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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: August 16, 2019
(prior updates: August 9, 2, July 26, 19, 12, 5, June 28, 21, 14, 7, May 31, 24, 17, 10, 3)

August is peak heat month here, and lots of birds really get to moving this month. An adult male Rufous Hummingbird was at our place July 31-Aug. 3. A second different ad. male was here Aug. 8-16 so far. A cormorant was reported at the park Aug. 9, surely a Neotropic, said to have a straight neck in flight. You may yet catch a passage or transient male Painted Bunting but the local breeders have departed for the season. Lots of Orchard Oriole going through now. We had a 2" rain event on the 15th related to outflow boundries from a front that washed out northward. A few hours in front of the rain my first fall migrant Ruby-throated Hummingbird arrived, an adult male. Quickly followed by my FOS Yellow Warbler, a female, hit the birdbath for a long one. Then at dusk after the rain, a COMMON PAURAQUE called a few times from just up the road over the draw. Awesomeness. Have seen a couple Audubon's Oriole pass through yard a couple times the last week or so.

July is hot and sticky season here. If lucky there are some low clouds from the Gulf in the mornings keeping it fairly bearable until noonish. Many birds are still singing and breeding, many are done and departing. Tons of baby birds out there. An imm. ROSEATE SPOONBILL was seen at a private pond 4-5 mi. SSW of town on July 7 (Leslie Calvert), a great bird locally. A BLACK WITCH (moth) was also seen the 7th. A Belted Kingfisher flying downriver on the 17th is my early 'fall' date locally by a couple weeks. A cold front arriving overnight July 22-3 is as rare a bird here as anything. Lows in the 60's not being rain-related, with dry northerlies and highs in upper 80's the 23rd-4th is amazing. The morning of the 25th we had 57dF, Kerrville had 55 and Rock Springs 52dF! These are record lows for the date. Outstanding on July 28 was an adult PEREGRINE FALCON right at the corner of 187 and 360. Also saw one (last of the year probably) Golden-cheeked Warbler at Lost Maples the 28th. July 31 our first of fall RUFOUS Hummingbird showed up, a nice adult male, still present Aug. 2.

June highlights... June 29 three juvenile Grasshopper Sparrow were on a W. Sabinal Rd. fenceline just west of the Jones Cmty. Rd. intersection. This in Bandera Co. where I had been watching them. Still begging Golden-cheeked Warbler getting fed at Lost Maples June 29 as well. Late late evening on June 19th an actual fall migrant flew over calling southbound in the dark, a Long-billed Curlew! A fall migrant 5 minutes before the last day of spring. Had Bushtit here at the hovelita on June 16. Breeding season is going hot and heavy, lots of begging babies appearing, so finding the breeders is relatively easy. There are also post-breeding wanderers moving around already too, some of the earliest nesters are done. Black-n-white and Golden-cheeked Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and White-eyed Vireo are a few of the things I have been seeing off breeding territories moving about now. A couple cormorants were seen at Utopia Park June 26, surely Neotropic, rare birds here. July is primetime for rare hummingbirds. Was a Mexican (Green) Violetear at Reagan Wells a month or so.

Golden-cheeked Warbler

The light was bad, but the bird was good.

For some detailed 2019 Lost Maples reports see the dated entries for Jan. 5, March 17, 30, 31, April 21 & 28, May 12, June 2 and 29 and July 28. For 2018 check the Old Bird News pages (#29 and #30 now) for reports from April 1, 9, 10, 15, 29, May 13, June 3 and 24, July 29, Aug. 26, Sept. 30 and Dec. 2.

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

There is a 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.

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 (2018) with seasonal status and abundance for each species. It lists all 350 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.

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.


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.

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

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

~ ~ ~ finally, current bird news from the greater and lesser Utopia area ~ ~ ~

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

Commonly used ABBREVIATIONS are:

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

Black-capped Vireo

Black-capped Vireo at Lost Maples

Just to have this handy again for reference, recent prior updates:
August 9, 2, July 26, 19, 12, 5, June 28, 21, 14, 7, May 31, 24, 17, 10, 3
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 ~ ~ ~

Aug. 16 ~ An amazing rain-cooled low of 69.5dF. Feels so good. Thought there might be some migration motion this morning behind the outflows from the north yesterday. Could not have been more wrong, guess again. Nothing. Didn't even have the usual Gnatcatcher and few Orchard Oriole of late. The Rufous Hummer is on day 9 now, the ad.ma. Ruby-throat still here. Still a dozen or so ad.ma. Black-chinned, but not for long. No ad.ma. Indigo or Painted Bunting, or Blue Grosbeak in yard. Yellow-throated Vireo still singing. Chat getting way quieter. Town run, almost nothing at the park, kinda surprisingly. Only thing was a dozen Common Grackle, over half were hatch-year juveniles, only one ad. male. So likely a post-breeding party of all the local nesters gathered up now. No Martins over town, they are outta here. You might see stray migrants from now until early October, but the locals are gone. One Questionmark butterfly at the park.

Did an hour plus dusk nightjar patrol out on the driveway. First while still sun up there were four Common Nighthawk. It was a family group, presumedly from the nearby knoll a half-mile to north. The female had a couple young trailing it, and at one point the male did a decent booming dive. Great to hear that one more time this year. After watching them a while and sun dipped below horizon, twice I saw a Chuck-wills-widow flying right behind the house up the hill low right over treetops of the big live-oaks. Finally about 8:50 the Common Pauraque flew right over my head! Still enough light in the sky to get a perfect silohuette, straight up, of short rounded wings and a very very long tail. Completely unlike any of our other nightjars. Awesome. A pair of mccallii Screech-Owl were calling, sounded like they were going into the bath.

Aug. 15 ~ About 74dF for a low, no morning clouds, go directly to baking. Heard a few Orchard Oriole out there early, saw the ad.ma. Indigo Bunting, but no Painted around save the greenies. The adult male Rufous Hummer #2 is still here, day 8 now. Still can't get over how lucky I was to get a pic of the back of that first one with the green flecks, so as to know this one is different.

About noon-thirty I had my FOS Ruby-throated Hummingbird, an adult male. Ties my latest fall arrival date, usually they are back sooner. But, it means they were probably breeding, which is good. When things come back early in fall, it might mean they failed nesting. So we have three species of hummers at the feeders today, which has not happened since last fall. The next month is prime-time to snag a passing Calliope or Broad-tailed. After them you are just dreaming, wishing and hoping. But that's OK. It may even help. There is a White-eared out in west Texas now. Saw that Olive-Juniper Hairstreak on the Snow-on-the-Mountain after the rain. One Mestra was around too.

At 1 p.m. an adult female Yellow Warbler took a bath, my FOS. So this little tail end of a system up in the plains brought us our first couple of fall migrants. Should be Upland Sandpipers tonight? We just got the outflow boundries, not the actual front. But it was enough to set off rain with the heat and humidity. Between 1:30 and 2 p.m. it poured, about 2 INCHES! Temp dropped to 68dF! About 3pm it was back up to 72, but holy cow what a break. We needed the water badly, it was parched out there. No dust for a couple days.

Termites went off of course with a hatch, so my Red-breasted Sunfish had some juicy treats. The birds had a feast all afternoon. Some swallows were going over low getting termites, maybe a few dozen Barn, and a half-dozen Cliff, which is rare from the yard. I heard they have already departed the colony at the 1050 bridge over the Frio River for the season, maybe about two weeks ago. Hopefully they got young out.

At dusk after the rain, a COMMON PAURAQUE called a few times from just up the road over the draw. I taped one once here in the yard, Aug. 24, 2014 (present to 26th) so it has been five years since last record for me. Prior to that had at least one, maybe two Seco Ridge records, one was in latest July. These are post-breeding wanderers moving north out of the brush-country. Very interesting. Was a miracle I was out in the driveway to hear the minute window it called. Just love watching and listening from last sun to dark. Went out and listened a bunch more and never heard it again, nor did I hear any Upland Sandpiper going over. Even did my patented Pauraque imitation, hate to brag but it is so good the last one dive-bombed me. This individual however apparently could not have been less impressed. You know, eye (or ear) of the beholder and all... I hadn't practiced in five years, perhaps I was off key. Sounded good to me, made me want to call back to myself.

The frogs went off after the rain. I heard a few Barking Frog, saw one and heard other Blanchard's Cricket-Frog, caught a Red-spotted Toad, and the Rio Grande Leopard Frogs were roaring. About midnight a pair of Great Horned Owl were calling across the road.

Aug. 14 ~ Ran 75-96dF and the meltdown continues. Town run early first thing so a look at the park. So great to be the only one there again. It has been a zoo most of the summer. Still singing were 2 Yellow-throated Vireo, an Eastern Wood-Pewee, and a couple White-eyed Vireo. All may well still be nesting. A couple interesting transients were heard, a Great Crested, and an Ash-throated Flycatcher, both of which have been gone from many local breeding areas for a month. Saw Green and Great Blue Heron, heard a Green Kingfisher. Summer Tanager and Yellow-throated Vireo were at the park but only called, no singing. Heard some new baby begging Blue Jays in town.

Saw the Indigo Bunting male early, but not late, and no male Painted Bunting, or Blue Grosbeak. A couple Field Sparrow around. Yellow-throated Vireo still singing. White-winged Dove singing a very little. Saw some three hundred feet up, practicing for Sept. 1 no doubt. The male Rufous Hummingbird continues. An outflow boundry at 6 p.m. brought a cool breeze taking us down to 90dF in a few minutes. Terrible when 90 is a cool breeze. Got a little leaf-washer and dust buster a half-hour later, maybe a tenth of an inch. And which dropped us down to a chilly 82dF before sundown! And the people were happy. Two Audubon's Oriole went through yard at last sun.

Aug. 13 ~ Just another day baking, ran about 74-96 in the cool shady. Saw the male Indigo in the morning and evening. Might have glimpsed a male Painted late as it flushed out back. About a half-dozen greenies continue. The 2nd male Rufous Hummer continues. Gnatcatcher in a.m. and another late afternoon, several Orchard Oriole went through early and a few late. Saw a Barn Swallow feed young right overhead. A Field Sparrow around. We get back down to about 90dF as soon as the sun goes down, then it is a real slow drop from there to about 82 by around midnight. It ain't fer sissies.

Aug. 12 ~ Unless we get a 'cane, August weather is mostly a sub-tropical high that wavers a bit but overall is a whole bunch of sameness. It was still 82dF at midnight last night. Just under 76dF for a low. Early there were a couple Gnatcatchers, and a few Orchard Oriole as is the case lately nearly daily. The Orios came to the bath! The male went right in like a boss. May have been showing the young what a puddle is for. Very cool. Nothing ever wore black and brown better. An hour later a sharp black-bibbed first-summer bird (roughly a year old) came in quickly. Their wings are in bad shape at this point, in dire need of replacement. Dang Cards scared it off. Saw Chats and a Yellow-throated Warbler at the bath briefly too.

Heard the Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireo still singing as on territory this morning. White-eyed still going of course. Still some adult male Black-chinned Hummingbird around but most have left and immatures predominate now. Between 6-7 p.m. one ad. male Painted Bunting and one male Blue Grosbeak hit seed out back. Maybe a half-dozen greenies left. Few Orchard Oriole late p.m. are probably different from this morning's birds. Finally saw the Rufous Hummer about 7:30 p.m., day 5 for this one. Got usable pix of three purple beauties: Tube Tongue, Wooly Ironweed, and Purple Bindweed flowers. There were two Clouded Skipper on the Wooly Ironweed this morning.

Aug. 11 ~ It was 75-96 in the shade, same as it ever was for August. Four Orchard Oriole went through in morning. At least a couple Chats were at the bath in morning, got some pics. Heard the Rufous Hummer first thing early. Saw the male Indigo Bunting first and last thing. There were two adult male Painted Bunting after 7 p.m., only sighting all day, and first time I have seen two at once in a week at least. Saw one of the salmon below types of first spring-summer male Painted Bunting.

Weird was the first juvenile Cowbird being fed I have seen in the yard this summer, a Brown-headed, late for them here. The incredible part was it was being fed by a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. I don't know of a nest nearer than a half mile at best.We went for a swim in the peak heat late afternoon. A .75" Horse Fly bit me, wouldn't leave me alone, a first for that here. I had to go frogman and go underwater and depart the area I was in. In butterflies on the Frog-fruit in the driveway there was a pair of Phaon Crescent, a couple each of Reakirt's Blue, Gray Hairstreak, and Checkered-Skipper and a male Whirlabout (ph.). Lots of other common stuff around yard.

Aug. 10 ~ Ran 75-95.5dF in the shade for a temp spread. Had to be a hun in the sun. Hid inside mostly. Did some yard work early, doesn't take long to get drippy. First thing before sunup I saw one each ad. male Painted and Indigo Bunting. Eight greenies (imm. Painted) hit the patio first thing with them. These ads. are the same last two holdouts fattening up on white millet the last week. Did not have the adult ma. Rufous Hummer in the a.m., but it showed up at last call. Saw a male Blue Grosbeak late out back. Heard a few Orchard Oriole and a Gnatcatcher in the morning. Kathy saw a Roadrunner on the patio. I saw a Chat at the bath. Saw a Kiowa Dancer (damselfly) on the front porch. Got pix of an Olive Juniper Hairstreak, these late summer types sure look different from the spring flyers to me. Saw a Mestra, an American Lady, and a Whirlabout in other butterflies. In dragons, one Wandering Glider was out in heat of afternoon, and a Pale-faced Clubskimmer was, uh, skimming, with its club, around the front yard at dusk. Screech-Owl calling at dark.

Male Orchard Oriole at our birdbath, there were several juveniles right
above him in the pecan. He went full submarine. It was early, dark and
overcast with very low light, had to use a high ISO and so a bit fuzzy
and dark, with apologies. One of the sharpest looking birds in America.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 9 ~ Ran about 76-96dF for a temp spread, these are the dog days. In the morning I saw both male Indigo and Painted Bunting, heard the draw Blue Grosbeak singing. Heard a Bell's Vireo which might be the one I saw coming into the bath mid-morn. Also had a Rufous-crowned Sparrow at the bath this morning (ph.). The bath is a Cardinal traffic jam lately. Anything else is lucky to sneak in edgewise. The male Rufous Hummingbird was still here in the a.m. as well. Heard a Gnatcatcher go through early.

Town run. Saw the Green Heron up on the island, surely they have a nest in there somewhere. Heard a half-hearted Yellow-throated Warbler song, same for Eastern Wood-Pewee. Saw a Red-eyed Vireo which do not nest there, a post-breeding wanderer leaving the breeding grounds. Heard Blue Jay. Saw an Orange-striped Threadtail damselfly. Below the spillway was a Comanche Skimmer dragonfly, which is rare at the park. Saw a number of juvenile Starling in some Fig trees in town. So I grabbed a couple Figs. It is an empty lot.

Aug. 8 ~ Low was 75dF but we had some Gulf low stratus to keep us sun-sheilded for several hours of the morning. Was 94dF in the shade about 4 p.m., lovely, come on down. Heard a Gnatcatcher early, the Red-eyed Vireo is still singing, was in the yard mid-morn. Saw a male Painted in morning, but as of afternoon, no Indigo yet. Saw one male and heard another call, Blue Grosbeak. Pretty sure it was 'the draw' male. A Canyon Towhee was around in a.m., and used the bath in afternoon.

Great was another adult male Rufous Hummingbird, which photos show to be different than the one here July 31 to mid-day Aug. 3. If I had not bothered to get a back shots of both birds we would only guess they were different because of the four day lapse with no sighting. But you might wonder if it was at neighbors feeders, etc. Nothing like some documentation photos to study, these two are absolutely not the same bird. The Indigo Bunting came in to the patio millet at last sun briefly. Got one more BlueMistEup caterpillar today, I think 219 now removed.

Aug. 7 ~ A 74dF low, a few clouds for a couple hours kept it in 70's for a short while. The male Indigo was giving just the first couple notes of usual song, but three of them, repeatedly with an abrupt end, as if it started to say something and stopped. Saw the male Painted out back early. Any day now will be the end of these here for the year. Sure has been a great four months them. Heard a few Orchard Orios in the morn. Great was one of those real colorful imm. Bell's Vireo, in the morning. Probably from a local nesting.

A couple good butterflies came in to the water sprayed about late morning. The White-stripe Longtail was still around, and better a CRIMSON Patch stopped to drink just off the back porch (ph.). What a beauty! In the yard! In afternoon I saw a still with streaks below juvenile Field Sparrow, I suspect was a very local nesting, maybe from one we have been hearing sing. Begging Chippy still out there too. Late afternoon one male Blue Grosbeak hit the sunflower seeds I throw in the bushes out back. I think the male that has been up the draw. The yard alpha male has not been around a few days now. Thought I might have had an imm. male Ruby-throated Hummingbird, sure had a long tail.

Aug. 6 ~ About 73-94dF temp spread in the cool shady. It dries out in the late p.m. heat so you lose the humidity, in news from the 'cup half full' department. Gnatcatcher and some Orchard Orioles went through in the morning. Just Black-chinned Hummingbirds at the feeders now, where is that first Ruby-throat? No Blue Grosbeaks detected today. Late at 7:30 p.m. one male Painted Bunting was on patio eating seed, and at 8 p.m. the male Indigo Bunting showed up. Both were MIA all day. Seems only the one male Painted since about Aug. 1. Yellow-throated Vireo still singing, but not hearing the warbler. Chat still going, as is White-eyed Vireo. E. Screech-0wl (Tex-Mex mccallii) right over bath right as it got dark, it couldn't wait to hit the water after a hot day.

Aug. 5 ~ Low was about 75dF, not very. A trace of sprinkles went over just after 8 a.m., saw a rainbow briefly. Saw the ad.ma. Painted Bunting first thing before sunup, and about 8 greenies hit the patio at the same time. Heard Gnatcatcher, some Orchard Orioles, and a Red-eyed Vireo in the pecans in front yard early morning. Male Indigo Bunting around later in day. No male Blue Grosbeak for second day though, the alpha male left the night of the 3rd after that spectacular spiral display flight. Some nearish spritzes and showerlets in afternoon sheilded us from the peak solar burn, but we didn't get anything. An odd orangish grasshopper was on the Turks Cap (ph.). Kathy pointed out calling Common Nighthawk before dusk. A just-fledged Chipping Sparrow is being fed on patio.

Aug. 4 ~ A sprinkle or two overnight, we got a tenth or so. Up near town some areas got a quarter to a half inch. It built into something more after it got south of us, looked like Sabinal got some. Low was 72dF, and some clouds kept it bearable for a bit. Yesterday while weed-whacking I got a puncture through the old sneakers, far deeper than I prefer, into foot from a big thorn I presume, probably a Mesquite. So I am a tenderfoot today. Hope I don't have to run from anything.

Gnatcatcher out there early, Yellow-throated Vireo and Chat singing, do not hear a Blue Grosbeak. Saw one ea. still continuing last ad. males of Indigo and Painted Bunting. A few Orchard Oriole early, better was two Audubon's Oriole that went through the yard about 9:30 or so. Did not see the Rufous Hummer this morning, or late at last call last evening, so it probably left late yesterday afternoon. Four day bird, nice for an ad. male. It was great to hear that wing whistle again. Most here are females or imms., which have no whistle in their wings, poor things. Cooper's Hawk got a White-winged Dove out back noonish.

Went for a swim late afternoon to cheat peak heat since that works so well. We finally had a Green Kingfisher fly by at eye-level while we were in the water. First one we have seen go by during weekly swims in a couple months so a treat. Was an immature with one green breast band. Saw a Black-shouldered Spinyleg dragonfly again. In damsels, over a dozen Am. Rubyspot, no Smoky. They are upriver where it turns to running creek, and not so much riverine. Lots of Stream and Double-striped Bluet, saw one Neotropical Bluet which is my first of year. Tons of Dusky Dancer, they are the predominant species. Can you tell there weren't many birds out in the heat?

Nearing last sun a begging Painted Bunting appeared with mum and was being fed for some time before it got the hint and flew down to patio and seed. At this point I do not think there is any male around helping. They seem to depart before the last baby is out of the nest on what is likely the third set of young. I have seen this before.

Aug. 3 ~ About 72dF for a low, was 92 on cool shady front porch at 4 p.m. Had some clouds though for a few hours in the a.m. Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo still around yard and singing, one each male Painted and Indigo Bunting left, are not singing, Blue Grosbeaks have gone quiet too. Caught one of the Rufous-crowned Sparrow leaving the bath in the morning. It got them to stick around just to bathe again soon! A couple Gnatcatcher and a few Orchard Oriole went through in the morning. The ad.ma. Rufous Hummingbird is still here. Saw the big imm. fem. Cooper's Hawk.' Field Sparrow around the yard in afternoon. New begging being fed juvie Lark Sparrow just out of nest.

Neatest thing was a different type of Blue Grosbeak flight song, I suspect the departure display song. Several species of birds here I have noticed go bonkers singing and or calling right before they leave the territory for the season. For songbirds it is a day to three and noticeable because they have been in a comparatively silent period molting after getting rid of the last set of young. All of a sudden they explode in song, and then disappear. Typical Blue Grosbeak flight display song is like Chat or Orchard Oriole, Lesser Goldfinch, and most songbirds, a fairly horizontal affair across the territory.

Right before last sun, I heard a bzzzz flight note and looked up to see the male Blue Grosbeak climbing nearly straight up but in spirals, whilst immediately bursting into explosive song. He climbed vertically like a U-2, going up a spiral staircase, like an airshow stunt pilot, belting out with everything it had. Everytime it came belly to me the dark blue glowed in the sun. When it got over a hundred feet up it went into parachute mode, wings and tail in full fan, a little bit of quiver at first, and spiraled back down the staircase as song faded away. It only did it once. I said to myself, that bird is leaving. I have never seen that flight display, I watch them every day all breeding season. It was making one last proclamation, and taking one last look around.

One last peek at a Golden-cheeked Warbler from this spring at Lost Maples SNA.
At this point, I will not likely to see another until next March.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 2 ~ A 70.5dF low was nice, we need to cool down after these scorchers, of which today is supposed to be another. The ad.ma. Rufous Hummer is still here. Kathy spotted two Rufous-crowned Sparrow at the bird bath. Probably been a year since we saw one in the yard, maybe two. They nest very nearby, a third mile or so, but hardly ever occur here. The last little rocky slope ends right at the back fence line. The drip got 'em. The looked like a pair of very worn adults, but were soaking wet so was hard to tell. Wish they would stick. Heard the Red-eyed Vireo still singing over in corral. Also heard some Purple Martin over the yard early. That won't last, they are about outta here for the year.

Town run and quick park check. Saw a Zone-tailed Hawk over town, heard an Eastern Wood-Pewee singing at the park, they must still be nesting. Little Creek Larry said he saw at least a couple Green Heron at the park this morning, maybe 3, and a group of 3 Common Grackle. Both probably local family groups. Back here after Rosie's tacos, about 1 p.m., there was another Zone-tailed Hawk, low right over the yard. It would take me at least several lifetimes to stop getting excited about them.

Saw one of those Peach or Fig Scarab beetles flying around yard. Better an Eyed Elaterid landed on the big pecan and I got a shot of it, was a dark one. At peak heat in p.m. (about 93dF in shade) a White-striped Longtail came in to water again, surely the same one as last week. Great to keep seeing it. Kathy saw the male Indigo Bunting on the patio nearing dusk. Like the ad. male Painteds, it will be gone soon. Eastern Screech-Owl calling 25' out office window after dark.

August 1 ~ The low was 69.7 or so, just a frog hair below 70dF. Hopefully a sign of a cooler month ahead, but a few days of burners are on tap. The ad.ma. Rufous Hummer is at the feeder first thing. Heard the Red-eyed Vireo still singing over in corral. A Gnatcatcher went through yard early, a bit later a group of Orchard Oriole (could be a local family group) were moving around. Painted Bunting have gone silent and some adult males seem to have already left. Not seeing as many, were 5 at once a week ago, not any more. Ten greenies (imm. or fem.) were on the patio at once in the morn. Saw a Pepsis Wasp. One Eufala Skipper (which I missed locally in July - only saw it down at Uvalde) so it did not take a day to see a butterfly species I did not see the month prior here. Another Gnatcat nearing dusk.

~ ~ ~ July summary ~ ~ ~

It was a hot one, and dryer than average, just over 2" of rain was it, mostly in two quick events. By the end of the month the river is on the low side of average. Spring to summer flowers mostly fried over the course of the month. Some summer stuff is starting to show, but we need some rain! Cherries and Pecans look to have a weak to poor crop underway, same for Hackberries where I have looked. Texas Persimmon has a spotty but very good crop overall, lots of branches are boughed over from the weight of the still green fruit. Birds and deer are already hitting them.

Butterflies were 57 species locally, one more than June, and a good showing for July. Nothing rare, just mopped up most of the likely contenders. Maybe best was not counted for total since at Uvalde, a Rawson's Metalmark. Here, a Common Sootywing was best since first IN yard. A Tropical Checkered-Skipper IN yard was only 2nd or 3rd here. A White-striped Longtail came to water on the patio for a couple days. No Arizona Sister, no satyrs, no Metalmark locally. The first Ceranus Blue and Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak showed up as usual. Saw the six usual expected swallowtails.

Odes were about 33 species locally. Still decent activity but clearly down from June. The early spring fliers and flight are done. The first few migrants show up as usual though, Spot-winged and Wandering Glider, Green Darner, Red, and Black, Saddlebags all were here in multiples if not small groups, heading south, by late in the month. Amongst the dozen sps. of damselflies were lots of Stream and a few Orange Bluet, Citrine Forktail, Orange-striped Threadtail, Springwater and Powdered Dancer, nothing rare. Not counted in local total above were a half-dozen different things I saw in Uvalde, best being a male Pin-tailed Pondhawk.

Birds were mostly just the breeders and lots of babies, which is great to see. Many things seemed to get second and third sets out. Surely the wet spring was a boon. There were flowers and bugs. Some things are still going at it. Others like Black-and-white and Golden-cheeked Warbler are done and all but gone from the area for the season. The first two long-distance migrants showed up the last few days of the month, a Peregrine Falcon on the 28th, and a Rufous Hummingbird on the 31st. Fall migration begins in July. I saw about 89 species locally over the month, all but two were breeders. A few to several more are around, I am not pounding the bushes, but a working stiff. Saw another dozen or so brush country species in a couple hours Sabinal to Uvalde area.

~ ~ ~ end July summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~

July 31 ~ Wow last day of the month, another blasts past. About 71.5dF for a low, not much for low stratus to keep it at bay. And so we enter the dog days of summer. Heard a Gnatcatcher go through early morning, and another late. Mid-morn a small group of Orchard Oriole went through, late evening a few more. Just after 10 a.m. I had an adult male RUFOUS Hummingbird at the front porch feeder. Got pix, it has a little green flecking on upper back, which is OK for them. Nothing like a nice long-distance migrant for a great sign of fall. There are less than a hundred Black-chinned here now. We are under a quart per day consumption, for a few days now. Male Indigo Bunting still hitting patio millet. Saw another Eyed Elaterid. Saw two Firefly at dusk.

July 30 ~ About 74dF for a low, and some low Gulf stratus kept the sun at bay a few hours. Got up to about 94 or so though. About five more weeks of this in store now. Birds were the regulars. Still singing (and nesting) on territory are Blue Grosbeak, Yellow-breasted Chat, Yellow-throated Vireo and Warbler, Cardinal, Carolina and Bewick's Wren, White-eyed Vireo, Chipping and Lark Sparrow. Painted Bunting ad. ma. barely sang today. An imm. male Yellow-throated Warbler from this year was trying to sing a bit. Can't be but 2-3 months old. Heard the Nighthawk boom at dusk. No Fireflies. I see a Snow-on-the-Mountain with flowers open in the yard. We have about a half-dozen pop up ever year which I weed-whack around just to have a few. Have seen a few good butterflies on them.

July 29 ~ No Gulf flow and low clouds, a sunny start today with easterly winds. Low was 73dF. The south breeze got here mid-day, but no low stratus. Hot and sunny. Counted 8 greenies (imm. or female Painted Bunting) on the patio at once. There are likely well over a dozen around. A few adult male were present at the same time. It was all the usual regular gang and nothing new or different. Which won't last, August and September are two of the biggest movement months here, and though diversity is low without waterbirds, turnover is high. The Black-chinned Hummers have really thinned out already. I wonder where they go? The Brown-headed Cowbirds are mostly gone now too, finally, departing over the last week.

July 28 ~ Did not cool down last night, the balmy Gulf flow is back. Was 74dF this a.m. But the clouds stuck until 11 a.m. or so, at least up at Lost Maples, keeping the morning cooler a few hours. We even had some mist around Vanderpool. We were up before 6, which is before the birds nowadays. Dawn chorus is over. A few things singing early, but not anything you can call a chorus. It is fading fast. We left for Lost Maples just before 8.

On 360 east of the river along the pastures where a couple small mesquite we had a family group of Orchard Oriole, adult pair with three young. At one point the three begging juvies were on the fenceline shoulder to shoulder, luckily autofocus selected a tree way behind them. !*(#^%^%! Got over it pretty quickly when right before we hit 187, I said 'what is that?' to Kathy as I grabbed bins. It was big pale adult female PEREGRINE FALCON which blasted past quickly. Great early fall migrant date. That is surely a long distance migrant, our first for sure this fall. Save a June Long-billed Curlew, which I would call a short-distance migrant. So before we hit the highway we had ad.ma. Orchard Oriole feeding young and a Peregrine, and I knew it was going to be downhill from there as I pulled out on the highway first thing in the morning...  I marshalled onward anyway of course, as the eternal optomist does. Ahead was my last chance to see one more Golden-cheeked Warbler until next March.

In town across from the post office on the usual powerline, there were 20 or so Cave Swallow sunning just after 8 a.m. Just a bunch of Blackbuck on the way up 187, and lots of baby Lark Sparrow. The usual couple Inca Dove at Lost Maples HQ. On the drive into Lost Maples between HQ and the trailhead parking I heard an Olive Sparrow. The trailhead feeding station had one White-tipped Dove first thing, besides 10 White-winged. A couple just-fledged begging juvenile Painted Bunting were nearby and so surely they nested in the park this year. They don't always.

We did the usual walk up Can Creek a mile past the ponds to the highwater spring. What a great walk. We made it to the pond at 10 a.m. and were only ones there, plus there was still overcast. No insects on way up as it was too cool. As it gets to the later part of summer it is always very interesting to see what is still there and what is gone. Black-n-white Warblers are gone already for instance, we did not see one. Did not hear a Yellow-throated Vireo, though our yard breeder is still here singing today. Only heard one Yellow-throated Warbler call, no singing. Only heard one begging juvenile Acadian Flycatcher. No Ash-throated Flycatcher, and no Scrub-Jay.

Great is seeing some things feeding young still, which for most is likely third broods at this point. Besides the Painted Buntings, and Chipping Sparrow of course, we saw begging and being fed juvenile Eastern Wood-Pewee, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Summer Tanager. We saw one juvenile female Golden-cheeked Warbler just below the highwater spring, right over the trail. It never made a sound, got one poor pic. Love getting a later date for them, and a thrill to see one, one more time this year. I only have a couple August sightings, both near Utopia. I had a couple birds fly into a tree I thought were warblers, and maybe Golden-cheeks, but they shot off before I could binoc them.

Heard at least three maybe four White-tipped Dove along the trail. Heard a handful of Canyon Wren, one Rufous-cronwed Sparrow, one Black-capped Vireo distantly, one Hutton's Vireo, still fair numbers of Red-eyed and White-eyed Vireo, lots of Black-crested Titmouse and Carolina Wren, a few Chickadee, a handful of Louisiana Waterthrush still there, but none seen well enough to age. Got to hear that husky grating zzeet flight note a couple times. Still some Indigo Buntings seemingly going, and heard begging young a couple times. Heard a few Ladder-backed Woodpecker. Did not see or hear Blue Grosbeak, ours here at the hovelita are still underway. No hawks but one Red-tailed, no Orioles, no Raven, and no Green Kingfisher.

Odes (dragonflies) were nowhere near as abundant as in late June. Must be in a lull between flights. A couple American Rubyspot, a few Springwater Dancer, a Violet and some Dusky Dancer, some Green Darner, a few Black, and a Red, Saddlebags, but it was weak. No Flame, Neon, Commanche or Widow Skimmer, no Prince or Dot-winged Baskettail. And so it went.

Flowers are also in a lull, the late summer and fall stuff is not going yet for the most part, and the spring to early summer stuff is over. Some good Cedar Sage patches still, a few Snapdragon Vine and Green Milkweed Vine still in bloom, one or two Boneset Eupatorium, several Texas Milkweed. Did see the first few Frostweed flowers. Saw a huge old Escarpment Cherry, and a Walnut tree, both lost in the last month. Way over hundred year old trees. Bigguns. Both with crops on them. We just keep losing the major canopy trees. A real bummer when they are fruit or nut producers, key wildlife forage. The Cherry crop overall is sorta stunted this year, they mostly still look like big Hackberries, the Persimmon crop looks OK to good though.

Butterflies were kinda weak with the flowers. Three Spicebush Swallowtail, and about the same number of Bronze Roadside-Skipper were highlights. A few Celia's Roadside to boot. Three Eastern Tiger and one Two-tailed Swallowtail, a few Cloudless Sulphur and Sleepy Orange, one Dun Skipper, some Variegated and Gulf Frits, one Buckeye. No Arizona Sister or Red-spotted Purple. One Six-lined Racerunner lizard was it for reptiles, heard a few lizards get away in the leaf litter, usually Four-lined Skinks. A few Leopard and (Blanchard's) Cricket- Frogs were seen. We were done about 1 p.m., did four miles of trail but the way I zigzag back and forth for every bug, double back for heard birds, etc., it takes me 5 miles to go 4.

We went for a swim here in late afternoon to cool the hike off. Saw a Five-striped Leaftail dragonfly over the water but that was about it of interest. Lots of Texas Shiner minnows. No Firefly at dusk. There should be a fall flight which should start fairly soon. The spring to early summer flight lasted longer than usual, the last few in last week of July. The individual numbers peak however was not as good as last year.

July 27 ~ One last cool low at 65dF here before we get back to the standard summer 70's for lows. What a treat! Did more yard work early since cooler. Had to pick hit the P.O. in town, and Big Ern was finally there with his Bar-B-Q. The fact that the all of the pork ribs even make it home, whilst I am tortured smelling them, is a miracle, not to mention a testament to incredible dicipline. The chicken is not under threat like those pork ribs. Park was packed with people, nothing in a quick check of the woods but heard Common Grackle.

So checked the golf course pond by the Waresville Cemetery. One Common Grackle was there in the reeds with the Red-winged Blackbirds that nest there. No Martins around the house, which needs repairs badly. There were about 4 Thornbush Dasher dragonfly, my first up here (saw at Uvalde 10 days ago) in the hills this year. A dozen Green Darner was my first gang of them. Some Red, and Black, Saddlebags were in tandem and ovipositing. Saw a big female Eyed Elaterid flying around the yard. No Firefly at dark.

Rufous Hummingbird, adult male, July 31. The iridescent gorget
feathers in throat usually appear an orangish red, but at some
light angles they can appear gold or green.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 26 ~ Another record low, we had 60dF here, and dry, what an event. KRVL was mostly 59. Three days with high temps at least 5-8 dF below normal due to a cold front. Lows 10-15 dF below normal. Two days of record lows, yesterday and today. What an event in late July. At the same time Paris, France recorded its highest temperature ever at about 110dF! London had 99.9, their second highest ever. The Arctic is record hot, and on fire. One could almost maybe wonder if the climate is changing?

Heard a Gnatcatcher early first thing. The rest seemed the regulars. What little I could look. Town run fer shtuff. I saw a Spot-winged Glider (ode) over the driveway when I left. At the park, still Martins overhead, best were a couple odes, damselflies in this case. A male Citrine Forktail was the first one I have seen this year, and several Orange-striped Threadtail were flying. Little Creek Larry said he had the Green Heron there early in the morning. Late afternoon here I heard the Field Sparrow singing. Saw a Mournful Duskywing come in to the water puddles here. About 7 p.m. saw a female Painted Bunting with a couple new just fledged young in one of the Mexican Hat patches I have left. I think these are from the alpha male that nests in the thicket right across road from gate.

Shortly before dusk I heard an odd cheeping from the grass in the front yard. Spotted a Bewick's Wren fledgling that was out of the nest too soon. It was not flight capable yet. Then looking around over where nest was in broken off branch stub, I hear the two parents over in the corral, with a baby. So as often the older ready-to-go young does the bolt, and others not ready try to, to follow parents and other young. It was as if they forgot about it. I grabbed it and put it in the brush pile under the nest branch. Finally the parents heard it and came back over. They spent 5 minutes trying to get it to fly up into the lowest pecan branches just a couple feet off the ground. But it is not flight ready. Hope it makes the night in the brush pile. Saw one Firefly.

Rantlet warning. I forgot to mention since I saw it a couple weeks ago, but today I did not even bother checking the butterfly garden at the library. It is so over-butchered, again, I can't believe it. Hardly any flowers there. By now this garden should be self-sustaining. The biggest reason more new plants keep having to be bought is OVER-cutting. It is a bad idea to have the people that bill new plants out, manage the cutting. In this case it seems obvious to me watching it for over a decade the people cutting are not horticulturists (one would never do that to a Thoroughwort Eupatorium), but just need a big pile of cuttings to show for the hours and billing. When you over-cut a flowering shrub 5 or 10 years in a row, it will die at some point along the way. As many there have that I watched. This is what is often happening. End of rantlet.

July 25 ~ A record low of 57dF here, I saw a 55 at Kerrville! I heard of reports of 52dF at Rocksprings! Incredible. I think Austin had a record low as well. Probably the first time I have seen the 50's dF in July in the last 16 of them here. Did some yard work early while cooler out. Heard the Bell's and Red-eyed Vireos singing, still trolling. A couple more Orchard Oriole first thing early. That makes 10 between late yesterday and early today. It's fall migrants. Eastern Bluebirds might be going a third time in their box. They have been around the box, even hanging at entrance.

The one still going good patch of Frog-fruit along the driveway is the best yard butterfly draw now. One check noonish and I saw Phaon Crescent, 2 Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, a Desert Checkered-Skipper, Fiery and Dun Skipper, a Sachem and a Reakirt's blue. A couple Celia's Roadside-Skipper still around the porch, as are a couple Dusky-blue Groundstreak mostly on the Turk's Cap. Which is also very eaten. Got another Blue Mist Eup cat (218) today, after a few days of not seeing any, but something is still skeletalizing the leaves.

Best bugs of the day though were a couple dragonflies, that surely came in because of spraying some water around. First around 11 a.m. there was a male Widow Skimmer hunting from a short dead Mesquite snag. Great to see in the yard. Better was a GREAT SPREADWING, which is new for the yard. We saw one in April or May at Lost Maples, so this is the second one this year, and in many years, they have been absent since the drought set in. I got an ID shot overhead when it hung up in the pecan but I lost it when it moved. Saw one of the big metallic green Peach or Fig Scarabs. Only saw one Firefly at dusk, heck I saw more Armadillo (2).

July 24 ~ A great low of 64.5dF was a thrill. Dry too. Feels like Utopia. Birdsong is really getting dialed back out there now though. Even the stuff that is still breeding is not singing as much. A Dickcissel went through the yard in the morning, which could be a migrant though maybe more likely a local disperser. One Gnatcatcher in the a.m., another at last sun. Chats much quieter today. Not sure we hit 90dF at peak heat, and did I mention it was dry. What a break.

In butterflies, great was a White-striped Longtail that came into water on the patio. Also had Orange Skipperling and Phaon Crescent, a couple Dusky-blue Groundstreak, several Julia's Skipper, a few Queens hitting the two BlueMistEup stalks with flowers, some Lysides going by, one Cloudless Sulphur, a Buckeye, amongst the more common stuff. Saw a small Praying Mantis on the BlueMistEup. Wish it would take out all of whatever is destroying it. Have seen a couple tiny baby lizards, maybe 2.5" total including tail length, of both Anole and Eastern Fence Lizard.

Nearing last sun in the treetops, a group of 4-5 Orchard Orioles worked the big Pecan and big Hackberry before moving uphill, following that 'last sun in the treetops' they love. I went out in the driveway and another group of four Orchard Oriole followed them uphill after working the blooming Mesquites across the road and the pecans. It was at least 8, which means migrants if you ask me. Saw a couple Caracara go by, a couple Chimney Swift were feeding over the river habitat corridor at last sun.

The sundown song session was noticeably quieter today. Much of what is still nesting has been singing a good session or two nearing last sun. Not all at once like dawn chorus, more spread out, seemingly almost taking turns, each species has a time before last sun when they have one last bout of song for the day. It is like a birdsong jukebox to me. Tonight not very many records played. Didn't even hear the Summer Tanager. I saw the main alphamale Painted Bunting fly straight from the millet feeder across yard and road 160' and shoot right into the hole in the wall of bushes he uses to enter nest area, so he is still feeding young.

July 23 ~ The front is passing this morning, no cold air yet, 73dF, but northerly flow. So far the little bit of rain missed us though I can feel the air drying out. Northerlies from a cold front in July is mind-boggling. Heard a Gnatcatcher first thing. Otherwise the usual gang. Saw a Northern (Common) Mestra out back when tossing seed.

Had to go to town in the afternoon and leave car at the shop an hour and a half so walked to the park. Saw Little Creek Larry, he said he had a Downy Woodpecker at the park this morning. I had two items of intereset, my FOY Powdered Dancer damselfly, a nice pale male, pretty neat looking beast. Was below spillway on sand at edge of water. A few butterflies were there, Common and Desert Checkered-Skipper, the Desert new for the month. Best was a Mournful Duskywing puddling at point blank, since I didn't have camera. This neat trick always works. Seems like every patch of bushes I drove by has calling young Painted Buntings now. Saw a Texas Powdered-Skipper on Junior's Yellow Lantana in town. Heard the Nighthawk boom once at dusk. Barred Owl calling over at river after dark.

July 22 ~ Low of 73dF, not much for morning clouds. It is said to be the last very hot (above avg. mid-90's) day of this heat spell. A cold front is still being advertised to arrive tonight. A cold front at beginning of the last third of July. Perfectly normal isn't it? No worries, the Arctic is record hot. Nothing to see here, move along.

A couple Gnatcatcher went through over the day. Southbound. Heard the Red-eyed Vireo singing over in the corral, a Bell's singing in the Mesquites out front, a Hutton's Vireo called from up in the big Pecan and Hackberry out front. The White-eyed and Yellow-throated were both singing. Another five species of vireo from the yard morning in vireotopia. The Indigo Bunting is still singing but without the vigor of a week or two ago. Just giving a short-song now, the first half maybe of the normal full series. Chat and Blue Grosbeaks still going strong but in bursts with longer breaks.

Later morning a male Orchard Oriole went through yard moving south. Which could be a local post-breeding dispersant, but it could also be a fall migrant from further afield. We are at that time when we start seeing the first fall migrants from elsewhere. Common Nighthawk went over at last sun. Maybe 3 or 4 Firefly was it for them.

July 21 ~ A 70dF low felt great. The low Gulf stratus didn't get here until 8:30 and only lasted a couple hours. Gonna be a scorcher. Supposed to be a cold front on the way tomorrow evening or so. Heard the Red-eyed Vireo and the Indigo Bunting both singing still. Yellow-throated Vireo and Warbler are both still singing, but the White-eyed Vireo is barely going, maybe between nest cycles? Did some yard work early when the clouds were here and still in 70's.

A couple Gnatcatcher went through yard. The rest was the regular gang. We went for a peak heat swim to beat it. Saw one of those ugly Grass Carp. Some Clammyweed is now in bloom, what a fancy flower! The first couple Maxmillian Sunflower also were open. Maybe it was the heat, but way less birdsong over there than there has been. I was mostly there for the 75dF water anyway. Late afternoon single Red-tailed, and Zone-tailed Hawk, flew over the yard. Right before dusk a Field Sparrow flew over calling, seemed it came out of the shorter pecans out front.

July 20 ~ a 73dF low, and low clouds for a few hours of the morning. Went to town briefly late morn. Heard the Eastern Wood-Pewee at the park, a female Common Grackle flew out of the island. Several Orange Bluet damselflies by the island. One Wandering Glider out over the pond. Here at the hovelita in the afternoon I saw a small accipiter which this time of the year had to have been a tiny male Cooper's Hawk. Man it was small. Three Turkey over in the corral as usual lately. Only a handful of Firefly at dusk. No Chuck calling for a few days now, since the dusk of the first evening after that last rain.

I keep forgetting to mention some of the imm. male Black-chinned Hummingbirds are getting their first dark gorget feathers. I first saw the first one the first week of July, a couple to few showed it the second week, now several are showing them. The earliest nests are last half of March, so young are out last part of April. So around 60-70 days or so after fledging, the earliest imm. males start showing dark feathers in the throat. Then, any imm. males fledging now will be gone for the season before they get any dark throat feathers. Only a handful of Firefly at dusk. No Chuck-wills-widow calling for a few days now, since the dusk of the first night after the last rain.

Blue-winged Teal (male, or drake) at Utopia Park April 7, 2019.
Bobwhite (female or hen), the second before she bursts into the air.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 19 ~ A 73dF low, and some clouds for the morn. Heard the Red-eyed Vireo, Indigo Bunting, and the Black-and-white Warbler all sing early, still trolling for mates. An Eastern Wood-Pewee was in the yard early, a transient, looked like a juvenile from the quick look I got. Town run day. At the park there was a female Green Kingfisher at the island, and a couple begging young Common Grackle with an ad. male appearing to feed them. So I guess a pair did nest there this year after all. Still some Purple Martins around. Saw four Viceroy (butterfly) at the park, around the Willows of course. One male Whirlabout (lep) was the only thing on the yellow Lantana at the Sabinal Canyon Museum. Saw a Mestra somewhere. Pulled one BlueMistEup cat, 217 removed now. The two un-eaten stalks both have flowers now. Should be 200 stalks with flower heads. Still trying to save it for a fall bloom. One of the yearling Armadillos has found the birdbath and thinks it is something you roll on your back in, after getting all the dirt off its underside.

July 18 ~ Low of 74dF, low stratus from Gulf kept heat at bay a few hours. Heard the Black-n-white singing early again. Another Gnatcatcher went through yard early. By time I get back up to Lost Maples they will be gone. Too busy Thursdays at the desk so not much chance to see anything but the regulars. Only standout was a brief look at a Tropical Checkered-Skipper, one of which I just saw and photo'd at Cook's Slough in Uvalde a couple days ago. I have only had a couple of them in the yard, and those were in fall when more typical, so, good bug. Had a Wandering Glider dragonfly among about 10 Red Saddlebags.

July 17 ~ Low of 75dF is not very. Gulf clouds got here though so keeping sun at bay a few hours early. Feels like vacation not getting up early and hitting the road. Chat still doing flight song first thing. Amazing was an early a.m. Belted Kingfisher flying high over the river Cypresses southward. Sure glad it called. It is my earliest 'fall' return date. My prior Aug. 1 earliest date is three weeks anomolous. Other earliest return dates are last week of August, often not until September do I see one back. Saw a Common Mestra butterfly, first one in a couple months.

If you look closely you can see the adult males of species primarily red are getting much duller lately. Noticeable on the adult male Painted Bunting, the Cardinals, male Vermilion Flycatcher, and Summer Tanager. They are all dulled up at peak wear, and now many have begun to molt. Heard the Hooded Oriole out there, saw the male Indigo Bunting. Heard a Gnatcatcher go through. Got a pic of a imm. White-eyed Vireo at the bath. Wasn't old enough to know yet that vireos only splash bathe, and though it did that, it also perched at edge of bath a few times long enough for me to grab a shot.

July 16 ~ Got up early as we had to go to Uvalde to do some paperwork. Hummers are at the feeders just before 6:30 a.m. now, right about civil twilight. Around Sabinal there was standing water on the ground from recent rains. Some Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and Western Kingbird along the ag fields in that area, last year we saw none. We took Lower Sabinal Rd. to Uvalde. A couple places that were great for birds had huge rows of Hackberries and hedgerows clearcut and removed. Whilst we actually should be planting trees.

Fair numbers of Dickcissel along the roads, they seemed to have a good year, as did Red-winged Blackbird and Lark Sparrow. Heard Cassin's Sparrow singing at a couple spots, Verdin were everywhere, heard an Olive Sparrow, saw one Pyrrhuloxia, a couple Long-billed Thrasher flew across road in front of us, saw a pair of Bobwhite, Mocker numbers are high as usual, saw a couple Red-tailed Hawk, a few Caracara. As you arrive in Uvalde the first thing you see is a bunch of Great-tailed Grackle.

After a couple biz stops we did quick run-throughs at Cook's Slough and the fish hatchery. It was already dripping at 10 a.m. Much still seems to be nesting at both sites, surely due to the spring rains continuing. Orchard Oriole were singing at both sites. Couch's Kingbird at both as well. Three Neotropic Cormorant were at the slough, looked like the same three there in April, two first-summers and a second summer bird. Saw Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Olive Sparrow, Bank Swallow, among regular stuff at the slough. A Tropical Checkered-Skipper (lep) was nice there, so was a Pin-tailed Pondhawk dragonfly. At the hatchery there were a few adult Common Gallinule and at least 4 older juveniles, so they nested successfully. A pair of Coot there had no young, they usually depart for the summer.

Perhaps most interesting was at Cook's Slough, hearing the cicada that sounds like a jet engine idling. The F-14 Cicada. I used to only hear these when I went way down south on the Rio Grande below Falcon Dam along lower part of river. Clearly they too, like many birds, are moving their ranges northward.

Saw a couple Great Egret and one fresh juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. Lots of baby Black-bellied Whistling-Duck at the hatchery. Heard were Bell's Vireo and Cactus Wren over in the Mesquites along north border. Lots of dragons flying, a few Thornbush Dasher and one Forceptail that looked like a Broad-striped. Did not have time to work the place, just a quick hit-and-run-through. At the city park on Hwy. 90 there were a couple Carmine Skimmers besides the Roseate, and some Eastern Amberwing. It got stinkin' hot fast down there, and of course the places with the action, the slough and hatchery, have humidity that makes saunas envious. Still no Bare-throated Tiger-Heron though.

By time we were driving the hour home it was over 95dF down there, and about 90 here, maybe 88 on the shady front porch, when we got back. About 5dF, and you can feel the difference. One BlueMistEup cat pulled this a.m., at 216 and counting. A Common Nighthawk flew over just before dusk. A male Blue Grosbeak gave some nice flight song at dusk. Male Indigo Bunting still out there on patio.

July 15 ~ Stayed at the 73dF the rain last night dropped us to, all night. A very humid 73. Sure great to have that Black-and-white Warbler singing out there first thing every morning. This is the second time we have had a first summer male go territorial here. In both cases the daily bird bath usage seems a major factor. No doubt without the water source there would be many fewer birds around the yard. I suspect several dozens of individual birds use it daily.

Great was a (Southern) Pearl Crescent (butterfly) sunning early in the morning on the (finished blooming) Am. Germander. Have not seen one in a few months. A Clouded Skipper stopped briefly, and got a pic of a Celia's Roadside-Skipper. There is one stalk of BlueMistEup that the cats missed which is a foot taller than all the shredded rest, and now has an open bloom atop it, with a Queen on it of course. There would be 20 sq.ft. of that if it were not for these cats from hades.

July 14 ~ The 69.8dF low felt great but didn't last. Yard was the same gang. Can't wait until the Cowbirds leave, should be soon. Barely a half-gallon per day of sugar water usage now so a couple hundred plus birds around, still all Black-chinned here so far. Rufous will show up shortly, but would prefer something fancier. Got hot, nearing a hun in the sun, 92dF on the cool shady front porch so we took a peak-heat swim to reset body core temperatures. Did not see anything but the expected suspects at river. One Dolomedes sps. fishing spider was on a lily pad 6' from shore. It walked there. Here at the hovelita in leps saw Hackberry Emperor, Goatweed Leafwing, Dusky-blue Groundstreak, and Celia's Roadside-Skipper, among the more common stuff.

From about 10 to 11 p.m. we had a rain cell blow up out of nowhere just north of and over town and very slowly moved south, dropping an INCH of rain! And the temp to 73dF. A sister cell went down the Frio where Garner and Concan got some. Puts us a hair over 2" for the month. We had 10" in May and June together, so at a foot in the last 11 weeks. We could be parched and instead are good and green with lots of flowers showing well. Yet for over a week now, not even half-grown pecans are being shed like gangbusters from the big native tree in particular, green a half-inch to an inch long. The tree is giving up on them for this season, which I do not understand with plenty of rain.

July 13 ~ An amazing 66dF low was fantastic. The NE flow continues from the back side of Barry in Louisiana. Kerrville had a 64 and 65dF briefly! Two BlueMistEup cats pulled, 215 and counting. Heard the Field Sparrow sing, which I haven't for a while, maybe they will nest again too. One good bird today was maybe my first landbird fall migrant, an Orchard Oriole. Sure it could be a local disperser, but it could be from further away too, especially with the NE flow we have had.

Best two birds were bugs, late in the day on the big pecan (native - not a graft) right off front porch. First I spotted a something zipping around which when landed and seen closer was a Neoclytus sps. Longhorn (Cerambycid) Beetle. One of my favorite genera of Longhorns, ran for camera and got a couple shots before it flew off. Which was like a rocket. It went the first 60' faster than a hummingbird departs the feeder. A second or two. Most impressive. Then within a minute in the same area of the tree I spotted one of the metallic gold Dicerca sps. Buprestid Beetles. It was beetle heaven. Auto focus could not grab the Dicerca though, only got one poor shot before it bolted, also like a rocket. Was a miracle I happened to be sitting in the dang chair on the porch smoking my pipe like an old man, watching the bark grow on the tree, and two spectacular beetles should crawl out of it before me. How much we must walk by.

~ ~ ~ early July daily yard and vicinity breeders ~ ~ ~

For birds here is what has been around the yard daily the first third of July, virtually all still breeding, or at least singing on territory in the yard or immediate adjacent vicinity. The daily yard birds are: Summer Tanager, Painted and an unmated trolling Indigo Bunting, Yellow-breasted Chat, Yellow-throated and an unmated trolling Black-and-white Warbler, Blue Grosbeak, Lesser Goldfinch, Lark and Chipping Sparrow, Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Carolina and Bewick's Wren, Carolina Chickadee, Black-crested Titmouse, No. Cardinal, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Bluebird, Vermilion, Ash-throated, and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (see or hear daily), Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo, Wild Turkey, Common Ground-Dove, Eur. Collared-Dove, Mourning and White-winged Dove, Black and Turkey Vulture. Chuck-wills-widow and Common Nighthawk have been regular. Purple Martin and Barn Swallow have been daily overhead, Chimney Swift weekly or so as is N. Rough-winged Swallow. Black-chinned Hummingbird are ridiculously abundant. House Finch nearly so. Brown-headed and Bronzed Cowbird are also unfortunately daily. Have seen a few young, but all dispersants, none begging or being attended by our local birds. Almost daily is an unmated trolling Red-eyed Vireo, and the last week a Bell's Vireo.

Seen every few days are Zone-tailed and Cooper's Hawk. Recently departed due to fledging young so were present daily all June but not now are Great Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and Red-tailed Hawk. Every few days I hear Barred, Great Horned Owl, and once a week lately Eastern Screech-Owl. Once or twice a week I see Caracara go by, they nest nearby. Roadrunner a couple times in last week. Red-shouldered Hawk weekly. That makes about 54 species breeding in the adjacent vicinity. For which the yard is within their territory. Hutton's and Black-capped Vireo nest very nearby, as does Rufous-crowned Sparrow but all are out of daily earshot.

Some strays the last week were Olive Sparrow and Canyon Towhee. Not to mention the Spoonbill a couple miles SW of me. Daily passing through yard is Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, post-breeding departers, and almost every day a transient Black-and-white goes through, most getting acosted by the trolling 1st summer male on the way. A 1st summer Hooded Oriole has been visiting a feeder occasionally. So about 95% of the daily and weekly list in early July is the same as June, and actually May as well.

~ ~ ~ end early July local breeders note ~ ~ ~

White-eyed Vireo, a rather messy one, perhaps an immature (iris is gray)
just molting from juvenile into first basic (winter) plumage.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 12 ~ Even better this morn with a 70dF low. The difference between that and 75 feels like a lot more than the 5dF spread. Was dryer due to the weird NE flow. All the birds were the usual. One BlueMistEup cat pulled off, 213 removed now. Heard a Gnatcatcher go through yard early. Town run and park check, nothing different for birds there, one Green King up on island, a Common Grackle in the willows, heard a Green Heron, and an Eastern Tiger Swalllowtail was nice. Best was a Red-spotted Purple which is probably my first for the park butterfly list. Some Martins still calling overhead there, not for long though. Saw two Ceranus Blue butterfly, my first of the year.

Back here at hovelita, heard the Cooper's Hawk calling like it hopes it is going to nest again. I hope not. Probably sees all these juvenile birds here and figures there will be plenty of food. We are covered in juvies. Probably three dozen from a dozen species.

Just after 4:30 we had a miracle, a nice rain shower from a stray rogue cell. Took 10dF off the top in 5 minutes. Rained .85 of an inch in a half-hour. Got down to 72dF about 5:15, Kerrville was reading 92 at the time. I was on the front porch absorbing the cool when a lightning strike hit only about a quarter-mile away. One thousand one, one BOOOOM!

About 5:30 after the rain of course there was a termite hatch happening. Saw for the first time in a while Common Nighthawks overhead. Been wondering why so quiet with them. There were three over the yard whilst a male was booming over the knoll where they nest just NW a half-mile, so four recorded. Over the yard it appeared two juveniles and one ad. female, which one juvie was begging at incessantly. So I'd say they got two young off this year, outstanding.

About 8:30 p.m. as last sun showed, the two adult Yellow-throated Warbler were in the yard with three bob-tailed just-fledged juveniles in tow. So they got another set out, and a good one. I don't know how the adults can find food as when they fly from tree to tree, three clumsy ones crash into the tree around where it landed. There were two nice bucks in the yard, they are in velvet now. The 3 Turkey were over in the corral again. The Chuck-wills-widow was thrilled enough about the rain to give a decent blast at last light. Maybe 10 or so Fireflies still.

July 11 ~ An outflow boundry hit at midnight, mostly a little wind, but cooled it a few dF and a tracelet of big drops fell, noisy but we missed the rain. Made for a nice 71dF low though, what a difference a few degrees makes. Saw a male Blue Grosbeak with a juvie in one of the patches of Mexican Hat I left to grow in the front yard. Starting to look a bit ratty now since post peak bloom, but the Painted Buntings also love them, taking their young to them first thing out of the nest as well. Heard the Black-n-white singing early, later photo'd one in the bath. But which I think was a female. In the afternoon we actually had north to northeast winds! Methinks unusual for the date. It is from the back side of the rotation from the low in the gulf just off Louisiana, not a front. Two BlueMistEup cats, 212 removed now. Hope I can save some of the patch. Saw a juvenile Golden-fronted Woodpecker.

July 10 ~ A 75dF low, and another hot day. No morning low stratus from the Gulf, so a cooker in the works. It was 89 at noon, so 10dF hotter than when the morning low clouds. I saw 95dF on the cool shady front porch. Had to be a hun in the sun. If your shoes come untied you will be dripping by time you get back up from retying. A cloud sheild from some rain to the northwest took 5dF off our temps before 6 p.m. so we had 90, while Kerrville was reading 97 with a heat index of 106.

The bird of the day was a bug again. I had to run to town early. Great to be the only one in the park again. Heard the Eastern Wood-Pewee, they must be nesting again this year. Best was when I grabbed the gas pump I saw something on the hose. Which turned out to be a live female DOBSONFLY! Awesome beast. What jaws! Probably an Eastern Dobsonfly (Corydalus cornutus), but there are some similar types. Got some shots, though I hated the background and substrate, a gas pump hose (one below). I pumped my gas and left it there. Not the first time I found a good bug I had to stop and shoot at the gas station here. If I lived in town I would check it every morning early first light. I bet it is great for bugs. Pro tip: going around at night checking people's lights is a real good way to meet your local law enforcement folk.

As a youth, when in the desert southwest, there was nothing like a gas station out in the middle of nowhere at midnight for bugs. It was like candyland, a budding entomologists' smorgasbord. Bug city. In those days people actually might not call the cops cause some people with nets were running around at night under the lights. So if you see a little black Mazda pickup down there late at night, and spot a middle-aged, white, male, balding, slightly overweight dude, bent over looking at the ground, perhaps with net or camera, it could be me. No need to call the law, or funny farm. I'm already here.

July 9 ~ Another 75-94dF day. Clouds kept it bearable for the morning and held some heat back in the afternoon. Heard the Red-eyed vireo and Indigo Bunting singing, and the Black-and-white Warbler. I think all three are unmated trollers. Heard a Great Crested Flycacher uphill out back. Have not heard a Cuckoo in a week, they leave the nesting territory as soon as the young is or are out of the nest a week or so. Here I virtually always only see one fledged young.

Bird bath is having traffic jams it is so hot. Too many baby Cardinals, lots of juv. House Finch and Lesser Goldfinch. The Black-n-white was there, an imm. Yellow-throated Vireo splash-bathed for a bit, the Chats brought their young over and showed them what it was about. Later saw the Black-n-white chase another one away. No cats pulled off the BlueMistEup today, 210 and holding.

July 8 ~ A 75dF low is balmy. Probably got to 95 in the sun. Hot and sticky. Nuthin' sweet about it. Heard the Bell's and Red-eyed Vireo singing out there still, as was the Indigo Bunting. The rest were the breeders. Bird bath action is heavy in the heat. It is an avian parade. Kathy saw an imm. Chat and the Black-n-white Warbler at it between everything else visiting. There was a Canyon Towhee in it for a bath, maybe the one that was here a week ago or so. Chickadees have a new set of a couple young just fledged.

Outstanding was hearing from Leslie Calvert that she had a Roseate Spoonbill at her pond yesterday the 7th! She got an ID shot, it was a pale imm. as seemingly all of our few records are. This is 4-5 mi. SSW of town out the west end of UvCo 361, but nowhere the public can view. We have 4 prior records, 3 are of two together, and all of those three in the last 5 years. Thanks for the great news Leslie! From July on is the time to get coastal waders moving inland, especially the young of the year.

Found a big green caterpillar near the base of the big pecan, on the trunk a foot off the ground. It was weirdly convulsing a bit. I thought it was going to pupate maybe. Next morning was on the ground still pulsing. I think it fell out of the tree and has a parasite inside it that is nearing emerging. Many wasps parasitize caterpillars. I put it in a container to watch what happens. Suprised a bird didn't pick it off, or something overnight.

July 7 ~ Low of 74dF, a little off and on morning low stratus from the Gulf. Saw the Black-n-white at the bath, then heard it sing later, the same 1st summer male. Great was just before 10 a.m., an Olive Sparrow sang a few times from a pecan in the front yard! Hope it had found the seed. Not enough understory for one to stick here. Once one lasted a few days. Nice bird to hear in the yard though, especially considering last weekend we walked 4 miles at Lost Maples and didn't see or hear one. Today is the day most of the weekend warriors evacuate the area. Never did understand people leaving the city to go blare music in the country.

We went for a late afternoon swim over in the river. Saw a couple good bugs. Great was a Black Witch, the 5" plus across all dark brown moth that invades Texas annually in late summer. We do not get them every year here, I have not seen one in 5 years or so. It landed under some Cypress roots and we got a close look. But I didn't take my camera upriver this time (have to waterproof it) so no photos. Just as good was a Dragonhunter dragonfly, also the first I have seen in about 5 years. Best look I ever had, got 2' from it perched, since I had no camera on me. This neat trick always works.

Saw three of the big Dolomedes (Fishing) spiders, two were together touching a couple legs, one of them had an egg sac, so likely a pair. Must have been a thousand Texas Shiner minnow. One foot-long Guadalupe Bass was nice, saw a 2-inch young one too, lots of Longear Sunfish. The damselflies were the half-dozen expected types. Same for the birds, the dozen riverside regulars. Great to beat the heat though, was 90dF on the cool shady front porch when we left, likely mid-90's in the sun. Saw one Eastern Tiger Swallowtail flying downriver, and on a Buttonbush a Texas Powdered-Skipper.

There was a Roadrunner in the back yard hunting birds where we toss seed. It ran after a White-winged Dove! The dove saw it coming and flushed, as did all the small stuff. Everything was alarming when it arrived on the scene. They really go after just-fledged birds that habituate the ground. Here that means mostly Painted Bunting, House Finch, and Lark Sparrow. None trust a Roadrunner.

July 6 ~ Low of 73dF, sunny at first, the Gulf clouds did not arrive until after 9 a.m., then cloudy until noonish. Hot sticky afternoon. Heard Gnatcatcher go through early, heard the Black-n-white Warbler singing. Best was hearing FIVE species of vireo, the Bell's is still around, a Hutton's was right out back in the live-oaks upslope, the Red-eyed still trolling about, while the breeding Yellow-throated and White-eyed continue singing. I should run over to the Black-capped spot less than a mile away.

The Tawny Emperor was back around the back porch, photo of it on the screen door. Bunch of Julia's Skipper in the grass out front. Heard some Martins, they will gone soon. Saw a photo in ebird of a Yellow Warbler at Cook's Slough in Uvalde from the last few days. This is a month earlier than my earliest (Aug. 2 - twice) so I can't help but wonder if it is a post-breeding wanderer from breeding populations in the southwest U.S. rather than a migrant from the north. Great record.

Dobsonfly, female, on the fuel line at the gas station. Yes
they can draw blood. Larvae are aquatic, called Hellgrammites.
Wingspan is over 5 inches! This is probably Eastern Dobsonfly.
The obligitory bird photo, another head shot...
You looking for a bird photo here?
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 5 ~ Low of 75dF, maybe mid-90's in the afternoon sun. Hot and sticky, welcome to summer here. Five more cats pulled off the BlueMistEup, now 205 removed. Another Gnatcatcher went through in the morning, they will be daily all month. Nice to hear all the dawn singing still going, means stuff is nesting again. Just heard a couple calls from the Great Crested Flycatcher. I saw a female Black-chinned Hummer gathering thistle down, so they are still going at it! Town is a zoo of hominids, especially the park. On the way to town, just east of the 360 crossing I had a Tawny Emperor (butterfly). Then later in afternoon had a second one here at the house. Later afternoon I had a fly-bye of a Swallowtail that looked like a Polydamus, but it kept going after only briefly loitering.

What looked a different Viceroy from a week ago was at the park. I saw a 12', 2.5" diameter young Mulberry tree on the trail in the woods broken off near the base! Some citiot came to the country and killed a tree I have been admiring for 15 years! I am sure they feel real manly now. We barely have any young regeneration going on with the Mulberries, and this is what happens when it meets the average citiot. I heard from Marsha Jo one of the just-fledged baby Red-shouldered Hawks that has been at the park thrilling many was found dead a day or two ago. I would guess a human-related incident. Probably the guy that killed the Mulberry.   ;)   Heard an Eastern Wood-Pewee, they might be nesting there again this year. The Common Grackles did not nest there this year, though there are some as usual by Feller's place at the Waresville turnoff, and some are behind the storage spaces by that retention pond.

July 4 ~ Happy Independence Day! It is a hominid zoo locally due to the tremendous firework show at the park at dark every year. Highest hominid population day of the year here. So we lay low glad to be hidden on a fairly unused dirt county road. Would like to photo the fireworks, but the crowd so big now you can't just show up at showtime and have a great angle nowadays. It is crazy. The roads out of town sound like LA Freeways about 10 to 11 p.m. when it is over.

Low about 71dF, and was only 82 at 1 p.m. Did some overdue yard work. Eight more BlueMistEup cats pulled, makes 200! Heard a Bell's Vireo singing at the far front corner of yard. The Red-eyed is still trolling around. Yellow-throated still breeding and so singing lots, White-eyed must be between rounds, only barely singing now. So four vireos in the yard today, where is that Hutton's now? Heard Gnatcatcher go through. The same three Turkey were over in the corral. Saw another Streaky Skipper, second one in a week, was not the one a half-mile down the road a few days ago. Chuck gave a little bit of dusk calling, a minute maybe, at half speed and enthusiasm of usual.

July 3 ~ A 72dF low, and some mist so stayed cooler for the a.m. We have skated on a lot of heat so far this spring and summer. Red-eyed Vireo and Indigo Bunting still singing. Heard the Cuckoo and Scissor-tail, and all the regulars of the season. Had two Black-n-white Warblers at once, briefly interacting, one singing was the 1st summer male that has been around, the other a female or juvenile. Heard the Bluebirds early but they have not gotten a third round underway yet. White-eyed Vireo must be between rounds as well, fairly quiet right now for them. A couple Gnatcatcher went through yard over the day. Not hearing the Great Crested Flycatcher much, they probably got young out and are deciding whether or not to do it again. Only two BlueMistEup cats today, 192 pulled now. Saw another Eyed Elaterid flying around. Chuck gave a little about 10 p.m. after skipping the normal 'first dark' blast.

July 2 ~ About 71 for a low, and some light traces of mist kept it cool for the a.m. Only 3 caterpillars pulled off the Blue Mist eupatorium, maybe I am finally getting ahead of them, 190 now. Red-eyed Vireo still singing, Indigo Bunting as well. Blue Grosbeak still on patio occasionally, mostly sneaks around under cover out back. Yellow-throated Vireo and Warbler both still singing through yard. Kathy spotted a Black-n-white coming in to the bath, I got a couple shots maybe. Gnatcatcher went through yard.

Bird of the day was a butterfly, a Common Sootywing. Which is new for the yard. Went and looked, #92 in yard! They are common at say Cook's Slough in the brush country at Uvalde, but I have only seen a very few up here in the hills, and none in several years. I photo'd one once over a decade ago at Utopia on the River a mile downriver. By time I got back out with camera it was gone. Was on Zexmenia out back.

Found a dead male Black Widow in the trucklet. Got some pix, males are pretty fancy looking. Nice to know they can get inside somehow. Can't leave the windows cracked a little bit I guess. It probably got in sometime I had them open, and then got cooked when closed and it got hot inside the cab. Glad I didn't spot it crawling on me whilst driving!

Three Turkey were in the corral, two bearded Toms and a hen or young tom. The first summer male Hooded Oriole was at the hummer feeder again. The closest-by Chuck-wills-widow did not do the usual dusk calling session. He is out of steam. A week early. Usually they call for three months, April 7-10 to July 7-10. There will be a little sputtering yet, and begging young, but the intense is over. Less than a dozen Firefly.

July 1 ~ About 69.5dF for a low is nice. Clouds kept it in 70's until almost noon. Heard a Gnatcatcher out there early, and another after noon, heard the Red-eyed Vireo singing over in corral. Amazing hearing the Blue Grosbeak and Painted Bunting singing at the same time both up in the big pecan right off the porch. Nine more BlueMistEup cats removed, so 187 for a running total, in case you wonder why it looks ravaged. I see the first flowers opening on our Wooly Ironweed. It has a dozen stalks this year, its third since sprouted from a seed I planted. Was 3 stalks the first year, 6 the second, now a dozen. Lots of begging baby Painted Bunting, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, and Lark Sparrow out there around yard and on patio. Fireflies are fading fast, the flameout is ongoing. Maybe saw a dozen.

~ ~ ~ June summary ~ ~ ~

It was a wet one. We had 6" of rain at our place, Others got more and less, rainfall varies wildly very locally here. It kept temps on the cool side of average for the month. A cold front in June was quite a novelty, most locals could not recall such an event. One morning after it was 60dF. Quite a few mornings were in the mid-upper 60's dF, and a lot of days did not hit 90dF in the shady spots. Flowers bloomed very well with the continued rains after the 4" in May.

Nothing like some heat to bring bugs out, butterflies and dragonflies were both good in June. Butterflies were about 56 species, which is very good. Missed any Satyr and a Sister, and saw two Skipperlings left as probably Southern (numbers of Orange were seen). Could have had 60 species if I worked at it instead of a casual observation total. Sixty is my June record (2009 - 10 years ago). At 56 it is tied for second best June, way back in 2007. It has been 10 years since this level of June diversity. Which means we are either at peak and the year will fade, or, we are going to have a great fall. I suspect the latter. Best bugs were a Rawson's Metalmark, a White-striped Longtail, and a Marine Blue, the rest were the expected regular usual. Nice to see a couple ea. Hackberry Emperor and Viceroy after last years' dearth of both.

Odes were great, activity really gets into gear in June. Damsels were 14 sps. and dragons 25 sps. for 39 species total! Not counting what I thought were Cyrano Darner both at Lost Maples and at Utopia Park. Whatever they were it is not in the 39 ID'd. There were some Black-shouldered Spinyleg a couple miles south of town. A Wandering Glider on the 29th at Lost Maples where lots of Neon Skimmer late in month. A couple Flame Skimmer were there early in month, as well as some Comanche Skimmer. Teneral Yellow-legged Meadowhawk were my earliest ever on June 29 at Lost Maples. In damsels the Springwater Dancer, Orange-striped Threadtail, and Stream Bluets are always nice. Smoky Rubyspot showed mid-month and after, always neat to see.

Best birds for me were the begging young Grasshopper Sparrow on West Sabinal Rd. in Bandera Co., first local nesting I have found. At least 3 young fledged. A calling Long-billed Curlew overhead in the dark heading south June 19 was early, so good, though I record a few as calling nocturnal migrants every year here. A couple Bushtit in the yard June 16 were nice, they have been scarce for me lately, not being in heavy juniper habitat much. For some reason they have been scarce lately at Lost Maples, really since the recent 7 year exceptional drought they have never gotten back to what was normal encounter rates. The two Cormorants seen at Utopia Park the 26th were surely Neotropic (formerly Olivaceous) and a great record. I come up with 97 species seen locally for the month myself, plus Little Creek Larry saw about 3 that I didn't, so a hundred were around. Not bad for June. His Gopher Tortoise this month was a great local record too.

~ ~ ~ end June summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ archive copy, partial update header ~ ~ ~

May highlights... It started with a bang with 6 Mississippi Kite and a NORTHERN GOSHAWK over the house May 2. A FOS (first of season) Catbird was at the park May 3. After the big rain on the 3rd (4.5") there were lots of FOS species May 4th during the rain-induced grounding event. Water was not the only thing that preciptated out of the sky. Yellow-headed Blackbird, Common Yellowthroat, Black-throated Green and Tennessee Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Warbling Vireo, and Great Egret were all my FOS. May 5 they were all gone, but a FOS Northern Waterthrush was at UP. The short story on migration is here today gone tomorrow. I had a fly-bye of a cuckoo with no rufous in wings or color in bill, surely a Black-billed May 7. Another Rose-breast (both were females) was in our yard May 8. May 9 a pair of Cassin's Kingbird were in our yard, again. May 10 saw my FOS Eastern Kingbird (5!) and Mourning Warbler, a second Catbird, and a tardy American Pipit. May 11 there was a pair of Mourning Warbler at the park, my first female, another Northern Waterthrush there, and a WILSON'S PHALAROPE at the big (north) S. Little Crk. Rd. ponds. May 12 finally produced a Wilson's Warbler for the spring, and an Olive-sided Flycatcher, both at Lost Maples. A Mexican (formerly Green) Violetear was being seen in or near San Antonio, holler if you see a big shiny green hummer locally please. Finally got my FOS Common Nighthawk on May 15, way late. Lost Maples had a couple Chestnut-sided Warbler ebird reports on the 16th. May 18 another each male and female of Mourning Warbler were seen. And that was about the end of passage here. Another Mexican (Green) Violetear is being seen at Reagan Wells, Texas Chase Birds group at Fbook has info.

~ ~ ~ end archive copy - partial update header ~ ~ ~

~ ~ back to the drivel ~ ~

June 30 ~ About 5 a.m. light showers arrived and temps finally dropped below 70dF. There is a low moving west, was in east Texas yesterday. A seemingly weird but regular summer phenom here. Got down to about 67dF around 8 or so with the rain, was only 72 at noon! Last day of June, a cool wet morning, and no one complained. Maybe .2 by 11 a.m., not much, but a slow steady dust-buster. Would be a wet walk at Maples today, and no butterflies out in this. Six more BlueMistEup cats pulled, 178 removed now. Hear the Red-eyed Vireo outside again. While we were having breakfast the big juvenile female Cooper's Hawk got a White-winged Dove behind the old (unused) well.

Saw a first summer male Hooded Oriole on the hummer feeder out back (from office). Surely what Kathy saw on it two days ago. Late 4-5 p.m. we walked to the crossing, about .75 mile each way. Great flowers blooming along the road now. The Old Man's Beard is really getting going, it is a neat odd Clematis. Some Brown-flowered Psoralea (ph.), must be summer. Tons of Lazy Daisy, Cowpen Daisy, Frog-fruit, Slender-leaf Hymenoxys, Skeleton-Plant, Mexican Hat, still lots of Purple Horsemint (Lemon Beebalm) going, and the Mesquite has bloomed from the 6" of rain, so it is buzzing with bees.

Great was seeing the male Indigo Bunting I have thought was nesting down the road with a juvenile! Nice dark and rusty fresh fledgling following dad around. The other action was butterflies. Three were new for the month, in the last hour to do so, so a coup. A Marine Blue (photos foiled by autofocus) was my FOY. Both Streaky Skipper and Texas Powdered-Skipper posed for pix (I had just seen one TX Powdered- on Friday the 28th). The Streaky was only of month, maybe FOY. A Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak was my FOY. A fresh Viceroy was only my second (first was just Friday at the park) this year, it landed for pix too. A Skipperling got away that looked like a Southern, dernit. Lots of Bordered Patch and Dun Skipper.

June 29 ~ This is gonna be a long one... Got up earlyish to get another Lost Maples walk, hike, bird and bug check in. Dawn chorus is still going fairly, about 5:45 to 6:30 a.m. is best now. Chucks are still going at 6. Besides the regulars, the Indigo Bunting sang, and better, I heard a Red-eyed Vireo at 7 a.m., and again at 7 p.m.! Pulled 3 cats off the Blue Mist Eup, makes 172. There was a knock down drag out life and death battle around the frostweed about 7:45 which delayed departure five minutes.

~ ~ ~ Next two long paragraphs about spider and wasp behavior ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ if of no interest, scroll on by ~ ~ ~

It was between a spider wasp (Pompelidae) and a couple big, and I mean big, Wolf Spiders, which appeared a pair (male and female). Two inches across, pushing 2.5 long on the spiders, The wasp was 1.25", one of the red Pompilids, colored like a Red Wasp, Polistes carolina, but with the constantly flashing metallic blue-black wings. And it was hunting big spiders. Probably a Tachypompilus, which are red, wolf spider specialists. I spotted the wasp first and it seemed all jacked up as they get in hunt mode. Then I spotted a huge Wolf Spider up on a big Frostweed leaf about 3' above the ground. When the wasp saw the spider and approached the spider lept off the leaf at the wasp, causing it to move away, then falling into the tall thick grass below and disappeared. The wasp went right in after it on foot. All of sudden the spider ran back up the stem, maybe 18" from where it disappeared in the grass, and got on top of another big frostweed leaf. Then I saw a second big Wolf Spider run up another big stem and do the same. Hide on top of a leaf while the wasp was in the grass down below looking for them. With no sun above on a thick Frostweed leaf there would be no shadow to see. Pretty smart.

Finally the wasp came out and went into search mode and it was jacked up in overdrive. It knew the spider hiding technique and worked up the frostweed checking leaves. It saw the second spider and again on approach the spider lept at the wasp flushing it away, then fell to ground into tall grass. The wasp went in after it. Quickly the spider runs back up the stem 3' (over a foot from where it fell) and hides on top of a leaf. The wasp comes out moves up the Frostweed leaf by leaf, spots the first spider and the same thing happens again, the spider leaps at the wasp scaring it, and falls into tall grass hidden and makes getaway. Each spider did this three times and got away. The wasp was goin' nuts. I thought spider one got away, watching the tall grass move, it got 8' from the Frostweed where the wasp was, but which must have seen the grass move too. Next thing I saw the spider and the wasp grappling together, tumbling down into the grass whence they disappeared. I waited awhile and saw nothing. I have a rule about not breaking up big spider vs. wasp fights with my bare hands. By then I was late and we had to go. I don't know who won. I am thinking the wasp.

So off to Maples. Right by the dip a half mile south of town, just south of UvCo 354, a Long-billed Thrasher flew across the road. Went NE out of town on Jones Cmty. Rd. hearing Bell' Vireo on the way at NW corner of town. Loads of Lark Sparrows along the road, lots of juvies. At the corner of Jones Cmty and W. Sabinal Rd., just west a hundred feet were 3 begging juvenile Grasshopper Sparrow on the fenceline. Bandera Co. fledglings! Awesome. First local breeding I have seen, and success! Then had the mis-fortune of hitting a juvie Painted Bunting on the way up 187, and I only drive 50 here. Lots of baby birds along roads, mostly Lesser Goldfinch and Lark Sparrow it seemed.

So we were finally getting on the trail at 8:30 after all the distractions. Was still nice and cool in the canyon. We did the usual couple mile walk up Can Creek past the ponds a mile to the high-water point springs. The Chimney Swifts seemed to get a young out of the chimney at the trailhead parking lot old residence. A Zone-tailed Hawk flew over the parking lot early, and a White-tipped Dove was at the feeding station. Heard 3 more of them going up the trail, but missed Olive Sparrow. Had a pair of Audubon's Oriole a half mile up the trail. Lots of Canyon Wren singing so they are still nesting. Only heard one Black-capped Vireo, one Yellow-throated Vireo, and one Eastern Wood-Pewee. Saw two Roadrunner along the trail, surely coming to water. Weird was not even hearing a Rufous-crowned Sparrow.

Only a couple Louisiana Waterthrush, one singing, but we were a couple hours after dawn chorus. A few Black-n-white Warbler some first summer males still singing. Did not hear a Golden-cheeked sing, but had two seperate begging baby incidences, both still getting fed. Heard a couple others up slopes, so a half-dozen at least detected, but only a couple poor glimpses. You have to catch them when they come to the creek to drink or bathe for good looks now. Heard maybe 4 Yellow-throated Warbler singing still. Heard at least one Painted Bunting still singing, a few Indigo, and several Blue Grosbeaks still going strong. Lots of White-eyed Vireo, still fair numbers of Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, maybe 4 Acadian Flycatcher heard, a couple seen, lots of Titmouse (Black-crested), Carolina Wren, and Cardinal. Several Summer Tanager, a few Ladder-backed Woodpecker. Overall activity is way down, breeding season is past peak for many species and many have departed. But it is still pretty birdy good.

Flowers were leaning towards past peak, a bit of a lull. Many of the spring bloomers were still going due to the good rains in May and June, like Coreopsis and Indian Blanket. The Cedar Sage was going great. Some Pearl Milkweed Vine and Snapdragon Vine still going well. A few Lindheimer's Senna were opening, one Lindheimer's Morning Glory was seen, what a big beautiful flower. The Walnuts grew well, Maple seeds look about ripe to fall, the Cherries are barely hanging on. A bit of buttonbush was blooming, but not much on it. A little Texas Milkweed was blooming.

Butterflies were few overall, still no Arizona Sister, two trips in June, none seen. Had a few earlier in spring, none since. Saw a couple Red-spotted Purple, no Satyrs. Several Cloudless Sulphur. Roadside-Skippers showed well with Celia's, Nysa, and Bronze, 3 species is a great walk. In Swallowtails there were still a few Spicebush flying, a couple Black, a few Pipevine, couple Giant, one dark form female Eastern Tiger, no Two-tailed. Several Dun Skipper, a few Funereal Duskywing, and a few not ID'd duskywings, one looked Juvenals, another looked Horace's.

Dragons were good once it got sunny and warm, about 10:30-11. A couple Leaftails got away un-ID'd, saw a couple probable Eastern Ringtail. Around the big pond was good with Banded and Red-tailed Pennant, Red, and Black Saddlebags, Prince Baskettail, Eastern Pondhawk, Widow Skimmer, Blue Dasher, Common Whitetail, so some action. At the crossing between the ponds a Wandering Glider cruised by. A couple Pale-faced Clubskimmer were seen. A FOY teneral Autumnal Meadowhawk was seen. At least 8 Neon Skimmer were seen, all males save the one female ovipositing a couple feet from us while we had lunch. A half-dozen plus different damselflies were seen so it was 20 species of odes in the last couple hours (the hot part) of the walk on the way back down.

Saw a couple big Six-lined Racerunner lizards, one E. Fence female. At the highwater spring saw one of the big rock crevice Dolomedes (fishing) spiders. These are like the big ones that live on cypress roots along river, but a different species. The main campground was full, but back country was empty judging from lack of cars at the trailhead lot. Mostly just a few daytrippers on trail. Canyon was pretty quiet of people, save one incredibly vociferous yakker. I guess no one can hear her where she works. And whaddabout those citiots that get up on top of the cliff above the pond and yell down for you to look up and see their greatness? One trio of immature males was so insistent I had to yell "shut up!" They promptly disappeared from the cliff edge, sight, and sound.

Since that all wasn't enough I set up a bug light and sheet for a few hours at dark since no wind. It was not very impressive, unless you like June Bugs. Nothing unusual, and low diversity turnout with low numbers in general. Heard the Barred Owl though. Maybe a hundred micro-moths, which I don't do. Gotta draw the line somewhere.

Red-tailed Hawk, our resident breeders are the fuertesi subspecies
of the southwest. They are very pale creamy white and barely marked
below, without the heavy belly band of Eastern Red-tails, and no dark
morphs of western Red-tails, but those types both occur here as winterers.
The black along leading edge of inner wing (patagium) is on almost all
Red-tails, and none of any confusing congeners show it.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

June 28 ~ About 71dF for a low. Back to a more normal summer regime, high in upper 80's though, a couple or few below average. Due to all the moisture in the air, so good and sticky. All the regulars in the yard. Town run so a park check. On the way at the 360 crossing I heard a Parula warbler singing a few times. I could not spot it up in the tops of the cypresses so can't say if it was Northern or Tropical as song was not at either end of the obvious spectrum to my ear. At the park a Green King was up on the island, a Black-n-white was singing from the island, a transient, haven't had one there in several weeks.

Little Creek Larry said there were two Cormorants at the park Wed., the 26th. This time of year they were surely Neotropic (Olivaceous in old Texas Peterson), he said they had long tails. A great sighting here! He also has been seeing a white egret or heron going up and down Little Creek, which this time of year is likely a white juv. Little Blue Heron. Saw lots of juvie Barn Swallow around town. My FOY Viceroy (butterfly) was laying eggs on willow at the park. Kathy had a messy 1st spring or summer black and yellow or yellow-orange oriole at a hummer feeder briefly, but on other side and so could not ID before it shot off. Hope it comes back. Four more BlueMist cats makes 169.

June 27 ~ Low was 74dF and humid. A small patch of rain moved south to north and we were lucky enough to get it between 9 and 10 or so. Dropped 1.35" or so and the temps down to 68dF! Makes 1.5" since yesterday, and 6" for the month! A couple spots got a couple inches NE of town. Termites are emerging, birds eating them. At noon was only 71dF! I see a pile of hawk-plucked White-winged Dove feathers, something got one, Cooper's or the Zone-tail is my guess. Pulled 6 more Blue Mist Eup caterpillars, now 165 removed, and miraculously the patch still has hope to make it.

Saw the male Indigo on patio first thing at early-thirty. A young and an adult Red-spotted Toad were out after the rain picking up flying termites that were on the patio. Finally got a usable shot of the adult. A Mockingbird has shown up again, singing away with everything it has. Has not been one in earshot for a month or so. Heard a Black-n-white Warbler singing a bit right after the rain, sounded like that first-summer bird that has been around. Couple new Titmouse young out, the two Vermilion Flyc. fledges are still hanging around together. A Chimney Swift flew around a bit at dusk.

June 26 ~ Low was 71dF, 9 more Blue Mist eating cats pulled, 159 (as of 10 a.m.). Some little bit of showers moved over northbound from the south (you can tell it is summer) early 9-10 or so. Still showery at noon-thirty and 75dF! We got between .15 and .2". Three Hutton's Vireo went through noonish, I couldn't tell if it was one ad. and a couple young, or two adults and one young. They must have nested very nearby, likely just up the hill out back in the live-oaks. We hear them up there any time we walk that way.

White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo are both singing around yard still. A Red-eyed is nesting a half-mile down the road near crossing. Nearest Black-capped is on the knoll, two-thirds of an air-mile, and nearest Bell's is a half mile down and across river in a Mesquite patch with Hackberries adjacent. I can walk to six species of breeding vireos though. About 2:30 p.m. I walked out on front porch and a Zone-tailed Hawk flushed from low in the second pecan out from porch. An hour later I was back out and it almost landed in the big pecan, but saw me sitting on porch and diverted on final approach. A single Black-bellied Whistling-Duck flew over at dusk.

June 25 ~ After the outflows last night we got up to a sorta dry 67dF low! WeeWow! Awesome! Got up to upper 80's dF, a bearable spread for the date. Another 6 cats pulled off the Eupatorium, an even 150 now. Still hoping to save it for the fall bloom. The birds were the same gang. Saw a big Eyed Elaterid (click beetle) flying around yard again. Have seen a few Pepsis Wasp too, keep forgetting to note it. Male Indigo Bunting still hitting the millet on patio but won't touch the tube feeder, whereas Painteds of all ages and sexes are vying for position on it all day. Still singing are Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo, Blue Grosbeak, White-eyed Vireo, Chat, and of course the resident stuff is all still going. The Cuckoo is ranging a bit further and I think it may have gotten a young out, usually the case when you hear that. Last week of June is when, here anyway. Indigo was on patio again, and sang a bit across the road, still trolling. Fireflies are flaming out.

June 24 ~ A muggy 74dF low but the Gulf low stratus kept us below 80 till after noon. About 3:30 an outflow boundry hit from the east moving west that took it from 84 to 74 in five minutes. There were a few drops of precip, a tracelet. But peak heat though. By 5 still hadn't gotten back up to 80, so we skated. Four more Eup cats, 144 removed now. More juvie Cardinal and Lesser Goldfinch out and begging. Best bird was a Canyon Towhee which was on the patio and at the brush pile about 9 a.m., first in yard since the winterer departed in March. Looked like a worn adult, may be the same bird, done breeding and returning. Turkey over in the corral again. Common Nighthawk still booming a little, not much, but some.

June 23 ~ Back to Gulf flow and 75dF for a low, but the low stratus kept it cool for the a.m., was only 77 at 11:30 a.m., so only rising 2dF in over 4 hours since sunup! Pulled another dozen cats off the Blue Mist Eup, 140 now. They might be Celia's Roadside-Skipper? I hear a couple begging Black-chinned Hummingbird outside, some new fledges. There is another wave of gray-headed juvies appearing now. Here goes the sugar again. I missed the bird of the day, Kathy saw a Golden-cheeked Warbler at the bath! The rest was the repeat offenders. Great Crested Flycatcher was calling around the yard. Couple countersinging Summer Tanager. Hearing the bluebirds a little, they have been gone since the last young fledged a couple weeks ago. They will probably go again since all the rain.

Took a few pix around the yard, couple flowers I needed, a fresh green Cicada, some Painted Bunties, and a neat little jumping spider of some sort. Upper 80's dF and very humid in the afternoon but some clouds kept the worst of the solar heat at bay anyway. At dark Chucks are still going but with a lot less vigor. Fireflies are flaming out fast. The Barred Owl is still trolling up and down the river, but I only ever hear one, likely an unmated male.

June 22 ~ Well that was nice... about midnight last night, a small MCS that started in Mexico and headed east across the river and Rio Grande plains made it here. Maybe an hour of showers, and we got up to about .75" of rain and 68dF. A treat after a few days of 75dF lows. Was still only 78 at 1 p.m.! Got up to about 86dF at peak heat, so we beat it for a day. This puts us at about 4.25" for June here, and just about guarantees everything will breed again except the early departers. Three more Blue Mist cats pulled, 128 now. Saw one of the Thread-legged bugs, maybe assassin, in the Blue Mist Eup while hunting cats.

Mid-day a Zone-tailed Hawk made several treetop-level circles looking for something to dive on. A few Scissor-tails were out there. Some juvie Painted Buntings now besides the adults, of which there are at least three ad. males. Saw two of them toe-to-toe fluttering up fighting over in the corral, while the one that sings from the big pecan out front was singing. Saw a fledged juv. Yellow-throated Vireo, the adults are still singing lots around yard. The big tom Turkey was over in the corral scrounging for oats the horses missed. Whatabird! The Bewick's Wren are setting up shop in the same broken-off Pecan branch the Chickadees used in spring. Chat and Vermilion both still doing flight song. Ash-throated Flycatcher got I think 2 young out of a box today.

Here is one of the big yellow bumblebees in flight.
And oh yeah, a male Painted Bunting.
No photoshop, one original frame.

A bonus pic this week...
Another pic of a female Mourning Warbler at Utopia Park.
Same individual as the one below. A perfectly quintessential
pose and view of the species. I wonder if some central Texas
MacGillivray's reports are these Mournings with broken eye-rings.
Note the eyering is very thin, fine, and narrow, not thick. Note
the legs are mid-step, in walking mode, not (legs together) hopping.
Note long undertail coverts and short tail, unlike MacGillivray's.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

June 21 ~ Happy Solstice! The first day of official summer. The longest daylight day. Astronomical summer is here. We are three weeks into climatological summer, (June, July and August) and it feels like it. Low was 75dF and morning clouds from Gulf kept in below 80 until 11 a.m. or so. So at least we get almost 12 hours below 80dF. Brutal afternoons to evening though with the humidity. Pulled 6 more Blue Mist cats, 125 and counting removed. Saw the male Goatweed Leafwing zipping about again. Another Velvet Worm was out on the back porch at dawn.

Town run but nothing unusual. The Bell's Vireo is still singing behind P.O. in that huge-live oak with mesquites around it and must be nesting, Field Sparrow is in the pasture behind it too. Little Creek Larry said he has seen a few trios of Chimney Swifts out, which is adults with a young. Saw the male Indigo Bunting on the patio again today, love having him around. Blue Grosbeak still singing strong, so still going. A nice bearded Tom (male Turkey) was in the corral late in day.

June 20 ~ Low of 76dF is not whatsoever. Gulf clouds made it here and stuck till after noon, so we were just breaking 80dF noonish. Then 90 in the shade by 3 p.m. though. And very humid. Today is to be 'peak heat' day of this blast, for the last day of (astronomical) spring. Some reports in afternoon were 95 or so and heat index of 105 and better. Some south Texas stations had 110-115 heat indexes. It is brutal out there now. Be prepared to drip and melt.

Ten more Blue Mist Eup cats removed this morning, so at 119 now! The patches would be completely gone had I left them. Saw a Dusky-blue Groundstreak briefly on the Eup. briefly. A Questionmark was out there too. Kathy saw a Black-n-white Warbler over my shoulder while we were eating lunch. It was on the big trunk of the pecan right off the porch.

Saw the male Indigo Bunting out there in the patches of Mexican Hat I leave in the yard, Painteds love digging through them too. Summer Tanager singing at 95dF in the sun. The early June rains will likely convince lots of birds to nest again. If it is dry in June they often don't go for another round. But when wet, they know, more flowers, more bugs. We have had 3.5" this month, so good and green, with a summer bloom on the way. The Germander is getting done, but Red Turks Cap is getting going and the Wooly Ironweed is about to open. Cedar Sage is going well along the river. All means good seed crops too.

Finally some neat behavior to report. I would just as soon see a new behavior as a new bird. To see the common thing in the uncommon way is what really lights my rocket. When you bird a long time you better find something besides new birds to get excited about. As eventually you will have seen most of them wherever you are. Behavior is still one of the great frontiers IMHO.

I was leaning up against the pickup trucklet smoking my pipe for a break about 5: something p.m., 90 something dF, about 105 heat index. I saw just my side of the gate on the ground in the driveway the male Painted Bunting, shaking, as in trembling. It was near a Leaf-cutter Ant hole and I wondered if he was anting. He was quivering real fast with wings raised which he was flapping as if in flight but in an animated way, like a Vermilion Flyc. in flight song, and was staying on the ground.

All of a sudden the female landed very near him and began quivering as well, with a raised tail, spread wings, shaking very fast too. Apparently this was just what he wanted to see. He started moving in a circle in what looked like a Sage Grouse or Prairie-Chicken taxiing manuever, trembling, quivering, tail up, it did a couple circles like this in front of her and then from maybe 18" away did a big slow slalom as he approached. He was too low to the ground for me to see what exactly his legs were doing, if he stamping or what, but I think so. While in this slalom taxi of blessed approach, he raised first just his right wing fully out at a 45 deg. angle to the ground, then pulled it in and raised his left wing out the same way. It repeated this throughout this slalom quivering taxi approach. Three times each wing was fully extended while the other pulled in as it taxied trembling, by which time he was there, and copulation was over in a very few seconds.

She flew off across the road into the thicket where the nest is. He could barely walk it seemed. After a rest he jumped into the gate which is 4" hog fence squares, and slowly, one square at a time, with seemingly great effort, moved up to the top of the gate. It took forever. At times I wondered if he would make it. Then he was high enough to jump level into the lowest branch of a little pecan tree at gate, and rest, and recover. Ignoring the two juvie Vermilion Flycatcher flitting about. They just saw a red breast and thought it might have food methinks. Any other time he would have chased them away. Anyway, this prairie-chicken taxiing whilst quivering and alternately throwing one wing up at a time was a stunning mating display to watch, and one I had never seen. It was incredible. Whatabird! The stuff you can see if you just keep watching them. The longer you watch them the more amazing things you see. Some things may take years to see, like this for me. And I live with them a hundred days a year. My sense is that we know sooo little.

June 19 ~ Low of 74, summer is here. Another 8 cats pulled off the Blue Mist Eup, 109 removed now. Have to make a page with a pic so I can get an ID from some catsperts on them. Too dang busy lately. Just saw the usual regulars in lookabouts outside. Too dang hot, was upper 90's dF and very humid so the heat index was about 106 or so. Brutal. Painted Bunting just keeps singing through it unfazed as if its a vireo. Heard a warbler zeet note, surely a Black-n-white. In butterflies a nice male Goatweed Leafwing came in to water sprayed about. Better was a Hackberry Emperor, which was all but absent last year. Was on the Hackberry tree right where I thought I saw one shoot off yesterday. Celia's Roadside-Skipper around the Am. Germander.

Saw a distant Zone-tailed, spotted by hearing Martins mobbing. The bird of the day was at 11:55 p.m., when a Long-billed Curlew called four times as it was heading south overhead. That is the first fall migrant of the year here. They are already getting some in socal, late June is when the first shorebirds show back up, often the early ones are likely failed breeders. So right before the last day of astronomical spring, before summer, a fall migrant arrives.

June 18 ~ Low was 73dF, so not. It was all the usual regular offenders today. Four more Eup cats, 101 now. There are some new begging Summer Tanager out there, and a juvenile Gnatcatcher went through in the late afternoon. I was in town briefly and had a Green King at the park. At the corner of 187 and 354 a half-mile south of town there were three just-fledged juvenile Scissor-tails lined up side-by-side waiting for parents and more food. Good to see a good clutch get out. The Firefly show is on the wane already, peak has passed it seems. Still good, but not what it was two to four weeks ago. Chuck-wills-widow is losing momentum as well. They don't have a month of calling left in 'em, maybe 3 weeks.

June 17 ~ Late last night a line of rain cells passed over, 11:30 to 1:30 or so, we had a half-inch at least. At sunup it was 72dF and about 8:30-9 another half-inch fell dropping us to 66dF. And an inch at least so far. Maybe more on way as I type. Radar looks like Lost Maples got some too. A Black-n-white Warbler sang from the big pecan, I presume this is a first-summer troller that keeps going through yard. A male Indigo Bunting (the good) was out on the patio again as was a male House Sparrow (the bad and ugly). Got 3 more Blue Mist Eup cats off my patch, now at 97 removed. Two Velvet Worm were on patio first thing at dawn.

June 16 ~ A 74dF low wasn't very. Still decent bird song first thing early. Forgot to mention yesterday a male House Sparrow was around a bit, saw it again this morn. Yech. Very neat though was a Bushtit at the brush pile by the birdbath. Sounded like another was up in the pecan. By time I got back with camera they were gone. First one I have seen all year. Must have been departing when I detected. Pulled 3 more Eupatorium cats (94 removed now), and a couple got away. They way the jump when you go for them is amazing.

Went for another river dip at peak afternoon heat. My mama had two dumb boys but that was my brothers. Took the camera to get some scenic, ode, and spider pics. Saw 5 of a big Dolomedes spiders on cypress roots, got shots of a couple, a very impressive beast. I think the mystery dragon I saw 2-3 of yesterday, is a Black-shouldered Spinyleg. Would not sit for pix. Saw my first Smoky Rubyspot of the year, a sharp looking damselfly with mostly black wings. A bunch of Stream Bluets are there too. Lots of Dusky, Blue-ringed, and Violet Dancers, and many Double-striped Bluets. Must have been 500 Texas Shiner (minnow). Wish there were some Mexican Tetra in this stretch of river.

Besides the expected birds, saw one juv. Painted Bunting, great was a female Bullock's Oriole, which must be a finished breeder. A couple Black-n-white Warbler shot by us, and were chasing about. Was bare-eyed so couldn't age them. Also had a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk which is surely from the nest a hundred plus yards south of where we get in, so at least one fledged so far. Some begging Yellow-throated Warblers chasing adults. Heard Great Crested Flycatcher, Summer Tanager, Painted Bunting, and on way back just across from gate a juv. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.

June 15 ~ Low of 72dF and the gulf moisture and morning clouds are back. Back to normal summer weather. Got 6 more cats off the Blue Mist Eup., now at 91 pulled. Gadzooks! No wonder it looks shredded. I have been removing them for a week. All the same stuff around yard. Stuck listening to Painted Bunting sing all day from the big pecan right over the front porch. I saw the Great Crested Flycatcher chase the Yellow-throated Vireo which landed 15' from me and voiced its discontent. Hummer numbers building again, it seems lots more gray-headed juveniles, the second wave of young are fledging. Heard a Bobwhite from over near the river but on our side of it, not too far away.

We went for a swim to beat the late afternoon heat. Saw some begging baby Yellow-throated Warblers with adults. Blue Grosbeak singing, Great Crested Flyc., Summer Tanager, and the regular residents. Went upstream (they call it a river here) to the high current narrows and 'shot the rapids' on my floaty board, must be about 15 mph at the fast spot. Laying on back watching the cypresses go by and fern-lined banks, just steering a little. Cheap thrills for an old man. Saw a big Dolomedes fishing spider of some sort. Saw 2-3 of a dragon I am not sure of, a Gomphid of some sort. Tomorrow will take camera and reading glasses upriver. Lots of damselflies: Violet, Dusky and Blue-ringed Dancer, some American Rubyspot, lots of Double-striped Bluet. Must have been 300+ Texas Shiner (native minnow - not the beer) and half were full 2" adults, not just this years' fry. Couple Largemouth Bass, a dozen or two Longear Sunfish. Kingfishers must be on another stretch of river this year.

American Pipit on May 10 in breeding plumage. This bird ducked
under the laid-down grasses and disappeared before my eyes.
Probably the plainest dullest bird you might see here. Note
the thin bill, not a thick-based seed-cracking sparrow type bill.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below

June 14 ~ Made it down to 67dF, so good. The entire second week of June with lows in the 60's is unheard of here. A Black-n-white Wobbler was singing a bit first thing at sunup. Methinks the first-summer troller moving around that we keep seeing. A male Indigo Bunting hit the white millet on the patio early. Got 11 more cats off the Blue Mist Eup first hour of light before they dive back down out of the heat for the day, now at 85 of them. Not pulling them, in a week or so there would have been nothing left of my magic fall flower patch. As it is the top of every stem has been chewed off, they killed the spring bloom but for two stalks. A White-striped Longtail (butterfly) came in to the water Kathy sprayed about mid-morn, first one I have seen this year.

Town run day. There are a couple just-fledged Red-shouldered Hawk at the park right over the playground area. Tame and lots of folks getting to see them and parents very close. Very neat. Also had a couple just-fledged Blue Jay there. Nothing but the usual stuff otherwise, one E. Wood-Pewee was singing, maybe nesting there again. One Springtime Darner dragonfly is getting late for them. Little Creek Larry said he had baby Whistling-Ducks at the SLC pond. Even better, he saw a Texas Gopher Tortoise! I have never seen one up here in the hills, just down in the flatlands brush-country as at Uvalde. Nice to know some are still around here.

June 13 ~ A 65dF low was great, I can't believe this stretch of low lows in the 60's at these dates. The thrill of it all. Got 4 more Eup cats and 3 got away this morning. So 72 removed and at least three to go. The couple years it was shredded to stems I pulled in the high 70's and high 80's off, so I should be getting close to having them all now. Two more removed in the afternoon, 74 and counting. Late afternoon there was a Two-tailed Swallowtail floating about the yard briefly.

Mid-morn saw a Zone-tailed Hawk circling low from the front porch. Late afternoon I saw a Black-n-white Warbler over in the corral. Only saw about 85dF peak heat in the afternoon. Totally tolerable. Did we ever cheat the heat this week. The rest was the regulars. Saw a 1st summer male Painted Bunting on the feeder, besides at least a couple ad. males, a female or two. Might have had a juvenile on the patio. Got some new front brakes put on the trucklet today. The rear were still nearly new. Near last sun a group of three Chimney Swift were feeding low, just over treetops here, which was surely an adult pair with their just-fledged young. If you can see a trio now, that is likely the deal. Two were in secondary molt (adults), one not (the juvie).

June 12 ~ An amazing 60dF for a low, so either my calendar or the thermometer must be broken. Unbelievable, sure is a treat while it lasts. A couple male Painted Buntings were disputing which gets to hit the white millet feeder first. Blue Grosbeak on the patio first thing too. I had a town run early. The Indigo Bunting toward the crossing is surely nesting as it just sings from the same few trees all the time. The Red-eyed Vireo too remains in the same patch for over a month now, and I suspect nesting. Just spun through the park. Lots was on the ground going after the termites that emerged. Saw a juvenile Scissor-tail running around amongst the Lark Sparrows and a female Summer Tanager on the ground.

Took 8 more cats off the Blue Mist Eup today, 68 were at. Found a crab spider guarding its egg sac on some Am. Germander. It had tied a few leaves together with its silk for shelter in the rain and from sun I suppose. It was one of the brown marbled ones, as in the 'ground' types, not one of the yellow or colored flower types. Got a better pic of a Shining Flea Beetle, they jump like fleas as you get near with camera so harder to get than I would have thought. The Am. Germander is nearing the end of bloom, but the leaves are shot full of holes due to these leaf-chafers. Have seen them all over Frog-fruit before, but they are not touching that here.

June 11 ~ A few sprinkles overnight, maybe a tenth or two, and a 65dF low again. Still some light mid-level northerly flow. Amazing for the date. This morning I pulled 30 more of the Blue Mist Eup eating caterpillars, so now at 60! Gadzooks! Hoping I can save it still, but it looks bad. They wiped out the patch at the library garden last year, it was 10 times bigger than our 2 little patches and it was completely eaten but for maybe 2 flower heads. Heard a Black-n-white sing a bit early, likely the local troller. Lots of baby House Finch out there now. Another hour or so of rain in the afternoon, another half-inch, so today was about .65 total here. At 5 p.m. it was an amazing 65dF! Astounding to spend the day at or below 70dF at this date. Heard the Common Nighthawk booming nearing last sun.

June 10 ~ A nice 68dF low was great, seeing 2" of much-needed rain fell overnight was even better! I am guessing strong cold fronts as late as June 9-10 are not a normal thing. I don't recall one like this in the last 15 years. Abnormal is the new normal. Had a quick town run. On Friday I saw two sparrows out 378, the stub at NW corner of town that looked like Grasshopper, went back and had a glimpse again of what looked like one but again only in flight. Lots of Larks there but this obviously not that. I think they nested in the pasture off the north side, which is in UvCo. Nice group of about 8 or 10 Chimney Swift were feeding on something low, at times flying two feet past my head. It was awesome.

Then ran up to the intersection of Jones Cmty. Rd. and W. Sabinal Rd. in BanCo to check that pasture and had Grasshopper Sparrow where they have been 6 weeks plus now and so are certainly nesting. This is the first nesting I have found in the area locally. Eight more cats removed from the Blue Mist Eupatorium, now at 30 pulled. I see our Red Turks Cap is opening its first flowers of the year. Something eating their leaves too. Heard Turkey gobbling at last light, still going.

June 9 ~ Only 71dF for a low, today is supposed to be the hot day and a cold front hits later in the evening. Heckofa date for a cold front. We need the rain though. I got 6 more of the Blue Mist Eup eating cats this morning, now at 22 removed in four days, no wonder it is getting shredded again. A juv. Black-n-white Warlber came in to all the feeder action to see whaddup. It landed on the clothesline, wish I had the camera for that. It worked over to the pole, and was nearing jumping for the sunflower feeder when something flushed everything. A bit later Kathy heard one singing, which was not the juvie I saw, so two in the yard this morning.

Worked inside to avoid the heat. Was looking at NOAA reports, Brownsville was 98 with 118 heat index! Once we hit 92-4 the moisture cooks out and humidty drops to about 35 pct. so we don't have the heat index issue more than a dF or two usually, once you hit near mid-90's dF here. Port Lavaca was cooler air temps than us, but heat index was 106 due to that Gulf humidity. Dripping.

About 4 we went for a swim to beat the 95dF in the shade heat. I went upriver a third mile or so in the water. Had two Black-n-whites, they are moving now. Great was a male Orchard Oriole which is likely nesting nearby. A few of them that are annual at specific locations locally are absent this year, so nice to watch one leisurely feeding in the Cypresses. The rest was the regular usuals. In odes, one Eastern Ringtail was my FOY, lots of Dusky Dancers, an American Rubyspot, several Violet Dancers, a few Swift and Checkered Setwing.

Late just before dusk another Gnatcatcher moved through. An unseasonal cold front is bearing down on us, supposed to pass tonight and be cool tomorrow and day after. Whoohoo! About 9 p.m. the outflow boundry hit from the line of thunderstorms and took 10dF off the top in about a minute. That is how I spell relief. Still no rain here by 10, but we should get some. Watching the radar the bats seemed to leave the Frio cave and quickly dive back in as the outflow boundry hit.

June 8 ~ Another coolish morning at 65dF was fantastic, no one complained. The yard was all the same stuff. Weed whacked our path to the river so we can walk five minutes, jump in and cool off to beat the heat. It is that time of year again. Nothing like being in 72dF water up to the neck when it is 95 out. While on my back on my floaty board I saw: a few Yellow-throated Warbler, one or probably two Black-and-white Warbler (they don't nest very locally here - so post-breeding dispersal), Summer Tanagers, a couple Eastern Wood-Pewee, Chickadees and Titmice feeding young, at least two Eastern Phoebe, heard Blue Grosbeak and Chat singing as well as a Scissor-tail. The Red-tailed Hawk flushed from its nest in a Cypress letting us know its discontent as it went. No kingfishers.

In odes a couple each Swift and Checkered Setwing, lots of Double-striped Bluet ovipositing, numbers of Violet Dancer, one Dusky Dancer. All the aquatic vegetation was stripped in the flood events and it seemed fewer odes than usual. Some lilies were the only veg. Good numbers of Texas Shiner (N. amabilis) though, over a hundred in one school. One Guadalupe Bass was nice, even if only 6" long, which looks like an aquarium fish to me at that size. Several smaller Largemouth Bass, but one three pounder looked good enough to eat. A couple dozen Longear Sunfish. One Texan Crescent and Celia's Roadside-Skipper were around the porch.

Dickcissel are numerous here this year after being absent last year.

~ ~ ~ spring weather header note archive copy ~ ~ ~

We had hard freezes early in March on March 3rd, 4th, and 5th, and Lost Maples froze the 17th. Wind chills were in the 30's March 31st! We froze again here at Utopia the morning of April 2! I have seen freezes in latest April and earliest May, but we are likely out of the woods for that now. Average last freeze is March 20-21, first day of spring. Pending where you were locally, about 2-3" of rain fell April 24. And no one complained. Another 2.5" fell overnight May 2-3, .75" overnight 5-6 May, 1.5" by 8 p.m. on May 9, and it just keeps coming. The South Little Creek Rd. pond in Bandera Co. still has water and so always worth a look if here. The big one is less than a mile south of BanCo 470.

~ ~ ~ end weather note archive ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

June 7 ~ We had wonderful 65dF for a low, cool, and even comfortable. A real treat for the date. The Yellow-throated Warbler was singing in the big pecan early, love hearing that. A Red-winged Blackbird (male) came to the seed on the patio, which never happens in the summer. Saw another Harlequin Flower Beetle but when I got back with camera it was gone. Was a different one than the one a few days ago.

Town run so park check. Only a female Green King for something to watch. In damselflies saw Orange Bluet, Violet, Blue-ringed, and Kiowa Dancers, my FOY Rambur's, and a Fragile Forktail. Saw FOY Black Setwing, plus several Swift Setwing. Saw an Catacola cf. obscurus Underwing Moth, which reminds me I saw one of the red ones a few weeks ago and forgot to mention it methinks. Also saw a Clouded Skipper. It got hot in the afternoon, 92dF in the cool shady, and it will be worse the next couple days they say...

Thirty years ago today, 6-7-89, I saw one of my most-wanted birds in California, a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Got a couple photos in the 5 seconds I had, sent them to the Calif. Bird Record Committee. Found out 8 years later they rejected my photographic record. They hid from me that they accused me of lying about where I took the photos. Because that is how honest men do that. I was branded a bird record cheater by a group of bird record cheaters: Jon L. Dunn, Kimball Garrett, Paul Lehman, Matt T. Heindel, Michael A. Patten, Brian E. Daniels, Richard Erickson, and others in the socal record wreckers gang of bird record bullies. They committed ornithological fraud bearing false witness to a photographic record of another birder. Whilst saying they were assurring the accuracy of my record. So it was just plain old fraud too. They have continued to tell other false stories about other reports since they had to quit telling their Scissor-tail lies. Proving they lied and cheated on a report did not change a thing. They still do it today. If you hear a story that I cheated on a bird record in California, it came from one of the above named, all of whom spent 8 years lying about my Scissor-tail photographs.

June 6 ~ Some occasional northerly flow overnight brought a low of about 68dF which felt fantastic. What a difference a few dF makes. I saw KRVL had some rain and 64 for a low! Had a singing Black-n-white Warbler early about 7 a.m., sang a good standard song so not sure if it was the one that was around the last couple weeks. Mid-morn heard a warbler seet (flight) note and looked up to see a Golden-cheeked fly from the Mulberry to the live-oaks out back. Looked like a male. Had a quick P.O. run in the afternoon, heard a Red-eyed Vireo singing in the big pecan in the field out front of the park where the Scissor-tails nest. I presume another trolling bird. Then at the 360 xing right down the road here that Red-eyed continues singing, it may be mated as it stays in one place. Same for the Indigo Bunting there, those two I think have mates and nests there. Sure is a great Firefly show at dusk.

June 5 ~ Ran 72-92dF for a temp spread, and sticky. I see our Blue Mist gregii Eupatorium has some leaves being eaten. Found and demolished a couple of those caterpillars that demolished it for a couple years. Saw the Celia's Roadside-Skipper on the Am. Germander. Later afternoon I heard some Scissor-tailed Flycatcher ruckus up in the pecan, there was likely the local pair there. The Scissors departed and a Great Crested Flycatcher flew into the top of the tree and gave a round of calls for a few minutes. As soon as the Great Crest left the nesting Ash-throat flew around like it is boss. The Vermilion on the low fenceline ignores them all, the nesting Eastern Phoebes are the only thing it watches for. Heard the Barred Owl over at the river late evening.

June 4 ~ A small group of rain cells formed overnight in Mexico and worked from Del Rio to Uvalde Co. slowly. All the main major models missed it, only the Texas Tech showed it so NOAA mentioned that yesterday as an aside. It was the only correct model. It dumped 2.5-5" of rain along the way. Most of it was south of us along Hwy. 90 by time it went by us noonish or so. We only got about .35 of an inch. But it kept our temps about 73dF all morning, and was still only 75 at 3 p.m. as the cells got to Bexar Co. and we came out the backside of the rain sheild into the sun. Dodged the heat for the morning and a bit of a dust buster. There was one weak area with only moderate rain in it, and that was what we got. We needed the water though.

Heard a Black-and-white Warbler first thing early, I presume the one I had a week ago, and a week prior, and a trolling first-summer male, since it sang the same non-normal song. Saw it about noon on a tree in the corral. Harvested 4 new unwanted chiggers between my morning and noon tosses of seed out back. Hope I don't get any more on the afternoon toss. Mid-afternoon saw a Harlequin Flower Beetle (Gymnetis thula) which I softly swatted to the ground where it played dead. I ran for camera and got a couple docu shots before it flew off. Haven't seen one in a few years. Saw a big Eyed Elaterid click beetle a few minutes later.

This evening I did confirm a tailess barely flight capable Lark Sparrow fledgling being attended by two adults still, out along the fenceline. So this thing made two nights out in the yard on the ground. With all the coons, I have no idea how. There are a couple dense patches of Mexican Hat which I suspect is where it is hiding overnight. It did actually have a 10 foot level flight between the Persimmon and a Pecan by the gate, but still crashed off the limb it was trying for. Tomorrow we will see if it made another night. Still a couple days from real proper powered flight. It jumped wayyyy too soon.

June 3 ~ Maybe about 72 for a low, very humid. Some rain was nearishby and we got some nice rain-cooled air for the whole morning. Mid-80's and mostly cloudy in p.m., sticky. The little Treehole skeeters are out in force. Saw my FOY Pepsis Wasp. Dang dillo dug out a Eupatorium (white - Thoroughwort type) I had transplanted because deer were eating it. Dillos are real cute until you lived with one and tried to grow anything whatsoever, have a flower bed, etc. Skunks are a dream by comparison. Birds were the breeders, I sure love listening to them all day. There are almost always a couple or few species singing at any given time, often several. Did not hear the Indigo here the last couple days, but a couple were singing a third-mile down the road.

Last night about an hour before sundown a Lark Sparrow fledgling in a nest 15' up in the big pecan made a premature ejection from said nest. Went down like a rock, stood no chance whatsoever of powered flight. I tried to put it in a small pecan below it and it would not stay in it. Then I put it in a big brush pile where it would be safe. It would not stay in it. I don't know how it made the night, but it seemed like the parents were going down out in the yard and I thought I was hearing it begging. I didn't want to pressure it so did not persue, but it seems it made the night, on the ground out there.

June 2 ~ We got up sorta early and went to Lost Maples for a walk. Dawn chorus is going at 6 a.m. now. At 5:45 it was only Chat and Chuck, but by 6 Summer Tanager and Cardinal had started and it short order lots was going off. Low was about 72dF, some low stratus, which thickened up at higher altitude and kept heat at bay for a few hours.

We walked Can Creek a mile past the ponds to the high water spring. About two miles each way, in about 5 hours total. I go slow and easy at this age in the hot and sticky. We saw 3 groups of Golden-cheeked Warbler with two juveniles each, being fed by adults. Which made for great viewing. Heard a number of and saw a few others. Pretty easy to see today. We heard about 4 Black-capped Vireo along the trail, I got a glimpse of one. Heard Olive Sparrow, 3-4 White-tipped Dove (glimpsed one) along canyon, heard Audubon's Oriole singing at the pond.

Only heard one Black-n-white Warbler, they seem to be mostly gone already. Heard a couple and saw one Louisiana Waterthrush. Four singing Yellow-throated Warbler still, one group of fledged begging juveniles. Saw Red-eyed and White-eyed Vireo splash bathing, and several of each. Heard a Hutton's and a couple Yellow-throated Vireo. At least 3 Acadian Flycatcher, only heard one E. Pewee. One Broad-winged Hawk was good, they are likely nesting in the area again. No Zone-tail at Maples, but one south of Vanderpool on the way home.

Heard what must have been a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, but giving an odd call, way up the canyon. The rest was the usual suspects like Blue Grosbeaks, Indigo and Painted (down in main canyon) Bunting, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, a few Summer Tanager, Canyon Wren, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Chipping Sparrows with juvies, Titmouse, Chickadee, Cards, a few Inca Dove, Lesser Goldfinch, House Finch, etc.

Saw one Greater Earless Lizard right where Kathy had a probable a couple weeks ago. A few Six-lined Racerunner were out once it warmed. Saw a dead Ox Beetle in the path. The flowers were still great. There was lots of Lemon Beebalm aka Purple Horsemint by the big pond, and tons along 187 on way. Pearl aka Green Milkweed Vine is going well too. In lower canyon some Buttonbush was blooming but not up around ponds yet. The first few Texas Milkweed were opening. Lots of Indian Blanket and Coreopsis still, Prairie Fleabane, Snapdragon Vine, one Larkspur still had flowers, both Thistles, etc.

Butterflies were good, but no AZ Sister, one Red-spotted Purple. Two black form female Easter Tiger Swallowtail, one yellow form Tiger, 2 Two-tailed Swallowtail, a Giant, few Pipevine, one Black, and several Spicebush Swallowtail. Six species of swallowtails in a walk is great to me. I got pix of my FOY metalmark (Calephelis sps.), on which VFW (ventral forewing) pattern is clearly Rawson's. And which I had there last year in June as well. Saw my FOY Bronze Roadside-Skipper, and saw both types, the unmarked underwing with checkered fringe (standard), and the lightly marked with pale spots type (as Kaufmann shows as 'AZ type'), but with uncheckered fringe. I did not see any Monarch cats on the few Antelope Horns I saw.

Odes (dragonflies) are really getting going well, providing some great action as it got hot out. One interesting one was photo'd poorly, I will see if an expert can ID it. We saw about 7-8 Widow Skimmers around the ponds, when they are chasing each other it is a sight. What a beauty. There were a couple Comanche Skimmer which were my FOY, as were a couple Neon Skimmer. Saw one Flame Skimmer up by the usual highwater spot. Some Banded Pennant, a Red-tailed Pennant, Red Saddlebags, Prince and Dot-winged Baskettail, no gliders. A bunch of damsels I did not spend time on, but good numbers of Springwater, Duksy, Violet, and Blue-ringed Dancer.

June 1 ~ About 71dF for a low, cloudy until mid-day, got to 86 or so at peak heat, and very muggy. Worked on stuff here since the migration party is over. I should be checking the SLC pond still a time or two the first week of June, but am about out of steam and time. I fall behind every spring for migration. My life motto has arguably been "will fall behind for good birding". It was just the regular gang today. Neat was a couple cuckoos around lots, and lots. Must be feeding young very nearby, I presume over in the well-treed corral. They love hunting the big-leafed pecans. I love hearing them call all day. A Swift Setwing (ode) late in day was my FOY.

Only a month or so left to see these here this year. I'm startin' to panic.
They can be fickle after mid-June. Often a few are around and findable to
mid-July. This past weekend we saw three sets of 2 fledglings being fed.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ May summary ~ ~ ~

It was a wet one with about 7" of rain for us here, almost all in the first third of the month, only a couple tenths in last two-thirds. Temps were only up to lowest 90's a few days, mostly was in the 80's, so sorta beat the heat for May.

Butterflies were OK with 47 species, but which was 5 less than April. For the most part it was the most likely 48 species, spring is not when rarities or vagrants show up. There were a last couple Monarchs early in the month. Elada Checkerspot is always good. No Metalmarks yet, and only Reakirt's for Blues. Red Satyr and Red-spotted Purple are always good to see. There are some Crimson Patch on private property near the 360 crossing, on the knoll to the SW. Must be something they use as foodplant there.

Odes were 28 species, up a half-dozen over April. Like butterflies, spring is not the time for rare vagrants in general. It was a great Band-winged Dragonlet show at the ponds on S. Little Crk. Rd., and the smaller southerly pond was loaded with Plateau Spreadwing again. A Great Pondhawk at the south pond May 4 was the most (only) unusual thing seen. One Wandering Glider was good for early May then and there as well. I just snuck Orange-striped Threadtail in on May 31 at the park when I saw the first ones of the year flying.

Birds were spectacular, April and May are the two biggest diverstiy months here. I saw about 125 species locally in May. Warbler migration was lackluster, I think the 16 species I saw over the whole spring is my average here. But it was scraping: one Tennessee, one Black-throated Green, two Wilson's, one No. Parula, and so on it went. No Redstart! Four Mourning Warbler was OK though. Six Mississippi Kite were nice on May 2. Again there was a pair of Cassin's Kingbird in our big pecan, May 9!

A Northern Goshawk on May 2 might have been the best bird, hopefully the powers that be will accept my poor docushots, at least I got a couple. A male Wilson's Phalarope at the SLC ponds May 11 was the other rarity seen. The ones last year were the first BanCo records. May 10 an American Pipit in breeding plumage was my first May record here. Several folks reported Catbirds in first half of May, and I had a couple. I had 7 Eastern Kingbird including 5 at once together, just south of town which is a great spring showing. Dickcissels were all over the place after being completely absent last spring and summer.

A Tree Lizard at Lost Maples was something I had longed to see and been missing. Had a Spotted Racerunner there as well. Saw a couple Velvet Worms around the house. A 2" Robberfly (Asilid) was neat, if only I could figure out what it was. Saw a couple Eyed Elaterid click beetles. Flowers were fairly spectacular from all the rain, most things seemed to have a good bloom. Which makes for good bug and seed crops. Everything is connected.

~ ~ ~ end May summary ~ ~ ~

May 31 ~ Weewow another month hath shot by. Another spring migration passage is over too. Heck spring is over, climatological summer starts tomorrow. It went out with a bang, a group of rain cells nearby last night gave us a 65dF low to start the day with. Awesome. Was still below 78dF at 2 p.m.! How come I get the feeling we are going to pay for this mild May? Saw a Velvet Worm on the patio at sunup this morning.

On the way to town, just down the road a quarter mile or so I heard a bunch of begging baby Yellow-throated Warbler, so some of them are out of the nest now. Checked the park because I went to town, there was no good reason to do so, other than living a 'Groundhog Day' type of birding life. Just a few of the usual regulars, did see just-fledged dark-eyed White-eyed Vireo out of the nest. Barred Owl called and I thought I heard a young beg.

Saw my FOY Orange-striped Threadtail (damselfly), at least a half-dozen, finally. Over a dozen Blue-ringed and a few Violet Dancer. Lots of bluets out over the water, did see some Double-striped Bluet. One Red-tailed Pennant was out over the water. It seems they might have bred here last year and these are on-site emergences. It was always just a late summer to fall visitor, and less than annual at that, until the last couple years. Now it seems we are hatching our own.

Went out to the S. Little Crk. Pond because I am a glutton for punishment, nothing there. Still has water but only the far part. Just a small puddle or two at the small pond to the south. Lots of Band-winged Dragonlet at the big pond with water still flying. A few dozen at least. Along Little Crk. where UvCo 354 hits it there was my FOY Widow Skimmer, finally, a favorite beauty.

I hit the post office just right and ran into Judy Schaeffer and Sheila Hargill. Sheila said they had a male Black-headed Grosbeak at their feeder a couple weeks ago. I haven't seen one in a few years, but was seeing them every other year or so for a decade. That male is a pretty bird. Judy said she had a Catbird a couple weeks ago at her place. Little Creek Larry said he had a Catbird this week at Little Creek. Always great to hear of scarce passage migrants others are seeing locally.

May 30 ~ A front is washing out in the area, there were a few spritzes overnight and in the morning. Low was about 71dF. An actual wind change with light northerly flow was neat for the date. Later in afternoon it went NE. Way fewer hummers around, the majority of the last batch of young are gone now, so it is back to almost just adults. Surely another set of juvies is on the way soon. Heard an Audubon's Oriole first thing whilst on my first cup of coffee in bed. The Red-eyed Vireo is still singing out front across the road, sometimes in yard out by the wellhouse.

In the afternoon another Blue-gray Gnatcat went through yard, sounded like a juvenile. Just-fledged juvie Lark Sparrow being fed on patio now. After 7 p.m. an outflow boundry from a good thundercell hit us and dropped it 10dF from 86 to 76 in 10 minutes. We only got a spritzing, but the cooloff was great. An area of 2-4" of rain was 30 miles south, and Concan to Uvalde area got over an inch, we were just spit on here, maybe a tenth from all of it, but we got the big cooldown.

May 29 ~ Low 70's to upper 80's dF, and which is the forecast every day for the 10-day currently. Varying rain chances in low-end. Bearable cloudy breezy mornings, hot and sticky with occasional sun in afternoon. But, still not the 90's yet, only a few days hit that all month, so we beat the heat this May. Now we are down to just 3-4 months of brutal, pending how Sept. plays out. When in drought cycles it can be 90+dF April to October with 6 months of summer. A number of local residents (hominid) go to the Ruidoso NM area or Colorado for the summer, the lucky so and so's.

If it weren't for the amazing set of breeding birds and the incredible insects, I probably couldn't stand it. It is the heat and humidity that make the bugs that make the birds so good. Most of the action and excitement is the migratory insectivores, stuff that winters from Mexico to South America, and is just here a few months to breed, and eat 'bugs and worms'. Of which Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo are two flagship representitives. More-seen things like Purple Martin, Barn Swallow, Vermilion or Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and Painted Bunting are better known examples by non-birding locals.

Meanwhile its Wednesday for me, so like Thursdays I am stuck at the desk all day, save my hourly 5 minute lookabouts. Ten if no one is watching. During migration I may disappear longer during brief periods of mystery or intrigue. Never any months or year-long thing like Audubon did though. I was told a long time ago there won't be any of that.

Some of what includes the yard in their territories so the things seen and singing daily are: Blue Grosbeak, Painted Bunting, Summer Tanager, Yellow-throated Vireo, White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-throated Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Great Crested, Ash-throated (in a box), and Vermilion Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, White-winged and Mourning Dove, Ground-Dove, Lark, Chipping and Field Sparrow, Cardinal, Black-crested Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Bewick's Wren, Eastern Bluebird (feeding young in a box now), Eastern Phoebe, and too many Black-chinned Hummingbirds.

Seen half of days the last month are a couple trollers (unmated singing males moving up and down river habitat corridor), Indigo Bunting and Red-eyed Vireo. The Red-eye now is on day 5 or 6 out front right now. They will be around a few days, then not, then back, repeat. Overhead daily are Purple Martin, Barn Swallow, Chimney Swift, and Red-tailed Hawk. Weekly or so I see Cooper's and Zone-tailed Hawk, both nest not too far away and hunt the yard regularly. At dark the Chuck-wills-widow are going bonkers now, maybe 3 close and 3 more distant. Hearing Barred Owl nightly over at the river. I see or hear Scissor-tailed Flycatcher daily, but they are not nesting closer than a quarter-mile, he complained.

About 5 p.m. an Eastern Wood-Pewee was in the yard, probably an unmated bird. Heard a FOY cicada then too, so second day after the first Katydid. Saw a Questionmark butterfly today, besides the regular stuff.

May 28 ~ Hit 70dF for a low, big difference a few dF makes. With the low stratus overcast, we might make noon before 80dF. The mornings are still nice and bearable. Ran to the P.O. so checked the park. Heard a Green Heron which is the first I have had there this year. These birds arrive so late I can't believe it. Same every year, usually late April to late May, often later May arrival here. Whilst at Uvalde the City Park nesting birds there arrive in later March. Two months difference. There was a female or young male Red-tailed Pennant up by the island at the park, my FOY locally.

A couple light rain cells went by in the afternoon, we had a tenth of an inch or so, just enough to hold some dust down. We'll take it. About 7 p.m. there was a Black-and-white Warbler singing out front. Never got a look so could not age, I suspect an unmated troller. Song sounded a bit off in the same way the one did that went through a week or two ago. Some Chimney Swift at dusk feeding over the river habitat corridor with a number of Martins. More Katydids tonight, maybe 4-5, and the Barred Owl called again.

May 27 ~ The low was 69.5dF, that felt great. SOShtuff, low clouds, humid, some occasional sun. No holiday here, just another work Monday. A Chimney Swift shot over low at 7 a.m., must be a nearby chimney in use. The dawn chorus is still going well, but you can tell not as strongly as it was already. The Red-eyed Vireo is still out there trolling. The Great Crested Flycatcher gave a Titmouse hell chasing it. I wonder if it is not mated this year like a few things around seem to be. Some just-fledged juvie Cardinal on patio being fed.

Kathy saw a Two-tailed Swallowtail, surely the one I saw around yesterday. Over the day had two Blue-gray Gnatcatcher go through yard, one early, one late. I suspect these are fledged juveniles in post-breeding wandering. Already, in late May. Their voices are a bit higher and thinner, a little more squeaky than adults. Heard my FOY Katydids tonight, just a couple, barely chuggin'. Katydid tonight, cicada in a day or two.

May 26 ~ The 71dF low felt better after about four days with just 74. Low stratus from the Gulf. It is great hearing Great Crested Flycacher in the yard a bunch. I guess the Ash-throats know they have to tolerate it. When it moves through they are pretty quiet, and it is typically noisy. After it goes, they get noisy again. Pretending they are all that. Found a FOY tick on my leg mid-morn, all I had done was toss birdseed in the usual couple places out back. It was still wandering and not plugged in yet. I usually see only one to a very few each year. Locals say it was the Fire Ants (imported non-native) that took them down.

About 11 a.m. we took a spin around the wildlife easement we're on to check the knolls. The two high spots can have some different stuff. The south knoll had its usual singing Olive Sparrow and Black-capped Vireo, saw neither though. Nice to know they are there doing their thing. Also in that category was two Crimson Patch. There is a population on the knoll, I do not know what foodplant they are using, there is no Flame Acanthus there. What a stunning beauty they are. A few Gnatcatcher around, which nest there, a couple sounded like begging babies. Heard a couple Rufous-crowned Sparrow, they nest there too. Heard Hutton's Vireo.

All the Agarita bushes were stripped where we collected berries a week ago. Gone. Over on the north knoll we found a couple bushes that still had some and got a cup of berries and some poked fingers. So we get a wee bit of Agarita jam anyway this year. While we were picking them I heard a distant odd song. After a few listens I said to Kathy I gotta go find that. Sure enough, a male Golden-cheeked Warbler. Not full blast singing, and mostly a 'B' type song with the trill on the end. I saw no green in the back or crown, it looked like a full ad. male. I doubt it is on territory there and suspect it is a done breeder wandering around already. Will check the spot again soon to see. Also there was a Plains Clubtail dragonfly, and a big fancy Robberfly (Asilid), got photo so will work on ID.

May 25 ~ Ran 74-89dF or so today, mostly cloudy, some p.m. sun, breezy. No migrants, just the breeders. In the afternoon I checked the pond on the golf course by the Waresville Cmty., hardly any dragonflies, a couple Red Saddlebags and a Common Whitetail was it. Nothing at the Martin house, maybe they are just out feeding? The park had nothing but people. A Zone-tailed Hawk was over town. When I pulled back in driveway a Cooper's Hawk flushed from the patio area, empty fisted. Hummers are much fewer, the hoarde of juveniles have been departing for a week and change now. Thankfully. Surely a new batch on the way. Photo'd one of the Zopherus Ironclad Beetles out front.

Here is the Wilson's Phalarope on May 11 in BanCo, at
the So. Little Crk. Rd. pond. Tough bird to get locally.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 24 ~ Low of 74dF, strong SE Gulf flow, low stratus overcast, muggy, sunny and muggy in afternoon. Rinse and reapeat until September. Kathy set a mouse trap last night and this morning the trap had, well, we can't find the trap, but when we do I will let you know. Country living is like living a cartoon. I heard a Red-eyed Vireo singing across the road. Like the male Indigo Bunting it is trolling up and down the river habitat corridor, but which means they are unmated still. Nearing last sun there was a Chimney Swift, and a male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher around for a bit.

Town run day, getting busy with the Memorial Day weekend. As I was getting gas I watch some citiot with a big truck and trailer pull into bank and head back out the other driveway to head back down Main St. As he is getting near exit I think, he has to wait for those next cars, and he pulls right out in front of them, they all have to stop for his citiotness. If they had kept speed they would have creamed the trailer. The Memorial Day Morons have arrived. We will be hiding out where no one goes. The park got a new road, looks nice, is black and will be hotter. No migrant birds there. At the S. Little Crk. Rd. ponds, only 2 probable breeders: Killdeer and Black-bellied Whistling-Duck. Lots of dragonflies though, a few dozen Band-winged Dragonlets, and some teneral damselfly I will try to ID from pix.

May 23 ~ The strong gulf flow and winds have not abated, it is still 15-20 mph, gusting higher, for a few days now, and forecast for a five more. Oh to have had this in late April or early May, we'd have been covered in migrants. It is just too late, its too late baby, now its too late. All together now. Nothing goin' on but the breeders. I am even beginning to wonder if there is going to be an empi or few, or not. Usually there are some at the very end. I have not seen any Traill's type (Willow or Alder) Flycatcher whatsoever yet. Much less a Yelly-belly.

Got a few chiggers though. They are finally making a showing, Kathy hit the wrong clump of grass a couple days ago and got a bunch for free. More than I get weed-whacking an acre of tall grass, which up to a week ago was maybe one or two. Methinks they have popped. The Firefly show sure has gotten to pretty sparkly. Skeeters are out too, the park up by the island has lots now, the price for all that rain.

May 22 ~ A low of about 73dF, the Gulf flow won at some point overnight. It was dropping into the mid-60's with the dry air and northwest flow, the Gulf won. So windy and muggy, cloudy morn, sunny afternoon. Winds were 15-20 mph gusting higher. Heard a Yellow Warbler and a Dickcissel out in yard, the rest was the breeders. At least a couple baby chickadees being attended by the adults is neat around the yard. Lots of Bordered Patch butterflies moving around, I saw 5 at once from the back porch, must be tons of them around. Don't know how many you get to the ton. Saw one Tawny Emperor, first of the month. One male Fiery Skipper. One Queen was around the Blue Mist Eupatorium which has a couple stalks with flowers open. The ultimate Queen magnet here. The Am. Germander (aka Wood Sage, but not a sage) is getting going, it has a nice sweet scent. Heard the Barred owl again.

May 21 ~ Didn't cool down much until a squall line arrived about 6 a.m., we got maybe .2 tenths of an inch of precip and it dropped to 64dF. A Pacific front was behind it a couple hours and we had NW winds briefly, and very dry air, in the afternoon KRVL was 16% humidity. Awesome. Hit about 85dF peak heat in the sun, which in dry air is completely bearable. Wish I could have gone out and run around to check some trees. I heard a Yellow Warbler singing a couple times over the day, that was it. The rain arriving right before light is the perfect timing we want, but when passage is at peak roar early April to mid-May. Great Firefly show at dusk now. The Barred Owl still calling at river.

May 20 ~ A low of 73dF is not very. Balmy, was a bit of fog and a mist or two. The wind from the SE is blowing hard, 15-25 mph with gusts to 35! It is exactly what you need for good migrants here, from early April to about May 15. A bit too late now to do much good for us. Heard one Yellow Warbler in the yard, that was it for migrants here. Monday back at the salt mine, so can't go check the treed spots. In the afternoon I heard a dove flushing event, looked out the office window, and saw a Zone-tailed Hawk climbing up out of the yard, but with nothing in talons. It is back to the breeders now, the migration passage party is over. Saw what methinks was a Cuckoo Wasp, it looked like an overgrown huge metallic green halichtid.

May 19 ~ Overnight low was 70dF. Foggy, and some mist. Get used to it. First thing early before sunup there were 3 Common Nighthawk low over house and yard. Heard a Yellow Warbler sing early. Later morning I heard a Black-and-white Warbler singing out back. I presume an unmated troller. Noon went to park for a quick look, only passage migrant was a female Common Yellowthroat. One Green Kingfisher at island. Out to the pond on S. Little Crk. Rd., nothing but the 5 B-b Whistling-Duck. Checked the 354 pecans and no migrants there either. The passage of migrants will soon be just a memory. There is about one last week to get a stray straggler or two.

About 5 p.m. we took a walk up the hill behind us to see if any Agarita (aka Texas Holly) crop this year. Lots seem eaten already, but there are some berries. We picked a cup or so. Those are some well-protected fruit. In the process I flushed a female Common Nighthawk from the ground. I did not see exactly where from and did not see any eggs. I got a binoc view on a horizontal live-oak branch it landed on, but it flushed as I went for camera. Great close look anyway though. Probably a nest there. Those Agarita thickets are a pretty safe space. I once saw a Painted Bunting nest in an Agarita. Might as well be in a cactus. Saw a Zone-tailed Hawk fly by later in afternoon from the front porch.

May 18 ~ Balmy low of 68dF or so, a bit of mist early. A showerlet mid-morn to noon. No migrant motion in yard. Checked the 354 pecans since missed them yesterday, nothing, singing Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo might nest there. Dickcissels still going in pasture on north side of road. No kingbirds on fencelines. Utopia Park had a male Mourning Warbler not there yesterday. The Swainson's Thrush were gone. One Ringed Kingfisher was the first I have seen in over a month, they have been gone nesting somewhere along the river. Nothing at the SLC pond, but lots of Band-winged Dragonlet flying. On the way home right at the cattle guard a quarter mile from our gate another Mourning Warbler, this one a female!

About 4 p.m. a line of thunder cells moved over, up-valley got it good as that cell rained itself out around Lost Maples and Love Creek. Our cell ran from SE Real Co. along the Bandera-Uvalde Co. line and fairly clobbered town here, have to see what they got. We were at the edge and in a half hour got an inch of rain. And hail, up to a little over an inch across, most pea to nickel sized, but lots quarter sized. As the cell approached it sounded like fighter jets way high up, a roar, constantly for a half hour as the cell went by and over. It was the hail up in the cell, a loud roarl. I thought it was a wall of water coming down the river at first. It went from a muggy 78dF to a cool 66dF as the cell went over. Fist pumps.

After it went by it lurched south and hit Sabinal and Hwy. 90. The sun came out and all the birds went to singing as they often do after a rain. It was great all over again. Nearing last sun 3 Chimney Swift went over a couple times, wish our chimney wasn't sealed. At dusk the Firefly show was at least 3 dozen, yard is getting pretty sparkly again. Very nice. Heard Barred and Great Horned Owl over at the river.

Mourning Warbler, female, at Utopia Pk.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 17 ~ A little mist early, low about 68dF, summer is coming. Mostly overcast all day, just got to lowest 80's dF. Not bad for the date. No migrants through yard in morning, the party is about over. Town run, but forgot to check the 354 pecan patch on way in, and had tacos on way out so did not check it darn it. No Kingbirds on the magic fenceline. At the park there was one female Common Yellowthroat for passage migrant warblers. Two Swainson's Thrush were the only other migrants I saw. In the Mulberries of course. A male Green Kingfisher was tenderizing a Dollar Sunfish. Ran out to S. Little Crk. ponds and had 5 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, that was it. Heard a Yellow Warbler here at the house in the afternoon, and an Orchard Oriole 'chucked' around the yard for a bit. A couple male Blue Grosbeak were really going at it at the front of the yard out where I leave some wildflowers along the fenceline.

May 16 ~ Overcast early, cleared mid-day, sunny afternoon, a very standard pattern here, ran about 67-80dF. I did not see or hear any passage migrant species here today. The big girl is starting to warm up. At least there is a great set of breeders to watch and listen to daily in the yard. Saw Blue Grosbeak and Painted Bunting on the patio, Vermilion and Great Crested Flycatcher in pecans, the Summer Tanager pair at the bath, Chat, Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireos, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, heard Yellow-throated Warbler and Field Sparrow singing, Chippy and Lark Sparrow on the patio, Caracara went over, hear a juv. Red-tailed Hawk begging. Indigo Bunting still singing and sneaking in and out. The weirdest thing was one lone begging Starling that flew over calling. I do not know of any nesting besides a few pair in town. Two FOY critters today: an Eyed Elaterid, the big click beetle with the false eyes on the thorax, and a favorite bug, and early about 7 a.m. I saw a FOY Velvet Worm out back. The velvet slugish appearing beast.

May 15 ~ Low in 60's dF and overcast, a spritz of mist around 8 a.m. as I ran to town. The park had no passage migrants whatsoever. When I got back at 9 Kathy just had a singing male Wilson's Warbler here. At the pond on S. Little Crk. Rd. there was a Spotted Sandpiper, a drake Blue-winged Teal, and 2 drake Shoveler. Has to be my latest local date for Shoveler. A Mexican (was Green) Violetear is at a feeder in the SAT area (Bexar Co. methinks). Another Dickcissel was around yard in late afternoon. Otherwise just the breeders, fine assortment that it is. Hearing birdsong all day is a wonderful thing. At dusk I heard the 'booming' of my FOS Common Nighthawk. Finally, my latest ever FOS for them. Little Creek Larry said he had some a couple weeks ago. Our local breeders have been absent. Heard the Barred Owl at the river after dark. The Chucks are goin' nuts out there after dark.

May 14 ~ Low back to the 60's again, sure was nice the four prior days in 50's. Too busy with work, but not much migrant motion here. One singing Yellow Warbler was around the yard most of the day, and an Orchard Oriole trolled through for about 5 minutes. In the afternoon a Least Flycatcher was out front. At dusk a couple Black-bellied Whistling-Duck flew over, and a couple Chimney Swift. Otherwise it was the yard area breeders. Migration ends quick and early south of 30 deg. N. We are past peak and it is fading fast. The biggest bulk of birds is likely 500-1000 miles north of us already. We are at the, uh, tail-end of it already here, and there is no 'vagrant season' here as much of the west has in later May to early June. Some begging baby Lesser Goldfinch are out of the nest now.

May 13 ~ We were about 56dF for a low, I saw KRVL was 51! Four days in a row with lows in the 50's in mid-May is a big treat. Heard a Dickcissel call in the yard in the a.m., and a Yellow Warbler sang. Still hear Turkey gobbling. Clear and calm last night, I suspect there was movement. But that was all the motion I saw here from back at the salt mine. Saw about 3 Funereal Duskywing around the yard. Lots of butterfly action out on the wildflowers early, of the common stuff. Vesta Crescents by the dozens. Saw one worn Queen. Later a Monarch stopped on the one Blue Mist Eupatorium flower. Saw 9 Cedar Waxwings up in the big pecan.

I am not seeing any Ruby-throated Hummingbirds for the last week. Many years a very few stay through May, some breeding. This year I am not seeing any after the first week in May. That first tidal wave of Black-chinned juveniles fledging in latest April and early May numbered a couple or few hundred, it was likely too much for them. Those young are still thick and haven't seemed to left the area, unfortunately. Too much riff-raff for the Ruby-throats. We are way over a gallon a day now, through 3 feeders.

May 12 ~ An amazing low of 53dF, with some high thin clouds. It was clear and calm at midnight last night so I suspect all the grounded birds bolted. We did a slow roll to Lost Maples, got there about 10 a.m., saw a couple or three Yellow Warbler along the roads on the way. Nothing was at Haby's wet spot on W. Sabinal Rd. but the Grasshopper Sparrow are still singing in the pasture SW of its intersection with Jones Cmty. Rd., in BanCo. An Orchard Oriole was in the Hackberry row just west.

The only Inca Dove we saw at Lost Marbles were at the HQ feeders area. The main big great feeding station at the trailhead parking lot has apparently had its seed discountinued. As they do in May for some mis-guided ill-conceived 'reason'. What they do is get a bunch of birds hooked on the seed, the birds start nesting, and then they take the seed away. Because of some date on the calendar. Not because they care about the birds or park users. But because of some ridiculous 'reason' that has nothing to do with the birds they are managing. They should not feed them in the first place if they are going to remove the food source shortly after nesting has begun for its users. What is the 'blind' and feeding station for? At least keep it filled through the first nesting cycle of its users, which means the end of May or early June. The tools are there to turn people on to nature and birds, and they are not used. End of rantlet.

We hiked the couple miles to the highwater spring a mile behind the ponds. Getting there late lots of birdsong had quieted already. There were occasional Golden-cheeked Warbler singing, but none gave good views. Heard at least four Black-capped Vireo going up the canyon, one gave views just downslope from the big pond. Another gray-naped black-headed bird. Heard a few 'begging warbler fledgling getting fed' events, Black-and-white, or Golden-cheeks, the rapidfire juvie bk bk bk bk notes are identical. Yellow-throated Warbler were about 3 singing birds, Lousiana Waterthrush maybe 5 singers. Exciting as it was pitiful was my only of spring so far, so FOS, Wilson's Warbler way up the canyon. Do you know how far off the wing-beaten path you have be to barely scrape up a Wilson's for spring? Oh, but you ought to see my spring Nashville total. Have a Nash day! Best warbler was a tardy female Myrtle Warbler.

An Olive-sided Flycatcher was my FOS, and a Warbling Vireo only my second this spring. We saw one Olive Sparrow well, and the way it was chasing Cardinals around had a nest in the immediate area. Heard about 3 White-tipped Dove, no Orioles or Scrub-Jay. A White-eyed Vireo singing was doing a great Scrub-Jay call note for its first note of song. Good numbers of White-eyes and Red-eyed Vireo, fewer but some Yellow-throated and about 5 singing Hutton's. BTW, did hear a Bell's Vireo as we left town on county line road. So for vireos it was 7 species today, 6 were at Lost Maples. It's like vireotopia man. Heard 3 Acadian Flycatcher, only two territorial E. Wood-Pewee. Heard a couple Painted and several Indigo Bunting, good numbers of Blue Grosbeak, heard a Roadrunner bill-clack up the slope above the pond. Heard an Ash-throated Flycatcher, a couple Ladder-backed Woodpecker, a couple Rufous-crowned Sparrow, a few Canyon Wren, and of course the regular set of the common stuff.

In odes there were lots of damsels I didn't look at, but saw Aztec, Dusky, and Springwater Dancers. Great was a Great Spreadwing at the highwater spring, the first I have seen at LM, the first I have seen locally in over a decade, since when the drought just got going. It moved off before I could get a photo. For dragons there were 3+ Flame Skimmers, 3 Pale-faced Clubskimmer, a pair of Roseate Skimmer with female ovipositing, a clubtail that was probably Plains, finally some Prince Baskettail (they were flying 6 weeks ago at Sabinal down off the plateau), over a dozen Dot-winged Baskettail, a Red Saddlebags. It is starting to get going. It was too cool the first couple hours, until after noon.

Butterflies were so-so. Only one big yellow Swallowtail (Two-tailed), a few Spicebush, a Giant, bunch of Pipevine. Best was a Red Satyr, my first of the year. One or two Little Wood Satyr were still flying. The second wave of Antelope Horn is blooming, now mostly covered in Gray Hairstreaks, a few Olive-Juniper, and I did not see a Southern (Oak) Hairstreak. Lots of Reakirt's Blue where wet ground, same for Red Admiral. One big worn pale Monarch. One Questionmark, one Am. Lady, no Duskywings, some Dun Skipper, one Julia's, the only Roadside-Skipper was a worn Nysa, the others are not flying yet, a couple worn Theona Checkerspot were good, a few Bordered Patch, one Texan Crescent, some Vesta. I had a skipperling back here in the yard in the afternoon.

The bummer of the day was when I spotted after 15 years of looking, a Tree Lizard (Urosaurus), and a person coming up the trail unaware scared it up a big juniper with lots of peeling bark and crevices and I could not relocate it. Only have to live 15 more years to find another one, no big deal. Kathy glimpsed a big pale lizard right in an area we have seen Greater Earless Lizard, which is probably what it was. We saw a few Six-lined Racerunner, and saw 1 Spotted Racerunner. Great to see some lizards!

On the way home, on that magic section of fencline just south of town, east side of 187, where I get my Eastern Kingbirds every year, there were two Eastern Kingbird, one allowed photos (below). On the way out in the a.m. there were TWO male Great-tailed Grackle at the north end of town, doubling their population here. Late p.m. back here at the hovelita there was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher that moved through northbound. I suspect a tardy far-north nester still on its way. The locals are all on territory a month plus now.

May 11 ~ A nice cool 54dF low, some mist, and breezy northerlies, so almost chilly. Took another look around for grounded migrants since I had to go to P.O. anyway. Total of 4-5 single scattered Yellow Warblers. There were no Eastern Kingbird where 5 on fenceline yesterday. Best bird was a male WILSON'S PHALOROPE in BanCo at the northern bigger pond on S. Little Crk. Rd. Great bird in BanCo, yes I got a docu ID shot. There were about 4 Blue-winged Teal, a pair of Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, and 5 Wood Duck on the water. I presume the latter two species are nesting there. Two Spotted Sandpiper were on the grass islets. A Canyon Towhee was again at the corner of Lee St., or 354, where the genetic engineered mutant deer are farmed.

At UP there was a female Mourning Warbler besides what I presume is a continuing male from yesterday. The female obliged for photos, the male not so much. There was also a pair of Common Yellowthroat there, and a Northern Waterthrush. A Solitary Sandpiper flew over calling, tough in the park. I presume it is the same Catbird as yesterday, sure neat to hear that call. Other things were Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Painted Bunting, Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo, White-eyed Vireo and Summer Tanager, all fun and games. Amazingly empty of people too.

Saw Big Ern's (to go) B-B-Q was open, the car just pulled over there, I guess since it has been a while. A pound of pork ribs and a half a chicken, and I was good-to-go. It is right next to Rosie's taco trailer, on Main St., about every other Saturday during warm season, if you see them open, stop. Great brisket too. After pigging out for lunch here, to wear it off I took a drive. I am sure those two three-point turns burned off 2 calories. With that phalarope at the SLC ponds, I had to check the UvCo 361 flooded pasture. Nothing, but 30+ Dickcissel in a couple miles along the road. So for today, migrants not as many as yesterday, some obvious holdovers, most gone, and some new stuff. That phalarope was not there yesterday and the Eastern Kingbirds were. I love feeling the turnover of passage.

Eastern Kingbird - May 12 - Seven this spring is a good total, all were
on the fenceline a quarter+ mile south of town, where very few occur
annually in early May. Scissor-tails are fancy-tailed Kingbirds.
When you see long pointed wings, know you have a very good flier.

~ ~ ~ partial update header archive copy ~ ~ ~

We had hard freezes early in March on March 3rd, 4th, and 5th, and Lost Maples froze the 17th. Wind chills were in the 30's March 31st! We froze again here at Utopia the morning of April 2! I have seen freezes in latest April and earliest May, but we are likely out of the woods for that now. Average last freeze is March 20-21, first day of spring. Pending where you were locally, about 2-3" of rain fell April 24. And no one complained. Another 2.5" fell overnight May 2-3, .75" overnight 5-6 May, 1.5" by 8 p.m. on May 9, and it just keeps coming. The South Little Creek Rd. pond in Bandera Co. has lots of water and so always worth a look if here. The big one is less than a mile south of 470.

Some March arrivals were: Barn Swallow and Purple Martin March 1, both in town. Northern Rough-winged Swallow March 5. March 7 two Long-billed Curlew flew over calling after 11 p.m. March 8 besides a yard Golden-cheek, I had my first spring migrant Monarch butterfly from Mexico! Two Yellow-throated Warbler arrived March 10, three Blue-gray Gnatcatcher were my FOS March 13, Ash-throated Flycacher arrived March 14. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and Louisiana Waterthrush were FOS March 17 at Vanderpool and Lost Maples, March 22 I saw my first Hooded Oriole, Bell's Vireo, Cave Swallow, and Great-tailed Grackle. Its a near-daily parade of new first of season migrant birds for 60-90 days. A Northern Parula sang in our yard the 23rd. March 24 we saw our FOS Grasshopper (6!) and Clay-colored Sparrow at the north end of town. A male Lazuli Bunting was at the trailhead parking lot feeding station at Lost Maples March 30-31 at least.

FEBRUARY: We have entered that time of year when FOS - first-of-season birds might show up any day for the next almost 2 months. Our first arrivals are returning local breeders that migrate away for the winter. Passage migrants that breed far to the north don't show until much later. Since the Turkey Vultures on Feb. 14th, that week two other new returnee arrivals included my earliest ever Vermilion Flycatcher by 8 days, and White-eyed Vireo returned, they have been showing up much earlier than they used to for a few years now. Black-chinned Hummingbird is another arriving almost a couple weeks earlier than it used to, and was back on Feb. 24th.

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 probably at least the last two years (begging juveniles seen and heard).

~ ~ ~ end partial update header copy ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 10 ~ A 55dF low felt fantastic. Just a little drizzle overnight, mostly just northerlies. Town run so a little look around. At the UvCo 361 pond there was a breeding plumaged American (formerly Water) Pipit. Surely my only May record hereabouts. I took two quick docushots and it literally disappeared into the grass without flying off. It dematerialzed. Or Scotty beamed it up. Must have ducked under a tuft of grass, and that was that. Nothing else there though. The deeper pond with lillies had a pair of Whistling-Duck, which are probably nesting near it. Heard Bobwhite along the road there today, it is as sure a spot as we have for hearing them here. Took a look at the S. Little Crk. ponds where there were 9 Blue-winged Teal at the bigger north pond, that was it, too cold for odes.

The park had a calling Catbird which gave good views, but autofocus doesn't want me to have a pic of. Saw a male Common Yellowthroat, and better, a FOS male Mourning Warbler. Nothing at the 354 pecans but one Yellow Warbler, and singing Dickcissels. Four other single Yellows were seen along the roads or at stops. A couple dozen waxwings were at the park crapping mulberries in case you wanted to know. Careful standing under them counting...  pro tip: count birds in a tree from the side.

I scanned all the fences along the way, nearly 10 miles worth total, for Eastern Kingbird since we are at their peak week of occurrence (passage) here, and saw nothing. After I did my errands and left Rosie's with Tacos just as I got out of town on the empty fence I had driven by an hour earlier, there were FIVE Eastern Kingbird together! Most I have seen at once here. Grabbed a couple distant docushots, only got 3 in one frame, but oh whatabird. So sharp looking, I love 'em. What a beauty. Here, if you miss them this week, you could well miss them all year. The Scott's Oriole of yesterday here did not show today, so I suspect it was not our returning bird, but a one-minute wonder in passage.

May 9 ~ Low of 69dF, they continue inching upwards towards summer. Supposed to have a cold front pass in the afternoon. Cloudy early, breaking mid-morn, saw no migrant movement. A first for the yard this spring was a Scott's Oriole singing from the big pecan. I hope it found the feeders, or better, is the one that was here last year until a nest failure. They have been back in many places locally after mid-March as usual, but ours left with the female early due to the nest failure last summer and did not return the rest of the season. Been wondering if it would return, missing my daily dose of that song.

Heard a Dickcissel fly over the yard mid-day, and 9 waxwing. Just before 3 p.m. some cool air from the front got here and it was sprinkling. A Kingbird flew into the big pecan calling, a Cassin's! Ran inside for bins and camera, came back out, and a big livestock trailer came loudly clanging down the road just as I got one in bins. TWO CASSIN'S Kingbird flew out of the tree and uphill behind us. Dang trailer. This big pecan tree is a kingbird magnet. Not the first pair of Cassin's KB we have had in it! Besides Cassin's (and a Kiskadee to boot!) It have had Western, Couch's, and Eastern Kingbird, and Scissor-tails are regular. It is the tallest tree around for 200-300 feet in any direction, at about 40' or so. It is a magic tree. That is what the guy that sold it to me said anyway. Just kiddin', its about 250 years old. One of these days I will have to make up my big pecan tree list. Any Mulberry on the coast could whip it of course, but considering the location is everything. There have been some stellar birds in it. Rained in late afternoon and to dark by when we had another 1.5"!

May 8 ~ Another MCS moved over pre-dawn with showers continuing until mid-morning, another 1.125" for the May total. Now over 6.25" for us here, others around more and less. I saw upriver, upvalley in BanCo several miles, it really dumped, like 2.5-3". Then in the afternoon the bulge or bubble of runoff got down here and the river went to roaring all afternoon to evening. There were brief northerly winds behind the passage of the system, the sun came out and hot dry air blew in, getting up to about 85dF in the sun, 80 in the shade on the front porch. You get a lot more weather fer yer money here. Kathy heard an Audubon's Oriole singing outside later morning as it broke and cleared. Mid-afternoon I saw a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak in the pecans out front, 2nd this spring, and I miss it some years. Kathy had a few Whistling-Ducks go over at dusk.

May 7 ~ Low about 67dF, dawn chorus sure is great these days with all the breeders back on territory locally. The Chuck-wills-widow are still going at 6:30 a.m. when it is getting going. My alarm clock is a male Carolina Wren, which are rarin' to go early this time of year. Later morning I heard a Dickcissel out in the weedy far part of the yard. At least a couple Chickadee fledged from the nest in the end of a broken pecan branch. At least a couple Titmouse fledglings just got out as well.

Later afternoon I was on the front porch and a cuckoo shot by so close the hummers all exploded off the feeder. It was maybe 5' from me at closest point, at eye level. I saw no color in the bill, and no rufous in the wings. The second second of the look was watching it fly straight away whence I thought, there is no rufous in the wings after seeing both of them fully open on a downstroke. I am sure it was a Black-billed Cuckoo. But am not going to report a two second fly-bye. I have been seeing the Yellow-billed that nest somewhere adjacent, multiple times daily lately, and this was not one. It is much more compactly built. A noticeably smaller package overall (ca. 20% lighter), even if not in absolute length. The bird of the day got away, again.

May 6 ~ A MCS went over in the middle of the night, we got another .75" of rain, so now 5.25" for the month. The 62dF low was nice. Wow. The week-to-10-day forecast is like the last, with rain chances every day, and no 90's yet. We hope to get as far into May as we can before the summer sub-tropical high and heat sets in. Saw an Eastern Wood-Pewee and a Least Flycatcher in the yard, passing through. Otherwise no movement though. Some just-fledged House Finch are begging on the patio. The major action is juvenile hummingbirds of which there has been a flood in the last week. Hundreds of Black-chinned have fledged, we are covered in sugarwater suckers. Over a gallon a day now. The Firefly show is getting better, at least a couple dozen probably more in the front yard at dusk. Barred Owl called after dark from over at the river again.

May 5 ~ Happy Cinco de Mayo! Another 57dF low was awesome. We will miss these soon. Clear last night, and early, so I suspect the grounding of yesterday is gone, hopefully some new things arrived. Saw a Coyote cross the corral early, and I still hear Turkey gobbling at dawn. We went back down to UvCo 361 and still nothing in the flooded pastures but some Spadefoot Toads. Couldn't find the Yellow-headed Blackbirds. At least a dozen Dickcissel singing along the road. The flowers are great there. Heard a few Grasshopper Sparrow again there. Right after you turn off 187 the first Mesquite and brushy area on the north side of 361 always has nesting Painted Bunting and Bell's Vireo, often possible to see from the road. The whole first mile is good, especially if it has rained lots and the pastures before the houses are flooded.

The UvCo 354 pecan patch had a Yellow, a Nashville, and Kathy might have seen the Tennessee, but nothing like the 10 warblers there yesterday. Another dozen Dickcissel singing there, and Painted Bunting. At UP there was a FOS Northern Waterthrush, finally. The E. Wood-Pewee there seems to be on territory, probably the ones that nested last year. Had a Zone-tailed Hawk soaring over town. Went out to S. Little Creek ponds, and nothing there, but lots of odes. Two pair of Black-bellied Whistling-Duck may well be nesting at the big pond. Lots of Antelope-horn where UvCo 356 meets Little Creek, covered in Gray Hairstreaks, a couple dozen at least.

May 4 ~ A 57dF low felt fantastic. Clear at first early but clouded up shortly. The rain shield was to our east, so some birds probably back-doored behind it in the clear. One first spring male American Goldfinch is still using the sunflower tube. Great was before 10 a.m. a FOS female Rose-breasted Grosbeak approached the feeders to within a couple feet but in a case of bad timing the caballeros truck came through the corral and scared it off. Autofocus did not want me to have a sharp shot.

After breakfast I took a spin around to see what the rain dropped on us. Kathy didn't want to get muddy. Had a Gnatcatcher here. There was flood debris ON the 360 crossing we use, from the downpour at dusk last night. Actually after the last deluge we heard the river roaring for a few hours last night. If we hear it, water is on the bridge. We can cross with 4-6" no problem, even in the trucklet. After that I go the back way out.

Still Clay-colored Sparrows along all the roads, I saw nearly a dozen total, scattered here and there with Lark, Chippy, or Grasshopper Sparrows. Dickcissel were everywhere, I heard at least 50, saw dozens. Every road had single stray Yellow Warbler too. Went south on Hwy. 187 a couple miles to UvCo 361 to check the pastures that flood for shorebirds. There was a big flock of blackbirds of some sort I couldn't tell for sure but there were 8+ male Yellow-headed Blackbird in the group. Later another group of blackbirds had a few female Yellow-headed in it. Only ones I have seen this spring. A couple Grasshopper Sparrow were along 361, one pond had Great Egret and Great Blue Heron.

Then up to the 354 pecan patch a mile south of town. There were a dozen Dickcissel there, a Western Kingbird, a singing 1st spring male Painted Bunting, and a few warblers. Best were FOS single Tennessee and Black-throated Green Warblers. About 3 Nashville and 4 Yellow were there. A FOS Warbling Vireo sang a bit. Besides the Warbling, I heard Yellow-throated, Red-eyed, White-eyed, and Bell's at the same time there. Also a Gnatcat there, where they have nested.

Then to Utopia Park. A FOS Common Yellowthroat, female, was nice. Though I thought sure I heard one chip a few weeks ago. A tardy singing Orange-crowned Warbler was a good later date. A couple more Yellow Warbler. River is high and very muddy and now. Went up to W. Sabinal Rd. to check the wet spot, still nothing for shorebirds. But lots of Green Darner and FOY Variegated Meadowhawk dragonflies that were not there yesterday. Lots of Lark Sparrows, a few Grasshopper and Clay-colored, carpets of Coreopsis, and some beautiful yellow Square-bud Primrose amongst tons of flowers.

Then over to the S. Little Creek ponds just below 470. A Killdeer was the only shorebird but it looks great now and an eye should be kept on it now that it is full again. Wish it wasn't so far from home, maybe 6-7 miles one way. There were just-fledged eastern Bluebird there, besides Chippy and Clay-colored Sparrow, Yellow Warbler, Vermilion Flycatcher. Great was a ton of odes out over the water. Most were Green Darner, Variegated Meadowhawk, and Red Saddlebags, but I saw a few FOS Band-winged Dragonlet. Then at the smaller pond another half mile south, there was a Solitary Sandpiper! A shorebird! Second one this spring. It was tired.

Lots more odes and this pond touches road so better views. Besides more of the 3 common ones mentioned above, there were more Band-winged Dragonlets. Better, there was a GREAT Pondhawk, which is rare here, I do not see one every year. Also great were a number of Plateau Spreadwing, this pond is the only reliable place I know for them in the area, and at that they have a very narrow window for a flight period here best I can tell. A Wandering Glider there was an early date for me locally.

Every wet spot I got near, had calling Couch's Spadefoot Toads. I heard more than a couple dozen, at 7 or so wet spots. There were 10 calling at the little pond against the road on S. Little Creek. Try as I might, I could not spot one to take a photo. At times just feet from me calling. went back by 354 pecans on way home, saw the Tennesee again, a male Yellow was chasing it a bunch. The phone guy stopped and asked what I saw since I was there a couple hours ago when he drove by, figured it must have been really good for me to still be there...   LOL

It was 2 p.m. and I was hungry for lunch. The Dickcissels seemed to have not stopped calling and were still going full bore, a couple hours later. It was about 7 FOS bird species then, and surely there are more around. Lots of movement grounded here today. I thought I heard a Baltimore Oriole but never saw it. Did not see the Catbird that was at UP yesterday. Got up to about 80dF at peak heat. A male Yellow Warbler spent all day around the yard, love hearing it sing.

White-tipped Dove at Lost Maples. There are several pairs there spring
to fall the last few years with successful breeding occurring. This is in
Bandera Co. at 1800', on the Edwards Plateau! Methinks the furthest
north known nesting station, and probably only known on the plateau.
Pretty for its mastery of sombre subtlety, with which they can disappear
in the shadows like you wouldn't believe.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 3 ~ We finally got some rain overnight, from about midnight to 5 a.m. a light to moderate steady rain fell, looks like about 2.25" by morning. Weewow! Less dust, more flowers. It was about 62dF for a low. Way up north of the plateau, Abeliene to DFW area, a few hundred sq. mi., got around a foot of rain this week! We can handle 6" quickly here no problem, but a foot causes issues. Seems no migrants through yard, I expect nothing could penetrate the rain-shield to get here.

Town run. The 354 pecan patch had three male Yellow Warbler and about 5-6 singing Dickcissel in the field on south side of road. Checked Haby's wet spot but still not enough water there. A male Orchard Oriole was there though. Near the junction of W. Sabinal Rd. and Jones Cmty. Rd., I heard at least 3 singing Grasshopper Sparrow to the SW of that intersection. Did not hear the pair I had last week on Co. Line Rd. At UP there was my FOS Catbird, in the Mulberrys of course. May 3 is my most common spring arrival date for Catbird. Almost all are in the Mulberry trees on the island in the woods at the north end of the park. What a cool bird. No warblers or other passerine migrants. Saw my first Zexmenia flowers out back.

Another line of severe thunderstorms went through about 6:30-8:30 p.m., another two inches of rain! When very electrical cells, we shut down and unplug here since the power lines seem to be lightning rods. Over 4" here today. Some spots just a few miles south of us where the cells were worse had about 6"! We got our average May monthly precip today. Maybe we will have some flood ponds for shorebirds tomorrow.

May 2 ~ Same as yesterday, overcast with occasional mist or showerlets, in the 70's dF, supposed to rain. Mid-morn there were 6 Mississippi Kite floating over the house for a few minutes. Always a thrill to see, and easy to miss here any given spring. A minute after they disappeared an unusual raptor was moving north that caught my eye for its weirdness. It looked like a buteo, big, Red-shouldered sized or so, with big broad long wings that it flapped like a buteo. When I saw it was not a buteo due to the very long ridiculously thin stovepipe of a tail, I knew to just aim camera, point and hope, and grab a couple shots as it moved over northbound fast. Barely seemed to be moving its wings and it was blazing fast. It was a NORTHERN GOSHAWK! Another one! In spring again! I have had a number of them here, several in spring moving north. There is much we don't know.

A Yellow-billed Cuckoo called from out in the yard a few times. Saw a male Painted Bunting with a female. One Yellow Warbler was around, but no major passerine movement here as far as I can tell. Has been good for warblers to our east the last few days. Unfortunately for us, San Antonio and Bexar Co. is the western edge of the 'eastern warbler' migrant corridor. West of that they get real sparse real fast. By time you get here, it is scraping for Redstarts and Tennessees.

May 1 ~ Last month of spring migration, and really only about 3 weeks of it here, if we are lucky. It has been rather lackluster so far, but often May is when the fancy stuff shows. Said the eternal optimist. It was another balmy overcast occasionally spitting day, but the rain never happened. Was in the 70's dF all day. Be a fool to complain about that on this date here. Saw a Nashville Warbler go through, and a Yellow Warbler was around all day, thought I heard a Least Flycatcher too. But was too busy Wednesdays. There was a sure female Painted Bunting here, which is my FOS, and another, different, first spring male which is fairly salmon pink below. Want of pic of him. Plus a couple ad. males. Still hearing the male Indigo singing across road, it and the Blue Grosbeaks sneaking in and out of the seed out back under cover. The Field Sparrow is still singing too and I think it must be nesting right across the road this year.

~ ~ ~ April summary ~ ~ ~

It was a wet one with 5-6" of rain in most areas locally, pending how lucky you were. Avg. is nearly 4". Flowers were good in general, and temps were mild. Like March much of April is mostly about the returning migratory breeders arriving back on territories, and the rest of the trees sprouting leaves.

Butterflies were good, about 52 species, though the expected types. Spring is not when rarities show up as a rule. The Red-spotted Purple and Arizona Sister just snuck under the wire on Apr. 28 at Lost Maples. A great show of big yellow and black swallowtails (E. Tiger and Two-tailed) at Lost Maples, there were many of both. Little Wood Satyr was also very common there this spring, plus I got only my second sighting in the yard here. The last Henry's Elfin was early in the month. The Monarch passage was great. From March 8 to the end of April, I had about 54 big worn pale (migrants from Mexico) Monarch go through all heading NNE or so.

Odes were 22 expected species, a big jump from March, but many were just one or two individuals the last few days of the month. Overall there was not a lot of activity. It really doesn't get going well here until May. A couple each Pronghorn and Sulphur-tipped Clubtail are always nice to see, as is Springtime Darner. Springwater Dancer at Lost Maples are neat too. The first few Am. Rubyspot were out the last few days of the month.

Birds were 122 species locally, in the upper Sabinal River drainage, Lost Maples to Clayton Grade. I am sure lots more went by I did not see, I only watch the yard most days. Especially in migration when so much is on the move and only passing through. Best couple things were probably the Sedge Wren at the golf course pond by the cemetery, and another Cassin's Kingbird here at the casita. It is only my 3rd spring Sedge Wren here, and maybe 5th or 6th Cassin's KB. Grasshopper Sparrow made a great showing with at least a dozen, lots of singing. Cassin's Sparrow is a good spring snag here too (in BanCo Apr. 7). One Red-breasted Nuthatch staying until the 15th was great. Lots of Golden-cheeked Warbler and fair numbers of Black-capped Vireo at Lost Maples, where also small numbers of Olive Sparrow and White-tipped Dove, and a few Audubon's Oriole are around.

~ ~ ~ end April summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ partial update header archive copy ~ ~ ~

My FOS April arrivals were: Firefly (4th), Ruby-throated Hummingbird (6th), Cassin's Sparrow (7th), Yellow-breasted Chat (8th), Red-eyed Vireo and Bronzed Cowbird on the 11th, and an early Great Crested Flycatcher on the 12th. Good thing I waited until dusk before posting the update (12th), a Chuck-wills-widow is calling out there, my FOS. Western Kingbird and Solitary Sandpiper showed on the 13th, Bullock's Oriole on the 15th, it is poppin' now. My FOS Painted Bunting was on our patio the 18th, another down the road. A Cassin's Kingbird was in our yard on the 18th as well, which is a minor rary here, I have had it about 5 springs of 16 now. FOS Yellow Warbler, Eastern Wood-Pewee, and Yellow-billed Cuckoo all showed on April 23. On April 26 I saw my FOS local Dickcissel, Blue-headed Vireo, and Swainson's Thrush. It is really birdy out there now folks. April 27 had FOS Least Flycatcher, Spotted Sandpiper, Brown-crested Flycatcher, and a rare here Sedge Wren. April 30 my first local Orchard Oriole. There be action Jackson.

~ ~ ~ end partial update header archive ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ back to our regularly scheduled drivel ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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

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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

Bird News Archive XXXI
January 1 - June 30, 2019 (through April so far)

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