this morning was moving downriver. It got way high, a neighbor called and said the crossing was out of the question. We had less than an inch, but the couple or few they got upriver is still mostly all runoff at this point, and many low-water crossings upvalley were not passable obviously. Heard a Ringed Kingfisher over at the river in the late afternoon, probably complaining about the water levels and speed making fishing hard. Great Firefly show at dusk. One Monarch and 25 Queen on the Blue Mist. Snouts finally relenting, only a hundred today. Ad. ma. Ruby-throated Hummer still here with a couple dozen immatures, mostly males.

Oct. 7 ~ Threatened to rain all day but didn't, 70-85dF temp spread. Finally 5:30 or so a near-enough cell gave us a good outflow cooldown, and a couple spits. In the a.m. no migrant motion through the yard. A FOS Swainson's Hawk moved south down the ridge to our west. We walked to the crossing and up the other side of river a bit checking flowers since there weren't any birds, save one male Vermilion Flycatcher and a couple Scissor-tails at south end of corral and at airstrip. No butterflies either. Saw one Eryngo bloom, and a Palafoxia. Lots of Zexmenia, Mealy Sage, Huisache Daisy, Frostweed, and almost nothing on any of it. Heard a Field Sparrow later afternoon. The great Firefly show at dusk continues, at least 50 in yard going off for 20-30 minutes.

Oct. 6 ~ About a 70-85dF spread again, and no migrant motion here in yard, or at the park in town. The Rufous Hummer is not here this a.m., so it did depart yesterday afternoon some time. Canyon Towhee still around out back. A Gnatcatcher went through yard mid-morn. Great was a Two-tailed Swallowtail here on our Lantana in the morning, a Northern Cloudywing too. By the Med. Ctr. at the north end of town was a free roaming male Blackbuck! I was trying to sneak up on it for a photo, but it would have none of that. It ran at times jumping with all four legs in the air at the same time, boing, boing, boing, bouncing along making amazing progress, appearing as if it belonged in a Dr. Suess cartoon. I had to rub my eyes to make sure I was awake and not seeing things. Then I remembered, I was in Utopia, where you see crazy shat all the time.

Not a dang thing in the park but heard a warbler chip I couldn't find that was interesting. Sometimes that is all you get. Something to make you say "boy I would really like to see that" in a real serious fightin' words kind of tone. In other words frustration. But no one does it for that...  Not hearing any Yellow-throated Warblers along the river for a week or nearing two now. W. Sabinal Rd. pond had nothing, but the flock of Lesser Goldfinch was still where it was yesterday, 60 at least at once that I saw today. There were also 75 Barn Swallow feeding low over the corn that is now trying to grow in a field by the W. Spring Branch Rd. turn.

So butterfly flowers it is. The library garden had a Rounded Metalmark and a Theona Checkerspot, plus a Monarch, besides a few regulars. Lots of False Underwing moths (Noctuids) everywhere. The deco-garden at the golf course entrance had Fiery and Eufala Skippers, a Sachem, and a Vareigated Meadowhawk dragonfly. Saw one of the Yellow-margined Flower-Buprestid beetles at the garden at the junction of 1050 and 187. I got a count of 31 Queen at once on our Blue Mist Eup. The patches at the library garden, and the 1050x187 garden are both shot, eaten up like ours was the last two years. Still thousands of Snout out there, but certainly less than there were the last week.
Painted Bunting
Be careful throwing seed out, you might catch one of these.
This is one of three plumages you may see on a first spring
male Painted Bunting. Most, look like females, all green, and
paler below, some of which have molted back into brighter green
as this bird. Then there is a type with some blue in head which
increases over summer, and which are brighter yellow below.
These salmon below types stay this way all summer and never get
blue on head while here. Note the back, scapulars, and maybe
some wing coverts are not the dull original juvenile feathers
like head, wing, and tail, they have been replaced, are fresh, and
bright lime green. Some of this type are more evenly salmon below.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Oct 5 ~ Still balmy 71dF for a low, clouds in a.m., sunny and warm (85dF) in p.m. No migrant movement around yard. Town run, the park remains remarkably dead. Out Jones Cmty. Rd. past the cemetery and 2nd cattle guard I had a single flock of 75 Lesser Goldfinch going down in some weeds that looked sorta like beggars ticks but weren't. There were also a dozen Chipping Sparrow which seemed like migrants to me, new arrivals. Nothing at the W. Sabinal Rd. pond. The S. Little Creek Rd. pond though had one Greater Yellowlegs, a very good fall bird here on the ground, plus 4 Killdeer. Also there and great was a male Twelve-spotted Skimmer dragonfly, my FOY, and scarce in BanCo. I saw several hundreds of Black Saddlebags while driving around, there must be thousands going by. Finally saw a Hackberry Emperor (lep) on the patio early that was so beat and worn, it obviously wasn't from around here. Queen count on the Blue Mist peaked at 25 at once. There was one new Monarch here, and two at the library garden, where there was also my FOY Texas Wasp Moth. The imm.ma. Rufous and the ad.ma. Ruby-throated Hummer continue here at the hovel, besides a few dozen imm. Rubies, seemingly males. Only thing flying south at dusk was a half-dozen Barn Swallow. Firefly show continues to be great, 50-60 just in the front yard is awesome.

Oct. 4 ~ Maybe 70dF for a low, some low clouds, humid. Great to hear some Scissor-tails calling lots early. But which means they will be gone in a couple weeks. No migrants through yard. Been seeing high-flying southbound Turkey Vultures for a week now, some of which I suspect are migrants. Lots of Black Saddlebags dragonflies still, like hundreds must be going by. A few Red mixed in and the occasional Green Darner. A Green Lynx Spider was on the big pecan trunk (ph.). In the morning I counted 23 Queens on the Blue Mist Eupatorium about 10 a.m. All hail the mighty Blue Mist. Our patch is maybe 14 square feet, on either sides of the steps up the front porch. It has over a hundred stalks with flower heads now, finally, for the first great bloom in four years (but so far in a bad fall for butterfly diversity and numbers). Those dang caterpillars destroyed it the last two years, so we are enjoying this. The Red Turks Cap and Tropical Sage are still going, but past peaks. Lots of Straggler Daisy blooming, and over in corral Huisache Daisy is going well.

One interesting event was a communal butterfly roost. There is a spot with some dead branchlets on a pecan where often Pipevine Swallowtails hang up and roost. I have had 5-10 fairly close together doing this regularly. Nearing last sun, I watched a Monarch fly over to that tree and hang up. Thought it was near where the Pipevines do that so walked over and sure enough in a couple cubic feet was 3 Pipevine Swallowtail, 1 Queen, and the Monarch. So three species hanging up to roost, together. I did not keep an eye on it to see if more Queens went there but saw another spot on a Hackberry where a number of Queen were hanging up.

Oct. 3 ~ Low scattered clouds, humid, 71dF at daybreak. Heard Hutton's and White-eyed Vireo, one Gnatcatcher. Great was a Black Rock Squirrel out back (ph.), what a beautiful animal. Interestingly the locals in general are mostly fairly down on them since they burrow and undermine things like sheds and such. I wish the Fox (tree) Squirrels had the decades of population pressure put on them that the Rock (ground) squirrels have. The tree (Fox) squirrels are the ones living on bird eggs and young all summer, and whose populations are unchecked and out of control.

The Snout flight continues to wane, but still hundreds going by eastward. I counted 19 Queen at once on the Blue Mist Eup, nary a Monarch or Soldier to be seen. Did see a Speckled (marcellina) Cloudless Sulphur, a Red Admiral was new, and the female So. Broken-dash continues, Gulf Frits, the odd Lyside and Dogface, a dozen plus Large Orange Sulphur, a few Giant Swallowtail, a Julia's Skipper (ph.) late in day. Overall though, butterfly diversity is still WAY WAY down for fall, hopefully an invasion of something besides Snouts will happen. We have the bloom goin' now, but few butterflies.

An adult male Ruby-throated Hummer was the first in a couple weeks, a new arrival. The imm. ma. Rufous type is still here beating stuff up. Had one Gnatcatcher, one warbler seet was likely a Nashville, a buzzy one was not a Yellow but got away. Again a couple Chimney Swift went over at dusk. The Firefly show is great, at least 50 were going off in or adjacent to the yard at dusk.

Oct. 2 ~ Still about 70dF for a low, 83 for a high. Dryish in afternoon after some mist and sprinkles in the morning. Nothing moving for birds early. A Gnatcatcher at noon. Canyon Towhee still around, Kathy saw it at the mirror of the big truck out back. Perhaps Narcissus would be a good name? Most of the action was bugs. I saw a group of 50 baby grasshoppers all together on one of our corn leaves, but they exploded off of it as I approached with camera. They were edge to edge like sardines, and half the leaf was missing. When they all jumped all that was left was frass. Hmmmmm.... A Field Guide to Frass. Got a nice ring to it.

Lots of Black Saddlebags dragonflies, like hundreds still. Mostly it was butterflies at the flowers around the porch. Sure great to sit in a chair and watch a show on my breaks outside. Had Monarchs #6 and 10 both continuing, and #11 and 12 went by heading southwest, as all, and any migrant. The Soldier was still around, 13 Queens was peak count, two female Southern Broken-Dash, a Celia's Roadside-Skipper, 2 Dun Skipper, couple Giant, one Black, and a dozen or two Pipevine Swallowtail. Still hundreds of Snout but the flight is easing. Thousands went by over the day surely, but not like it was. A dozen Large Orange Sulphur, a couple stopped on the Lantana, couple So. Dogface, and the usual stuff like Gulf Frit, Sleepy Orange, etc. Three dozen plus Firefly at dusk is a nice show. Eastern Screech-Owl calling after dark.

October 1 ~ Gadzooks it is October!?!?!? The 69dF low felt nice. One migrant early in yard, an Orchad Oriole. We are on the second, or back, half of fall migration. The main bulk movement of neotropical migrants that pass through this area has passed. Things are still good on the coasts, but way inland here August and September are really the biggest months for that sort of movement here. October sees the tail-end of that, but more is the arrival of species that winter this far north or nearly so. The mostly insectivores going way way south, are mostly south of us now. It is a great month for strays though so keep yer eyes peeled and fingers crossed.

Heard White-eyed and Hutton's Vireo. In the late afternoon an imm. male Rufous or Allen's Hummingbird arrived and promptly proceeded to kick 6 Rubies arses off a feeder, apparently it is one of those that likes to drink alone. Two-thirds of a Monarch continues here now on day 5. Then the 10th one of the fall showed up later in afternoon. Saw the female Southern Broken-Dash and the female Whirlabout again today as well, a male Black and a couple Giant Swallowtail, and probably the same Soldier came in again too. Another Danaus trifecta day. Nearing last sun at least two Chimney Swift went over calling.



Below are some of the recent weekly photo break pix used.
The 2017 or 2018 photos pages have complete sets.


Yellow Warbler
Here is a fall male Yellow Warbler. The streaks on the
underparts are flaming scarlet red spring to summer.





Painted Bunting
Painted Bunting male, waiting in line for the feeder.
We had SEVEN males at once on the seed one day this week.



a bonus pic this week
Painted Bunting
I have replaced the shot I had here with one not taken through screen.
Wanted to show how averse these beasts are to feeders. A copy of this
should be put into every California Bird Record Committee Painted Bunting
record in which a reviewer said "its a male at a feeder" in a disparaging
manner as if it is not a normal natural thing. Same goes for the lack of
pure red underparts as on bird on the left, due to molt, not diet or
captivity. Anyone that suggests these as reasons for one not being
wild is bearing false witness to your bird record. It is not OK to give
bad reasons that good bird records are not valid. It is making up false
stuff up about the bird record. Best I could tell (and I was there)
Jon Dunn was the one that started the mythical preposterous unfounded
notion that there is something amiss about a male Painted Bunting at
a feeder, and that those that are not perfectly uniform red below are
discolored. Both are pure rubbish! They are feeder flies!



Neon Skimmer
Neon Skimmer male



dowitcher and phalaropes
Long-billed Dowitcher and 3 Wilson's Phalarope in Bandera Co., May 4, 2018.
Likely the first proof of either species in that county, at the South Little Creek ponds.
Sorry about the fuzzy, pic taken at max magnification and about a hundred yards.



Broad-winged Hawk
Adult Broad-winged Hawk at Lost Maples in April. This
looks like one of the pair that nested the last few years.



Black-capped Vireo
Black-capped Vireo at Lost Maples, pardon my pixels, I figured
you'd give me a pass considering their lovely arrangement.
This is a third year bird and still not a definitive adult.



Black-throated Sparrow
Black-throated Sparrow at Lost Maples on April 1



Golden-cheeked Warbler
Singing "she says I'm so laa-zzeee"



Great Kiskadee

Here is a better pic of the Kiskadee at Utopia Park, from Feb. 3.
Last weeks first docu shot was a bit fuzzy and bad light.
Kathy and I went the next day, had great views and got this pic.
Whatabird. It is on a stem of Greenbriar Vine, of which it ate
a berry.



Goshawk

This is the Northern Goshawk that was over town Dec. 15, 2017
Note the long stovepipe of a tail. This structure is unique.
Apologies for the poor pic, it was the best of 3, at maximum
high (pixelated) magnification after it got high up. Initially
it was quite low, was a nice adult.



Zone-tailed Hawk

Zone-tailed Hawk



RedBat

Man, they got it all in Utopia, even aquatic bats.
This is the Red Bat I watched plop into the river a few months ago.
Pulled it out and left it on shore...   Bat rescue, how may we help you?



Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, male. Note the tail is in
the 'scissor' position with the sides crossed
just below the base of the tail.



Green Kingfisher

Male Green Kingfisher at Utopia Park.



Yellow-throated Vireo

I love this lichen on the branch... and oh yeah, a
Yellow-throated Vireo in fresh plumage on Sept. 28.
Yeah I know bad light, but as often as not, that is
how we see birds. Anyone can ID them in good light.


Easter Tiger Swallowtail

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Buttonbush


Purple Martin

Male Purple Martin is a beauty, that calls "beer, beer". What's not to like?


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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 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
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© M. and K. Heindel 2004-2018
www.utopianature.com