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: September 18, 2020
(prior updates: September 11, 4, August 28, 21, 14, 7, July 31, 24, 17, 10, 3)


*** 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. *

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

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

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.

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!

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 @
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.

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***  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
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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 ~ ~ ~

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:
September 11, 4, August 28, 21, 14, 7, July 31, 24, 17, 10, 3
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

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.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

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.

~ ~ end Aug. summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ 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 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 ...
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.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ July summary ~ ~ ~

It was dry until the last few hours of the month when we got 1.75" of rain finally. Flowers were shot and all but non-existent for most of the month. Frog-fruit was the one thing going well. A comet, NEOWISE, gave a great show mid-to-late-month. Twice this month I saw a Great Plains Skink at the house.

Butterflies were 53 species, so up a few from June and the high monthly total for the year so far. Ornythion Swallowtail was the best rarity seen, in the yard July 3. The only other LTA - less than annual species, was a Laviana White-skipper. Did see a Nysa Roadside-Skipper. Lots of little stuff was on the Frog-fruit, a clear invasion, mostly blues, hairstreaks, skippers, and some crescents. At least a couple Ctenucha moths were seen which have been missed the last several years. Mestra numbers are good with 5 at once on one little Frog-fruit patch.

Odes were 25 species, up a couple from June. But numbers are way down overall, they are hard to find and scarce in general. Best was the continuing male Comet Darner from late June at the golf course pond by the Waresville Cmty. A couple Red-tailed Pennant were around which are barely annual, just a few per year. Only saw a couple Widow Skimmer.

Birds were 82 species that I saw, all locally breeding species. Little Creek Larry had a Spotted Sandpiper late in month which is likely a migrant from elsewhere. A duck sps. that flew over July 3 was something good that isn't supposed to be here. It was not a Wood Duck or Whistling-Duck. Saw Poor-will twice this month which is great. Four juvenile Audubon's Oriole together late in month was great, and more current breeding evidence.

~ ~ ~ end July summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ archive copy update header ~ ~ ~

July. I wouldn't expect a lot here the next month. A continuing male Comet Darner (first was one on 27th of June, two on 28th) at the Waresville golf course pond was seen July 5, 11, and 19. After the dry June lots of breeding birds seem to be winding it down now, and not going another round as in wet June years. Be prepared to melt if out and about after about 11 a.m. or so! There was record breaking heat here July 12, 13, & 14. Most days are mid-90's with higher heat index. A rare here Ornythion Swallowtail was seen July 3. A Great Plains Skink was in the yard July 15 and 17. A very nice comet in mid-July was a totally chaseable stake-out that showed very well. Late July four juvenile Audubon's Oriole together is interesting. The biggest rain in two months was the evening of July 31 (today!), at least 1.5" here. I saw in ebird in late July over toward Uvalde reports of a Gray Flycatcher which is most excellent, and a more expected but scarce Broad-tailed Hummingbird.

~ ~ ~ end update header archive copy ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 31 ~ Low was 75F, with some low gulf stratus for most of morning. But hot in the afternoon. A front is supposed to be inbound later afternoon or early evening. Just after 3 p.m. I saw KRVL in rain at 82F, those lucky bastards, we are bone dry in upper 90's. Water is barely going over the spillway at the park. Not sure how safe it is to swim when the water is stacking up and barely going over, but it doesn't seem to concern the visitors.

Another small group of Orchard Orio through yard early, which will be a near-daily phenom the next month plus. Like the odd Gnatcatcher or two. Daily. When I was in town on the errand run Kathy had a male Orchard at the bath, plus a Yellow-throated Warbler, and a Red-eyed Vireo was in the tree over it. I have never seen a Red-eye at a bath. They never go to it. Bunch of buntings around, at least 10 or 12, Indigo and Painted.

At the park on the island up in the woods there was a Blue Jay and an Audubon's Oriole. Great combo of birds in the same place and time. One juv. Painted Bunting up in woods. Two Green Heron were around the park pond. One Common Grackle in willows at south end of island looked like a juvenile just starting to molt into first basic (winter) plumage. No odes, whaddup with that?

The front got here, outflow boundry was about 7:15 and 30-35 mph. A bunch of Chimney Swift were on it, trapped for who knows how long. The band of storm cells is over 100 miles wide east to west and has been marching for a about a hundred miles. They were just steering. I presume it is an aerial plankton smorgasbord for them. By 7:30 the rain hit and in an hour we had 1.5" of sweet holy rain! OMG! That is more rain as we have seen in 2 months. The temps went from 92 to 72 in an hour. OMG! And the people danced and sang... But the lightning was bad so we have to unplug everything, hence the tardy update upload. It was a two hour event, still raining as I do this. The Barking Frogs are the only thing thrilled as me about it.

July 30 ~ A low of 71F felt great. The gulf stratus got here shortly after sunup and kept it bearable for the morning. A small group of Orchard Orio went through yard early, and one Gnatcatcher. Another coon climbed the fence and ransacked the tub-pond. I guess you have to wear a mask when you are always sneakin' around screwing other people's stuff up. A thickish mid-level layer of stratus parked over us for the afternoon and kept it cooler than planned, 87F much of afternoon on front porch. Supposed to be getting a weak front washing out in the area tomorrow and Saturday, some rain is predicted. Pray, dance, sing, drum, whatever it is you do for rain, now is the time to do it. Saw two ad. male Black-chinned Hummer still here.

July 29 ~ Low was 70.5F, and felt great. A Flock of at least 4 Orchard Oriole went over early, high and fast, passage migrants on the move. We played hooky at the office here until 2 p.m., going to Lost Maples SNA this morning, finally, for a get out and hike. I am about a dozen trips short for a normal spring and early summer this year. We had been unable to get weekend entry as they are only allowing half normal traffic, and so are booked weeks in advance, before we can tell if we can sneak away for half a day. So we did it during the week. There were very few people and it was great, like the old days. We saw no one once we were past the ponds.

Due to the lack of rain it is very dry, there are hardly any flowers, and very few bugs, including butterflies and odes. Most of the breeding season seems over for the birds. Lots of stuff is gone already. In 5 hours going up to the high-water spring on Can Creek a mile past the ponds (about 4 miles total), we did not see or hear any Golden-cheeked Warbler, Black-capped Vireo, Black-and-white Warbler, Ash-throated and Acadian Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo, Indigo Bunting or Blue Grosbeak, Chat, White-tipped Dove, Green Kingfisher, or Audubon's Oriole. Lots of stuff is gone already. Feeding stations are closed down and un-serviced.

Only heard two E. Wood-Pewee and two Summer Tanager so those have mostly bugged out. Heard two Hutton's Vireo. Somewhere high up over the parking lot at the trailhead was a begging Zone-tailed Hawk. We saw two Olive Sparrow, and an ad. and juv. Rufous-crowned Sparrow. There were still numbers of Red-eyed (8+) and White-eyed (10+) Vireo, as well as Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Heard a few Canyon Wren but did not lay eyes on one, as fairly usual. Heard a few Ladder-backed Woodpecker, saw a few Common Raven, a Red-shouldered Hawk, lots of Titmouse (Black-crested), a few Carolina Chickadee, lots of Carolina Wren, a few Bewick's, good numbers of N. Cardinal, a very few E. Phoebe, some Barn Swallow, Turkey and Black Vulture.

In butterflies there was little. A few Sleepy Orange, a Gulf Fritillary, a Dun Skipper, four E. Tiger Swallowtail (3 dark-form female, and 1 yellow), three Spicebush Swallowtail, a few Snout, it was between dreary and dismal. No Sister or Red-spotted Purple, or Two-tailed Swallowtail, no Amblyscrites (Roadside-skippers), I did not even see a single Pipevine or Queen. The Buttonbush was the main blooming attractor. It had bumblebees on it wherever it was in bloom. Odes were not much better. Best were 4 or more Comanche Skimmer, but no Neon, Flame, or Widow Skimmer. Some E. Pondhawk and Blue Dasher, a Red-tailed Pennant, a Wandering Glider which bolted and left the main big pond heading into orbit, a few Swift Setwing, a Green Darner, and one Leaftail that was likely Five-striped. Seemed really weak for the date. Damsels were a few Kiowa Dancer. Pitiful.

In herps: saw 3 lizards, single Six-lined Racerunner, Four-lined Skink, and Texas Spiny Lizard. No snakes. A few turtles slid away in the ponds, which amazingly were Pond Sliders. Amphibs were one yearling Red-spotted Toad, some Blanchard's Cricket-frog and a Leopard Frog. Fish were Mexican Tetras and the Notropis shiner at high-water spot. I love those MexiTets, some were 3" long and fat! Below ponds a Bluegill is the first I have ever seen there, with dark in the soft dorsal. In a pondlet I check the sunfish at all the time. The usual Bantam and Red-breasted Sunfish, the latter in spectacular breeding colors presently.

Plants are stunted from lack of rain, the Frostweed save some in the creekbed is half the height it should be, same for lots of stuff, like the Senna. The flowers I saw a few of were Lindheimer's Senna, Cedar Sage, Mountain Pink, Snapdragon Vine, but Buttonbush was the only thing really going well. If you are up at dark-thirty, Venus is the 'morning star' in the east before dawn, whilst red Mars is near zenith almost straight up. Should have gone up on the hill behind us with scope and nabbed Mercury, which is in Gemini right now, low in East before dawn.

What is weird is how there are more Indigo and Painted Bunting in our yard than at Lost Maples now, and the same for Audubon's Oriole. Afternoon was warm back here at the casita, got up to mid-90's or better. Kathy spotted orioles at the bath, I got the bathroom window open, and heard them as I took some pix, it was the troop of juvenile Audubon's Orios! Only 2 can fit in the bath at once if you were wondering. Three could fit, IF they would stop fighting. Got a few shots but missed some great fighting action that was too fast. Three Hooded were at the hummer feeders here. A group of rain cells went by later in afternoon, all we got was the outflow, but which was great, for cooling us down to 84F or so before 6 p.m. when it was 94.

July 28 ~ A 72F low was great. Common Nighthawk went by about 6:40 a.m. or so. Just a bit of gulf stratus, warmed up fast, and got to the upper 90's F. Hear one Blue Grosbeak and one Indigo Bunting still singing, half-heartedly. Chat is calling but not really singing, Summer Tanagers around but just calling, they seem done. Vermilions seem to be working on another clutch the way the male chased a Phoebe out of an area in the corral. Did hear four vireo sps., the three regulars still singing, plus a Bell's, but no Hutton's. Heard a Scissor-tail which seem to be done for the most part too. Only passage bird was a Gnatcatcher late in the day. Still only Black-chins for hummers and almost all are immatures, only two adult male left at most.

July 27 ~ The gulf stratus got here and kept it balmy, 74F was the low. Dawn chorus is no longer. Just a few things singing, and not very much. It is remarkably quiet before sunrise already. A dry June means a very weak July breeding session. Most has given up. A troop of Audubon's Oriole went through early, a Martin or two overhead, one Gnatcatcher went by southbound. The cool shady front porch was 90F around 3 p.m., pretty toasty in the sun. Neat at last light was a migrant Great Blue Heron up at 1000' (obviously not local movement) dropping down looking for a place to roost.

Two great departures I have been forgetting to mention recently... first, the cowbirds are gone. Last week they bugged out. The daily flock of white millet eating ad. male and female Brown-headed and Bronzed Cowbirds, have not been around for most of a week now. Good riddance. The odd hatch-year juvie still around, but the ad. flock of nest parasites is gone. Surely they can tell stuff is not re-nesting. The other departure was that bastard Ash-throated Flycatcher that spent a week terrorizing everything in the yard, I presume after the female left, is finally gone. All the birds in the yard were glad to see it go.

July 26 ~ A spritz of rain from a band of Hanna went over right around sunup. We might have gotten about .15 of an inch. That was it, but which was great, at least something. The rain-cooled low was 71F which was also great. Deep far south Texas got lots of rain, some areas a foot! And it is flat down there. Will probably fill Falcon Lake. We got a couple day break from the oppressive heat and a couple dust-free days. High was about 90F again. A couple Orchard Oriole went through yard mid-morn but that was it for migration motion.

We went to the park noonish, everyone must have left due to the rain forecast, which then didn't happen. Great to see it soooo empty on a Sunday in summer. Had one Green Heron below the dam. Heard a Purple Martin overhead. Up in the woods there was one Black-and-white Warbler, a transient. One Common Grackle was in the willows at the island. Collected some Maxmillian Sunflower for the tub pondlet, and a few Gambusia (Mosquitofish), still need to get some Ludwigia and other things.

July 25 ~ 'Nother balmy 75F low. Now Hurricane Hanna is set to go much further south than original forecasts a couple days ago. Deep south Texas will get some much-needed rain, we will be lucky to get any. Winds were off and on E to ENE from the circulation, and lots of clouds, so we barely hit 90F, which is 10dF off the recent highs and a treat in itself. Be nice if one of the bands would throw a rain cell our way. Great being in 70's for the evening instead of the 80's. The little things...

The Audubon's Oriole juveniles went through yard and I counted 4 all-green and yellow hatch-year birds as they moved from the big Hackberry over the shed to the Mulberry over the cottage. The single note begging call is not unlike the chuck note of an Orchard Oriole. Deeper, not as sharp, longer of duration, and with perhaps a wee bit of a bleating aspect to it. Always great to see they had nesting success locally. Maybe it could be two sets of two young that joined up and not one clutch of four? I do not see any adults.

I have been looking at the male Indigo Buntings for molt the last few days. What could have easily seemed one bird at a glance is at least three different males based on different molts. One missing a patch on left side of head, another with sheathed feathers all over the head, another with a big gray area on one side. Then after all that hard work over a few days, about 8 p.m. there were FOUR males at once on the patio! I have only been seeing one at a time. Sure makes it easier when they all show at once.

Had a Zone-tailed Hawk fly by and over in afternoon. You can barely see the comet now, with the moon near first quarter the sky is washed out with too much light. It still looks good in binocs, but is fading fast, and nothing like it was a week ago when no moon. This cosmic show is all but over. Just catch it next time if you missed it. It's only 6800 years until it returns.

This appears to be... an excellent photo quiz picture.
Tail is spread, left wing spread, head shows well. It is
always great to get any shots of this little-seen plumage,
and acquire more breeding evidence as well. If only I
could see the brows, squirming, and page flippin'.  ;)
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 24 ~ 75F is as low as she goes presently apparently. No morning clouds and occasional easterly winds. Afternoon upper 90's F with low 00's heat index. We are hoping for some rain tomorrow or Sunday from the system (Hanna) in the Gulf and wish they would quit bending the forecast track south. Meanwhile here the drone of the cicadas do not make it feel any less like the dog days of summer when it is in the upper 90's. Some local WU stations showed over a hun here today.

There was a Hutton's Vireo which sat on edge of birdbath early this morning. Two or three Hooded Oriole visiting feeders but no ad. male. Great was the family group of Audubon's Oriole that was in yard a bit. Looked like at least two, probably 3 juveniles, and 2 adults. They were in most of the yard trees over 15 minutes or so. Lots of calling. A great show. Mighta got a shot of a juv.

Town run, Rosie was gone so no tacos today, Friday just isn't the same. Little Creek Larry said he had a Spotted Sandpiper on the dam at the park this morning. This is undoubtedly a fall migrant, right now is the time the first ones return from nesting. Fall migration for shorebirds is in full swing in July. Should have Upland Sandpipers going over any night, I have been listening just after dark but not heard one yet. There was one Hutton's Vireo up on the island at the park, but that was it. Otherwise slow, the park is packed with hominids.

July 23 ~ Low of 75F or so, you take what you can get. An Eastern Wood-Pewee was in yard early in the morning. A herdlet of Orchard Oriole went through yard early, a half-dozen or so, first morning with more than a single or two. A few Hooded Oriole were around as well, a pair consisting of first summer male and female were on a feeder together multiple times, indicating they are still nesting. A lone juvenile was also around. A, or the, Yellow-throated Vireo came close to going to bath, which they virtually never do. Once a juvenile came in to it a couple years ago. An adult White-eyed Vireo came in and besides splash-bathing several times, it actually sat on rim of the bath a few times. It was in very heavy molt, of head, body, and wings, and is the most disheveled WEVI I ever saw.

Later morning an Audubon's Oriole or two went through, so 3 sps. orioles this morn. I heard a FOS Least Flycatcher out on the fenceline but it was gone when I got out there with binocs. Hear the Bell's Vireo singing a bit over in the corral, so 4 vireos by noon since the Red-eyed is still singing. Heard a Great Crested Flycatcher. Nearing noon when looking for the Least Flyc. I saw a FOY Laviana White-Skipper at the Frog-fruit. In the afternoon I saw 8 Chimney Swift heading south down the river habitat corridor. Hope they weren't leaving already. Still heard a few Martins overhead, they will be gone soon. Couple Nighthawks at dusk, heard one boom. Eastern Screech-Owl calling. Heard some weird call about 11 p.m. that maybe was a cuckoo. Comet still showing well, but dimming fast. Still a great binocular view object.

July 22 ~ A 76.5F low, headed for mid-90's and again a slight chance of a shower, so good and humid. Saw a Questionmark butterfly early in morning. Bath was busy early too, everything comes in to fill up on water first thing. An oriole seen briefly looked an Orchard. Chat came in, a juv. Summer Tanager took a bath, the stream of Cardinals seems endless. Kathy saw the Yellow-throated Warbler on the portable shade gazebo we have on the patio. A juvenile Yellow-breasted Chat came into the birdbath in the morning. Only saw one ad. male Black-chinned Hummingbird today, guarding the office feeder. Should be a Rufous around any day now. Bird of the day was nearing dusk, when a Poor-will flew by, whilst still light out! Nighthawks do so regularly, but this was tiny, round-winged with no white band. Either a juvenile or a parent with young to feed. Have only had a very few from yard in 7 years, though they a present within a mile on the rocky knolls.

July 21 ~ Low of only 76F is not very. Have a slight chance at showers they say, will believe that when I smell rain. In the morning had Gnatcat and Orchard Oriole go by. Dang coon climbed a garden fence and got in the new tub pond. On one side the fence is lowish (4'), so will have to raise that. Maybe run a hot wire to it, wait and watch with the switch in hand? Heard Audubon's Oriole out there in the morning. Some Chimney Swift went over in afternoon. There were some small scattered showers semi-nearish in afternoon. Not close enough to smell, was hot and sticky. More Gnatcats in afternoon. Comet still showing well, but still dimming fast, seems another magnitude less tonight. Still bare-eyeable if you know what to look for and where to look. No Chucks calling, they have fallen silent. If it would rain they would call, and so would I. Great to be losing a minute a day now, a month after the solstice.

July 20 ~ A 72F low was good. No low stratus from the gulf, so sun out of the gate and gonna be a hot one. First thing a Titmouse was over at the pond and went to the branch I stuck in it so anything can crawl out. Always the first bird to check anything new out, the titmouse. The Chickadee watched and went to fence noting it. Early morning had Gnatcatcher and an Orchard Oriole go through yard, and another gnatcat or two over the day. For both, their southbound passage should pick up steam the next few weeks. Saw a real rusty female Indigo Bunting on the patio, there has only been a male showing up, they probably have a nestful of young over in the draw near where he sings. The first few immature male Black-chinned Hummingbirds are showing dark feathers in the throat now. There were some off and on easterly winds over the day, due to a low in the NW Gulf of Mexico. Saw the comet from the driveway at dark. Looks great, and is seeable with the bare eye, barely. Interesting is that it obviously is not as bright as it was last night. Amazing to be able to see that difference in dimming in one day. No chucks called. The Texas Powdered-Skipper was on the Frog-fruit in the afternoon.

July 19 ~ Low of 72F again is wonderful. But boy is it parched out there. We are over six weeks with just an inch of rain since the deluge the last two weeks of May. It's all or nuthin' here now for precip. Heard a couple Gnatcats go through yard, the Indigo Bunting was in a singing mood this morning, Painted are all but silent. Only a very few ad. male Black-chinned Hummers left here now.

Went over the the Waresville pondlet on the golf course. One male Comet Darner continues but again no Least Grebe. Seeming like a miracle I saw it at all. Red-winged Blackbirds still nesting. The Barn Swallows got out of the nest since last week. One female or imm. Purple Martin was on the wire over the pond. Then we checked the 1450 knoll, no Black-capped Vireo. It is so parched and toasted it is hard to believe how lush it was five weeks ago. Heard a Rufous-crowned Sparrow, heard one and saw another Roadrunner, heard a Field Sparrow and White-eyed Vireo, but it was quiet, though getting warmer at noon. No flowers, no butterflies, no bugs. We need rain.

We went to the crossing after dinner at last sun whence I aqua-mogged through the mud and collected a couple cattails and a water lily. We'll see if they make the transplant. But the tub-pond has a couple plants in it now. Saw a couple American Rubyspot damselfly. After dark we went over to the 1500 knoll to our north and had great views of the comet NEOWISE. It was fairly impressive, and much better than last week, higher up in darker skies. We could see it bare-eyed without binocs. That is a long tail it has! Kathy heard an Eastern Screech-Owl. No Chucks called at dusk.

July 18 ~ A low of 72F felt good. The low stratus from the gulf got here around sunup and kept the sun at bay a few hours. There is a disturbance over south Texas where a few scattered showers, some afternoon clouds kept the heat dialed back to 90F. Heard the Hutton's and the Bell's Vireo to go with the White-eyed, Red-eyed, and Yellow-throated, for five species of vireo from the porch today. It's vireotopia. If I could just get a stray Black-capped... at the bath with photos.

Some begging baby Lesser Goldfinch are nice to see since the first set since the hail storm in late May. They showed up yesterday actually. LEGO were wiped out by the hail. There were a few pairs around the house in late May, only one male for two weeks after the storm. Then a female so by mid-June they must have been underway with a nesting attempt, now we have a couple young. Normally there are too many and at least a couple sets fledged by now, instead of their first clutch.

Got the filter going and am filling the tub, soon to be a 50 gal. pondlet. Sure to soon have Marsh Wren, Sora, breeding Least Bittern, and maybe a Sabine's Gull. Have to put a hole in it for overflow prevention, grated so I don't lose Gambusia when it pours. The Wooly Ironweed is sure popular now. A couple nice male Large Orange Sulphur were on it quite a while, as was a Texas Powdered-Skipper, the first one of the month. There are Dun Skipper on it all day. Then a FOY Southern Skipperling was on the Frog-fruit. Saw the Turkeys over in the corral. Late p.m. there were a couple begging baby Yellow-throated Warbler getting fed in the pecans in front yard. These are another set.

One interesting botanical note I have been meaning to mention. Some Pecans have re-sprouted leaf clusters where they were lost in the hail event. There are many bright green fresh leaflets on a number of trees. Not all of them has done this but several have. No Chuck calling at dusk.

It is that time of year again... July, when some
adult male Painted Bunting initiate some sort of
supplemental molt we do not seem to understand.
Some are perfectly fully red below now, others
mottled with light areas, sometimes yellowish. Here
is another variation you won't find well-described
in the literature. I noted this male getting pale a
week plus prior to this pic.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 17 ~ A 76F low does not bode well for the afternoon temps. In the morning I had another look, and a decent if brief one, of the Great Plains Skink I saw a couple days ago. This was a most wanted reptile here for me, so great to see, and better to have it around the house. Sure would love a pic, but they are not the type to sit out in the open and sun. It took 15 years to see a Tree Lizard here, and 16.5 for this skink (had one awful look once). If I was retired of course instead of working often 6 days a week, that time would have been reduced considerably no doubt. Still looking for a Copperhead to photo.

There was an Eastern Wood-Pewee in yard early, getting chased by the Ash-throated Flycatcher. The Pewee is way faster and more agile. It appears to think the Ash-throat is a big dumb lunk of a bully. Indigo Bunting still singing, as is Blue Grosbeak, but the Painted Bunting have nearly shut up. Heard a Hutton's Vireo in the yard again, if I would have heard it yesterday it would have been 5 species of vireo in the yard. Most of the ad. male Black-chinned Hummingbird have bugged out of the last week to two. Very low numbers of them remain. It is overwhelmingly immatures now, but some ad. fem. still present. Roadrunner was in the Bluemist no doubt hunting the Green Anole lizards that hang around front porch (no doubt after my precious butterflies that come in to the flowers).

Did the town errand run and park check. Summer Tanager still singing, ours in yard has gone quiet. Saw the Red-eyed Vireo in the woods, a couple juv. White-eyed Vireo besides some adults. But quiet overall. Heard the RingKing way upriver. No odes. It has been busy and packed with people so is fairly highly disturbed Memorial to Labor Day. We're half way there. Not much mask wearing overall in town. But Rosie has tacos, and it is back to the hovelita and livin' la vida quarantina. Saw an Elada Checkerspot on the Frog-fruit in the driveway. Chuck still going off at dusk.

July 16 ~ A 73F low was as chilly as it got. Some low stratus kept it below 80 until after 11. Indigo Bunting singing briefly early, and then at seed out back later. Painted Bunting include a few males, a few females, and a few juveniles. They will build the next few weeks before the males depart at the end of the first week in August. Heard a Bell's Vireo sing over in Mesquite across from gate, to go with the Yellow-throated, Red-eyed, and White-eyed all still singing. Later it was in the corral along fenceline. Heard the Great Crested Flycatcher, Ash-throat still harassing everything in yard. Besides the ad. fem. Hooded Oriole at the feeders, an Audubon's Oriole went by yard, but none have caught on to the feeders here.

Did my final 50 gal. pond tub cleaning before I place it and start filtering and filling with water. Once you start filling you can't move it. It has to be fenced or deer, coons, and who knows what would ransack it endlessly. Birdbath is mud every morning due to the dang coons. Even with just 40 gallons of water in it, that weighs over 300 lbs., 50 is 400! Have to scrape a bit to make a level spot. The well water has iron in it, which grows algae, so I remove it (carbon). Generally enough macro plants will keep micros from taking hold but no sense in having any algae-grow from the git-go.

The Frog-fruit was active. Saw Tropical and Desert Checkered-Skipper, besides some Common, for the Pyrgus trifecta. A Dusky-blue Groundstreak was new. A Ctenucha (diurnal moth) finally didn't care and let me get pics, finally. Lots of all the regular stuff I have been mentioning. It could take 10-15 minutes to get away from the patches before you ID everything on it. Late afternoon there were 5 Mestra on it at once. The Olive-Juniper Hairstreak show up most at peak heat, 6 at once, at least. Heard one Chuck-will's-widow gave a fair session of calling at dusk. They will be done real soon. I am surprised he is still going.

July 15 ~ Low was about 72.5, a couple hours of low stratus before it gave way to the sun. Kathy heard a Nighthawk before 7 a.m. Ran to town early so a quick look in the woods at the park, nuthin' happening. Getting quiet out there folks. Back here I saw the Long-billed Thrasher sneakin' around where seed tossed. An adult female Hooded Oriole came in and took a bath. So mom and a juvie here now, sure wish the male would show. Still a few Martin overhead, Indigo Bunting barely still singing. A few male Painted around, one took a bath early. Late in day at least 2 juvenile Painted Bunting were on seed out back, besides a couple ad. fem. types. Heard a Hutton's Vireo.

After spraying water around a male Roseate Skimmer was out there a bit. Kathy saw a Smoky Rubyspot in the yard, but I couldn't find it. I have only seen one in the yard before. Usually the Rubyspots are fairly tied to waters edge here, a beast of the streamside vegetation. Spraying water around is magic though, for odes and for butterflies, it can get nearly instant results. During these hot dry spells it clearly is something they are looking for and needing. Late near last sun a male Common Whitetail was patrolling the Frog-fruit for a last meal. For being common, they are pretty spiffy with that bright snow white abdomen.

Besides the daily butterflies, there was a Nysa Roadside-Skipper on the Bluemist Eup late in day. The Celia's on the Wooly Ironweed is a fairly regular visitor. There was one Horace's Duskywing puddling on some wet mud. One Giant Swallowtail went by. Saw what surely was a Tropical Checkered-Skipper on the Frog-fruit. Common and Desert are regular. Saw my FOY baby Six-line Racerunner (lizard), just a few inches long, and wow are they neat looking. Had a quick look at what surely was a Great Plains Skink (Plestiodon (was Eumeces) obsoletus) out back. It is the first one I have seen in 16+ years here in Utopia. It has been high on my 'wanted' list as it is should be present here. They are diurnal but very secretive as I understand it. Also saw a FOY baby Anole (lizard) that was not 3" long yet, counting the tail.

July 14 ~ Low was 73F and felt great, a respite, if only brief. Several local area stations were at 102F in the afternoon. Uvalde hit 104 and Del Rio 109. I guess we are lucky it is not 128F like Death Valley was a few days ago. Which is actually a wonderful place I spent a fair bit of time exploring. Though generally avoided it early June until later September.

There was a Ribbonsnake in the house which ducked into a place where we couldn't chase. Hope it finds its way back out the way it came in! They are harmless, more or less our version of a Gartersnake here. Though we do have a Black-headed Garter found locally, scarcely.

Ringed Kingfisher flew right over house in a.m.. A few Black-bellied Whistling-Duck followed shortly after. Heard an Audubon's Oriole over in corral and uphill behind us in the big live-oaks. There was a female or imm. Hooded Oriole at the hummer feeders in the a.m., have not been seeing one around so nice. Saw it again later out office window, it is a juvenile Hooded. Heard the Red-eyed, Yellow-throated, and White-eyed Vireos all singing, the Great Crested Flycatcher, Blue Grosbeak still singing. Heard a Rufous-crowned Sparrow out back, and later afternoon heard the Long-billed Thrasher smacking in the Mulberry.

A female Common Whitetail dragonfly was in yard a bit. Trying to decide where to put a 50 gal. tub for a dragon pond. Since easy access to some lillies and cattails, Myriophyllum, Gambusia, etc., what the heck with that presently unused heavy duty tub. Shoulda done it a long time ago. Maybe I could get a yard Sora? How many cattails would it take? Worked this a.m. trying to shade some tomatoes that are still trying to make it in this brutal heat. One Chuck was calling a bit at dusk.

At twilight we went over to the 1500' knoll just north of us for some altitude hoping to see the Comet NEOWISE. On the dirt road on way over a Poor-will flushed from the side of the road. Then Kathy saw something bigger, so either a Chuck or a Nighthawk, briefly as it flew off, habitat is Nighthawk. We did see the comet, which was neat, but no Hale-Bopp (the last 'great' comet, in '97). Great comets are those you can see with the bare eye. This you need binocs to spot. As it gets higher in darker sky over the next week viewing should improve. We could see it with 7 and 8x binocs, better in the 20x scope, but I forgot the 25-45x zoom eyepiece which I will dig out for next time.

July 13 ~ Low of 72F felt great, lowest temp in a week, which is a cryin' shame. It was record hot at SAT and Del Rio, presumedly here too. It hit 90 before noon, 97 by 1:30, several local stations were reporting 102-103F at 3 p.m., before peak heat. Humidity was down to 20 percent or so early afternoon. At 5 p.m. KRVL hit 105F and 11% humidity (!), DelRio hit a 112F (!), it was 101 in the shade on the front porch. So had to be 105 in the sun, a couple local stations had 107-8F, likely in sunny spots. We are about 10F over average highs. Junction, Castroville, Hondo, and Uvalde all hit 108F! Gadzooks! Holy thermality heat man! Who left the oven door open? At midnight it was still 85F.

Birds were at the bath all day trying to cool off. What I presume is the male Ash-throated Flycatcher is terrorizing everything for a week plus now. What seems to have happened is that the female left after their third failed attempt and abandon. He is left and pissed off, taking it out on everything in the yard smaller than himself. Constantly harrassing everything, being a mean tyrant of all things, this tyrant flycatcher. Mean as a California Bird Record Committee member.

Kathy spotted a Black-n-white Warbler out front mid-day, female or immature. Early evening after 7:30 Kathy spotted the Yellow-billed Cuckoo at the bath! They never come in, save very rarely when it is over a hundred. It is the first time I have seen it at the bath here. Only twice in 16 years have I seen one come into water, both times it was 104 or 105F. Luckily the bathroom window was open so through my magic screen I got a shot. I have a feeling you are going to see another cuckoo pic.

In butterflies saw a nice yellow morph Lyside Sulphur. Saw the Tawny Emperor cross the yard again, the Mournful and False Duskywing were both around again as well, besides the usual Funereal. Lots of the little stuff still on the Frog-fruit. Hairstreaks, skippers, and mostly Reakirt's Blues. Some Mestra, a few Queen and Sleepy Orange. The Dun Skippers love the Wooly Ironweed, which is in good bloom now, a great dark purple fuzzy flower.

July 12 ~ Low was 75F, not much for morning stratus from the gulf. Probably hit 102F or so as a few of the local WU stations reported. Was 97 in the shade on the front porch. Brutal. After about 95F the humidity is cooked out though, so no heat index on it when that hot. We were 25 percent or so this afternoon at peak heat. Saw (and heard) a Ringed Kingfisher flying north upriver in the morning. Later the Long-billed Thrasher was around out back a few times today. Neat since we normally don't have a thrasher out the window. An adult Zone-tailed Hawk soared low over trees and house late morning.

The rest was the usual gang. We went for a swim at peak heat later in afternoon. Water is getting warm in spots, and down a few inches too. Send rain. Wasn't much singing it was too hot. Damselflies way down after last weeks breeding frenzy, just a very few of the same types left. Swift and Checkered Setwings were it for dragons. A few Dolomedes fishing spiders, one bigger rustyish fuzzy one that looked different from the usual D. scriptus, with small pale-ringed dark eye-spots on abdomen. Late near last sun a yellow Swallowtail came into water which was likely an Eastern Tiger. Saw one False Duskywing here in yard which might be a FOY. Did not hear a Chuck at dark. Only a very few Firefly left flying now. It was a great second wave, now we wait to see if we get a good fall flight.

July 11 ~ Low was 75F, not much for morning clouds. Was a roaster, a hun in the sun in the afternoon. A female Black-n-white Warbler bathed in the morning. Too many cowbirds, at least they will depart soon. I have seen 4 juveniles around in the last month or so, none being attended by our yard birds. They all found the place, but were not raised by any of our regular users. About 10:30 a.m. I heard a Long-billed Thrasher over in the corral, about 11 it was outback thrashing all over the place. Got a few docushots. Was very dull on upperparts, perhaps a juvenile.

Quick spin to town, park was crowded so I skipped it. Noonish I checked the Waresville pond at the edge of the golf course. Did not see a Least Grebe, one male Comet Darner continues. Can't believe how much the baby Barn Swallows have grown in a week. One male Eastern Pondhawk was different. A couple male Purple Martin circled over pond and nest boxes. Lots of all the same butterflies on the driveway Frog-fruit here. Numbers continue to build well. One Goatweed Leafwing came in to water sprayed about, a nice male. Two Chucks called at dusk., one over in corral where it seemed to have nested.

How can you tell it is 104F here? That is what it takes
to get a cukcoo at the birdbath. Otherwise juicy worms
(caterpillars) and such provide enough moisture. Only the
third time in 16+ years to see one drink at the bath, all
three times it was 104 or more. Was at 3 diff. yards too.
Ya gotta love those zygodactyl feet! Two toes forward, 2 back.
Note yellow on upper mandible, not just the lower.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 10 ~ A 75F low was a frog hair better than the last couple days. The low stratus kept it bearable all morning, but the afternoon was a burner. Near a hun. The yard was the same stuff as expected now. Late p.m. there were 7 Turkey over in the corral. It was town run fun day. I should say taco run as that is the best part, that last 10 min. stop at Rosie's. No one wearing masks here in town, save a tourist I saw. Numbers of Large Orange Sulphur going by, fewer Cloudless. Still hearing a few Purple Martin.

Did a quick park check, lots of people for noonish. Summer crowds. Water still going over spillway but level is dropping fast. By the island was the ad. fem. and the imm. Green Kingfisher. Still singing in woods were Red-eyed, White-eyed, and Yellow-throated Vireo, Yellow-throated Warbler, Eastern Wood-Pewee, all but the Red-eye likely nesting. The Red-eye I think is an unmated troller, been here 5 weeks or more, and have not seen a second bird. No leps or odes. Little Creek Larry said on his creek there, there are near 70 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, most are young of the year. So several pairs must have nested over there. I saw at least 3 pair at the S. Little Crk. bigger (N.) buffalo wallow where they sometimes nest, when it still had lots of water in early June.

Just in case you haven't heard, there is a comet visible to the NNE at about 5 a.m. right now, and from I think Monday it will be visible after sunset instead of before sunrise. Then it will be between WNW and NW I think. Check spaceweathercom or, or, any will have links with sky maps etc. The first site mentioned has a photo gallery with great pics of it.

July 9 ~ Looked like another 77F low here this morn. Morning stratus, so no immediate sun is a bit of a break in itself. We are progged for another heat wave this weekend into early next week. Birds were all the same. Male Indigo Bunting was on the patio. A male Painted has some major pale areas on underparts now, clearly body molt is going on. Ringed King calling from river last hour of sun. The fem. Ladder-backed Woodpecker is roosting in her hole regularly now. Comes in before last sun and enters. Barred Owl calling after dark.

Butterflies were about the same too, but lots of that fun little stuff on the Frog-fruit. At least a couple dozen butterflies at once, of well over a dozen species makes you momentarily forget the heat. Four Olive-Juniper Hairstreak at once, maybe 6 total, a few Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak at once, 3 Mestra together, a few Vesta Crescent, Bordered Patch, a bunch of Reakirt's Blue (near a dozen), and then Eufala, Julia's, Fiery, Dun, Whirlabout, and Desert Checkered-, for skippers. Lysides, Little Yellow, Dainty Sulphur, Sleepy Orange, and a few others, all on Frog-fruit. A Tawny Emperor flew by back porch in morning.

July 8 ~ Low was 77F, clouds stuck until noonish so still barely 82 then. At least a little break. A very warm afternoon, 94F in shade on front porch. So it was near a hun in the sun. Oh, but it is a dry hun. A hun stinks anyway you measure it. Thought I saw a juvenile Painted Bunting, very gray, barely green. The rest was the same gang.

Frog-fruit had a couple Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, Funereal and a Mournful Duskywing, a few Vesta, lots of Reakirt's Blue, Fiery and Whirlabout Skipper, a couple each Mestra and Lyside. Low-end entertainment, but entertainment. Like hearing the Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo, Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting, Chat, Yellow-throated Warbler, and other stuff singing outside. At least it is something to look at or listen to. Field, Lark, and Chipping Sparrow all still singing.

July 7 ~ Low was 75F or so. Overcast and muggy. A few drops of rain fell at one point, perhaps when the humidity slipped below dripping for a second. But clouds generally kept the heat at bay for most of the day. Low 90's was it, which constitutes a break at this point. Blue Grosbeak is still going strong with song early. Many things are fading fast. The Indigo Bunting is losing steam for instance. Was a Gnatcatcher around in morning. They are so fast and agile it never ceases to amaze me. Saw a Desert Checkered-Skipper on the Frog-fruit among lots of Reakirt's Blue and Olive-Juniper Hairstreak, one Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, some Whirlabout and Dun Skipper, a few Fiery, a couple Vesta and a Phaon Crescent. At least it is something to look at without going anywhere.

Late in day saw a Cuckoo get a Katydid. The Katy dropped like a rock out of the tree when it realized it was spotted and in trouble. The cuckoo dropped right after it, both into tall grass under a smaller pecan. The cuckoo looked around for 10 seconds, spotted it. The end of Katy. Then during my dinner I saw out the side window at least a half-dozen Turkey over in the shade in the corral. A couple Chucks still barely going at dusk.

July 6 ~ The low was not very at 77F. The KRVL stats showed a whopping 6 hrs at or below 79F overnight, hitting 76 for a half-hour. These are some high lows. I looked to see what the scolding scene was about. The Roadrunner was drinking from some holes in the patio that hold water briefly, whilst all the birds around give scold calls and vacate said patio. I am sure they take lots of inexperienced just-fledged baby birds. A mid-morn sprayabout brought in a male Roseate Skimmer dragonfly to the wet shiny patio, and two Funereal Duskywings to a wet carpet remnant outside the cottage. A juv. female Black-and-white Warbler came into the bath mid-morn. About 2 p.m. a narrow band of rain went over, took 10dF off the top for an hour and change. Only a few hundredths here. The cloud debris though kept it from getting as hot as forecast, lowest 90's instead of upper. A couple Chucks half-heartedly singing at dusk. Was shooting some small butterfly pics on the Frog-fruit and later saw I got my FOY Ceraunus Blue.

July 5 ~ Low was 72F, a few local WU stations were showing a toasty 100 in the late afternoon. That was when we were in the river swimming. The water is warming up though. We need more rain. Was 96F on shady porch in the later afternoon, so surely we had a hun in the sun. Brutal heat.

The morning yard stuff was all the same. We putted around to a couple stops 11-1 or so. The pond by the Waresville Cmty. had maintenence work being done, so if the grebe was still there it was hiding. We did see one male Comet Darner still there though. Kathy saw a Widow Skimmer. A second set of baby Barn Swallow being fed are more than a week from fledging still. The Martins seem gone (early) from the house in disrepair.

At the 360 x-ing there were Rubyspot dragonflies, only American but at least 10, finally. Also a FOY Five-striped Leaftail. Neat was a Tawny Emperor which hit the river surface 3 times to get water no doubt. Had a glance at what was surely a Viceroy. Saw Longeared Sunfish and Texas Cichlid. Birds there were Indigo and Painted Bunting, Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Grosbeak, Chat, and some more common stuff.

We checked the 1450 knoll. Thought I might have heard a dribble or two of Black-capped Vireo calls. Kathy saw a juv. vireo she wasn't sure of but there was an adult White-eyed in the near vicinity. A good number of Ash-throated Flycatcher, seemed over a half-dozen. Must be young out of nests now. But it was hot already hitting 90F so not prime time for birds. Just a few Zexmenia left blooming, one Mournful Duskywing on them. What was amazing was how the carpet of flowers two weeks ago is brown, dried, and cooked, in the last week plus of high 90's F on that hot SW facing slope. Baked. All of them. It went from a lush cornucopia of color to dry brown toast in two weeks. The June bloom has left the room. It was a good one, surely leaving a great seed crop behind.

From just after 4 to just after 5 we were in the water cooling off. I mostly do the banks for bugs, and listen for birds since can't carry binocs. Lots singing in the heat, which means still nesting. Eastern Wood-Pewee, Blue Grosbeak, Chat, Yellow-throated Warbler, Painted Bunting, Black-crested Titmouse, Summer Tanager, were all very vocal as in territorial singing. Saw my FOY small fish, that is, native fish, which means one of the 'minnows' in our case. Black-tailed Shiners, several dozen, finally. Kathy spotted a nice male Red-breasted Sunfish in breeding colors. A few small Largemouth Bass. In dragonflies just a few Swift Setwings for anything big, the rest was damsels, and they were numerous. Saw my FOY Stream Bluet, dozens of Double-striped Bluet continue. Several each of Blue-ringed, Dusky, and Violet Dancer. A bunch I couldn't see close enough. Thought I saw a Powdered Dancer but it got away.

Saw A couple Dolomedes fishing spiders. One unseen one jumped on my arm as I reached for a baby sword fern on a cypress root, it quickly jumped off onto the tree. It was so fast I didn't know what it was until it stopped on the tree a few inches from my hand. I just knew something jumped on me but my eyes could not begin to catch up to it until it stopped, it was so fast. Nice that it wasn't attacking. It reminded me of how mis-informed our ideas are about so many things, like spiders, are. Most folks are amazingly scared of spiders, with snakes and sharks running close behind, just ahead of anything that buzzes in flight. Everything is not out to get you. Childhood cartoons did more to scare people of buzzy insects than anything else.

July 4 ~ Low was about 73F, and no clouds, high pressure has taken over. Was 95 in the shade on front porch in afternoon, a few local WU stations were showing 99F at peak heat. We do lose the humidity though when it gets that hot. It goes dry. It is the biggest day of the year in town, so we stay hidden and avoid it all. The first-summer Black-n-white Warbler came into the bath early in the morning. Providing good looks and finally a couple weak pix enough to study his state of molt. Otherwise was the about same gang of birds and butterflies. Kathy saw a male Widow Skimmer go over the house, after I saw the FOY just yesterday at the park.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, formerly known as (B-b) 'Tree-Duck'
for their habit of perching in trees. They whistle well too.
A few nest locally, the immatures are duller and have dark bills.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 3 ~ The 73F low was better than 75 the last few days. KRVL had a 72. Perplexing was a duck that flew over the house in the morning. It was not a Whistling-Duck or a Wood Duck, the only two types normally possible in summer. Looked like one of the Aythya group of diving ducks. It was 'one that got away'. Wish I had my bins on when I spotted it. The Red-eyed Vireo was in the Mulberry over the cottage early in morn. The Black-and-white Warbler was singing right out the office window, adding those warbly trills for flourish at the end sometimes. Oh those first-summer singers.

Best thing in the morning was a swallowtail butterfly that was at least an Ornythion Swallowtail, though maybe it could have been something rarer. It was clearly not a Giant which we see daily. Flight pattern was obviously not a Giant, with shallow twittering flaps. It appeared to be almost without hind wings. The dark bar at posterior or trailing edge of forewing absolutely did not cross any other bars and was isolated inwardly by yellow its entire length. It was an Ornythion or better. Broad-banded being the long-shot outside chance and only other possbility, no record in UvCo. Late afternoon saw a Mournful Duskywing on the Frog-fruit.

Town run day. Nice to see masks being used. Still out of three-quarter PVC. Pretty busy, food store out of some items too. I hear the annual firework show at the park is ON, which is the biggest crowd of the year here, and can be seemingly near a couple thousand people. You won't find us amongst them. Up in the woods at the park there was the juv. Green Kingfisher, a juv. White-eyed Vireo, and a juv. Eastern Wood-Pewee. Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo still singing (nesting). Finally saw a FOY Widow Skimmer (dragonfly) but the pond was pretty quiet for odes. A few Fragile Forktail were in the woods as was one Clouded Skipper.

July 2 ~ There was a trace of rain overnight, maybe a tenth, from a system that was said to be dissolving way north of us. Radar shows Lost Maples might have gotten a quarter inch. Low was 75F anyway, and plenty humid. Heard the Ring King flying high over river going north early in morning. In the afternoon an Inca Dove was on the patio. Haven't seen one here in yard in a bit. Male Blue Grosbeak was on the patio. Heard the Red-eyed Vireo over in corral. Saw the female Ladder-back go into the nest hole she dug to roost. This the hole the Ash-throats took over, built a nest in, and abandoned. Just a wee bit of Chuck calling at dark, they are already running out of steam.

A couple new butterflies showed up on the Frog-fruit which I missed last month. At least they waited until the 2nd to show up. A Marine Blue is my FOY, missed getting a pic though. Two Orange Skipperling were out there as well, I saw no skipperlings in June. Those flowers continue to be a hotbed of activity all day though, watch yer Frog-fruit. Lots of Reakirt's Blue, a few each Olive-Juniper Hairstreak, and Mallow Scrub-Hairtreak, several Whirlabout, plus more Dun and Fiery Skipper, a Julia's or two, Funereal Duskywing and Lyside Sulpur, some Snout. Great fun in the heat of the day, and it got hot, probably 95 or 96F. The second wave of Firefly is on the wane, it has peaked here in the yard, far fewer than a week ago. Saw an Eyed Elaterid.

July 1 ~ Hope the first half of the year was not an indicator of the second half. Low was 76F, with low stratus thick enough to mist a bit at one point. Yellow-throated and Black-n-white Warbler singing out front early. A Rufous-crowned Sparrow came in and used the bird bath in the morning. The rest was the same gang, and it is Wed., a busy desk day for me here. Saw 92F on the shady front porch, and it was very humid so felt worse. Always glad to get through the first day of the month without seeing any butterfly species I missed the prior month. A Ringed Kingfisher was calling quite a bit over at the river. Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireos singing later afternoon, heard Cuckoo a few times.

~ ~ ~ June summary ~ ~ ~

It was a dry one, I don't think we had an inch of rain total at our place. Just some tenths here and there, a quarter and a third. But it was a slightly cooler one, we had many lows in the 60's F, and highs not in the 90's. So we kinda skated on the heat compared to recent drought regimen temps. The flower bloom was good due to the foot of rain in the last half of May, which kept things going well and made for a good June bloom.

Butterflies picked up after a poor May (worst ever in 16 prior Mays at 33 species). June found species 50 on the 30th. A couple got away, one I thought was a Metalmark, and another surely was a False Duskywing. The last few days of the month there was a significant influx of species that are irruptive here. Mostly little stuff, like skippers, blues, and hairstreaks, but which could indicate an invasion year is in the works. It has been a couple years since the last one, we are overdue, and have had rains. Finally saw an Arizona Sister for the year this month, but still missing a Crimson Patch. Lots of Elada Checkerspot on the 1450 knoll SW of the 360 x-ing. The end-of-the-month surge saw FOY for several species: Theona Checkerspot, Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, Desert Checkered-Skipper, Eufala Skipper, and Phaon Crescent. The highlight of the month was a Brazillian Skipper on June 23 on the Blue Mist Eup. at our front porch. First in the yard, and my first locally in several years. In moths saw a Virginia Ctenucha and two Texas Wasp Moth but generally night lighting is frighteningly dull and devoid of bugs. Saw a half-dozen Eyed Elaterid.

One of two Comet Darner (Anax longipes), at
pondlet by Waresville Cmty., Utopia, June 28, 2020.
Odes were about 23 species, a big uptick from the woeful May total of 13. Missed Lost Maples so, uh, lost, a few sps. there. A couple COMET Darner (Anax longipes) were highlights, June 27-28, at the golf course pondlet by the Waresville Cemetery. There are only a handful of UvCo records. Over a dozen Thornbush Dasher there, methinks they are breeding there now. I did not see a Rubyspot of any flavor this month, which is odd. Usually our crossing has lots of American with a few Smoky, there were none of either.

Birds were mostly the normal expected stuff, the breeding species are the story in June. The month with the fewest transient species. As in none besides local post-breeding wanderers usually. But this year there was one. A new bird for the local list at that. Likely the first ever reported in the upper Sabinal River drainage, a LEAST GREBE. This at the pondlet on the golf course by the Waresville Cmty. on June 27. The other report of interest was Little Creek Larry seeing what he thought were 4 Spotted Sandpiper tightly together interacting in early June at the spillway in park. Which is far too late for migrants here, these birds likely nested locally, and it was likely two young with adults. A Cassin's Sparrow singing south of town a few miles June 4, is a far less than annual occurrence up here in the hills. Saw Eastern Wood-Pewee feeding a young again at Utopia Park.

Otherwise the big story was the loss of birds from the late May hail storm carpet bombing. There was obviously a huge lack of birds around our place, and a dearth at other spots locally we frequent. Many species were clobbered. Vultures and Lesser Goldfinch in particular. More than the usual number of single trolling unmated birds around. I tally 85 species I saw locally in June, just within 4 miles of Utopia. So maybe 95 are around, missed a few with no Lost Maples this month. All but the grebe are breeders here. This is very high breeding diversity for such a small area.

~ ~ ~ end June summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ archive copy update header ~ ~ ~

June!?! It is time to dig up interesting breeding records. The Downy Woodpecker in May will be hard to top. A tantalizing report was of multiple Spotted Sandpiper at Utopia Park June 3, at least 3, probably 4 birds, which would seem to indicate local breeding, which is unknown. A TROPICAL Parula was reported in ebird at Lost Maples in early June. On June 23 a BRAZILLIAN Skipper butterfly here is a far less than annual rarity. A LEAST GREBE at the dinky golf course pondlet adjacent to the Waresville Cmty. on June 27 is likely the first known in the upper Sabinal River drainage. Two COMET Darner dragonflies at the same place are very rare odes in UvCo.

~ ~ ~ end archive copy update header ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ above is 2020 ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ ~

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

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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