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: October 23, 2020
(prior updates: October 16, 9, 2, September 25, 18, 11, 4, August 28, 21, 14, 7)


   ** SPECIAL NOTICE **

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


* Utopia Park is open. *

~ ~ ~

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

First a short version of highlights of the month as we go.


October! The first good bird of the month is a butterfly. On Oct. 1 a PURPLE-WASHED Skipper was at our Blue Mist Eup for photos. Very rare this far north, with only a few county records. My FOS House Wren were two on Oct. 2. A bunch of FOS birds on Oct. 4: Black-throated Green Warbler, a record early Red-naped Sapsucker, a Kestrel, and a Marsh Wren. Oct. 5 brought my FOS Orange-crowned Warbler and a heard southbound Greater Yellowlegs. In the last week the Hilbigs had Sandhill Crane, Northern Harrier, and a female American Redstart at their fountain the 7th, out W. Sabinal Rd. A White-patched Skipper on the 8th on our Blue Mist is a rary here. The Zebra from late Sept. was last seen Oct. 6th. Lots of Monarch in the park woods. My FOS Sharp-shinned Hawk was Oct. 11. Oct. 12 we had Sandhill Cranes southbound on the northerlies. A Coyote Cloudywing (butterfly) on Oct. 13 is the first I have seen in four years. A CORDILLERAN Flycatcher at Utopia Pk. Oct. 14 is a very rare find. Oct. 16 the day after a big frontal passage brought several FOS sightings of winter type birds: Northern Flicker, Hermit Thrush, White-crowned Sparrow, and American Pipit. Oct. 17 two FOS Spotted Towhee were in our yard. Oct. 18 we saw FOS Vesper and Savannah Sparrow, and Eastern Meadowlark. A Ringtail (Cacomistle) on Oct. 20 was nice, as were a couple FOS Pyrrhuloxia that day. Three GREEN JAY went through our yard Oct. 19, 21, 22 and 23! Mostly just 5 minute visits, but we'll take it. My FOS Pine Siskin were 6 in the big Pecan the 23rd, an hour later a dozen flew by. Later on the 23rd there was a FOS female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in the front yard.

splish splash I was takin' a bath!

male Golden-cheeked Warbler



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

For 2020 Lost Maples reports, there is one for July 29 and the other is on the April 26 entry in the birdnews below. We have not been visiting it as usual this spring and summer. For some detailed 2019 Lost Maples reports see the dated entries for Jan. 5, March 17, 30, 31, April 21 & 28, May 12, June 2 and 29, July 28, September 15, Oct. 13, and Dec. 8. These are at Old Bird News pages #31 and #32 now. For 2018 check the Old Bird News pages (#29 and #30 now) for Lost Maples reports from April 1, 9, 10, 15, 29, May 13, June 3 and 24, July 29, Aug. 26, Sept. 30 and Dec. 2. (Old Bird News pages link below)

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

A quick note about Utopia Park. There have been some changes in management and rules. It is now $10 per person per day to enter No charge for Utopia or Vanderpool residents. Been gently suggesting we need a one hour or two hour birder rate.

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

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

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

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



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

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

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.

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

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

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, BRUSH COUNTRY, and RARITIES pages have all been recently updated!

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



Back to Top
Yellow-breasted Chat

Yellow-breasted Chat

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

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

~ ~ ~ ~
***  This is the page for visitors with ideas, links, phones, contacts, etc., about where to stay locally.
Where to Stay
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
***  Here is a page which compiles over 16 years of observations at Utopia Park. It is a long discussion about the how and why of birds at Utopia Park, and is the home of 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
~ ~ ~
Bird Photos


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

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


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

Commonly used ABBREVIATIONS are:

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



Black-capped Vireo

Black-capped Vireo at Lost Maples


Just to have this handy again for reference, recent prior updates:
October 16, 9, 2, September 25, 18, 11, 4, August 28, 21, 14, 7
Each week's update break is marked with a bad (usually bird) photo.

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

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

*** Utopia Park is open now.

*** Another old funky page has finally been updated! Lots of new text, and a boatload of new photos. Hawk Photos



Oct. 23 ~ A low of 72F is not very autumnal frankly. Low stratus from the Gulf, front is supposed to be here about 2 p.m. At least the wind won't be howling yet when I check the park. At least one of the White-crowned Sparrow is still here. Saw the one Ruby-throated Hummingbird early. Heard Audubon's Oriole early, and a Green Jay about 9 a.m. Quick threw some corn out (now you know why I didn't eat all my corn last night). Hope they find it. After 10:a.m. there were a half-dozen FOS Pine Siskin up in the big Pecan. About 11:a.m. a flocklet of a dozen Pine Siskin flew by out front. Town run day. Made sure to note the Blue Jays in town, so as to have a jay trifecta today with the Texas Scrub-Jay, and Green Jay at the house.

At the park there were a few birds in the woods. Two each of Nashville, Myrtle, Orange-crowned Warbler, and Common Yellowthroat is great variety this late in season. Best was a Yellow-breasted Chat which was an adult Western type Chat with orange on breast and a long white whisker. It is a very late date for one here. Ringed and Belted Kingfisher were there, but no Green. Also thought sure I heard a Wilson's Warbler. Were a few spinkles of a seemingly wettish substance. Brought home Rosie's tacos for lunch and to get the full experience, took a siesta. In the afternoon just before 4:p.m. in the pecans out front I spotted a FOS Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (female), and the fem. Downy Woodpecker was out there again too. The Ladder-backed and Golden-fronted do not seem thrilled about other woodpeckers being here. One Fatal Metalmark on the Blue Mistflower, but which is fading fast with few butterflies now. Sure was great for most of Sept. and October. Got up to at least 82F in the afternoon before the northerlies got here about 4 p.m., whence it finally dried out and cooled off. Was 62F by 7 p.m, supposed to be going down to upper 40's!

Oct. 22 ~ Low of about 71F, humid, southerly Gulf flow and low stratus, ahead of a front inbound tomorrow. It is the warmup day ahead of the front. I saw 85F in the shade about 3 p.m. There were a few migrants through the yard early. Two Orange-crowned Warbler, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a Myrtle Warbler, also what sounded maybe an Audubon's Warbler, plus a glimpse at what looked a Nashville Warbler. There was a wee bit of migrant motion last night. Heard distant Green Jay and Audubon's Oriole in the morning, and the White-crowned Sparrows out back. After 11 a.m. three Green Jay were out back picking up sunflower seeds off the ground. Not around for long but they found food. Counted 8 male Cardinal at once at dusk out back. Saw the trifecta of Milkweed butterflies: Monarch, Queen, and Soldier. It was a nice conjunction of the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn tonight.

Oct. 21 ~ Low was 69F briefly. Low stratus from the gulf early. Humid, and got up to about 85F. One Ruby-throated Hummer continues. A Kinglet (Ruby) went through. First and last thing I had White-crowned Sparrow under a Laurel where we toss seed by the cottage. In the a.m. at dawn I heard the metallic boik boik boik and mentioned it to Kathy. At dusk there were two there, both immatures. About 11:30 Kathy whispered Green Jay! I bolted for camera, two were around the bath and stick pile adjacent. Did not see them go in, or even drink, it was just an inspection, but they came down to the rocks around it, and watched as other birds drank and bathed in it. So they know now. I think they missed it the other day. We did not see them yesterday. Only saw two for sure. They looked like first-timers at the water, in discovery. Got a couple shots in a bit better light through the magic screen, but they didn't stay long. Got to hear one gee gee gee as it flew away. A half-hour later heard them out back again but did not see them. Whaddabird! Sure hope they move in for the winter. Gotta get some corn.

Oct. 20 ~ The gulf flow is here, with a barely low of 72F. There were a couple brief showerlets the low stratus dropped. Orographic lifting as the gulf flow hits the plateau thickens it up enough to wring it out a bit. One imm. ma. Ruby-throated Hummingbird still. Saw a flock of medium passerines fly over that could well have been Robins. Heard a distant Audubon's Oriole. Kathy had 3 Mockingbird at the bath, and Turkeys in the corral. The highlight of the day though was last night just after midnight when I went to see what was dropping pecan shells on the steel roof. It was a RINGTAIL! Right off the front porch in the big Pecan. What an animal! We haven't seen one in a couple years, but they are so secretive and shy that detection is always a surprise and treat. Noonish there were a couple Pyrrhuloxia calling over in the corral. I will call these FOS, though surely that was one I driveby heard on Sunday, calling it out to Kathy. This is when they show up. They didn't tell me about seasonal Pyrrhuloxia movements. Just a big purple (found all year) blob on the range map.

Oct. 19 ~ Low clouds and gulf flow moved in late and kept the heat in, low was 72F! Getting late in the year for that still. Got up to about 86-88F, warmish and humid. No migrant motion per se but there was a good record. Just before 4 p.m. I was working on these notes, with nothing of interest to note, when a GREEN JAY popped up just outside the office window! And then another! And probably third! OMG! Yard bird! I heard a bird this morning I thought might have been a Green Jay, over in the draw. Now I am sure it was. Actually I might have heard it yesterday too. One came down out back where I could shoot through a hole in the office screen so got a docushot. One almost went down on the patio. They moved to the Mulberry over the cottage and as they moved out of it into the corral I counted three for sure, and there may have been four. Wished I had corn out, they love it. Keep an eye on deer feeders. Only takes one good bird to make your day! Surely this is drought induced movement, the brush country to our south is at least one stage worse than us per the U.S. Drought Monitor. There is nothing to eat down there, the bushes and trees are bare. Last time I was down there I nearly starved to death. At dusk a Ringed Kingfisher flew down the river chakking away. Nice to have the 'what photo will I use for the break?' question handled on Monday.

Oct. 18 ~ Stars were great at midnight last night, low clouds moved in from south overnight. Low was about 66F. One Ruby-throated Hummingbird is still around. Saw an ad. fem. Sharp-shinned Hawk which flushed everything outside. Noonish we took a couple hour spin around. Nothing at the park in the woods but one House Wren, and a couple heard Myrtle Warbler. Checked a private Frostweed patch in a Pecan bottom out Jones Cmty. Rd. and it was also dead for migrants. Further out at W. Sabinal Rd. we saw a FOS Vesper Sparrow, and a FOS flock of Meadowlark. The one that called was an Eastern. Along the road heard what surely was a Pyrrhuloxia. The library garden had one Fatal Metalmark. Then checked the pond on the golf course by the Waresville Cmty. There was another Vesper and a FOS Savannah Sparrow, about 45 Red-winged Blackbird in a flock in the cattails. One Vareigated Meadowhawk dragonfly is the first one I have seen this fall. Great was a big Robberfly, as in a Beezlebub Bee-eater type (genus Mallophora). May have been two of them there. Neat beast. Saw 88F on the cool shady front porch about 4:p.m.

Oct. 17 ~ Low was in 50's F but was one of those nights whence for example in Kerrville it was 49F at 2 a.m., and by 7 at daybreak it was 59F! The Gulf low stratus and flow got here. No migrant motion through yard. About noonish Kathy spotted the FOS Spotted Towhee, a female at the birdbath! Only got a shot through the windowscreen though. An hour later when I was tossing afternoon seed, a male popped up out back! Sure would like a decent pic for the website. Was a House Wren in the front porch flower bed, no doubt hunting the butterflies in the Blue Mist. In the afternoon before 3 p.m. there was a Downy Woodpecker in the big Pecan just off the front porch. A Ladder-back was chasing it around. Downy is scarce here, it has been a couple or few months since I have seen one. Later about 5:p at least one Audubon's Oriole moved through yard calling. One Ruby-throated Hummingbird was still around, but did not seee the Rufous. Scrub-Jay was out there. Near last light I saw the female Spotted Towhee scratching under the Laurel where I toss seed. Sure hope it sticks a bit.

Green Jay

Here is one of the 3 Green Jay that visited our yard on Oct. 19, 21, 22, and 23 so far. Whaddabird! Winter '08-09 some small flocks invaded north into the plateau getting up to Leakey and Bandera, at least. That was the winter Syd and Jackie Chaney had a few coming in to their corn feeder a mile south of town.

Green Jay

One pic just isn't enough. Don't worry, if I get them in the sun, you will get to see more ...


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Oct. 16 ~ Northerlies blew all night, and have veered to northeasterly for today. Low was 59F and felt great. Saw two hummers early, presumedly the Ruby and Rufous of yesterday. Town run day. At the post office I heard a FOS American (Water) Pipit fly over calling. Then over at the park I heard one again, could have been the same bird. At park no Cordilleran Flycatcher. Bummer. There were 5 FOS White-crowned Sparrow at the entrance garden, 2 ad. and 3 imm. In the woods there was a FOS Hermit Thrush, a couple House Wren, a gray-headed Orange-crowned Warbler was likely the Rocky Mtn. orestera subspecies, a Ringed Kingfisher, Myrtle Warbler, a Kinglet (Ruby), and at least 4 Nashville Warbler. Heard a sweet soft chip that got away. Heard a Gnatcatcher. On the way home on 187 just north of 360 a FOS Northern Flicker flew over the road. It was orangeish of underwing. Saw four FOS species, all wintering type birds, on the day after the front. Winds calmed down in the afternoon finally. Lots of the Cypresses are turning rusty, lots of Pecans dropping leaves, the Maxmillian Sunflowers exploded into bloom and the river in a few sections is lined yellow, with lots of butterflies on them. Our Blue Mist Eupatorium bloom is fading as the lower number of butterflies here shows. High temp peaked about 76F or so, and dry, great.

Oct. 15 ~ We have a front progged to arrive today, so the low stratus from the Gulf is being sucked up in front of it. Some fog-mist and a low of about 70F. Tomorrow morning is supposed to be 15F cooler. One Ruby-throated Hummingbird remains this morning. Mid-morn a Rufous (probably, or Allen's) showed up, a new one, not the imm. male that was last here over a week ago. Probably an imm. female. So we have three feeders out, each on a different side of the house, two hummingbirds, and one knock-down drag-out hummer fight. Ridiculous! It must be sport to these Rufous Hummers. It is at least the 8th Rufous type we have had here this fall. None looked or sounded Allen's to me. Just getting one Scrub-Jay out there the last week or so. At least one stuck. Heard a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. The front got here about 1:30 to 2:p.m. with 10-20 mph northerlies, warmed to 87F or so before it did. Still no Lark Sparrow, they are outta here. Been about six days at least, maybe a week, since they were here. Our local breeders depart. New birds from somewhere else move in, in the winter.

Oct. 14 ~ Low about 64F, the low stratus and southerly gulf flow is back. Saw one imm. male Ruby-throated Hummer at a feeder in the a.m. Heard a Kinglet. Had to run to town early so a park check. Heard a few Myrtle Warbler chips. I am certain I heard a Townsend's Warbler on the island, but got distracted with a flycatcher, and then could not find or hear it again before I had to go.

Up in the woods, near the south end of the island there was a calling CORDILLERAN Flycatcher. Older books might just show it as Western Flycatcher. It is very very rare here, I have only encountered a couple locally prior and was never able to get any documentation. Fortunately it was giving the diagnostic obviously two-syllable broken call note, so I could confirm it was not a Pacific-slope Flycatcher. Tried to get a docushot, but it was too far away on the island, I was late and had to go. Got one crummy one. Reminds me though, it only takes one good bird to make your day! It is a new addition to the Utopia Park bird list. I looked at ebird to see if any area records listed there. NONE are listed for Uvalde County, or for the entire Edwards Plateau (1900-2020). Gadzooks! That's a good bird! Mark Lockwood's Birds of the Edwards Plateau says some reports from the plateau, but none ever documented.

Brought a couple of Rosie's egg, chorizo, and cheese breakfast tacos back. It is the little things, oh, and good birds. Was too busy at the desk and did not see anything in the yard, save at the flowers. On the butterfly front there was a Desert Checkered-Skipper, and a FOY Ocola Skipper for new things on the Blue Mist. A small odd hairstreak got away, a few Grays around, this was not that. A Julia's Skipper was still out there, a male Whirlabout, Southern Broken-Dash, but the Coyote Cloudywing was a no-show today, a one hour wonder. Got good shots anyway. One Ailanthus Webworm moth, been seeing a few around.

Oct. 13 ~ Low of 56F was very nice, sunny, still getting to upper 80's, almost 10F above normal. Just getting one Scrub-Jay out there. Did not see a hummingbird the first couple hours of the morning. The last couple Rubies probably took off on that north wind yesterday, as they like to do. Oops, Kathy saw one in the afternoon, but which was not here all day prior. In the morning I saw what I would call my first group of winter Chipping Sparrow. A dozen moved into the big pecan from over towards river, then out along back fence where I toss seed. We saw a couple yesterday, but this is a flock that just moved in. Wintering Chippies, that are migrants from elsewhere. Sharpy was out there too. Heard Kestrel, Kinglet, and Crane. In woodpeckers, a Golden-front was chasing the Ladder-back all around the tree with the best Pecans. So, a woodpecker, being bugged, by a woodpecker. If only Woody could see! Pass the popcorn please.

Best bird was a butterfly, the first Coyote Cloudywing I have seen in a few years, since fall of 2016. Most years we do not get one. Maybe 4 years of 16 I recorded it, a couple of those years just one or two, one year several, and one year they were everywhere in a huge invasion. A hundred if not two or more. This one was tame (or hungry) enough to allow shots on the Blue Mist Eup. Saw an Anole take a Dun Skipper. Saw a fresh winter form Questionmark, my FOY. Screech-Owl going off after dark.

Oct. 12 ~ Low was about 62F, and humidity is back. Frontal passage around noon, but with no rain and barely any temp change. Just a wind change to north. Still nearly 10F over average for the date, but 10F less than yesterday. Just ahead of the front in the a.m. a couple Myrtle Warbler went through yard. The first since the exceptional early bird Sept. 30. A Kinglet (Ruby) and a Gnatcatcher (Blue-gray) went through as well. Otherwise slowish. The Sharp-shinned Hawk is out there though. Mid-afternoon I thought I heard cranes going over. Just before dark Kathy heard a flock going south. In leps there was a Funereal Duskywing on the front porch flowers, I think it hit each type, one Julia's Skipper still out there, a Vesta Crescent, and a couple Gray Hairstreak, among the more common stuff. One of the Gray HS was so worn you could have made it into anything.

After dark the Barred Owl was going off. In case I haven't mentioned it, though unlikely, these, our, Barred Owl never add any superfluous 'and you', much less another 'and you all' at the end of the call. Who cooks for you, who cooks for you. That is it here. Never have I heard any additional 'and you alls' here. Fascinating that there can however be more than one intro 'who' note. Sometimes it can be two or rarely three of them.

Oct. 11 ~ A low of 54F was great, especially since the forecast is to break heat records today. Saw a Hutton's Vireo coming into the birdbath, but that was the only thing different all morning. Seems just a couple Ruby-throated Hummingbird left. Saw a FOS Sharp-shinned Hawk in the big Pecan in the morning. The little terrors are back. Heard a Lincoln's Sparrow. Kathy saw an Orange-crowned Warbler. A few Field Sparrow around but the Lark seem to be gone. Saw a Southern Pearl Crescent butterfly which is new, also a Mimosa Yellow was great and an LTA (less than annual) sure thing. After dark there were lots of moths at the porch light, more than I have seen all year. Took some pix, don't know what all but one of them were. A Texas Wasp Moth I recognized. Neat was a Hister Beetle that came in. A scarcely seen bug, despite them being around. I just counted and have seen 45 species of butterflies from the porch this month so far. Bet a few have slipped through undetected too. Wish we had more flowers. Late afternoon I saw 94F on the cool shady front porch. Had to be near a hun in the sun. A few local sites were 98-99F, Del Rio was over 100F. I think the high temp records for the date were tied or broken at many area stations. After breaking all time heat records in mid-July and mid-Aug., it seems we should not be doing that again, still, in mid-October.

Oct. 10 ~ Low was 58F or lower, I saw a 56 at KRVL. Good thing, we can trap enough cold air in the house to last all day through the heatup. I saw 92 on the cool shady front porch, local WU stations were in the upper 90's F! An Orange-crowned Warbler was at the bath early. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went through the yard, this time of year here, each might well be the last of them until March. They winter in the brush country, but not here in the upper Sabinal drainage.

Mid-morn I saw the White-patched Skipper on the Blue Mist Eup. and when I got back out with camera it was gone, again. Dang thang. A Phaon Crescent was new, and hungry, it spent all day on the flowers. After the burner tomorrow there is supposed to be a front and wind-change, which hopefully will bring birds. It seems kinda slow out there right now. Except for squirrels in our Pecans. That Black Rock Squirrel goes up into the tops of the trees, puts one nut in each cheek pouch, one in the mouth, and heads off. The Screech-Owl was going off in the yard over the bath late evening. Was a hot day.

Cordilleran Flycatcher

This is a bad pic of a good bird, so which is allowable. It was a long-distance accidently high ISO docushot grab. Canon autofocus grabbed the background on 9 of 10 shots. Miracle there is this one bad one. This is the Cordilleran Flycatcher at Utopia Park Oct. 14. It does not show how green above and yellowish below the bird was. Note the big white teardrop shape behind the eye typical of the two 'Western' Flycatcher complex species. Luckily it was giving diagnostic calls so I knew what I was looking for before I laid eyes on it.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Oct. 9 ~ Low was about 62F. We are progged for a smokin' hot weekend with subsidence, records will probably fall on peak heat Sunday. I saw 88F on the cool shady front porch in the afternoon. Birds were dismal today. Nothing here, or at the park woods. About 50 Monarch in the park woods was it. Heard something good at the library garden but it moved away before I could find or ID it. The Rufous Hummer was still here this morning. Butterflies are the main action at the moment. At the library garden which barely has any flowers, but a few, there was a Fatal Metalmark. What a sad highlight. Here on the Blue Mist Eup. besides the usual which included over 2 dozen Large Orange Sulphur, 5 Queen, 2 Soldier, a Monarch, lots of Dun Skipper still, but the Southern Broken-Dash are decreasing, there was a False Duskywing, a Texas Powdered-Skipper, and maybe the same Orange Skipperling. The White-patched never came back. The water in the river is 3 FEET below normal level at the park. Send rain.

Oct. 8 ~ Low was 53F, and maybe got a dF cooler than that. Love a cool morning. Two Audubon's Oriole came in, one to the bath, which was the first summer bird in the photo break a month ago. Now it is a second fall bird. The head is entirely black now. Not all clean and neat, but in general head appears adult-like, fully black. Quite the change in a month or so. Molt is fast, it has to be. I missed getting a shot of it though, durnit. The Rufous Hummer remains, it is an immature male.

As far as migration motion goes, it is about over here for lots of stuff. As far as the migrants that are just in the U.S. to breed and spend most of the year in Mexico or further south, the insectivores, most are gone. There is just a trickle of them left now. The first wave or half of fall migration is them departing, and that train has left the station. The second half of fall migration is the birds showing up, some of which winter here. That is just barely getting underway with some of them as FOS recently. We are now in the tween time.

There was a White-patched Skipper (Chiomara) on the Blue Mist Eup. briefly. When I came back out with camera it was gone, and it did not return. I got an email from Sylvia Hilbig out West Sabinal Rd. in BanCo, she and Steve had a female American Redstart at their water feature yesterday the 7th. Always a great bird here in fall. She said there has been a White-tailed Kite out there, and has had Northern Harrier, and a flock of Sandhill Crane earlier this week. Some great stuff, and great to hear about it!

Oct. 7 ~ Bottomed out at 54F again, 3rd day now. Sunny, no rain in sight. The river is a rivulet. A Rufous Hummingbird is at the front porch feeder before sunup, so must have been here late yesterday but I missed it. First one in a couple weeks at least. A couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet were trying to go the the birdbath. I never saw either get down in it, one got on a rock adjacent a couple times. They mostly seemed to be attempting a splash-bathe as a vireo does. We did not see the Zebra Heliconian butterfly today, so it thrilled us for 9 days here. Sure great to get to watch one again after a four year absence. Did have 2 Soldier at once, an Orange Skipperling was new. Snouts dialing back thankfully.

Had to make a quick town run late in afternoon, checked park woods but no birds. There were at least 75 Monarch floating around and hanging up, which was awesome. The big peak is still a couple weeks ahead. These will likely clear out on the next notherlies. Some Cypresses are really rusty orange below the spillway where no water flow, they turned early. The Mulberries are starting to go yellow too. Saw my first Maxmillian Sunflower bloom at riversedge. Those look about to bloom well. Lots of yellowing Pecans and the Sycamores are going as well.

Oct. 6 ~ Another 54F low is great, sunny and clear is nice, but we need some rain, it is parched out there. Kathy spotted the Zebra about 11:15 during its morning visit. You can see it has worn, and is less black, getting browner than it was when it showed up 9 days ago. Still awesome to watch though. A Panoquina skipper was out there off and on a bit, I think it was the P. lucas - Purple-washed Skipper again. Could not get a good shot, but think the dings in the wings were the same wingdings. There was a Texas Wasp Moth out there briefly too, which took 50 tries over a couple hours waiting for it to return, but got a usable shot, barely. They are so ginchy I can't believe it. The three Danaus milkweed butterflies continued (Monarch, Queen, and Soldier). At least a couple dozen Large Orange Sulphur around, 1-2 Cloudless passing by, half-dozen Lyside. An Orange-crowned Warbler was hunting in the blooming Frostweed. Feeders are quiet, the Titmice and Chickadees stopping by to gather sunflowers for hiding, but they are eating somewhere else mostly now, as are most of the local seedeaters.

Oct. 5 ~ Low of 54F, sunny, awesome. Across the river some Scissor-tails are singing before sunup when still dark and just cracking light. They will be gone soon. Anyway, it's Monday, to the desk! Sounded 3 Audubon's Oriole early, only saw two. Heard a Greater Yellowlegs flying downriver about 9, probably flushed off of park mudflats at first visitor. A FOS Orange-crowned Warbler came into the tub pond and used the emergency animal egress branch to get to the water and splashed a bit. One Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went through. Did not see the Sapsucker. Seems like the Lark Sparrow are thinning. I think there is a lot of seed crop from the foot of rain in late spring (whence the tap shut off) which caused a good flower bloom, and lots of good (wild natural) seed sources are available now. In case you are using less seed now, or seeing fewer birds around, this is likely a factor, quite normal in early fall.

The Zebra showed about 11:15, and after nectaring on the Lantana (it blows off the Blue Mist Eup.) it landed on patio to imbibe water for 5 minutes. Amongst a bunch of Snout it looked quite the oddball. Must be 10 Large Orange Sulphur out there, females in every variation of color in the book, some pretty nice looking, lots of males. Kathy thought she might have had a Black Swallowtail. One Clouded Skipper. The Soldier was back, a Monarch and some Queen rounded out the milkweed butterflies. One Celia's Roadside-Skipper is getting late here. One fresh Common Checkered-Skipper, a Julia's still, a Mestra. The flowers are great fun right now. But the Lantana are fading this cycle of flowering, right at prime time. I saw the Zebra on the Blue Mist for the first time after ignroing it for 8 days.

Oct. 4 ~ Low was about 57F, some scattered clouds and partly sunny. Got up to upper 80's, so warm still. About 9 a.m. or so I had a Black-throated Green Warbler in the big pecan right off front porch. FOS, only one so far this fall. Then a FOS Sapsucker was in the pecan off north side of house. It was a first fall male Red-naped. Record early. It looked adult-like, but without the black chest crescent. One Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a Nashville out there as well, Scrub-Jay and the Indigo Bunting continue.

Before noon we went for a spin about. First checked the park woods. A few warblers were a couple Nashville, a Wilson's, and likely the last Black-and-white of the fall here. One White-eyed Vireo, a Belted Kingfisher, and nearly two dozen Monarch floating around the woods. Heard an Indigo Bunnie from across the river. Then we checked a private prop. (permissioned) in BanCo out Jones Cmty Rd., where a Frostweed patch in a pecan bottom. On the way along the county line before the crossing there was a FOS Kestrel on the power line. The Frostweed patch had another Wilson's and two more Nashville Warbler, one Indigo Bunting, and a gaggle of chorusing Lesser Goldfinch, the usual Titmice and Carolina Wrens, another Kinglet (Ruby). A nice patch of Pigeonberry there, but which is mostly depleted already.

Then we checked the pond on the golf course by the Waresville Cmty. No Least Grebe. A couple Thornbush Dasher dragonfly. About 5 male Red-winged Blackbird, one male Vermilion Flycatcher is the first I have seen in weeks locally (wonder where it is from), one Linclon's Sparrow, which led to the FOS Marsh Wren when it scolded and chased the Linc out of the cattails where it had landed. A Common Yellowthroat was also in the cattails, making 5 species of warblers today, which is a good day here in fall, with none of either Yellow, Orange-crowned or Yellow-rumped Warbler.

The Zebra (butterfly) was still around the yard. Five plus Large Orange Sulphur at once, a Julia's Skipper, a Clouded Skipper, lots of Dun and Southern Broken-Dash, a Mestra, new was a Soldier in mint condition. One Monarch and a few Queen. One Large Orange Sulphur visited later that was smaller than a big Lyside. Amazing. Squirrels are going ummm, nuts, on the Pecans. We have a very poor crop again this year, and between them in the day and the coons at night, there will be nothing for the birds in winter in no time, and we can forget getting any ourselves. I'll have to find a good roadside or riveredge tree somewhere. The hail storm took ours out in late May as they were just starting to take and form. Due to that, and the drought, the Hackberry crop is pretty weak here too.

Oct. 3 ~ Low was 54F, sunny, then clouded up for a couple hours mid-morn, then cleared before noon. Heard a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Kathy heard an Audubon's Oriole, I saw a House Wren in the flower bed, perhaps the same as yesterday's here. One Nashville Warbler working the Pecans. The Zebra was around briefly in the late morning. Seems more Turkey Vulture yesterday and today, I suspect the first migrants are starting to pass through. Yesterday a number were up higher and proceeding directly south over the river, looking like migrants. This morning seemed like a dozen in a lift off from the ridge behind us promptly disappeared. Might be 10 Ruby-throats here this a.m., lots of fighting at the feeders. The Indigo Bunnie is still out there.

Cooper's Hawk

This is an adult Cooper's Hawk at our birdbath.
Always have a thick bush or stick pile next to the
bath so birds have a place to dive into just in case.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

October 2 ~ Low was 51F, clear, dry, and beautiful. Got up to the low 80's, chamber of commerce weather. Early there were 3 Nashville Warbler together in the yard, which eventually came down to the bath. Heard a Hutton's Vireo out there too. About a half-dozen Ruby-throated Hummingbird still here. Town run day. As I got to the crossing just down the road a flock of sparrows flushed out of the weedy seedy stuff, at least 20 of them. The dozen that I then got in bins were all Clay-colored, I presume the whole flock was. Good numbers here. One Blue Grosbeak imm. was in with them. A female Green Kingfisher at the crossing too.

At the park in town there were 2-3 Nashville Warbler, a FOS House Wren, 2 white-eyed Vireo, 9 Blue-winged Teal, 3 Pied-billed Grebe, a couple Blue Jay, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and at least a dozen Monarch butterfly were floating around the woods. Two Belted Kingfisher were fighting over a section of river. Once they chased upriver, and shortly came haulin' donkey back down, both of them, with a Ringed King right on their rears. That is his part of the river.

Kathy spotted the Zebra before 11 this morning, and I saw it again about 2 p.m. The Purple-washed Skipper was a no-show though. Did not see it again. One Gray Hairstreak was new. One Monarch came by the yard late afternoon. The rest was the same gang as all week. Still lots of Snout but they seem to have relented a little bit. Heard Turkey at dawn, been seeing 2-3 around. A second House Wren was in the yard in the afternoon.

The behavior of interest today was an Indigo Bunting, which burst into song, the first of that I have heard in a month. Would a migrant passage bird sing? Then the bird did a full flight song. It seems to me it is likely one of the local breeders, still here on its territory.

October 1 ~ Another 42F low is again surely in record territory if not one. Only 10dF above a freeze on the date is incredible. No migrant motion again. It has been surprisng to me that after such a big strong frontal passage a couple days ago, in late September, there was so little (almost no) bird movement on it here. One Myrtle Warbler. I must be in the wrong place, for that. Oh to be on a coast where it floods with birds after a fall front like that.

About 11:45, and again at 3:p.m. the Zebra came by the Lantanas. Now day 4 for it here. So neat to see, maybe some better pix. What an awesome butterfly. Saw a Nysa Roadside-Skipper, and the False Duskywing was out there again today too. More Large Orange Sulphur, still clouds of Snout and lots of skippers. Just after 5:p.m. I spotted a Panoquina skipper on the Blue Mist. Thought it was an Ocola at first, took a few pix, it disappeared, brought them up on the computer and saw it was a Panoquina lucas - a PURPLE-WASHED Skipper! A mega-rary in UvCo! Went back out and refound it, and got better shots. I have seen it now in 3 falls including the first time in 2013 when I found the first UvCo record at the library garden. One showed up in 2016, and now this one is the third. The first 10 years here I saw none. It is a Mexican species that barely wanders north to the LRGV (lower Rio Grande Valley) some years. And note I saw a species on Oct. 1 that I did not see all month in September. Didn't even get through the first day of the new month.

~ ~ ~ September summary ~ ~ ~

The great transitional month from summer to fall. We really beat the heat from the very start of the month with northerly flow from the first big cyclone that plowed north through Louisiana. We were cooler than the last bunch of Septembers, as additional systems repeated and kept the northerly flow going here much of the month. Precip was on the dry side, below avg., at 2.3 inches. The river is two FEET below normal, we are in D1, near D2 drought.

Butterflies were down from August, so diversity likely peaked for the year already. But there was a Zebra! As in Heliconian, or Longwing. My first locally since 2016! Frostweed is just getting going, some Tropical Sage is doing well, but most areas are fairly devoid of flowers due to the drought. It was 46 species for the month, down (20%) from the 57 in August.

Odes were way down from August, they seemed to crash fast and early this year. Most of the month you could hardly find any. There was ANOTHER male COMET Darner at the Waresville golf course pond, for a couple weeks mid-month. It is a great rarity in UvCo. This is the third one this summer here. A couple Twelve-spotted Skimmer and a few Band-winged Dragonlet first week of month were great since both can be missed in fall. Most of the individual numbers though were the migrants passing by, from somewhere else, going somewhere else: Red, and Black, Saddlebags, and then Wandering, and Spot-winged, Gliders, plus Green Darner. The local populations mostly seemed dismal. Drought is not helping. I did not see a Rubyspot, and only a couple Thornbush Dasher at the Waresville pond. It is all but over for the ode year here. I count 20 species for the month, down from 25 in both July and August.

Birds were great, there was lots of migrant motion lots of days from the dozen or so species of regular common passage migrants. The Least Grebe from late June was last seen Sept. 11. Some of the LTA - less-than-annual, fall migrants seen were single Yellow-bellied and Alder Flycatcher, a Western Tanager, a MacGillivray's Warbler, TWO male Lazuli Bunting, a Peregrine, a couple Calliope Hummingbird, and an American Redstart. Also my first ever here September Myrtle Warbler on the 30th. No stellar rarities, but very interesting. It was about 103 species for the month for me locally, with no Lost Maples visit.

~ ~ ~ end Sept. summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ this was the update header for September ~ ~ ~

September! Finally! One of the biggest months of the year here for passage migration. Prime time for raries. A FOS Baltimore Oriole sang outside on Sept. 1. At least one Calliope and a few Rufous Hummingbird continued at our feeders that day as well. Sept. 4 had FOS Willow Flycatcher and a rare here in fall MacGillivray's Warbler. Sept. 3 we had 1.25" and the 5th saw .2 of rain. Sept 5 was my FOS Monarch butterfly, a second on 6th, third and fourth on 7th. Sept. 6 on the heels of a couple days of rain all around there were FOS Mourning Warbler (3+) and American Redstart amongst a fair bit of movement (for here), as well as FOS Pied-billed Grebe at UP, and my FOS (Larry had some already) Blue-winged Teal before sunup blasting downriver. A White-tailed Kite near the golf course entrance also on Sept. 6 is a scarce bird here. A 54F temp was seen on the morning of Sept. 10th, none had been noted in 4 months. Three Yellow-headed Blackbird on Sept. 11 were my FOS. An FOS Common Yellowthroat was seen Sept. 13, my FOS Belted Kingfisher was the 14th. A Solitary Sandpiper flew over southbound early on the 16th. My FOS Clay-colored Sparrow was on the 19th. The 20th saw 3 great FOS: a Peregrine Falcon stooped over the 360 x-ing, a Western Tanager and a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher were in our yard. Three more FOS were on Sept. 25: a Long-billed Curlew flew over calling in the mist in the morning, followed by a major sign of fall, TWO Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the yard, and then a calling Alder Flycatcher was a great find at the park entrance garden. My FOS Lincoln's Sparrow was the 28th, thought I had one earlier though. A Zebra Longwing butterfly was in yard Sept. 28 ++, is my first since 2016. A FOS Myrtle Warbler (Yellow-rumped) was record early on Sept. 30.

~ ~ ~ end update header archive copy ~ ~ ~

~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

Sept. 30 ~ Holy cow I can't believe how fast the month shot by. Low was 42F! Almost surely a record, which in SAT is 47 for the date. So just 10F over freezing here this morning! KRVL hit 41, and we may have too. I wasn't watching it. Amazing. Heard a Ruby-crowned Kinglet early. Then a record earliest ever Myrtle Warbler was up in the big Pecan. My first September date, prior I could say all Sept. Yellow-rumps here were Audubon's. Now, except one. In the watch what you wish for department, there were THREE Scrub-Jay out back at once for a bit, collecting sunflower seeds it seemed.

The Zebra (butterfly) came back about 11:30, got a few shots, and never saw it again the rest of the day. Did see a False Duskywing, which is new for the month on the last day, so great. It was a fresh beauty too. The Snouts were not as bad as yesterday, but still hundreds around the house, thousands going by. At least one Monarch, about a half-dozen Queen. A few Fiery Skipper, maybe 8 Dun, at least 5 Southern Broken-Dash, nice to see skippers. One yellow morph Lyside Sulphur. Heard but did not see an Indigo Bunting out back. The three hummer feeders seem to be guarded by three birds, with occasional others sneaking in here and there, so maybe a half-dozen birds still here, all imm. male Rubies.

Sept. 29 ~ Low was 44F! OMG! My that is refreshing. Last recorded temp in 40's here was a late late 43F low on April 30. And this one is on the early side. Has to be within a couple dF of record cold. But so figure five months at 50F or (and mostly way) above. Only heard one migrant mid-morn when either a flatulent Dickcissel or maybe a few flew over. Let's hope it was three birds. Saw one Scrub-Jay out back. Only got up to about 76F or so, and dry! Outstanding.

The Two-tailed Swallowtail is still here. Thousands of Snout are going by and hundreds coming into water or nectar. Finally about 10:40 the Zebra was back at the Lantana. Saw it from my chair at the monitor. Bolted out and grabbed a few docu shots. What an awesome butterfly. That shallow-stroke flight pattern presents such a neat twittering effect. I got a pic with it and the Two-tailed Swallowtail in the same frame. Butterflies were busy on the Blue Mist too, at least a half-dozen Dun Skipper, at least 4 Southern Broken-Dash, a Texas Powdered-Skipper, a Giant Swallowtail, a Celia's Roadside-Skipper, Sachem, Fiery, and Whirlabout, amongst others, and pounds of Snout. No hairstreaks or blues, crescents or patches. The Zebra came back at 1: and 2:45 and after over 60 frames since the morning there are a few bearable ones. A Fatal Metalmark was on the Frostweed later p.m., my first individual metalmark of the month. So looked great despite being beat and worn. At least it was still ID'able.

Sept. 28 ~ The front arrived pre-dawn with some wind but no precip. It was still in the upper 70'sF at 3 a.m. and by 4 it had dropped 10dF and was blowing 15-25 mph out of the north. Low was about 64F. Morning was mostly 10-20 mph but regular gusts at 25-35 mph. It is a fall front, no rain, lots of wind. Got up to 75F or so. No bird movement. There were 6 Field Sparrow at once at the bird bath. Saw a vireo make a couple attempts at a splash-bathe, but bath was busy and it departed without bathing or being ID'd. Heard two Scrub-Jay. Great was a FOS Lincoln's Sparrow at the bath. After seeing what surely was one shoot away a few days ago, got this one in bins. Late afternoon the wind finally laid down a bit.

The bird of the day was a butterfly. A Zebra Longwing (Heliconian) was briefly on a Lantana out the office window by the tub pond. I grabbed camera and Kathy but did not get a shot before it left, at least Kathy got a glimpse of it. Been a while since I have seen one, they have been very scarce the last 5 years. Just checked, last year I saw a Zebra was 2016, four years ago, a couple or few seen that year. None since. I have seen more actual Zebra here more recently. During wet periods they can get numerous, e.g., five on one walk through the park woods for instance, then during droughts they can be absent for years, or maybe one or two over a whole year if lucky. They are as erratic as the hydrologic cycle. But my what a beautiful fancy butterfly! They are deceptively fast with that weak-appearing twittery shallow-stroke flight pattern. Then a Two-tailed Swallowtail showed up on the Lantana at front porch. It stayed for a few pix but was worn very pale, and missing much of one hindwing, so two-tailess, and not the looker you want for pix. Same bunch of skippers and Snout on the Blue Mistflower.

Sept. 27 ~ Today is the warmup day before the front which arrives after midnight, and will be dry, but with lots of wind. So we have the gulf low stratus getting sucked up ahead of it, and a 72F low. With strong southerlies we usually see very little to no southbound migrant motion. Worked on stuff here, will save my time for whence better more migrant conducive conditions exist. Saw nothing go through the yard all day. Got hot too, was 92F on the cool shady front porch. Dryer than summer though. Local WU stations had 95, 96, and 98F readings at 4 p.m. Summer doesn't want to let go. There were a couple hundred Snout around, at least. The Blue Mist Eup. and Frostweed were covered with them. Many were the smallest I have ever seen, almost hairstreak sized, barely over a half-inch long. A fair number of skippers were on the Blue Mist too: Celia's Roadside-, a Clouded, 2 Sachem, 3+ Southern Broken-Dash, a Fiery, and several Dun. Peak Queen count was 7, a few Large Orange Sulphur, one Little Yellow, a Lyside, so a few things to look at anyway besides tiny Snouts. Maybe a half-dozen Ruby-throated Hummingbird remain, all seemingly immature males. Can't wait for the front.

Sept. 26 ~ The low was 62 or so at midnight, and warmed to 72 by dawn. It was clear with northerly flow at midnight, cloudy with gulf clouds and fog-mist in the morning. Only migrants in yard were a Gnatcatcher and a Nashville Warbler. Checked park before noon, no migrants there, or at the pond by the Waresville Cmty., or at the Frostweed patch at the 360 x-ing. Did see a few leps: a Hackberry Emperor at Waresville, a Clouded Skipper at the park, a Monarch at the Frostweed patch. On our Blue Mist were a few Southern Broken-Dash, a Celia's Roadside-Skipper, a Fiery Skipper, and a Julia's Skipper. There were dozens of Snout coming in every time Kathy sprayed water around. Green Darner and Black Saddlebags were about it for odes. The bugs are weak, no doubt drought related. We are in D1 on the edge of D2 per the Drought Monitor. The riverlet is down a couple feet below normal and not flowing above ground in many areas. Hit the upper 80's F in the afternoon. Did I mention there are tadpoles in the tub pond now? Will have to watch and see what type, but do not care for them really if Leopard Frog. They will take the Mosquitofish so will have to remove them. Still small and black right now. If Cricket-Frog or Barking Frog, then great!

Zebra Heliconian

Here is the Zebra Heliconian (or Longwing) that has been
around the yard all week, 5 days now. First one we have
had locally since 2016, for me at least.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Sept. 25 ~ An even cooler 56F this morning, weewow. About 9:30 it was drizzling in the fogmist and I heard a FOS Long-billed Curlew fly over up there in the gray haze somewhere. Later morn there was a Nashville Warbler and TWO FOS Ruby-crowned Kinglet! To me a major sign of fall, a kinglet. Then a town run fer errands. Park stop of course. No migrants in the woods. Deadsville. One Belted, one Ringed, and two or three Green Kingfisher around the pond and island. Leaving I stopped at the deco garden at the entrance. An ALDER Flycatcher popped up and proceeded to begin calling at me. I got a couple docu shots before I lost it. Then leaving I saw it across the road but it shot back into the big row of dense shrubbery by the water co. and I was late by then so had to go. Great to hear one in the fall so as to get a positive ID! Pwip! Pwip! Sort of similar to a Pewee (Eastern) chip note. Most falls I do not get a positive ID on one. Heard an Indigo Bunnie here late in the p.m. Saw 82F on the front porch, dry, wonderful. A Monarch was on the Blue Mistflower late p.m. Saw a Least Flycatcher out front at last sun. Keep forgetting to mention the Lindheimer's Senna has been blooming great for a couple weeks now.

Sept. 24 ~ I saw 58F on the front porch early, at first crack of light, probably dropped another dF or two though, wasn't watching it. Awesome. Sure seems quiet out there in the mornings now. The place has emptied out, barely any hummers, did not see any migrant motion early, and all the breeders that migrate away are gone except Lark Sparrow. Kathy saw two Scrub-Jay today, so after a two day absence either the missing bird is back, or another showed up. Did not hear a White-eyed Vireo, but did hear one Indigo Bunting bzzz in the morning. One Orchard Oriole was on clothesline and dropped down to seed on patio where other birds were eating. One Yellow Warbler in afternoon. Saw 85F on the cool shady front porch, so near 90 in the sun. A few Southern Broken-Dash (skipper - butterfly) were on the Blue Mistflower.

Sept. 23 ~ A low of 62F was awesome. Scissor-tails are the only thing singing as light just breaks. Just one Scrub-Jay here, but at least it is one Scrub-Jay here. There is a White-eyed Vireo across road but it is not our local nesting bird which was absolutely gone yesterday if not the day before. As Kathy noticed, this bird's call, we never heard from ours. I presume an immature, certainly a passage migrant White-eyed Vireo. Because they arrive early and stay late, it is hard to get passage dates on them, until you know your local birds are gone. Which you can tell by listening to them every day. I bet this one can't even do perfect Ash-throat and Summer Tanager calls. I am sure there have been migrants passing by, as their numbers have been higher than the local baseline numbers. Ran to town late afternoon in peak heat, looked at the park woods anyway, seemed everything was sleeping save one Ringed Kingfisher. Not a White-eyed Vireo there either. Heard a Wilson's Warbler here at the casita at last sun. Kathy had a Rufous-crowned Sparrow at the bath.

Sept. 22 ~ Low of 66F, brisk northerlies, and it feels like the first day of fall. No morning migrant motion in yard though. Sure is getting yellow of leaves out there. Being in the 70's sure is great. Certainly less than a dozen hummers, maybe less than a half-dozen remain present. A week from peak of a couple hundred, and they are almost all gone. No Indigo or Painted Bunting, and did not hear any White-eyed Vireo around today. They too have departed. One Yellow Warbler went through yard today. Maybe the strong northerlies are causing much to overfly us? It is clearing out here fast. There was only one Scrub-Jay around a little bit today. We had one for a several days, then two for a few days which hung out together all the time. Kathy heard what sounded a Scrub-Jay being predated after dark last night, and now we only have one again. What takes a Scrub-Jay at roost? A Ringtail is my number one guess.

Sept. 21 ~ Low about 66, with some light sprinkles and showers, maybe .1 or so in pre-dawn hour or so. Looks like was a band from Beta off the Texas coast. No migrant motion first few hours. Nice northerly flow though. Heard Scissor-tails at dawn over at golf course across river. No greenie Painted Bunting today, the Chats are gone, the Vermilion Flycatchers are gone, only a few hummers left too. Two Scrub-Jay still. In afternoon one each Yellow and Nashville Warbler, one mostly brown ad. ma. Indigo Bunting. Still a White-eyed Vireo or two. Again flushed a small bird as I walked by the tub pond. This a LBJ, little brown job, that looked like a Lincoln's Sparrow. Which would be FOS, but it shot off, gettin' smaller as it flew away, and looking like a Lincoln's all the way. Kathy heard a bird being taken by a predator after dark, said it sounded like a Scrub-Jay.

Sept. 20 ~ Got down to at least 56F, maybe lower, wow. Soooo good. Still dry northerly flow aloft, and no migration motion early in morn again. The Scrub-Jay was gathering sunflower seeds out back, so has discovered the food supply, and appears to have designs on hanging around. And there is the second one, still here too. So we have a pair it seems. Before 10 I was out in driveway when a male Scissor-tail flew by low going north and right as it got over the gate it burst into song climbing straight up and flipped at the crescendo, twice! Full display flightsong right in front of me. Almost OD'd on awesomeness.

About 11-1 we went and checked park and golf course. Heard a couple Yellow Warbler along 360. No Least Grebe on the pond, it may be gone. A sparrow got away there that looked a White-crowned, which would have been an early FOS. Saw the male Comet Darner dragonfly, and a couple Thornbush Dasher.

At the park woods there were a couple Wilson's Warbler, a Least Flycatcher, two Common Yellowthroat (one female type, one imm. male), one Hutton's Vireo, and heard a Yellow-throated Warbler. One Belted Kingfisher at the pond. Then checked the Frostweed by the 360 xing on way home. One Nashville Warbler was it there for small stuff. A third C. Yellowthroat was just upriver from the bridge where the FOS was a week ago. No odes at the crossing though, but the immigrant Green Darners. Season seems to be ending early here this year. Park didn't have squat for odes either.

We were on the 360 bridge walking back to trucklet, luckily my eyes were on the ground, and I saw a shadow of something going over. We get a lot of vulture shadows here and you get tired of looking up and into the sun for another dang vulture. This shadow however was highly suspicious, it was a suspect shadow. By all means a shadow of great interest. It was smaller, and a fast shadow. This shadow was not lollygagging around. My nose went up like an infield fly as I looked toward the sun for said shadowmaker. Instantly upon sighting it I said to Kathy 'falcon!', followed immediately by Peregrine! Just as she got on it, it stooped toward the pasture on the other side of the treeline and we lost it behind the trees. Never saw it again. Short and sweet, but a Peregrine! It gave a few flaps as it began the dive, you could see the acceleration, and when it closed its wings it was like turbo warp drive speed initiated. Whaddabird!

One of the times I went to birdbath to add water and flush it (fills with feathers all Aug. and Sept.) I lifted it up and a Ribbonsnake was under it! It bolted into brushpile. Very cool. They are too small to take a bird, but maybe a frog or bug coming in is another story. Later in afternoon I saw a bird bathing in bath that bare-eyed I kept going back and forth between oriole and tanager on, because it was greenish and yellowish, with a lower white wingbar, but the bill was short and stubby, with lots of yellow in it and tanager shaped. It was a Western Tanager! It flew off directly across fence out of yard. Then late near last sun there were TWO Empidonax flycatchers in the yard. One was a Least, the other disappeared quickly and was a Yellow-bellied, but which at least I got a good close view of for the ID.

Sept. 19 ~ A low of 62F, at least, might have hit 61, KRVL had a 59 briefly. I check it on the way to toss seed, but which is usually before the final dF or two drop. Not much migrant motion in the morn. A pair of imm. Baltimore Oriole seems the same two around all week. One Gnatcatcher might have been new, or not. In a gap between trees I saw a few flaps of what looked like a cormorant heading south, and which could only have been a Neotropic (size and tail). Have to let it go, and would be a yard bird. Ouch.

Did a dump and recycling run 11-1 or so. Which meant a park woods check. One Wilson's Warbler, a Chat, heard a Ringed King upriver, and one Catocala Underwing moth with orange hindwing. Later here at casita heard a Ringed as well. Went out Seco Ridge to check the Evergreen Sumacs for that fancy metallic green and orange-red Cerambycid and found none. There has been fiber optic cable being laid along the road and the one best magic bush where they met to select mates, which had to be 50 years old or more, is gone, no trace of it. They call it progress.

After a post office pickup I saw Big Ern was there so braked for BBQ chicken and a pound of pork ribs. Lunch and dinner to die for good. And Kathy is off the hook to cook. About 7 p.m. a FOS Clay-colored Sparrow was on the patio! Adult, awesome. A dozen Lark and a few Field there as well as two Indigo Bunting, one a continuing adult male. After dark heard a couple Barn Owl go over, and I presume that begging Screech-Owl of a week and more ago is the other noise out there.

Alder Flycatcher

This is the first pic of an Alder Flycatcher here. Sorry about the grainy and over-exposed, settings were for in the dark woods. It was much greener and yellower than these pics show. Fortunately it was in a calling mood unlike most that pass through. It makes a good generic Empidonax flycatcher pic. Oliveish above, some yellowish below, usually a messy breastband of olive, two wingbars and an eyering. Ya seen one you seen 'em all, just hope they call. Actually they are learnable, but are usually the last group of birds one learns well, which means well enough to ID most of them even when they are silent.


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Sept. 18 ~ A low of 64F is outstanding. Early saw two Nashville Warbler (still same ones?), a couple Baltimore Oriole, and heard a Dickcissel. Heard a Scrub-Jay out back. Saw the ad. ma. Painted Bunting with yellow on back early in morn. Town run errand day. A stop at the park woods found only two greenie Painted Bunting, besides a small buteo that got away. Hummers have blown out big time, there might be a dozen around by the end of the day. Late Kathy saw the two Nashville Warbler gleaning pecans still. I saw one Monarch pass by southbound. Heard an Audubon's Oriole early, and an Orchard Oriole late. A few Turkey were over in the corral. Topped out at about 84F, at least 10F cooler than a few weeks ago. Lots of Barn Swallow going north low from a roost to feed early in the morning. Water is at least two feet from going over the spillway at the park. It just keeps dropping. Heard an Upland Sandpiper at dusk. Sure wish I could find the magic pasture.

Sept. 17 ~ Low about 68F, still north or northeast flow. Seems like it should help us get migrants but no action early in yard save a Gnatcatcher and the two Nashville Warbler gleaning the leaves in the pecanlets, again right out the nook window whilst we had breakfast, just feet away. Probably the same birds, now on day 4 around the yard. Heard a Scrub-Jay mid-morn. Clouded up before noon. One Yellow Warbler was around. Some rain cells in the area in afternoon, finally one found us, we got about .2 of an inch of precip. Every bit counts. Took us from peak heat at 84 to 74F. Late I saw the ad. ma. Painted Bunting with yellow on back. Was a big hummer blowout yesterday, and which continues today. The Rufous was here early still. Maybe 50 or so Rubies left in the morning, and probably not two dozen in the evening. Heard an Upland Sandpiper at dusk, at midnight another. Probably a bunch went by in between? The ones right at dusk and just after are quite low, and are just getting in the air for a night of flight, and spent the day on the ground locally. The ones you hear late are very high up by comparison.

Sept. 16 ~ Another 65F low is wonderful. Just before 8 a.m. a Solitary Sandpiper flew south right over the yard, calling. I was at my observation station (chair on front porch) and heard it coming so got a decent look. Been a few years since I saw one from yard, and do not even see one every fall. Probably flushed off the mudflats at park pond when first visitor showed up. A half-hour later a couple very yellow below Kingbirds flew north up the river habitat corridor, almost certainly Couch's. Then three more birds flew north together which were long-winged, medium sized, fairly Larid appearing. Maybe Black Terns but I just saw them flying away. Wish I could run to the park. Too much to do. Heard Aububon's Oriole early.

The Rufous Hummer that showed up yesterday continues, it is missing much of the right half of its tail, so will be easy to track here. There are way fewer hummers (all but one Ruby-throated) this morning, and way fewer again in the evening. Might have had a hundred in the a.m., probably 50 at last call, at most. Big departure day, again. Yesterday started the big departure, today it continued. Were a couple hundred a couple days ago. The mid-Sept. blowout with first frontal passage is underway.

Orchard Oriole went through, one female Yellow Warbler, a Gnatcatcher, a little bit of movement. On a stuck-at-the-desk day. Will have to hope something shows up at the bath. Speaking of which Kathy spotted the Scrub-Jay at the bath, which is the first time one has been at it in 7+ years at this place. We had Blue Jays at it the last invasion year for them, but have never pulled a Scrub-Jay in. I think it might have found sunflower seeds out back, as it was out there the last couple days, and now at the water. It came back late in the day with a friend, TWO Scrub-Jay at the bath! Watch what you wish for.

At least a couple Baltimore Oriole came in to the birdbath, methinks imm. female and imm. male, maybe an ad. female too? Maybe pix of two of them. Chat was at bath too, still a couple of them across road in the thicket. Chitting. Do you know chit from chat? Or do you not know chit? Sometimes I digress... Late at last seed call on the patio the ad. male Painted Bunting was there, the one with the yellow lower edge of green back, the third day for it now. Just one or two greenies left, and a couple brownies, imm. Indigo, plus one ad. male Indigo continues as well. Lots of Field (8-10) and Lark (16-20) Sparrow, just a few Chippy. At last sun two Nashville Warbler were gleaning in a small yellowing pecan, as a couple days ago. Something attractive to them there. With the few Hooded Orio at the feeders there were four species of oriole here today.

Sept. 15 ~ Low of 65F was great, I could get used to this. What a world of difference a temp spread in the 60-80 range is from the 70-90's. Night and day. There seemed no migrant motion through the yard in the morning. Maybe over the day some things will pass through. There was north to northeasterly flow last night. Also seems there was some hummingbird departure yesterday afternoon. Which seems to be ongoing this morning on the still light north flow. Will be easy to see any big numbers change via fluid usage. It was likely barely a hundred hummers during last hour. Heard a Dickcissel in yard later morning, and one Scissor-tail flew over high going south.

It is great having about 4 dozen Red Turkscap flowers going at once for a couple weeks. If the deer hadn't repeatedly eaten the tops off all the stalks in the summer I am sure it would have been a very impressive show this year. It is still good, at least some made it, about a 8' strip of it, started from harvested seeds. Our one (transplanted from one small stalk a few years ago) Frostweed is now a dozen stalks with flower heads all just about to open up. A Southern Broken-Dash was on the Blue Mist Eupatorium. One Monarch came by and sniffed them but continued on.

About 11 a.m. heard a Rufous Hummingbird, the first in four days at least, so a new bird, and at least number 6 for the fall, here. One greenie and one ad. male Indigo on patio. Few Turkey over in corral. Black Rock Squirrel still around. Noonish flushed a warbler out of the Turkscap and Am. Germander that was probably a Common Yellowthroat. Tail was too long for a Mourning, but could have been a Mac. Just saw it well enough to say probably a Yellowthroat, absolutely not a Mourning. Later Kathy had a female Wilson's at the birdbath.

Sept. 14 ~ A 67F low was great, sunny, a light NE flow so clear and no clouds. Like utopia. Hear a chat still, Kathy saw one yesterday at the bath. A couple Baltimore Oriole went through yard early. Heard a Scrub-Jay out back about 9, I wish one would find the sunflower seed here. Perhaps a good time for a reminder to watch what you wish for. Ran to town early and a quick check of the park woods where there were no migrants. It seems to collect birds over the morning and is better later than earlier. The pond, much quieter of hominids than on the weekends, had two Ringed Kingfisher, and a FOS Belted Kingfisher. Up at top of island, which is not anymore due to the water level dropping near a couple feet, there were two Green Kingfisher. So a king trifecta today. Still busy with hummers but seemingly thinning slightly over the day. Like maybe a quarter or so left?

Then back here at the hovelita with a couple of Rosie's egg, chorizo and cheese breakfast tacos... There is a small pecanlet tree right outside the window at the nook where we sit to eat breakfast and lunch. There were two Nashville Warbler in it, two to four feet away, for minutes. Gleaning something off the yellowing pecan leaves. I think bugs come into the sap they exude and get stuck in it. It was a great show at point blank. They sure are small warblers. In the afternoon I got a few shots of an imm. male (first fall) Baltimore Oriole at the bath, but missed the ad. male that Kathy saw at it. Then after 6 p.m. Kathy spotted an adult male Painted Bunting on the patio! It was not the one with yellow across breast, last here a week or so ago. It is a new different one, perfectly red below. Great late date, for an ad. male. It has a band of yellow across back at lower edge of the lime green. Pure bright sun yellow. Awesome looking.

Sept. 13 ~ Low was 69F, cloudy and humid, a little breeze. No migrant motion through yard in a.m., shoulda gone out yesterday when stuff moving through yard. We went out for a couple hour check mid-day. The woods at the park had no migrants. One Great Egret still at pond. A half-mile south of town at a private spot with some Frostweed saw a Least Flycatcher, a Yellow Warbler, a greenie Painted Bunting, and over at river female Summer Tanager, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, an Indigo Bunting and two female Wilson's Warbler. Then at the golf course pond we missed the Least Grebe as a guy raced by the pond in a golf cart just as we got there, and we saw no blackbirds. At the 360 xing we walked a Frostweed patch and had one more Indigo Bunting, and an imm. Mourning Warbler. Number 7 of the fall, and in last 8 days. Then just above the crossing streamside was a FOS female or immature Common Yellowthroat. Heard two Yellow Warbler along the way, saw two Scissor-tails and a few Vermilion Flycatcher. Saw a half-dozen Fireweed in bloom in or along river, and one nice XL Goldenrod was open, what a beautiful plant.

A Gnatcatcher went through yard late afternoon. A sprinkle hit about 3:30 dropping temp from 85F to 80, then to 77 by 4:30 and 73F at 5:30! Amazing for the date. Wonderful. Over a couple hours we got about .15" of an inch. Late at last call for seed on the patio there were 3 greenie Painted and 4 brownie Indigo Buntings, one Indigo is an adult male. Late afternoon there was a Turkey tussle over in the corral, a couple males in partial display, maybe 7-8 big toms all trilling the warbled notes that almost sound like distant cranes (but rounder). Ruby-throated are the only hummer here now, making up for it in numbers, there are probably about 200 present.

Sept. 12 ~ Low of 65 F is fine, mostly cloudy, got up to about 90F. Was a little movement early but I was too busy to go play hooky and bird. Through the yard I had a few Orchard and at least 2 Baltimore Oriole, and a Yellow Warbler. Seems less buntings, might have been a flight out last night? Lots of Ruby-throated Hummers (150-200), but no Calliope or Rufous for the first time in a couple weeks. I last saw both yesterday in the morning, did not have either in the afternoon. Sure was great to have one, and often two Calliope, around for a couple weeks. The Hooded Orioles were around hitting the feeders, at least three. Had a count of 18 Lark Sparrow. Only a few of each Indigo and Painted bunnies today.

Audubon's Oriole

Another little seen, depicted, and known plumage. This is a first summer Audubon's Oriole, about a year old and just molting into its first adult type plumage. The black feathers are all new adult type plumage. Some new olive back feathers, and yellow throat feathers are also coming in, more adult plumage. Note this bird as a juvenile started out all green and greenish-yellow, before these feathers faded with a beating from a year of wear. As the birds in the break pics a few weeks ago. The yellow-green underparts are now very pale, nearly white in places. Some of the formerly green upperparts are worn to gray as upper tail coverts or rump, and scapulars. Keep in mind green can wear to gray in a year. You can see this in flycatchers (Empidonax, pewees), buntings (Painted), and even warblers among other things. The dirt stuck on the bill is Texas Persimmon, lots of birds here show this mid-Aug. to Sept.


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Sept. 11 ~ Low was 57F, and fantastic. No more rain, but cloudy all day and did not hit 80F. Wonderful. Not much for migrant movement in the morning. Heard a Blue Grosbeak, presume the ad. male of yesterday. Also heard a Dickcissel and saw a bunch of buntings. A bzzzzz of buntings. One Calliope Hummer still here in a.m. Noonish did the town errand run. Drove through golf course on way, no grasspipers, saw the Least Grebe from the car, a driveby sighting, and there were 3 Yellow-headed Blackbird on the powerline over the pond, which departed in short order. Then at Utopia Park saw a Ringed King, and the Pied-billed Grebe continued, but that was about it. No migs. Did not hear the Yellow-throated Vireo in yard, or at park. Only one Summer Tanager at park, and Kathy had a red one here. They have thinned out too. After Rosie's tacos for lunch here I saw a (THIRD for the fall) male Lazuli Bunting at the bath but it flushed as I went for photos. An oriole came down for some consolation pix, it felt so bad for me. It was a juvenile (HY - hatch year) male Hooded. Heard a Gnatcatcher in yard. The fairly adult male looking Hooded at the office feeder is a first summer bird, but molting into second basic, so looking better than it did all summer. Saw a worn juv. Blue Grosbeak at the 360 xing on way out this a.m., and then another very similar bird here on patio at last call. They are on the move now.

Sept. 10 ~ A low of 54F is astounding. There hasn't been one of those seen around here in four months! The record low for SAT this date is 56F so we had to be right about there, here. Had to find pants with legs. We finally got a little rain, mostly right around and after dawn, was .6 of an inch. So we are about 2" for the month now. Saw one Callope and one Rufous, and a hundred or likely more Rubies. The 7 greenies continue, and saw 7 brownies, Indigo Bunting, at once. The patio is buntingtopia. Even the two adult male Indigos left are mostly brown now. A Dickcissel was out there farting away. Even better than a Dickcissel fart was an adult male Blue Grosbeak. Of which I have not seen one in a month, our local breeders have been long gone, and this is surely a transient from somewhere else. Kathy saw a male Hooded Oriole on a feeder. The high I saw was 63F, making me wonder what the record low high is for the date. This has to be very close, at or near one. Less than a 10dF spread on Sept. 10 is amazing. It will cause an early blowout of hummers is my guess.

Sept. 9 ~ Low about 73F again, very humid, the first fall cold front on way inbound, arriving in afternoon sometime. Had to run to town early so a quick look at park woods. At far north end in weedy patch, Indigo and Painted Bunting immatures, and another Mourning Warbler. Unlike the ones here Sunday it had no white around eye so a new different immature. The sixth one I have seen in the last 3 days. One Ringed King was on island, and finally I saw an immature Green Heron, no doubt from the pair that nests on the island. Two Yellow-throated Warbler at park woods, and one in yard.

Was about 80 before it started to cool just before noon whence a few sprinkles. About 74F at 1 p.m. was great. As of 3:30 p.m. all the rain has missed us, we have a tracelet. One Yellow Warbler was in the yard. There will be bird movement when the wind changes, maybe tomorrow. Last couple days had strong southerlies which shut down southward progression. Later afternoon heard a Dickcissel out in the pecans.

After 5 p.m. Kathy spotted an oriole at the office feeder but couldn't see it through the reflection. Hooded are in and out all day but usually chatter on way in and there had been none. I slowly moved my head to get eyes on it, and it flushed when it saw me. It was a male Scott's Oriole, of which I haven't seen one in the yard all year. We have had a pair nest nearby in prior years and be daily users, but they were not around this year. Actually lamented to Kathy in the summer about not hearing that beautiful awesome song. Now I hope it got a taste of that sweet sweet fluid and comes back. And wonder if was one that knew about the feeder as it is under the carport steel roof out back and not out in open view to regular passersby like a couple other feeders are.

A bit after 5 p.m. it had cooled down to 69F or so, which is hard to believe after the last three months of 5 p.m. temps. No one complained. Junction and Rocksprings were at 59F! At 7 p.m. we were 64F with northwest winds! Hummer feeders were backed up before dark. Still two Calliope and a couple Rufous Hummers at the feeders, lots of Rubies, my guess is about a hundred. Did not see a Black-chinned today. Had a last light count of 7 greenies, 5 on the patio and 2 out back, and 3 or 4 Indigo of which one is a continuing adult male.

The Soldier butterfly from yesterday was back on the Blue Mist Eup. today, new was a Texas Powdered-Skipper on it. But all we got was spit on for precipitation. A 100% chance and I could have counted the drops. A tracelet. Lots of folks north and east got it, some too much, but most of the Hwy. 90 strip of Medina, Uvalde, and Kinney Counties missed it so far.

Sept. 8 ~ Low was 73F, still struggling to cool off here. Highs in the mid-to-upper 80's F is still a big relief after a hundred days near a hundred dF. Rain is forecast all week and a cold front is progged to arrive tomorrow, Wednesday. The first real front of fall. Some sprinkles over morning, a hundredth or two.

Still two Calliope and at least two Rufous on the front feeder. No bird movement apparent early through yard. The Chat hit the bath. One female Yellow around yard after mid-day. A Dickcissel at the bath was an ad. female, not the usual immatures we get in fall. Monarch #5 was at the Blue Mistflower briefly. A Soldier was on it in the afternoon, so with the usual few Queens, hit the Danaus trifecta, all three of our 'milkweed' butterflies.

About 5 p.m. I found a just shed snakeskin right out front by the flowers and stepping stones. Wished I'd have seen the snake. It was not there a couple hours earlier. It was fresh enough to see the pattern, it was from a Western Ribbonsnake, the most-seen snake in the yard. The skin was 43" long with kinks in it! It had to be 45"! Snakeskin stretches as it molts so you cannot claim the snake was that big, but it was a biggun'. Maybe 10% or so for stretch during shed? Even at 20% it would be a 3 foot Ribbonsnake. The biggest I have seen is maybe 30" or so.

Sept. 7 ~ A low of 66F or so was outstanding. I saw KRVL hit 64, we might have, I wasn't watching, but saw 66F, 20 min. or so before that usual final dip of a dF or two. What a treat on what to many marks the end of summer, Labor Day. Not much for migration motion early. Three Indigo Bunting, 2 brown imm. or female, one male continuing. Five greenies in a.m. on patio. One Gnatcatcher, one Orchard Oriole. Still two Calliope, 2-3 Rufous, maybe 4 dozen Ruby-throated, and a couple imm. Black-chinned Hummingbird. Had a Monarch on the Blue Mistflower early.

Noonish I ran down to the crossing and checked the Frostweed patches up and down river a bit. Nothing going in either, save one Monarch, one Orchard Orio, one greenie Painted Bunting. Did see some Clammy-weed in bloom, a delicate beauty. Some Fireweed (Lobelia) is opening in the river. Out back of house I saw some Fall Rain Lily, first of those this fall. After lunch there was a Dickcissel at the bath briefly. Best was during my last seed toss at 3 p.m., as I walked by the little fenced-in garden area with the tub pond, a Mourning Warbler flushed out of it! It was right under the office window! It landed in the Lantana there 6' from me long enough for me to see it was not the expected greenie popping up, but a Mourning Warbler! An hour or so later Kathy thought she saw it at the bath, but a Cardinal flushed it away. There was a Southern Broken-Dash (skipper) on the Blue Mistflower.

Sept. 6 ~ Low of 68 was great. We are on the heels of the system that has caused rain all over the area for the last 3 days. There have been areas in central Texas that got 3, 5, and further north 10 inches of rain over the last few days. The low is fading away, after the last few spits late last night. Before sunup about 6:45 a small group of Blue-winged Teal shot by following the river habitat corridor. About 7 a second group went by. Was only a dozen total, but my FOS this fall so great to see, and hear those wings whistling. I haven't heard anything big flap that fast in months.

Early a couple Yellow Warbler, couple Orchard Oriole, a Gnatcatcher went through. About 10 we went looking for signs of migration motion. Pulled into the golf course entrance road and spotted an odd shaped raptor a couple hundred yards away in treetop snag. White-tailed Kite! Got a distant docushot for the hawk page. Never know when you will see one here. More often you don't.

At the golf course pond at Waresville I had a quick look at the Least Grebe but it disappeared. A few Red-winged Blackbird, one Yellow Warbler, a Least Flycatcher, a Gnatcatcher and an imm. Vermilion Flycatcher. Great was a COMET DARNER dragonfly. This is no doubt NOT the one here early in summer, but a new one, they don't live that long as flying adults. One has not been there for the last month prior. There seems to me to be a connection between hurricanes going north up the Mississippi and us getting Comet Darners a week later. There was also a male Twelve-spotted Skimmer there, the second one of the fall after the one Kathy trolled in with water in the yard. There were no grasspipers to be found. Heard the Shrike again.

At the park pond there was a FOS Pied-billed Grebe. Then we checked the park woods. They often seem a bit slow and you have to stand around and be still shortly so things come back out. More often than not I find the good birds on the way out after I have walked all the way in, been still ten minutes, and slowly work my way back. We saw three FOS Mourning Warbler, one ad. fem., two imms., which got pix of the latter two. After 30 plus minutes in there we saw a FOS American Redstart, an imm. male which proceeded to preen a bath out right overhead. Canon autofocus did not want me to have a nice pic to show you. There was also a Louisiana Waterthrush there, Kathy spotted a Black-n-white Warbler, there were a couple Yellow, a Nashville, a Yellow-throated Warbler, and a Wilson's. Eight species of warblers at once in the woods in early Sept. is nothing short of fantastic, nearing amazing. A dozen individual warblers! Also there was a Gnatcatcher, Red-eyed, Yellow-throated, and White-eyed Vireo, a Green Kingfisher, and a Ringed King calling upriver. Saw some Orange Bluet in binocs near top of island.

We drove up to West Sabinal Road via Jones Cmty. Rd. and looked at a couple thousand acres of great looking pastures, with no grasspipers, saw one Monarch. At the low wet spot by Haby's there were dragonflies. At least 4-5 Band-winged Dragonlet, another male Twelve-spotted Skimmer, and ovipositing Wandering Glider. The water does not stay there all the time, what happens with the eggs or larvae? There were lots of Gliders, Saddlebags, and Green Darner, everywhere. On Jones Cmty Rd. by the second cattle guard leaving town down in the Frostweed and Turkscap there was another Mourning Warbler. So four of them today, and that last one in Bandera Co.

Back at the house just before 1 p.m. and there was a Nashville Warbler working the yard. Mid-afternoon a Nysa Roadside-Skipper was on the Blue Mistflower. Later about 7 p.m. there were two Calliope Hummingbird at once on the front porch feeder. Thought I saw two yesterday as well. At least a couple Rufous still, one imm. male Black-chinned, and a few dozen Ruby-throated are most of the hummers. Late I got a count of 7 greenies on the patio, all look immatures. Two imm. Indigo Bunting as well. The Black Rock Squirrel continues, as do Screech-Owls after dark.

Sept. 5 ~ Low was 73F with some clouds. Very little migrant motion. A Yellow Warbler, a couple Orchard Oriole, one Dickcissel, one Gnatcatcher. That was it the first few hours of morn. On the patio seed there were a dozen House Finch, mostly juveniles or immatures, a dozen Lesser Goldfinch, a half-dozen Lark Sparrow, couple Chipping and a few Field Sparrow. In buntings there were 6 Indigo, one a continuing mostly brown adult male, and 6 Painted, 5 greenies and the continuing ad. male with yellow on breast. Heard a Scrub-Jay uphill in the live-oaks. About 2-3 p.m. there was a quarter inch of rain, cooled it from 85 to 75F. Very nice. A Calliope, and at least 2, probably 3 Rufous Hummers continue. Only saw one imm. male Black-chinned, at least 3 dozen Ruby-throats. The Coyotes went off nuts after the rain, not waiting for dark to get going. It was over a dozen barely a hundred yards uphill behind us. Awesome sounds.

Least Grebe

Here is a better pic of the Least Grebe at the golf course pond by the Waresville Cmty., this pic taken Aug. 30, two months into its visit. Said to be 9" long, book measurements are often of a museum specimen with neck stretched out. You would swear if you saw this bird all 4 oz. would fit in the palm of your hand.


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Sept. 4 ~ A wonderful 69F low felt fantastic. Heard an Upland Sandpiper early this morning. A couple Orchard Oriole and a Yellow Warbler went through first thing. Counted 5 greenies on patio, two are new, way way grayer than the three that were left yesterday. Still a Calliope and at least a couple Rufous Hummers here. Town run so park check, where there was a sprinkling of migrants. Best was a female MacGillivray's Warbler, maybe my fourth fall record in 17 falls. Very scarce and LTA - less than annual, as a fall migrant here. One Wilson's, two Nashville, two Yellow and a Yellow-throated Warbler. Then there was a FOS Willow Flycatcher and two Least Flycatcher, plus one Empi that got away, which was likely an imm. Acadian. A Great Crested Flycatcher showed well, one Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, heard an Orchard Oriole or two, male Summer Tanager. So at least a dozen migrants in the acre woodlot at the north end of park, probably a few more if I had more time. Lots of dragons out there this morning. The two usual types of Saddlebags and Gliders, and lots more Green Darner.

About 3:30 p.m. we got some rain-cooled outflow in the afternoon to break the heat a bit, but no more rain, yet. Some nearby areas got some. It dropped us to about 79F for the heat of the day hours. Late late afternoon there were some swallows feeding low, saw one Chimney Swift in with them. Saw one adult male Black-chinned Hummingbird, which is new. Kathy spotted an ad. male painted Bunting on the patio, first in a week, and is the one last here, with the yellow crescent across breast. I have seen this bird about 4 times in four weeks. Got a docushot through the window, good late date for an ad. male. Out in yard was a Yellow Warbler, couple Orchard Oriole, Gnatcatcher, heard a Least Flycatcher across road from gate and a Dickcissel called from in the pecans. More migrant motion is great to see.

Sept. 3 ~ Low was 75F and still no rain here yet. Now they say this afternoon to early evening. By then they will be saying late evening. They are also talking about some sort of real actual fall front middle of next week. Should be lots of bird movement just ahead of it, then grounded during it, and a push right behind it. You get three free chances with every front. I saw last night NOAA called the missed rain forecast a "relatively large spatial error". Interesting way to explain how you totally blew where the rain was going to fall. Imma try that. Well you see officer it was a mere spatial error...

This morning just a trickle of movement. A couple each of imm. Orchard Oriole (hit the bath early), Yellow Warbler, and Gnatcats went through. A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher went over high at migration altitude, southbound. Chat took a bath as did female Summer Tanager, later the male Summer Tan took a dip. A dozen Lark Sparrow on the seed, half are juveniles. Three greenies still here. A male Hooded Oriole was with the female or imm. today, but it did not look like a full ad., probably a first summer getting first adult plumage. Kathy glimpsed it later at the bath. The super pale first-summer Audubon's Oriole was also at the bath late morning. Yellow-throated Vireo still singing. At least two imm. male Black-chinned Hummingbird still here, one Calliope, at least two Rufous, and a couple or few dozen Rubies.

Finally about 4:20 an outflow boundry hit and dropped us from 94 to 82 in 15 minutes, by 5 the rain was here and it was 70F! I stood in the outflow as it arrived, until it got wet. Only saw four Turkey Vulture and a couple Barn Swallow on it. After it passed I see 1.25" for a total! WEEWOW! The Frostweed really needed it badly to bloom well. I see a couple spindly Broomweed with single flowers open. It is not making any brooms this year. Of course no Plateau Agalinis came up this summer in the drought. Heard an Upland Sandpiper go over about 10 p.m. as it was clearing behind the rain.

Sept. 2 ~ A low of 76F was a wee bit better, but not exactly refreshing. Some parts of the plateau got rain last night, not us. Supposed to today. We'll see. In the morning there was some migrant motion, I presume being pushed ahead of the rain sheild to our north and northeast. There were a half-dozen Orchard Oriole, about 4 Yellow Warbler, a couple Gnatcatcher and a Dickcissel. Movement. Wednesday is a too busy at the desk day so not able to look much all day. Did see a Calliope and at least a couple Rufous Hummingbird, but in afternoon it seemed there were fewer hummers. Maybe some headed out of town today. Heard Audubon's Oriole, saw the two ad. ma. Indigo Bunting which are nearly in all brown winter plumage now, one tailess. Three greenies on patio. Immature Hooded Oriole hit a feeder. The clouds kept it cooler, about 87F at 5 p.m. is a treat these days. Got spit on a few times over the day, but no real rain. Still looking for the actual advertised rain. Lots of Screech-Owl noise outside after dark.

September 1 ~ Gulf moisture and clouds came in to hold the heat, a 79F low is the highest low all summer so far. Rain chances begin this afternoon after this last day of peak heat from this brutal couple of weeks of the sub-tropical high. Thick clouds kept it cooler though. It was only 89F at 3 p.m., and just barely got 90 or 91F at peak heat, so dialed back quite a bit. The male Indigo without tail is still here, as is at least one ad. female, and at least a few greenies. Mid-morn a FOS Baltimore Oriole sang outside. Thought I heard one chatter last week, but that beautiful whistled song/call leaves no doubt. Otherwise single Gnatcatcher, Orchard Oriole and Yellow Warbler were the morning migs in the yard. Heard some Audubon's Oriole. One Calliope and at least three Rufous Hummingbird continue, a few imm. Black-chinned still here, and lots of Ruby-throated.

~ ~ ~ August summary ~ ~ ~

It was dry, the drought continues to get worse. A number of trees were lost in an outflow boundry that topped 40 mph mid-month. Same trees would have made it if not drought-stressed brittle. There was 2" of rain which was a botanical life-saver but nothing for the aquifer. By the end of the month the river is a foot below the spillway, water was still going over it at the start of the month. Many sections of the river are dry, it is strictly underground. Temps averaged 5-7F above normal for the period, with record high temps in mid-August. Daily highs were in the upper 90's F instead of lower, as in the good old days.

One little tiny butterfly made the month, a CLYTIE MINISTREAK! My first local photos, had glimpsed a couple prior. A White-patched Skipper was my first in a few years, they are far LTA - less than annual, so a very good find. A Soldier the last three days of month around yard was great since missed altogether last year, another LTA species here. It was 57 species of butterflies locally for the month, with no Lost Maples trip. Up four over July. Which is actually pretty good for the fairly flowerless drought conditions. Much was due to an invasion presumedly from southward, of lots of little stuff like blues, hairstreaks, skippers, and such. My first Metalmarks of the year were nice, finally.

For odes, a few good things were seen, in the yard passing through. A male Twelve-spotted Skimmer came into sprayed water one day. Two Four-spotted Pennants are even rarer here, they passed over one day in a big flight of the four usual migrant dragonflies (Gliders and Saddlebags). A Macromia sps. River-Cruiser also crossed the yard one day, probably Bronzed. Macromia have been very rare here lately. A couple Red-tailed Pennant were at local ponds, a few Thornbush Dasher at the Waresville golf course pond. Otherwise it was the regular expected types, and numbers seem way down over normal. No Widow Skimmers around. Flat with July, it was 25 species of odes for the month. A bit weak. A Lost Maples trip would have added a few, a least.

Birds were good, as there is lots of migration motion in August. Lots of FOS fall dates for birds on the move. Many local breeders are departing, and everything is in molt. The wonderful spring and summer daily chorus of birdsong is over. The best bird was the continuing LEAST GREBE at the golf course pond adjacent to the Waresville Cmty. Present since late June, that we know of, to Aug. 30 so far. An ANHINGA Aug. 18 at Utopia Pk. was the other best bird, only my second locally. A flock of 18 BUSHTIT in the yard a couple times were great, since they have been scarce lately. A latest ever for me GOLDEN-CHEEKED Warbler on Aug. 31 was fantastic. An earliest ever Blue-headed Vireo Aug. 29 was also outstanding. A male Lazuli Bunting the 27th was on our patio, a second male was at the park the 31st, they are rare here in fall. Numbers of Rufous Hummingbird were high by late August, four, with one Broad-tailed and 2 Calliope just at our feeders. It was 98 sps. of birds for me locally in August, and I know Little Creek Larry saw a couple I didn't. Way up from my 82 in July whence virtually strictly breeders. My BOB total (butterflies, odes, and birds) was 180, way up over the 160 last month, more bird diversity was the biggest difference. Fall migrants.

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~ ~ ~ the August update header ~ ~ ~

August. The last month of climatalogical summer is often a month of dog days. Peak heat, and actually a big month for bird migration movement that is properly considered fall migration. The morning of Aug. 2 before sunup I heard my FOS Upland Sandpiper going over. Late afternoon Aug. 2 we saw the LEAST GREBE at the golf course pond again, after missing it for a month of visits. It was still there Aug. 29, discovery date was June 27. Saw FOS Least Flycatcher and Rufous Hummingbird Aug. 7. FOS Ruby-throated Hummer showed on Aug. 10. An ANHINGA at Utopia Park Aug. 12 is accidental here. A Couch's Kingbird was also there that date. The heat broke records around central TX Aug. 14-16. Aug. 17 we had rain and 68F at 4 p.m.! A Verdin Aug. 16 is a post-breeding wanderer from the brush country. My FOS Barn Owl flew over at 11 p.m. Aug. 17. On Aug. 18 a CLYTIE MINISTREAK was photo'd, an accidental butterfly here from southward. A Loggerhead Shrike Aug. 23 was my FOS. Three Rufous Hummer at our feeders at once here Aug. 25-6 is a strong showing. The Shaffer's have a couple too. A Broad-tailed Hummer was here Aug. 25, a Calliope Aug. 27-31. Also Aug. 27 an adult male Lazuli Bunting is a rare fall record. FOS on Aug. 29 were a Dickcissel and a Blue-headed Vireo, the vireo is record early. Aug. 30 there were 2 Calliope and 4 Rufous Hummers here at our place. Also a FOS Wilson's Warbler was at Utopia Park. Also at the park, on Aug. 31, a second male Lazuli Bunting was seen, and best of all, my latest ever Golden-cheeked Warbler. That is goin' out of the month in a ball of flamin' glory!

~ ~ end Aug. update header copy ~ ~ ~

~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

Aug. 31 ~ A low of 77F might the highest low so far this summer. Some morning clouds, which is what held the heat in. Early saw a Calliope Hummer, heard a Yellow Warbler or two, and a Dickcissel. Had to go to town so a look at the park of course. Man am I glad I did. The Wilson's and Black-n-white Warbler of yesterday were gone, not suprisingly. The Great Egret, 2 Green Heron, Green and Ringed Kingfisher were there, now that no hominids shoutin' and splashing around the pond. A Least Flycatcher did not look like the bird of yesterday. Heard a Great Crested Flycatcher. One ad. fem. Indigo Bunting, one Orchard Oriole. New was a (second this fall!) male Lazuli Bunting, bluer than the one we had in our yard! Awesome fall record at the park. One or two Yellow Warbler and one Yellow-throated Warbler.

Then in the big live-oaks up in the woods was the bird of the day. I never did see the second bird though. A dispute between two birds means you have to pick one to get on first when they stop. I chose the right one this time, based on some white in tail and yellow on head. It was a GOLDEN-CHEEKED Warbler! It chipped several times too. My latest date ever (Aug. 25 was my prior) in 17 falls here! Not an ad. male, was a female or immature type, I think an imm. male. Pure snow white undertail coverts, vent area, flanks, thin dark dark eyeline with an uptick distally, darker forest green above with bright golden cheek. Whaddabird! A day maker. Just amazing what a 15 minute look in the woods can do. Just a quick look at the park. Later in afternoon in yard had an Orchard Orio and a couple Gnatcats. Brutal hot and humid out there.

Aug. 30 ~ Still 75F for a low. Heard an Upland Sandpiper go over first thing before 7 when I was tossing seed. An imm. or female Calliope Hummingbird came in and was tame allowing shots to be had. Seemed 3 Rufous at one feeder and I think another was at the front feeder at the same time. It was literally hummin' on the side (patio) porch in the morning. Lots of Rubies, only a few imm. Black-chinned, the Broad-tailed Hummingbird is still here too. I would say there are four Rufous here. A Bell's Vireo sang in the yard.

We took a spinabout 10-12 or so, starting with the Least Grebe at the golf course pond adjacent to the Waresville Cmty. Finally mighta gotta bit better pix of it. Were a few Red-winged Blackbird there, a Bell's Vireo sang over on the golf course. In dragons, fair numbers of Wandering Glider and Black Saddlebags, smaller numbers of Red Saddlebags, Spot-winged Glider and Green Darner. A couple skippers (butterflies) on some Frog-fruit were a Sachem and a female Whirlabout. At Utopia Park there was a FOS Wilson's Warbler, a female. Also a female Black-and-white Warbler was in the woods, as well as a Least Flycatcher.

Another Least Flycatcher was along 360 on the way home. Here at the hovelita there were Audubon's Oriole in the bath when we got back. Tragedy was while we were gone a deer ate the flowers off of a half-dozen of our Snow-on-the-Mountain plants. Destroyed them. That is what the Clytie Ministreak was on. Now they won't reseed besides losing a great bug attractant. Sure I can walk and drive around to lots of it, but this was in the yard right out the door and we had been nurturing it for months. Dozens of flower heads. Dang deer. There was a Yellow Warbler out there, Yellow-throated Vireo still singing, as is White-eyed.

Aug. 29 ~ We are stuck in it now, another low of 75F, and about a hun for a high. Brutal out there folks. Early there was a FOS Dickcissel in the yard. Noonish there was a Blue-headed Vireo at the bath! It is a record early date (Sept. 9 is my prior earliest FOS) for me here by nearly two weeks. I saw a week ago on Texbirds someone reported a Savannah Sparrow, and this week in Austin an Orange-crowned Warbler was photo'd, both are way early as well. Ssshhhh...   it happens. A couple Audubon's Oriole were around, got another pic of the odd first summer bird. A juvenile Chat also bathed. Saw one Yellow Warbler, a Gnatcatcher, an Orchard Oriole, so barely a slow drip of migrants. Heard the Verdin in the Mesquites across from the gate. Heard and glimpsed the Calliope Hummingbird again, still seems at least 3 Rufous Hummers. Lots of Ruby-throats, fewer Black-chins. Butterfly of the day was a Soldier (Eresimus), which is not just the first this year, I did not see one at all last year. So a nice sight. We need this high pressure regimen to break. They have it progged the heat wave to last through Tuesday which will make a week of this 75-100F yech.

Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird, one of two at our feeders Aug. 30. Note wings extend past the very short tail, bill is short as the head, pale peachy sides. Has a nice soft chip note too. America's smallest bird at 3.25", and up close they don't seem that big. This is probably an immature male.


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Aug. 28 ~ A low of 75F is great (coulda been worse) but a drag too. Looks like the month is going to go out flamin'. We have four days at a hun or so on deck. Heard a Bell's Vireo singing by the north fence from the couch when we were having coffee. Great start. Then a Scrub-Jay was in the live-oaks on the slope in back. Then I saw and heard the Calliope Hummingbird, surely the one I saw yesterday. One Orchard Oriole went through. Town run and a look at the park. One Great Crested Flycatcher and a Yellow Warbler was it for migrants in the woods. Water is a foot from going over the spillway. At least Rosie was there this Friday, after missing her last week. I am so stuffed I can hardly type. About 4 p.m. I saw 102F with a 109 heat index at Hondo, and over a hun at KRVL. Beeville was 102 with a heat index at 118. The dragonfly highlight of the day was in the morning when Kathy sprayed some water around the yard, a male Twelve-spotted Skimmer came in! FOY, and not a sure thing every year. Great bug! I would never have guessed one could literally chum in a dragon spraying water with a hose. Kathy also saw two Roadrunner chasing around behind the cottage.

Aug. 27 ~ Low of 72F and the cool streak is over. A gaggle of Rufous Hummers continues. Mid-morn I saw an imm. or female Calliope Hummingbird on the Tropical Sage and Red Turkscap. Like the Broad-tail I did not see it at the feeders, but of which two are presently Rufous guarded. Hard to get things to stick when that is the case. Hear the Yellow-throated Vireo still singing. Mid-morn a Zone-tailed Hawk circled over low a couple times, all the birds dive for cover. Late morning heard the Audubon's Oriole troop around. Kathy saw a Hutton's Vireo coming in to bath.

I watched a Field Sparrow give calls I have never heard. Never would have guessed that was what was making the noises I was watching be made from 10's away. It was deep throaty wrenish gibberish, sorta like a Lark or Rufous-crowned Sparrow might make. Or even that Yellow-throated Vireo gibberish talk thing. From a Field Sparrow at point blank. I gotta say, I live with them, and am an audio freak. So hearing something I have not ever heard reminds me of how little we actually know, and how little all our experience really is. I have been birding 65 of my 64.5 years, and I regularly hear new different sounds I have never heard. Like that thing begging out there at night now. All our experience is just not that much, and certainly a lot less than some think it is.

Kathy counted 7 greenies at once on the patio at last call for seed. One ad. ma. Indigo continues, now without tail. A number of immature and female Indigo still here. Outstanding was an adult male LAZULI Bunting on the patio just after 10 a.m.! Lazuli are very rare here in fall, most falls I do not see one here. Surely I have never seen a male still with blue breeding plumage here in fall. Great since I missed it this spring too. Not to mention a bunting trifecta on the patio. Only got a docushot through a window. Whaddabird! That incredible blue is unique in American birds.

Saw a nice 20" Western Ribbonsnake over at the cottage. Black Rock Squirrel went in the cottage when a door was open, I ended up chasing it out the back door. Seems like he is moving in. Nearing sunset the White-winged Doves departed the trees around the yard, was about 38 total. I know there are about a dozen juveniles around, so probably a couple dozen adults.

Aug. 26 ~ The low lows run continues, was 66F again, which is incredible. Ninth day consecutive with a low below 70F. Has not happened in all my now 17 Augusts here. We're gonna pay for it, I know. A Gnatcatcher must have slept in yard, it was calling way before sunup. I was trying to figure out how many Rufous Hummer are here and had three at once coming into the patio porch feeder, two is the usual limit here, and that is not often. Did not see the Broad-tailed today though. Nor an ad.ma. Black-chinned. Still good numbers of imm. or female (mostly the former methinks) here, but Ruby-throats are really increasing quickly. Later in day two Orchard Oriole in pecans, a Hooded coming in to feeders. Saw the ad. male Painted Bunting that was here this week with the yellow across lower breast. Saw a Painted Lady (butterfly). Another Gnatcat late a dusk. The weird begging after dark continues, must be a begging baby Tex-Mex Screech-Owl. Also heard a begging young Barred Owl across road toward river. Just west of the river crossing at 360 in that first small pasture there was a flock of at least 8, maybe 10 Common Ground-Dove. Surely some adults with some juveniles. It was a large group, for here.

Aug. 25 ~ I saw 66F before sunup, and KRVL had 64! About 3:30 I saw 94F on the cool shady front porch. Maybe one Yellow Warbler was it for morning movement. No ad.male buntings, and fewer juveniles here. Have not seen a Blue Grosbeak in several days, they are gone. More Ruby-throated Hummers though. Better was a FOS Broad-tailed Hummingbird (imm. or fem.) in the afternoon. It was feeding at the Tropical Sage and Red Turkscap, not the feeders, when I saw it. An imm. fem. Rufous is guarding one feeder, I hear another, and maybe another. I am losing track of all of them.

I see the Black Rock Squirrel has a new burrow entrance at corner of the cottage. Sure a neat beast. Locals mostly shoot them for undermining foundations. Seems if a squirrl can take it out, there should have been six or twelve more inches of concrete? Saw a Northern Cloudywing and Tropical Checkered-Skipper on the Frog-fruit, but which is fading. For the second night there has been some weird call I don't know, I presume a begging something. After dark, it moves around a lot. One is sorta like a mini-Barn Owl, not as loud or harsh and graty, but a jjjeeeeep about a second long. The other call is downslurred, a plaintive whistle, a second long. Most of the things I run down out there that I never heard before turn out to be mccallii Screech-Owls so presume that is the case. My tape recorder is shot so no good way to get a decent rendition. The camera when on video has poor sound quality.

Aug. 24 ~ Another 66F low is amazing. I can't believe this string of lows in the 60's we have had. This is the 7th in a row. Started by that weird mid-August front that dragged through. It far over-perfomred with the lows, followed by the MCS a couple days ago that was called an over-achiever, again, no weakness on the modeling. We sure needed the break from the heat. There are two begging baby Zone-tailed Hawks somewhere behind us, hanging high up. I thought I heard two a few times the last few days, but this morn the begging competition was more than obvious. Heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo this morning, the first in a month since the mid-July heat spell whence they bugged out. So this is a transient.

Lots of mid level cumulus kept us in low 90's. In the afternoon I heard a troop of Audubon's Orio over in the corral. Had a sick Lesser Goldfinch that died in the afternoon. In other avian maladies, there is a Field Sparrow here with a big round growth on one foot. Did not see any adult Indigo Bunting today, and the numbers of greenies (imm. Painted) are down. The north flow for the last few days may have inspired some departures. There is a Rufous Hummer guarding the front feeder, but it is not the one there a couple days ago. Looks like a young male maybe, but certainly not one of the last two here this weekend. So five here now so far this fall, just at our feeders. More Ruby-throats showing up and less Black-chins around, the latter are departing in numbers. Ran to town for P.O. quickly in late afternoon, a Great Egret was at the park, no time so I didn't walk the woods. No Scissor-tails along roads. Had a real harsh chatter I would swear was a Baltimore Oriole but could not find it over by the gate.

Aug. 23 ~ A lower than progged 66F low was outstanding! NOAA says the MCS yesterday to our east over-performed. How about the models not being very good? Temps are great though, afternoon in shade was 92F. Heard an Upland Sandpiper early. There were two Rufous Hummingbird here, the imm. male of yesterday, and a new adult female. Seems a good year for them so far. A juv. and an adult female Hooded Oriole were at feeders. Heard a couple Orchard Orio go by. The Bell's Vireo still singing over in corral.

We went for a couple hour spin-around 10-12 or so. First went to the golf course pond by the Waresville Cmty., the LEAST GREBE continues, but my dozen pix were murdered in the first degree by Canon autofocus. Woulda been my best shots. It chose reflection of cattails way far behind the bird to focus on, despite giving me the holy sacred blue box on the bird. So if you need some upsidedown cattails... Only one Red-winged Blackbird left there, the breeding flock is gone. So are the martins and swallows. Best was a FOS Loggerhead Shrike. In Odes, several Thornbush Dasher, Wandering and Spot-winged Glider, Red, and Black, Saddlebags, Green Darner, just the usual stuff. A Sachem was on the Frog-fruit there, which is going great still.

Then we checked the park. My FOS Cattle Egret was along muddy bank where was water. Water is about 8" from going over spillway now. The trees below the spillway which are usually at waters edge are not and all the Cypresses and Sycamores have turned. As in rusty brown fall colors, done for the year. It was obvious a week ago, I have been forgetting to mention, but now it looks like October below dam. Many Pecan and Hackberry are also showing yellow now as well. Drought makes an early leaf change and drop.

At the muddy edge exposed along island in woods, I presume the same Louisiana Waterthrush continued since Friday. Got some docu shots, it is at maximum fresh brightness, an ad. that has just finished post-breeding molt. We had great views. Two Yellow Warbler, three singing Yellow-throated Vireo, heard a calling Great Crested Flycatcher, saw one Least Flycatcher, and one Hutton's Vireo. So some migrant motion, but nothing major. We stopped at the 360 x-ing on the way home, some Audubon's Oriole were leaving the river as we got there, perhaps the ones going through our yard over a half-mile away. Another Yellow Warbler, just about no odes, the water is way low. Also a Yellow Warbler at the golf course, and one in yard, so at least five total this morning.

Heard an Upland Sandpiper at twilight. Late heard a Barn Owl go over calling. Very neat were after dark three mccallii Screech-Owl doing all sorts of calling around the yard at once. At one point of silence one broke into the single note hoots that sound very similar to Pygmy-Owl toots. None of the others were calling at the time and it would give 4-5 single well-spaced hoots, stop a while, repeat. If one heard this alone without any other calls, I can not imagine someone thinking it was a Screech-Owl. I say that as an owl whisperer that has called Flammulated Owl into the branch over my hammock. A hard hard listen at the tone though and it is not the sharper musical Pygmy-Owl tone, but a flatter, slightly lower, deeper, version of it, barely with a distinct Screech-Owl tone or quality.

Aug. 22 ~ We lucked into another cool low at 69F. We cherish them here if you haven't noticed. There was a big area of rain to our east crossing the hill country and plateau from the north in the morning. Kept most of the sun from us and so had a great cool morning. Cool means it was still in the 70's until noon. Wonderful. Shoulda snuck in some birding. Here in yard early there was an imm. male Rufous Hummingbird with a row of gorget feathers at botttom of gorget, so different from any prior here so far. Third one here this August, fourth in area with the one at park yesterday, just that I have seen. Who knows how many others are at feeders around, surely Judy Schaffer has a couple. Great to be seeing Ruby-throats after months of only Black-chins. One ad. ma. Black-chinned is still here, the rest immatures or females.

Heard an Upland Sandpiper low about 9 a.m., dropping down for the day. A couple Yellow Warbler went through yard. I briefly got binocs on a FOS Nashville Warbler. The juv. Hooded Oriole was at the hummer feeders. A different ad. male Painted Bunting was on patio. Two ad. male Indigo continue, both barely blue now. Molting here before going, whilst most have left. Late morning Kathy spotted Audubon's Orioles coming into the birdbath. I got some shots through the magic screen while they bathed. She said it was five birds at once. I was too busy taking pix, but it was a oriole traffic jam. It is a flock of fledged juveniles banding together. No adults. Looking at pix later it may well have been 6 birds! Then heard a Bell's Vireo singing along fenceline with corral. Yellow-throated Vireo still singing out there too, and White-eyed is almost always going.

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For pix we are going to show some greenies this week. That is non-adult male Painted Bunting. They are green buntings, and can be a juvenile (this years young), an adult female, or a first spring male, so fairly tricky to sex and age at a glance. I will chip these off into a separate page one day, but for now here is some study material.

Painted Bunting

This is a nearly year-old first spring or summer (on left), and a fresh juvenile (right) Painted Bunting. While most first spring males are all green like females, some first spring/summer males show some reddish color on underparts, maybe 10% here. Those stay mostly like this one all spring and summer. Another color phase of first spring males has some blue flecks in head and is yellower below.


Painted Bunting

This is a worn female. I can't say if a one year old, or more. But I think a first summer. The worn tail tells us it is not a juvenile, and a female that has been nesting. Note the bright green back compared to the dull gray head. Either the back feathers are new and fresh, or, are unworn as is the rest of the bird. Most of the bird is year old worn grayed formerly green feathers. Green wears to gray in many birds, like Empidonax flycatchers which are often very green when fresh and gray when worn. That head was initially green.


Painted Bunting

This is a first spring male in May. The blueish area on shoulder is a tip off for a first spring male. Not all show it but if present, it is a young male.


Painted Bunting

Not sure on this one, taken Sept. 15, it is probably an adult female.


Painted Bunting

See the greenie?


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Aug. 21 ~ One last low in the 60's for a bit, at 68F. What a great break it has been this week with just the slightest northerly flow. Hear the Yellow-throated Vireo singing out there still. Two were singing at the park on my town run. Also at park was a Lousisiana Waterthrush, the FOS for those this fall. One Yellow Warbler at park as well, and at least one was in the yard too. The other good park bird was a Rufous Hummingbird at the Red Turkscap at the entrance sign. Always good to get away from feeders here. A juv. Hooded Oriole came by, haven't seen the one that was here in a week. Heard the Bushtits over in corral again. Heard the begging baby Zone-tailed Hawk high overhead behind us somewhere. They just hang up there at a thousand feet and beg. It often can sound similar to a Long-billed Curlew call. Little Creek Larry said he has seen a few Blue-winged Teal among nearly a hundred Black-bellied Whistling-Duck over on Little Creek. The BBWD must have had a good year breeding over there. Late in the afternoon there were three Yellow Warbler here in the yard, 2 males and a female. Looking west late you could see the brown and orange haze from the smoke from the fires way out west. Saw a male Painted Bunting last thing late on patio. It was the one with the yellow band across breast I saw a week ago, but not since. Counted 7 greenies at once on the patio late. Heard an Upland Sandpiper right as it got dark. Taking off to fly for the night.

Aug. 20 ~ Another 65F low is a dream. Third day at or about record lows for the dates. Outstanding. Not much for migrant motion in the morn though. A couple Orchard Oriole was about it, later a Gnatcatcher. The begging baby Zone-tailed Hawk continued high up behind us somewhere. Great was the flock of Bushtit went through the yard again, but it was quick this time. I missed the start and counted 14 going over the cottage. One male Indigo Bunting still here is getting to be barely blue. A couple young are still begging and flying over to draw and back. Only the female has attended them. A couple tame baby Field Sparrow around. The Titmice are already stashing sunflower seeds. Saw a Giant Swallowtail, which have been few, likely the one Kathy saw yesterday. Saw a Sachem on the Blue Mist Eupatorium.

A rain cell to the west blocked the sun for us about 3 p.m. in the afternoon keeping it in low 90's. About 4 p.m. a couple cells blew up and ran down the divides on either side of us, just spit a trace here, the Utopia rain kryptonite held, but dropped temps to 78F by 5 p.m.! Beat the heat again. Right as they cells got by I saw two Purple Martin low out front, they are largely gone now. Then I saw a Chuck-will's-widow flying barely over the trees going up the draw! Yeah it was darkish out, but way too light for Chucks. It was absolutely positively not a Nighthawk, which often come out in the day after rains. Hummer numbers went up after the cells went by, besides lots of imm. Black-chins, I saw two adult male and an immature or female Ruby-throated at one feeder. Firefly number a handful now. Lots of Barn Swallows after the rain as well, a few Chimney Swift too.

Aug. 19 ~ A low of 65F is surely at or near a record low for the date. It is a dream these dog days of summer. Gives hope for the fall. Heard a couple Upland Sandpiper low just after sunup. Hope to sneak over to scan airstrip later. About 9 a.m. there was an imm. or female type Rufous Hummingbird at the front porch feeder, and an ad. male Black-chinned chased it away. I presume a transient, as only immatures or female Black-chins here now. A male Painted Bunting was briefly on the seed tube early. Must be at least 10 immatures around. Several imm. Indigo as well. Just before 10 a.m. there was a begging baby Zone-tailed Hawk high over the house. One Yellow Warbler and a couple Orchard Oriole went through yard, heard the Yellow-throated Vireo singing.

In afternoon had to run to town for seed. At park heard a Green King up at island. In the thick stuff on island I heard what sounded like a Mourning Warbler, but there was no seeing it. At north end of island heard what sounded a Wilson's Warbler, which disappeared. There are mudflats along edge of river, it has dropped another couple inches. The rain was great for the immediate ground and plants, but nothing much for the aquifer. Did a spin around the airstrip and checked the big horse pasture on way back, no grasspipers. I keep forgetting to mention, every day the last few we have seen the Black Rock Squirrel around, often on the patio.

Aug. 18 ~ A low of 66F has to be at or near the record. The record low for the date at SAT is 67F. It was wonderful. Rain-cooled, but with fairly dry northerly flow behind it so quite nice. I see lots of big green pecans it knocked out of the trees before their time, and lots of dead branches finally fell out. Later in day down the road I saw a Hackberry over 40' tall split in two. A big old one. They are dry and drought stressed, and the 40+mph outflow yesterday took it and lots of branches down.

Before 7 and at 8 a.m. I heard single Upland Sandpiper fly over low calling, looking to go down for the day. Heard a Yellow Warbler mid-morn, then saw an ad. female about 3 p.m. in pecans. Saw a couple Orchard Oriole. Male Indigo still here, no male Painted. Saw an immature or female Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Saw a Nysa Roadside-Skipper at Blue Mist Eup. at front porch. Between 3 and 4 p.m. there was a rain cell nearish, it spit on us a few times, and dropped it from 91 to 86F, and a half-hour later to 82! Went from getting icky to bearable.

I was out front after 4 p.m. and heard real close Upland Sandpipers! Three flew by right over the road at treetop level! I don't know if they came up from the area across the road where lots of dry flowers and grasses, or were looking to go down, but they were a couple feet over the tops of the Mesquites across from the gate! Calling as they flew by low and slow. Awesomeness. Grasspipers!

I heard them going toward airstrip so went over and cruised it and checked the pasture the horses are in all day, and did not see them. It seems ideal perfect habitat. There were a bunch of juvenile Vermilion Flycatcher a couple of which were just out of the nest and probably from the corral nesters. Also a number of juv. Eastern Phoebe, and a few Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Hundreds of dragonfly were hawking low over the pasture. Mostly Spot-winged Glider, some Wandering Glider, and Red, and Black, Saddlebags. But no Ups.

The biggest hit of the day though was a tiny tiny butterfly. Outstanding was finding a CLYTIE MINISTREAK on Snow-on-the-Mountain in the driveway! Ran for camera and Kathy, got 10 pix, all but one trash, way out of focus (from point blank). An hour later I found it again on the Frog-fruit, another set of out-of-focus throwaway pix obtained, one barely ok. Have I mentioned lately how poor the autofocus is on the Canon SX40? It is way beyond horrible. Barely usable for nature work. Everything you see here in focus is a miracle. I read once a optics guy called it quirky. That is the nicest way to say how badly it sucks. But I digress...    I have seen a couple of Clytie here in 16 years. This is the first time I got an ID shot to prove it. One at the library garden about 5 years ago was the last. They are a south Texas specialty whose range is fairly strictly in the brush country. They do not regularly or normally even get north to Hwy 90. It is one of the 10 or so butterfly species out of 145 or so that I have seen around Utopia, that I had not obtained a photo (holy irrefutable proof) of. So it was critical to get an ID docushot. Those are the ones you really really like to get. Now if I could get a Silver-spotted Skipper pic.

Aug. 17 ~ Saw 74F for a low before sunup. No migrants through yard though. Before 7 a.m. the Porcupine I saw last night climbed down out of a pecan in the corral, through the hog fence, walked across yard, then through the front hog fence, across road and headed over towards the draw. Once several years ago I found one roosting under some roots deep in a shady spot there. What an amazing animal. The way they saunter, that stride, if you can call it that, which is more of a waddle, is amazing. The result of eons of not giving a shat, from wearing your prickiness on your coat.

Was fairly icky but cooler than last bunch of days with 90F and sticky at 2:45 p.m. Whence the cooler dry air got here from the not cold whatsoever fairly unusual mid-August cold front. It kicked off a cell north of town and upvalley which blew up into a major one in 15 minutes, at 3 we unplugged everything as the outflow boundry hit with 40+mph winds and lots of lightning. Then it poured for a half hour, followed by a moderate rain for a half hour and looks like we got about 3.5 cm, or 1.35" of the holy wet stuff! Temps went down to 68F at several local WU stations, our wet thermometer actually showed 66F at 4 p.m.! Today, we beat the heat. Sometimes it is the little victories in life. A couple miles east of us they got 2.5" and a couple miles west up on the divide there was 4-5"! We were in a light slot. Had warmed up to 70F at 7 p.m., over 20 lower than it has been at that time.

Saw no ad. male Painted Bunting again today, one male Indigo, two of the begging baby Indigos must have fledged yesterday at most, they can hardly land and perch. At least 10 greenies, imm. and female Painted Bunting. After the rain I saw two Red-eyed Vireo in the hackberry by the gate, which then flew into the yard pecans. They never made a sound. Fall migrants moving south down the river habitat corridor. There were a bunch of dragons moving southward the last couple hours of light. Amongst all the usual stuff TWO Four-spotted Pennant went by! They are rare up here, but I have seen them a couple times in migrating flocks like this. Saw at least 3 maybe 4 Firefly at dusk. At 11 p.m. my FOS Barn Owl flew over heading SW. Have not heard one in months, they do not seem to summer locally.

Aug. 16 ~ It was 76F at quarter to seven, often it drops another dF right before sunup, but I have seed to toss and bird bath to refill, so didn't watch it. I heard a FOS Yellow Warbler first thing as I was reading temp, it zzzeeted several times up in the pecan, but I did not see it. Wasn't awake enough to persue. After breakfast there was a Verdin in the Mesquites across from the gate. Have had one the last four falls, this is the 3rd in mid-August here. Is it the same one? I presume they are post-breeding wanderers moving up from the very drought stricken (worse than us) brush country to the south of us. A couple Orchard Oriole went by. Hummers are way down, there has been a major departure the last few days. They can't handle the heat, and there are no flowers.

Last two days most local areas broke their heat records, today was at or near, for 3rd day straight. Worked inside. Saw 97F on the cool shady front porch in the late afternoon, searing in the sun. The action was at dusk as it cooled down. Kathy was watering whilst I was on patio facing her and she looked up and said 'whooaa'. I looked up and a Chuck-will's-widow was 10' over my head, and barely cleared the roof as it flew over the house. They are still around, but silent a month now.

Then I was out in driveway and a yearling Porcupine sashays on by, sweeping the road as it did. It went through the hog fence openings easypeasy. They must be all quill, those are 6" squares maybe. Then it crossed yard toward the water trough in the corral, I lost it behind the wellhouse. What a cool beast.

The fall Firefly flight doubled in size, I saw one in the yard, and a second one over in the corral. And then the one in the yard flew over into the corral toward that one. And then there were none. I lost my Firefly. Much later I did see another out by gate. Lots of bats at dusk lately. A, or the, Red, and a bunch of Brazillian Freetail.

Aug. 15 ~ A 74F low, a few morning low clouds went by, but nothing significant. Gonna be a burner. NOAA says should tie or break some area records today, as was done yesterday. Seems like about the tenth summer in a row that we are 5-10F above average temps, all summer long. Saw 98F in shade about 5 p.m. on front porch, whence was 102 at KRVL and SAT, 106 at Del Rio, 107 at Junction, Hondo was 104 and Uvalde 105F. Ughhh, working on stuff inside today.

Did not see any morning migrant passage, not even an Orchard Oriole or Gnatcatcher. Only different thing was a male Painted Bunting briefly at a feeder, but which did not look like the one briefly here yesterday with the yellow breastband. Another transient. It is that time of year. About 10 greenies out there. Some fem. and juvie Indigo as well, and the two shabby ad. male Indigo continue too. Around peak heat I flushed a Chat out of the Blue Mist Eup. at the front porch. Coolest spot around, Kathy sprays water on them. Saw a Black Rock Squirrel on the patio, have not seen one around in a few months, at least. It lives nearby but is very people shy. Decades of being shot at will do that. About 7 p.m. finally 3-4 Orchard Oriole went through yard.

Then at dusk I saw my FOS fall Firefly. The fall flight is seperated from the spring flight usually by 6 weeks or more. They are just about gone if not already by July 4. Then none are seen until mid-August or so, whence a fall flight will commence, peaking in September usually. I have no clue as to the biology, ergo, are these the progeny of the spring flight, or unrelated and on a different schedule? Are they the same species? They look it to me, as Lampyrid layfolk.

If you just have to have a new bird photo to see, check out the hawk photo page revamp... almost 20 new pics there. This week the bird of the week was a butterfly...

clytie ministreak

Here is a Clytie Ministreak (Ministrymon clytie), Aug. 18, 2020, on Snow-on-the-Mountain in our driveway. This plant has twice the flowers of the other specimens around because the hose squirt reaches it, and BAM! A Mexican species, generally in the U.S. a deep south Texas brush country specialty, extremely rare on the Edwards Plateau. This image is about 10 times life size.


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Aug. 14 ~ Low was a wee bit under 74F. No morning clouds. They are predicting Saturday, tomorrow, to be peak heat from this spell. It looked about 98F at peak heat in late afternoon on cool shady front porch. It is roughly 6:30 p.m. when peak temp starts to drop. A couple Orchard Oriole went through yard early. Town run day. Saw Little Creek Larry, he said he saw a Snowy Egret besides the Great Egret (which continues) at the park. He also saw a Spotted Sandpiper again. Over at Little Creek he saw a FOS Blue-winged Teal, I forgot to ask date. He said he has been 102-104F for high temps about 2 mi. ENE of town. I did not see the Anhinga today, but if in the water they are easy to miss. Or it may have been a one hour wonder. There were Ringed and Green Kingfisher up on the island, a Green Heron, and a few greenie imm. Painted Bunting were in the woods. Later here a Gnatcatcher in yard.

Aug. 13 ~ Low was 74F, no typical morning low clouds from the Gulf, the high pressure is too strong, in 99th percentile for that per NOAA. We have about four more days of it before it moves off somewhere and lightens up on us. It is brutal out there in the afternoons folks. In the morning here there were at least a half dozen Orchard Oriole that went through the yard, ended up with 7-8 minimum. Heard an Upland Sandpiper right before sunup, low, looking for a place to go down. Saw a female Black-n-white Warbler. Still two ratty male Indigo Buntings but new was a male Painted with yellow on underparts that makes it obviously not one of the local residents we have been seeing. Those have been absent the last couple days anyway, our yardish breeders have departed on schedule. This bird was not seen again later in day. Heard both the Red-eyed and the Yellow-throated Vireo still singing. Got pix of a skipper I am not sure of, looked an odd Roadside- type but not sure.

Saw 96F on the cool shady front porch about 3 p.m. Many hill country areas and along Hwy. 90 were at 100F. An adult Red-shouldered Hawk seemed to be making off with prey in the afternoon. About 7 p.m. I saw an ad. male Black-chinned Hummingbird. Had not seen one all day, or the prior two. Monday the 10th was the last day the I saw the one that had been here guarding the office feeder in back. Heard Screech-Owl at dusk, waiting for dark to hit the bath as it will do on super hot days. Finally at 11 and midnight a couple more 10 minute skywatch sessions at each hour yielded a single Perseid meteor. Both very good ones, a greenie and and an orange one, both close and coming my direction with great trails. Very nice.

Aug. 12 ~ Low of 75F is at least a break from the heat. It was a baker in the afternoon, 95F in the shade on front porch. Surely a hun in the sun. Had to run to town early so a check of the park, which hit paydirt. Water is over an inch from going over the spillway. Up at the north end of woods and island, where I presume it flew up off one of the old logs the turtles sun on, was probably drying its wings, an ANHINGA flushed! Fortunately it landed in that big dead cypress with all the great snags. You could not see it from the main park, you had to take the trail through the woods all the way to the fence and then over to river to see it through a hole in the trees. I got a few distant docu shots anyway. It was a female. It is only the second Anhinga I have seen here, the other a male May 4, 2011. In other words I have seen more (each) of Tropical Parula, Rufous-capped Warbler, Short-tailed Hawk, and Clay-colored Thrush here than Anhinga. That first male flew off as I pulled into the park so I did not get any pix, this first local docs methinks. Whaddabird! They (1-2) are nearly annual at the waterholes around Uvalde, but accidental up here in hills of the Edwards Plateau. I see in ebird one was at Ft. Inge the first week of August this year. I have a photo of one there from over a decade ago. No Edwards Plateau sightings so far this year in ebird. The I-35 corridor (Ft. Worth, Waco, Austin, SAT, to Laredo) is the normal western edge of regular (scarce) occurrence. There was also a Couch's Kingbird at the main pond, my first post-breeding wanderer locally this summer. Also saw the imm. fem. Green Kingfisher.

Then back at the hovelita after we had couple of Rosie's egg, chorizo, and cheese breakfast tacos I was outside and heard Bushtits! I had mentioned several days ago I thought I heard them. This time I got the full monty whole flock. Ran in for camera (to just about no avail) and yelled Bushtits for Kathy. The flock worked from the junipers along north fenceline to the Mesquite and Hackberry by the gate, then right over my head into the yard pecans, then over to the corral pecans and then junipers. My best count-estimate as they flew over was 18 in the flock. Awesome! They have been quite scarce since that exceptional drought. This is a few family groups no doubt. I didn't get to see most of them well enough to check for black ears. A great flocklet of birds! All I got for pix is some Bushtit butts. Which ain't much! But can see one has new tail feathers growing in. Such big excitement for such a small bird.

Walking around tossing seed I heard a buzzzzz every several steps from hidden in the bushes. Maybe I mentioned this before, but it should be called a 'buzz of buntings'™. Two male Indigos here, in heavy body molt, they are ratty. No male Painted, but a bunch of greenies (fem. and imm.). Mid-afternoon I saw a White-patched Skipper (Chiomara asychis) on the Frog-fruit, which it looks remarkably like. First one I have seen in at least a few years. Ran inside for camera and it was gone when I got back out. Did have it in the yard once before, maybe five years ago. It is far less than annual, strictly a very scarce vagrant here. A great bug! Did another couple 10 minute watches at 11 and midnight, still no Perseids for me.

Aug. 11 ~ We are stuck in the doldrums running roughly 75-100F for a daily temp spread. These are the dog days. A first summer male Black-and-white Warbler came into the birdbath early in a.m., as did an adult Yellow-breasted Chat (molting tail) and the Summer Tanager (also in heavy molt molting tail). New begging baby Chipping Sparrow. The one ad. ma. Indigo Bunting left is in heavy molt, much of the body is gray. A couple juvie Indigo and one ad. fem. also present. Juv. Blue Grosbeak on patio again today. Lots of greenies (imm. or female Painted Bunting) but did not see an adult male Painted today. Couple Gnatcatchers went through. Great stars late but in two 10 minute observation periods after 11 and 12 I saw no Perseid meteors. Moon was coming up shortly so blew it off.

Aug. 10 ~ A 74F low, and not much for morning low clouds from the Gulf, just the humidity. Kathy had a male Orchard Oriole leaving the bath, wished I would have caught it there, bath was in sun at the time. No other migrant birds seen until 11:30 a.m. when I saw an ad. male hummer with a dark throat. Noticing a very long tail I knew it wasn't that last male Black-chinned here. Then it turned and showed me the color in throat. Sure enough, FOS ad. male Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Another fall migrant.

Most of the migrants in the yard in the morning were dragonflies. Several dozen, first good wave I have seen this fall (for them). At least a couple dozen were Spot-winged Glider, a dozen plus Wandering Glider, and about a dozen each of Black, and Red, Saddlebags. So some numbers, but not from here, passage transients. No one knows from where they come or where they go. A mystery like millions of things in nature, this is what makes nature observation fascinating and exciting.

The Frog-fruit was going well with butterflies. One Rounded Metalmark is still there, day 3. Two handfuls of Olive-Juniper Hairstreak, they are thick now. Lots of more common little stuff, a Vesta Crescent, etc. A female Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly was flycatching adjacent to the flowers, presumably picking off smaller stuff (like small flies) coming in. They sure are pretty. Male Blue Grosbeak hit the patio for seed late in day, one each male Painted, and Indigo Bunting continue.

Aug. 9 ~ Low of 74F with a bit of the low Gulf stratus off and on over the morning. Was 84F in shade of front porch at 11 a.m. Later in day about 7:30 p.m. I was checking local temps. We were 89F on the front porch, most local Utopia WU stations were reading 90 to 92F. From NOAA, SAT was at 96 and Austin 98F! So I guess everything is still relative, we are better off than others.

Heard Audubon's Oriole first thing in morn. We went over to the golf course pond about 9 a.m. hoping to check it before it was disturbed. An immature female Cooper's Hawk was hunting juvie Red-winged Blackbirds there so we were too late. Heard Purple Martins overhead. No grasspipers on the fairways. Went out Jones Cmty. Rd. to W. Sabinal Rd. checking another couple thousand acres of great looking pastures, nothing there. A couple Scissor-tails and some Lark Sparrow, a couple Mockers, an Eastern Bluebird.

Briefly stopped at the county-line crossing and grabbed an aquatic plant I had before in a tank here, but don't know what it is. Some in the tub now. It is an ammonia eating dream. There was a Red-eyed Vireo there, and an imm. male Green Kingfisher. An imm. fem. Green King was at the 360 crossing as we left home earlier, and another imm. fem. was at the island at the park. Three Green Kings this morn, all immatures. At Utopia Park, we heard a Ringed Kingfisher upriver. Best was a Great Egret, the first one of the fall. Also there were several White-eyed Vireo, a Summer Tanager, at least one ad. Blue Jay. Water is no longer going over spillway at park, it was still, barely, on Friday, down over an inch since then. We saw an Orchard Oriole along a road somewhere.

Driveway Frog-fruit patch had the bigger female Rounded Metalmark on it again later morning. Late afternoon 8 Olive Juniper Hairstreak at once were on it plus an Orange Skipperling and some assorted stuff. The Yellow-throated Vireo is still singing around yard. Juvenile Blue Grosbeak on patio is likely from the patio-using nesters just across the road. It was there in a.m. and again at last sun, a fresh beauty. Late p.m. on the patio were 5 juv. Painted and 2+ juv. Indigo besides single adult Painted and Indigo. The Indigo gave another flight song once as it was leaving after feeding. Nice to see more juvie Lesser Goldfinch after they got wiped out in the hail in late May.

Turned on the front porch light for a couple hours to see if anything was out there. Nope. Nothing. I am amazed at the dearth of bugs. The wall was empty. No micros, not a bunch of little stuff moving around, deader than a doornail. We are here in the river habitat corridor, how can there be no bugs at a light at night? Something ain't right out there...

Aug. 8 ~ Was 75F for a low, blech. Some morning clouds, nice and humid. First thing at quarter to seven the first hummingbird at the front porch feeder was the Rufous. Have not seen it again. Tanked and split methinks. No migrant movement in morning. One male Painted Bunting, lots of greenies. In late afternoon there was a Least Flycatcher out by the gate feeding in yard. One Gnatcatcher as well. Yellow-throated Vireo still singing, but is not mated. Ad. with a new juv. Field Sparrow on the seed.

Best action today were the butterflies on the Frog-fruit. The two patches we water are still going, one very well. Best was my FOY Metalmarks (Calephelis), there were two, both Rounded (perditalis). Great to see some finally! There were 10 Olive Juniper Hairstreak at once on the Frog-fruit! Fresh green ones through worn brown ones. One Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak. One Orange Skipperling, several Reakirt's and a Ceraunus Blue, Vesta Crescent, N. Mestra, a Lyside, one Nysa Roadside-Skipper, some Dun Skipper, a Common Checkered-Skipper. On Lantana and Blue Mistflower Gulf Frits, Pipevine, and a few Queen.

To catch up on the mystery birds ...

The birds in photo breaks the two prior weeks were juvenile (HY - hatch-year) Audubon's Oriole.

And here is the bird of the week ...
anhinga

This is a long-range docu shot of the female Anhinga at
Utopia Park Aug. 12. Yes those are orange webbed feet.
Males are all black of chest and neck. Water-Turkey and
Snakebird were understandable names for it. They often
swim with body underwater, just head and neck exposed.
The dagger of a bill is a fish spear.

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Aug. 7 ~ Another week has flown by. Low was 74F. Some gulf low stratus. Heard some Upland Sandpipers in the a.m. early, low, maybe four, will have to go scan the airstrip. Heard Long-billed Thrasher over in the corral and Audubon's Oriole up the hill behind us. Town run fer shtuff. On on the front fence as I left a Least Flycatcher was working it. Though thought I heard one in late July, will count this seen bird as my FOS. Went over to the airstrip and punched gate code in, cruised the mile or so of it and saw no grasspipers, or in the nice pasture adjacent. Did see a nice ad. fem. Blue Grosbeak, and an ad. Scissor-tail with no tail, it is that time. Then cruised around the golf course, alas no grasspipers there either. But was a fair bit of traffic on it already. Did not see the Least Grebe, there was one female or juvenile Purple Martin on the wire over their house. Nice local late date for a bird that surely nested or was hatched here.

At the park there was one imm. fem. Green Kingfisher, heard a Ringed King upriver, a couple juv. Painted Bunting up in the woods. Couple new begging juvie Blue Jay were a late clutch. Saw Orange-striped Threadtail and Orange Bluet in damselflies. On the way home just south of town I hit a big yeller thing I am fairly certain was an Imperial Moth. Bummer. Some Cenizo is in bloom in response to the rain. The Purple Sage of fame, but not of true sages, it is a mugwort. New Riders of the Purple Mugwort didn't have a ring to it anyway. Kathy saw a Chat at the bath and male Blue Grosbeak on the patio. After 7 p.m. and watering I was watching the front porch hummer feeder. One ad. male Black-chinned Hummer was joined by an immature or female Selasphorus, either a Rufous or Allen's Hummingbird and a FOY. A long distance fall migrant. Rufous is the default here. At one point in the afternoon I thought I heard a couple Bushtit over in the corral. Also saw a planthopper that looked a Flatid, family Flatidae, this of the genus Ormenis, but my pix were all out of focus.

Aug. 6 ~ Low of 75F and the low stratus from the Gulf is back. Sure was a nice five day break while it lasted. Saw a different Gulf Coast Toad this a.m. before sunup on front steps. One male Indigo and two male Painted Bunting on seed early. Likely the same two Painted as last night, and the draw breeder Indigo. Only 84F or so at noon, still bearable, as long as you are not digging holes. Great was at last sun twice the male Indigo Bunting went into full flight song, and it was awesome. I was on driveway with sun at my back, each flight was 50 yards or so of singing. He must be leaving soon. Interestingly I have never seen a Painted do flight song. Do they? One Gnatcat late in day. After dark a big Ox Beetle came into a light in the cottage. Huge bug! Awesome beast. Almost forgot, saw a Macromia sps., River Cruiser dragonfly fly around the yard briefly in heat of afternoon.

Aug. 5 ~ A 70F low still feels great. Was in town earlyish and stopped at the park. One Ringed King calling from upriver, a Green Heron. A couple Black Vultures in the woods still with down makes me wonder if they hatched there. Heard some Purple Martin overhead, but no migrants there (or in yard). Did find a couple egg, cheese and chorizo breakfast tacos to go at Rosies. The one ad. ma. Indigo Bunting still here (the draw nester) is only giving the first few notes of song, not the full monty. Lots of juvie Lark Sparrow and House Finch. Did not see a Hooded Oriole on the feeder the last two days. It was too busy stuck at the desk Wednesdays for me. Late at last sun two ad. male Painted Bunting showed up, first ones all day, and saw none yesterday or the day before. They could be transients, or ads. that disappear to lose the begging and just show late to top the tank up. A couple Orchard Oriole and Gnatcats went through nearing last sun as well. At 11 p.m. an Upland Sandpiper called southbound overhead.

Aug. 4 ~ WeeWow a low of 66F! It's like heaven. For an hour or two. Saw a Gulf Coast Toad by cottage before sunup when tossing seed. No male Painted Bunting at the seed in the morning. One male Indigo. Two just-fledged juvie Painted being fed by ad. female. It is as if the males left before the last two were out of the nest. It has seemed that way to me many times over the years. Sometimes also it seems like they leave for a few days to shake the begging and then show up a day or two to top tank one last time before departing. Male Roseate Skimmer dragonfly around the wet patio in morning, ignoring my tub pond.

Mid-morn a flock of aerial insectivores were around a bit. A few dozen Barn Swallow, a couple each Cave and Cliff Swallow, maybe a dozen Chimney Swift and at least 4 Purple Martin included one ad. male. Nice showlet. On the Frog-fruit was a Mournful Duskywing, Buckeye, and an Orange Skipperling, a bit later a Julia's Skipper, Texas Powdered-Skipper and a Desert Checkered-Skipper were on it. One ad. male Black-chinned Hummingbird continues, still guarding the back (office) feeder. A few Orchard Oriole went through, and a couple Gnatcatcher. Field Sparrow is still singing.

Aug. 3 ~ A low of 68F felt fantastic. I saw KRVL had a 66 for a moment. Forecast has us in a cooker for the next ten days plus. I can tell the yard is greener already from the rain a few days ago. I see a couple new baby Gambusia have been dropped in the tub pondlet from one of the females. No Sabine's Gull yet, but the birds are sure using it for drinks. Lots of baby House Finch and Lark Sparrow on the patio.

I do not hear the Red-eyed Vireo that has been singing around the last two months. The Great Crested Flycatcher has been gone a week or two. Do do not hear the Blue Grosbeak singing now either. It seems like some of the male Indigo Bunting left, I only saw one late in day. Maybe all the ad. ma. Painted Bunting have departed, I saw none today. First week of August is when they leave. You can still get some ad. males, but they are often not the birds that were the local territorial ones. There are near a dozen female and juvenile Painted around. A White-striped Longtail (skipper - butterfly) was the first since one in the spring and always great to see here. Took until the 3rd to see a butterfly sps. missed the month prior.

What they said were outlier forecasts a week ago that called for rain today, turned out to be the correct ones. A weak shortwave was the trigger. From 5 p.m. and shortly after it went from over 95F to 70F by 5:30 in over a half-inch of rain. Holy H2O! Which besides much happiness throughout the valley, initiated a termite hatch as often the case. After it stopped I measured .6". So about 2.35" Friday night to Monday late afternoon. A life-saver. Some Chimney Swift buzzing around at last sun.

Aug. 2 ~ Before 7 a.m. when I was tossing seed I heard an Upland Sandpiper call several times from not very high up, coming down for the day. Should go check some pastures. A few Orchard Oriole and a Gnatcat or two went by yard. Saw the male Blue Grosbeak on the patio here. It was pretty toasty out there, but between 5 & 6 there were a few sprinkles that took ten off the top and dropped it to upper 80's for a bit. We were over at the golf course pond by the Waresville Cmty. Saw some FOY Snow-on-the-Mountain flowers open. No Comet Darner but we saw that rascal the LEAST GREBE! It is still there! After missing it 5 times (at least) in the last month! In a dinky pond. It hides in the cattails. There was also a juv. Western Kingbird feeding around the pond, and a juv. Vermilion Flycatcher. Red-wings still nesting, some juvies out and about.

August 1 ~ August!?!?!? OMG! It started on a great note, at 68F! Maybe the first reading in the 60's for a month. I see we ended up with 1.75" of rain from the event yesterday evening. Astounding! More rain than the last two months put together, most of it in barely over an hour. It was getting dire. We were in D1 drought, on the cusp of D2. Normal June and July is 6+" of precip, we had less than 1.5" this year. It is a lifesaver for some late summer bloom. There was a trough axis moving across the Great Plains which brought a front through, on July 31. Late last night after the rain I saw a yearling Red-spotted Toad on the patio. Also one of the small (round) native snails was out cruising around.

Several Orchard Oriole went through over the morning, over a half-dozen. A couple Gnatcats in the afternoon. In Leps saw a Texan Crescent, a Nysa Roadside-Skipper, among about 10 sps. for the new monthly list. Late p.m. a couple more Orchard Orios went through. At last sun, the ad. fem. Cooper's Hawk took a small passerine, I think a juvie Lesser Goldfinch. Late p.m. about 11 I thought sure I heard an Upland Sandpiper call a few times from high overhead.
audubonsoriole

This might be the same bird as last week, or another in same group.
What lovely plumage.



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~ ~ ~ above is 2020 ~ ~ ~

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January through June 2020 is now at Bird News Archive 33.
Bird News Archive XXXIII
Jan. 1 - June 30, 2020


blackcappedvireo

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



The older weekly break bird photos are now at the 2020 photos page. 2020 pix

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To Top of Recent Bird News

Back to Top
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Links to all 16+ 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 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 XXXIII
January 1 - June 30, 2020

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

Bird News Archive XXXI
January 1 - June 30, 2019

Bird News Archive XXX
July 1 - December 31, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bird News Archive I
Winter 2003-04 Summary Notes
and Mar. 31 - May 30, 2004
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