Current Bird (and nature) News
Rufous-capped Warbler

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


MOST RECENT UPDATE: December 6, 2019
(prior updates: November 29, 22, 15, 8, 1, October 25, 18, 11, 4, September 27, 20, 13, 6


December started with a Verdin at Little Creek on the 1st, and on the 4th at the park, a WOODCOCK!

November is when wintering stuff really starts to fill in. We started with a 26dF low, and the first rare bird of the month was... a Coot, at the park, on the 1st. Which might be a bird returning for its third winter there. There was also a FOS (first of season) Wood Duck there the 1st. Another FOS on the 1st were 2 Northern Harrier. FOS on Nov. 2 was Eastern Meadowlark, American Robin, and White-throated Sparrow. Nov. 4 saw my FOS Rufous-sided, oops, Spotted Towhee and American Pipit. Nov. 6 there was another Black-throated Green Warbler here at the bath. Better yet, late afternoon on the 6th a FOS Sprague's Pipit flew over giving a few calls. The 9th was my FOS Merlin. The second Broad-tailed Hummingbird of the fall here was present Nov. 9-12. We had hard freezes the 12th (chill was 13dF!) and 13th, windy with highs barely 40dF, so cold season is here, be prepared (long johns). An FOS Song Sparrow showed on the 14th. Saw my first Shoveler on the 15th. A male Wilson's Warbler at Utopia Park a month or two now is surely a returning winterer, often up in woods or on island. Saw my FOS Wilson's Snipe on Nov. 16. My FOS Brewer's Blackbird was Nov. 17. FOS American Goldfinch was the 22nd. A Grasshopper Sparrow on Nov. 24 is only I have seen this fall.

Golden-cheeked Warbler

The light was bad, but the bird was good.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are now 15+ (!) years and growing worth of nature notes here, mostly in the bird news archives pages linked at the bottom of this page in 6 month segments. You can fairly easily check, 10 fall or spring periods, etc., and get a good idea of what goes on when, where, or how weak migration is here.   :) If you're coming in April, you can check several years out and see when different species arrive.  For instance for Painted Buntings not till later April, earliest numbers about the 18-20th, later is better, some years not till the 21-22 are the first back locally.  Often a few days earlier down in lower altitude brush country (earlier still down on the coast) etc. Adult males mostly depart territories and the area the first week of August.

Be sure to check out the Bird List page, which is updated (2018) with seasonal status and abundance for each species. It lists all 350 plus species (!) known from the upper Sabinal River drainage.

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

A newer page is the butterfly rarity photos: Rare Butterflies

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

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

Or check out the Bird Guide page.

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

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

First a 2011 highlight ...

Rufous-backed Robin

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




Broad-winged Hawk   Broad-winged Hawk

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



Some things from 2012 ...

albino House Finch

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



Cerambycid

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



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

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



Something from 2013 ...
Texas Coral Snake

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



Ringed Kingfisher

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





Two-tailed Swallowtail

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



Texas Blind Snake

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


Zebra Heliconian

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



Louisiana Waterthrush

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



Rusty Blackbird

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



Cedar Waxwing

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



Back to Top
Yellow-breasted Chat

Yellow-breasted Chat

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

Here is a master index page of 'Old Bird News' links:
Bird News Archives INDEX
It has links to all the 'Bird News' pages, in 6 month increments.

~ ~ ~ ~
***  Here is a new page for visitors with ideas, links, phones, contacts, etc., about where to stay locally.
Where to Stay
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
***  Here is a major new page I have been working on for half of last year, and which compiles over a decade of my study at the site. It is a long discussion about the how and why of birds at Utopia Park, and the park bird list.
The Birds of Utopia Park
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Here are assorted links of all manner, and a handy way outta here.
Mitch's Links


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

~ ~ ~ finally, current bird news from the greater and lesser Utopia area ~ ~ ~
BIRD & NATURE NEWS 2019


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

Commonly used ABBREVIATIONS are:

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



Black-capped Vireo

Black-capped Vireo at Lost Maples


Just to have this handy again for reference, recent prior updates:
November 29, 22, 15, 8, 1, October 25, 18, 11, 4, September 27, 20, 13, 6
Each week's update break is marked with a photo.

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

 * Both the WARBLER Photos, and the HUMMER Photos pages, have been updated with over a dozen new photos on each and some updated text. Better, some (not all) of the junk pix were removed.

Dec. 6 ~ A front came through at daybreak with northlies but dry and not cold. Low was 50dF and it got up to 75 or so. Pretty breezy. Did not see anything different around yard. Town run and park check did not turn up the Woodcock. It could be on the island where unless at near edge (like when I spotted it the other day) we can't see much. There was a pair of Gadwall on the pond, the FOS I have seen this fall. One Coot and 1 or 2 Pied-billed Grebe was it. Not much moving. A few Myrtle Warbler, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Guess I need to get out and look somewhere else. I see some color on some Red Oaks now, the last big hurrah of fall color. Out west at dusk that is Venus shining bright, with Saturn up above it.

Dec. 5 ~ It was light northerly flow and mid-40's dF about 2 a.m., whence southerly flow got here warming to low 50's by sunup, and fog followed shortly after. The gulf flow. Today will be excruciating knowing there is a Woodcock at the park and I have to be here at desk in office. Town run tomorrow so will just have to bear the pain. I hope I make it. Saw the two Rufous Hummers, the 2 Myrtle Warbler, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, no doubt the same one each Robin and Am. Goldfinch. Heard the Robin squawking over in the corral at dusk so it is roosting there, then hits the top of the big pecan to squawk at first sun every morning. Saw a Checkered White and a Variegated Fritillary fly across the yard.

Dec. 4 ~ Another nice sunny one, about 38-74 for a temp spread. It was the same gang around the house save one orange-billed immature White-crowned Sparrow. Probably a western Gambell's type. We get a few regularly. I had to run to town to get Sunflower seed, so a look at the park. Not seeing the Wilson's Warbler, it may have bugged out due to the lack of bugs. It was here mid-Sept. to mid-November or so. The returning Black-and-white Warbler we had several years there did that the last year it was there. Returned again for a couple months in fall, but the extreme drought meant no bugs and it left, it did not stick for the winter. You have to be flexible.

However up on the island in the woods there was one rather rotund bit of excitement. A WOODCOCK! Timberdoodle! Best hunter's name ever for a bird. It was shady and I had to jack ISO up to grainy but got a couple fuzzy docushots anyway. It was doodling about the timber. Once it jumped up on a log upslope from where it was, at least 16" of upward motion, which it did by hopping with both legs at once, wings remaining closed. It doodled right over that fallen timber. Whaddabird. This is the fifth one I have had here. Now three of my sightings form a date cluster of Dec. 4, Dec. 5, and Dec. 9, giving a clear signal of arrival timing. Considering detection rates of Woodcock, certainly having seen 5 here, many more have occurred. Most folks would say we don't see 10% of them. It is one of the most easily overlooked birds in America. You can look straight at one and not see it.

A funny thing is that on the way into the park Little Creek Larry was at the spillway, I told him I was going into the woods to look for a Woodcock. Darn if he wasn't gone when I came back out. When Kathy and I checked it Sunday a few days ago, I said to her, watch out for Woodcock. Ya see, my Birdinator ™ software had been pinging me. Which then gives me bird pangs. It is the most amazing app, it called the bird days before it got there when it was still on its way!

A fresh Texan Crescent butterfly was in the woods. A genetic dead-end due to mis-timed emergence due to the warmth. One Green Darner dragonfly flew by over the pond. Later afternoon at the house I heard Cranes going south.

Dec. 3 ~ We were 28dF this morn, NOAA had forecast 37 for KRVL, where they were 30, most of a category off, again. Single Robin, American Goldfinch, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet, plus the same two (daily) Myrtle Warbler were it early. Mid-morn an Orange-crowned Warbler was around, surely the one Kathy saw last week, our one winterer apparently. Hit the mid-70's in the afternoon, I saw KRVL at 77dF! Which means about a 45dF diurnal temp spread. The seed eaters are not as tied to our place when it is nice out, they seem to forage in the natural habitats all around more. Which are mostly pretty weedy and seedy. Plus the imm. Sharpy and Cooper's Hawks were about as usual.

Dec. 2 ~ About 7 a.m. it was 31dF, I saw an hour earlier KRVL had a 28dF. So a sunny chilly morning. One Robin was squawking from up top of the big pecan at first sun. Mid-morn I had one lone blackbird fly over that looked like a Rusty (bare-eyed). Always key in on lone blackbirds. Otherwise it seemed the usual cast. Got up to about 66dF in the afternoon, dry, sunny, nice. I was of course inside stuck on the computer at the desk working. A whopping 3 species of butterflies visited the one Lantana that still has a few flowers: Gulf Fritillary, American Lady, and Sleepy Orange. Saw both Rufous Hummingbird, and the big herd of Cardinal (30+).

December 1 ~ Meteorological winter starts today, though climatological starts the 21st on the solstice. December through February are meteorological winter. The cool air from the front finally arrived, 45dF for a low with breezy north winds on it. Sunny and nice though, warmed up to mid-60's dF in the afternoon. Was all the same gang around the casita. We took a couple hour spinabout in the afternoon.

Just down the road a hundred yards we had a Long-billed Thrasher fly across in front of us. Nothing at Utopia Pk., it is dead a lot lately, methinks no bugs. There was one Audubon's Warbler and that was it for passerines. We went out UvCo 355 to look at Little Creek. Right where 355 hits the creek is always good for some reason. A dozen Black-bellied Whistling-Duck were there. By the ranch gate there we had a flock of at least 45 American (Water) Pipit. Also there was a Verdin, always nice to see. It was not a half-mile from Bandera County where rare. One Towhee got away that was a male Rufous-sided type, but I can't tell you if it was Eastern or Spotted, though did not see any spots. A Belted Kingfisher was on the powerline that crosses the creek. I heard a couple and saw one Pyrrhuloxia just south of Little Creek Larry's place. There were some Field Sparrow around, an adult Red-shouldered Hawk, heard a White-crowned Sparrow. Lots of Cardinal and Mockingbird, seemingly everywhere all along all the roads. Did see one Autumnal and two Variegated Meadowhawk dragonflies, a few Sleepy Orange butterfly, and one Blanchard's Cricket-Frog.

~ ~ ~ November summary ~ ~ ~

November was fairly dry with a couple inches of precip if you were lucky when the few cells went by. The river is way down, dry in many sections up-valley. After the early freeze in October, there were a few days of freeze in first half of Nov., the last half was fairly mild. As for two main key winter wildlife forage items, it is not a robust Pecan or Hackberry crop year here. Some trees are good, but many more are not very. Juniper berry crop looks good though. So, gin it is.

Butterflies were 20 species, and nothing unusual, all just the last stragglers of the most likely common expected types. There was no southern invasion this fall. Likely due to the drought. Odes were 3 species: Green Darner, plus Autumnal and Variegated Meadowhawk. That was it. Turn out the bug lights, that party is over for the year.

Birds were fair, probably better than what I saw as there was not much time for looking. We again skipped Lost Maples in Nov. due to leaf-peepers. The trails are so loud the birds move away from them. Mostly Nov. here is about the returning of the winter species. Everything showing up hasn't been here since last winter, so a treat to see again. It was about 16 FOS species I saw over the month, so about every other day on average, there is a new arrival. Not much for Robins or Waxwings yet, just a very very few, same for American Goldfinch and Pine Siskin. Looks like they sent scouts and since they haven't returned with good food news they went somewhere else. We have two Rufous Hummingbird apparently wintering at our feeders.

The only thing really unusual was the Clay-colored Sparrow that has stayed with the Chipping flock around our place into late in the month. Don't think I ever had a November record before, and certainly have no winter record, so of interest. A second Broad-tailed Hummingbird for the fall was good Nov. 9-12. A Grasshopper Sparrow late in month was nice, easy to miss most falls. A flyover calling Sprague's Pipit is always great from the house. An Indigo Bunting (1st yr. male) stayed to mid-month, much later than usual. My FIFTH Black-throated Green Warbler of the fall here was tardy on Nov. 6. Little Creek Larry had a male Bufflehead with Ring-necked Ducks at the park after the big feeze and ice day mid-month. Looks like I saw about 86 species of birds locally for the month, and a few others were reported locally. Bird were 108 sps. at peak passage in September, dialed back to 97 sps. for October, and now have calmed to 86 sps. in November. See why I like September?

~ ~ ~ end November summary ~ ~ ~

Nov. 30 ~ Another month shot by. We barely knew thee. It was in the upper 60's dF all night with heavy fog-mist. The couple day heavy mist total is about .25 of an inch of precip. The approaching front cleared skies about noon, rather passively but dry air finally. Got up to an amazing lower-to-mid 80's dF in the afternoon! The cold air stalled northward and the temp drop won't happen until after dark, a roughly 40dF drop overnight to morning tomorrow. Saw the two Rufous Hummers. Heard a Long-billed Thrasher over in the corral which is my first detection here in five weeks. Have to wonder if related to the prior two that were here a month until about 24 October, and unseen or heard since.

americanwoodcock
American Woodcock at Utopia Park Dec 4, 2019.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Nov. 29 ~ That was a fast week, eh? Today we spent in the 60's with drizzle. Pretty soppy out there. Along 360 saw a small group of Meadowlark which flushed before I could ID them, and a group of 7 Killdeer, which are surely migrants from the north that winter hereabouts. At the park the continuing Coot, and Black-bellied Whistling-Duck family of 6, and one Green Kingfisher was it. Woods were dead. Around the yard it all looked the same. Supposed to stay soppy until tomorrow afternoon when the front is supposed to pass and clear it out. By dark it was heavy mist, like about 120% humidity.

Nov. 28 ~ Happy Turkey Day! Hope you had a nice tryptophan. We ran about 45-58dF for a temp spread, 3 days now mostly in the 50's. Overcast and humid, on the chilly side, no rain yet. A Merlin shot over early. The two Rufous Hummers were here. Saw an adult White-crowned, and had a quick look at the Clay-colored Sparrow! Amazing it is still here. Thought I heard a Pine Warbler but didn't go looking for it. Saw one was reported over near Bandera over a week ago. It is time for them to show. Heard some Brewer's Blackbird over in the corral. Otherwise was the regulars. Couple dozen Cardinal at minimum, a Caracara, a couple Ground-Dove... sure couldn't get much stuffing in one of those.

Nov. 27 ~ A weak front came in late yesterday with no precip but light northerlies. About 49dF this a.m. and might have made 58dF under the cloud cover. Rain is said to be inbound Thursday and Friday. I worked about 70 or so Chipping Sparrow when they were down on the seed, and did not see the Clay-colored Sparrow, just one adult White-crowned and a Field for other types.

Nov. 26 ~ A low of 60dF, and some sprinkles first half of morning. A tracelet of precip. I heard the White-throated Sparrow again, so it is around but not up for photos apparently. Saw the two Rufous Hummers. Too busy with work to look much today. Short week so swamped trying to cram it all in.

Nov. 25 ~ A low of 45dF, and by noon it was 80dF! Saw humidity at KRVL was 11%! Amazing. Great flaming pink sunrise. Saw one American Goldfinch at the sunflower feeder, first one ON the feeder so far this fall. Have lots to do in this short week, and now there is rain forecast Thursday when I hoped to sneak in a lookabout. The two Rufous Hummingbird were here, the rest was the regular repeat offenders. Looking like late fall out there, lots of sticks (bare trees). We can see the Cypress along the river from the living room sofa again now that the pecans are bare.

Nov. 24 ~ Saw 35dF around sunup. That birdbath water is cold first thing. When ya get back in from it and the 7 a.m. (ya gotta love these late sunrises) seed toss, you do not need a handle on the coffee mug. Mostly the same gang around the house, but Kathy saw an Orange-crowned Warbler at the bath, I have not seen one in at least a couple weeks. A small group of about 10 American Goldfinch came by briefly. Thought I heard the White-throated Sparrow. Saw both Rufous Hummingbird, the adult male and ad. female are both still here.

We took a spin around for a couple hours mid-day. At UP there was the family of 6 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (I must have missed one young a couple times) that has been there a couple weeks. Saw the Pied-billed Grebe, missed the Coot. Below spillway were two Lesser Goldfinch, most of which are gone a few weeks now, they have become very scarce as usual once it gets cold and starts freezing. A few stay around feeders. Seems like there are very few bugs around, both in the woods, and along the riveredge. It's the drought. The Buckley (aka Spanish or Red) Oaks are getting some color on the ridges now, mostly yellows to oranges, but they will turn real red in a week or two.

We checked the cattail pond on the golf course by the Waresville Cmty. Great was a Grasshopper Sparrow we had great views of, only one I have seen this fall. A male Pyrrhuloxia also flew in to one of the little hackberries and offered views. About 45 Red-winged Blackbird is a big uptick in their numbers here now. I had a glimpse of a white butt disappearing into the reeds that looked like a Sora's arse to me. It got away. We saw a few Autumnal and Variegated Meadowhawk. Then we cruised UvCo 361 south of our place a couple miles. No hawks, no water, hardly any sparrows, no Say's Phoebe. Saw a couple Kestrel, a couple Shrike, at least 20 Common Raven in a big tight flock, some Field Sparrow, 50 Brewer's Blackbird, and at end of road one Spotted Towhee and a Rufous-crowned Sparrow.

There were a few butterflies along 361 in the warm low to mid 70's dF warmth. At least a half-dozen Orange Sulphur were the first I have seen all month. Kathy thought she had a Mestra. There were Gulf and Variegated Fritillary, a few Sleepy Orange, a couple American Lady, and a Comm. Checkered-Skipper. One Dogface flew across the yard later. The butterflies and odes are all but over for the year. It is a long wait until they get good again. March and April for butterflies, April and May for odes. Winter is for working on the pix you took of them from spring to fall.

Nov. 23 ~ Low was 38dF in wake of the dry for us cold front. Sunny and got up to 73dF or so in afternoon. Pretty darn nice, and dry air too. Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawks are harrassing everything. Heard American Goldfinch again overhead, saw 30 some Brewer's Blackbird. Only saw the male Rufous Hummingbird today. Trees are sure getting leafless. Got a chigger, sure was nice to go without any for over a month. These winter ones always seem like they must be pissed off. They irritate right away when they go in. Must have been waiting forever for an idiot to walk by. Always get a few in winter from walking in dry grass. Had a distant view of a Zone-tailed Hawk moving along the ridge behind us. Had one of the small sphinx moths buzz me when I was smoking pipe just at dark.

Hey Imma let you squirm another week on the mystery bird. Hope you don't mind.

indigobunting
This is a male Indigo Bunting, presumably a first fall bird. I never got to study these over a winter and watch them change into blue. This is a pretty spiffy plumage, a blue-spotted bunting. The earliest young we get out of the nest are in mid-late May. So this bird (photo Oct. 15) could be about 5 months old.
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Nov. 22 ~ Was about 67dF all night until about 6 a.m. when the cold front arrived. Was about 52dF by 8 a.m. with breezy north winds, but not a real strong blow. In the morning I had 5 calling American Goldfinch fly over, my FOS for them. In town at the park I flushed about 10 Wood Duck out of the slough in the woods, and a couple Blue Jay were there. Saw Little Creek Larry. He said the day after the ice (would be 13th) there was a small flock of Ring-necked Duck at the park with one Bufflehead amongst them! The buffle is a great fall bird here. He also mentioned he was still seeing a White-tailed Kite out 355 toward Little Creek. Heard a Barn Owl right after dark. At dusk there is a great conjunction of Venus and Jupiter very close together, low to the southwest, with Saturn higher over them a little southward. Nice.

Nov. 21 ~ A low if you can call it that of 66dF, in strong southerly flow ahead of the next front to hit tomorrow morning. Cloudy, breezy, might sprinkle, and not hot or cold. Saw the imm. fem. Cooper's Hawk out there, the seed eaters are nervous. The White-winged Dove have barely been around. Too many attempts, they departed for safer grounds. I see some in town. Otherwise the same gang. Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpecker are working the pecans. Not much for a crop this year, some for wildlife, but in our yard with 7 decent trees we got about zip. Some trees around town seem to have done well though.

Nov. 20 ~ Low was about 62dF! Maybe a little mist, very damp. But not cold. We have low-end chances for rain for a couple days, which usually means we don't get much but drizzle-mist, but so, it is wettish out. Stuck at the desk in office anyway. No matter. Still raining leaves, it was 20 mph winds with gusts to 30 from the south for a few hours. All the birds I saw were the same gang. Sharpy was floating around.

Few things make birding harder than falling leaves. We are so keyed in on picking up motion, and this just totally screws that. We also key on color, and that is shot too. You have to mentally re-calibrate to just key on motion other than the leaf motion. More easily said than done. It would be easier if the falling leaves didn't look so darn pretty. The leaves generally have a certain pattern of motion, so you dial that in as the standard, and then run your search pattern app for non-standard movements.

Nov. 19 ~ About 40dF and foggy at sunup, but burned off mostly by 10 or so, making for a nice sunny day. We were around 75 by noon. It was a work day, as they all are, so didn't see but the usual gang outside. Saw only Chipping, Lincoln's, and Field Sparrow, but did not work the flock hard. The two Rufous Hummers were around. Too busy to bird. There ought to be a law...  ;)    It is raining leaves as it turns to sticks out there. Hackberries, and even the Maples for that matter, vary tremendously as to what colors they turn as they change in fall. Some of our hackberries turn brown, some nearly black, others a great yellow. A guy here that knows things told me there is a genetic reason certain maples are always red no matter what every fall, while others are not. Seems the same with Hackberries. It is more than just environmental as seen by different trees in different colors, side by side, repeatedly year after year. There is a Maple at Lost Maples they call 'old faithful' because it turns flaming red no matter what every year. Drought or floods, or how it gets cold (fast or slow, wet or dry), doesn't matter, it is the same color every year.

Nov. 18 ~ A 36dF low was nearly chilly. Got up to an outstanding 75 or so! Sunny, skies bluer than you ever see spring to fall when humidity in the air. After the FOS at last light yesterday, a flock of 20+ Brewer's Blackbird flew by southbound. They are back. A couple Robin were at the bath. Heard the Lark, and saw one ad. White-crowned Sparrow. Have not been seeing the Inca Dove lately but still a couple Ground-Dove around. Besides office work, got some more outside and yard stuff done whilst not too hot or cold. Harder to do now that we go straight from summer to winter with just a wee bit o' fall between.

Nov. 17 ~ A 42dF low was a big warmup. Overcast early. In the morning saw two adult and one imm. White-crowned, and a couple ea. Lincoln's and some Field Sparrow amongst the Chippies. Some dang House Sparrow too. The two Rufous Hummingbird continue. Had a flock of Meadowlark fly over, but no calls for any IDs. A N. Harrier went by too. They might have been connected. Couple Myrtle Warbler, a Kinglet or two, 3-4 Pine Siskin flew over calling. Must be a non-local Golden-fronted Woodpecker out there because the male was chasing the dickens out of one to get it out of the yard pecans. Worked on stuff here all day, it got up to a wonderful 70dF late in day when sun finally showed. Last light I heard then saw my FOS Brewer's Blackbird fly over (two) heading west toward wherever they roost is.

Nov. 16 ~ A chilly 26dF low. This second front was so weak of wind or rain as to be barely noticeable, but it packed a cold punch. I took a couple hour spin-around mid-day. At the golf course pond by Waresville I saw my FOS Wilson's Snipe, a Savannah Sparrow, about 10 Red-winged Blackbird, and one male Common Grackle which departed alone. I had several random Myrtle Warbler flocks, one at the county-line crossing just NW of town, another near the Utopia Hill Ranch cattleguard, another at the Spring Branch crossing, totalling about 40 Myrtles, plus two Audubon's. No Orange-crowned around, the cold may have pushed them out. A big influx of Myrtles. As were the Ruby-crowned Kinglet, about a dozen were seen in the same three flocks. No Pine Warbler yet. At least a dozen Eastern Bluebird were at the Spring Branch crossing. Water sure is low, just wet holes. A mile past that crossing a Canyon Towhee was in an area of big brush piles. A couple flyover flocks of Meadowlark were seen, out of one group I heard only Eastern and out of the other only several Western called. Saw a Zone-tailed Hawk just south of town which looked like the one I got a grabshot of at the park a week or so ago. It is an immature. Wonder if it was locally hatched, so then one that is still here hanging? Probably. Most if not all of my prior wintering birds are adults. We'll see if it sticks. The local breeding birds seem to depart in fall as the regular near-daily sightings over the town or yard cease, in October.

mysterybird
Here is a quiz bird. It jumped when I shot and the head was cut off,
This was not intentional. Prior, got a couple shots of the whole bird.
It is a scarcely seen plumage so I thought maybe fun or interesting.
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Nov. 15 ~ A weak front went through yesterday late which cleared it out finally, and we had a 28dF low. Was 45 by 10 a.m., which feels great. The whole few days event precip might have been .25 of an inch. But lots of real cold. Finally broke not just 50dF but 60dF this afternoon! Local stations were reading 61, 63, and 65dF about 3 p.m., the thrill of it all. Opened up, warmed and dried out the house and cottage. Town run fer errands. One female Shoveler was the excitement at the park, first I have seen this fall, though Little Creek Larry said he had a few a month or so ago. The Coot, Pied-billed Grebe, and male Wilson's Warbler continue. Here at the hovelita the Song Sparrow was heard a few times, finally seen again late, so still about. Heard the White-throated Sparrow a couple times, saw the one remaining Lark Sparrow, one adult White-crowned and the Clay-colored Sparrow, a hundred Chipping, couple Field, and late one Lincoln's Sparrow showed. Eight species of sparrow in the yard today here at sparrowtopia. There are Vesper, Savannah, and Rufous-crowned within a mile or less. And surely others around as well. The two Rufous Hummers are only hummers here now. Had a couple Myrtle Warbler and a couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a Hermit Thrush, and Kathy had a few Robin at the bath while I was in town.

Nov. 14 ~ About 40dF for a low was nice, to not be freezing. A bit of drizzle in morn. Outstanding was a FOS Song Sparrow on the seed out the office window. It is the first I have seen in the yard in 6 years here, only had one in yard before, Nov. of '13. They are so strictly of riverside (or pondedge) habitat here, they are absent 500 yards away. Heard my second Golden-crowned Kinglet of the fall. Saw one adult White-crowned and the Clay-colored Sparrow today. Hear the Rufous Hummers, the big green one seems to have departed. It was a Broad-tailed. Smart to keep going. We have been at or below 40dF for most of 3 days now. This is way early in season for this cold of an event (mid-20's with chills below 15dF) for this duration. Hope it is not a sign. Average for now is low 70's for highs. I saw a good solid 47dF in the afternoon today. Great to be out of the 30's!

Nov. 13 ~ About 31dF for a low, and the winds were fairly calm to very light, so not as bad as yesterday morn. Overcast and chilly. Saw the imm. Sharpy out there. Heard the hummers. Fortunately it is a desk day, near a heater. It might have gotten up to 38dF or so peak heat, but supposed to hold fairly steady and not freeze in the morning. Two days of 30's! I think it did break some earliest ever cold records in central Texas. Over a hundred cold records were broken over east half of U.S.

No Lincoln's Sparrow again today, amazing, they must have left. There were three for several days up to Sunday. In the afternoon I did see two adult and one imm. White-crowned Sparrow at once. After 4 p.m. I picked the Clay-colored Sparrow out of the Chippies, so it is still here, but no Indigo Bunting. This is my latest staying Clay-colored here ever (n~16 falls). The Rufous Hummers were around, not sure I had the apparent Broad-tailed though besides thinking I heard it in the morning. Wasn't outside much though, was not a day for lollygagging about out there.

Nov. 12 ~ Low was about 26dF, I saw at 8:30 KRVL was 25dF with a chill factor of 13! It's lovely out, come on down. Saw the hummers out there early after checking feeders, bird bath was iced over, wind still blowing but we seemed to have missed most of the precip. It was about .2 here. But a little ice on the porch where roof dripped. Windows are fogged, gonna be hard to see stuff out there. Icicles got about 3" long from the mist-drizzle along the eaves. It really warmed up, just after noon it was a sizzling 28dF. Arctic air. Extra bird seed rations today. The Chipping Sparrow count I would put at a hundred now. They really thickened up in the last couple days. Late afternoon saw an adult White-crowned Sparrow, briefly bare-eyed, it seemed to have an orange bill. Did not see the Indigo Bunting or the Clay-colored Sparrow. It allegedly got up to about 40dF, but was below freezing again by 7 p.m., gonna be a long cold night.

Nov. 11 ~ Low was about 65dF, warm moist southerly flow being sucked up in front of the cold front inbound. I saw 5 Robin early, then a bit later Kathy had 11 birds fly over high she thought were Robins. Saw the big hummer again, still looks Broad-tailed, still no good looks or pix, again I heard soft Broadie chips though. Mid-morn I first heard, then saw the adult White-throated Sparrow (white-striped morph), which is surely the one that showed up here Nov. 2 and I have thought I heard a few times since then. Sure love to have one stick for a winter, or at least a picture. These white-striped adults are one of the prettiest birds in America. That head is spectacular.

The front hit after 1 p.m. and when the first major gusts arrived it was a blizzard of yellow leaves. Thousands of them at once from the Pecans, Hackberry, and Mulberry, it was incredible. By 3 p.m. KRVL was 39dF with a chill of 30 with light rain. Supposed to blow all night until the morning. Will look a different place out there tomorrow. At midnight it was 29dF or so, and some of that 'unknown winter precip' was falling. Some seemed like ice pellets, some was sleet, some seemed pretty close to flaky.

Nov. 10 ~ Was 45-65dF for a temp spread, cloudy all day, front coming in tomorrow. Worked on stuff here mostly, supposed to get real windy and real cold. Also spent an inordinate amount of time watching hummer feeders. We saw the big green one a few times, and I got some shots, far and high against a white-gray sky, am not sure of any ID help, unless you do shape and structure. I still think it is a Broad-tailed, especially because I heard some soft Broad-tail chips. It is too white below for an Anna's, has a big bill, and a big long rear-body, tail, and big wings. Kathy saw it near last light so another chance for study tomorrow. I saw the rusty Indigo Bunting again. Great was a FOS Golden-crowned Kinglet, a couple Ruby-crowned were around, one Orange-crowned Warbler and a male Yellow-rumped Warbler that was an intergrade. Was at the park briefly to 'free Willie' and saw the 5 Whistling-Ducks still there. I acclimated and returned a Red-breasted Sunfish I had raised from under 2" to about 6", back into the pond below the dam from whence he came.

Nov. 9 ~ Low about 45dF, high was maybe 71 or so, sunny, pretty darn nice out. In the a.m. there were at least 3 Robins here in the yard, first day with more than one. An imm. fem. Cooper's Hawk was sitting on the power pole over in corral. When it left, it was about 60 yards out, just past the road out front, a FOS Merlin buzzed it! Kathy had seen something shoot by earlier, very near the Coop, surely this was it. It must have been soaring around with an eye peeled, and when the Coop left, it strafed it! Ya gotta love a Merlin! I could hear the wind in the Merlins wings as it stooped, it was doin' a hundred when it buzzed by the Coop. Too cool. The Coop thinks it is all that, Mr. Bad, and owns the place, and here comes a bullet by so fast, it could only dream of achieving such speeds.

Went to town and checked park again. The Coot remains. Nothing in the woods. A few Myrtle Warbler and Chipping Sparrow up by entrance live-oaks. Butterfly garden was dead, a few Gray Hairstreak, one Pipevine, one Sleepy Orange, one Am. Lady. Pitiful. But Big Ern was in town so I left happy, with a pound of BBQ pork. Talk to ya after the siesta. It is really looking fall out there, lots of stuff is yellow and the Cypresses are really getting really rusty now. Not seeing anything on the Red Oaks yet, the real sure thing annual color show here. Some of the deco Maples around town and along 187 are looking good. I hear so-so for color at Lost Maples. As you read here first back in mid-October.   ;)

The two Rufous Hummers were here, and are the only species here the last few weeks. Until... nearing last light a big hummingbird was on the feeder out office window. Too little light to ID it! I hate when that happens. Green above, and big. It was either Broad-tailed or Anna's. Obviously way bigger than a Ruby-throat or Black-chinned. Hope to nail it down in the morning. Looked like a Broad-tailed.

mockingbird
Behold! The great Mockerdini! Able to mimic other birds at a level fooling expert birders so well as to have had some bolt out of the house in just skivies and bins. This of course is the state bird of Texas, and several other states, a Northern Mockingbird. This might be what keeps you up at night singing in summer, those are mostly unmated males. Sometimes they will do this wing-flash to flush insects up out of the grass. This one was at the bird bath, so perhaps narcissistic. Actually I think this was likely a method of checking the water for hidden predators. Wing-flash it. Ten times. Finally it actually went to bath edge and drank.
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Nov. 8 ~ About 40dF for a low, drizzly, light showers, at least the wind laid down. By 10 a.m. there was a little less than a centimeter of new precip, from the overnight and early morn. We are a bit under an inch then since yesterday, about .8. NOAA radar shows under .2 for here. Sometimes it is close, other times way way off, due to the hills, and somewhat, the nature of the rain. I would go .85 by the afternoon for precip total here since yesterday.

Heard the two Rufous Hummers out there early. Amazing was seeing a Clay-colored Sparrow and an Indigo Bunting. It is surely the latest Clay-colored date I have here, and the one here the last couple days of October. Never had one winter here yet so far (n~16). The Bunting is surely the rusty one of the two here a couple days ago. Both are great late dates. Town run in the drizzle, so a park check. A great late date was a family group of five Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, 2 adults, 3 juveniles. I have not seen any here for months. The Coot continues. A Zone-tailed Hawk was sitting in the Cypress trees across the pond at the park. Must have been a hawk through the woods, they were dead. At the south end of the island in the tangle was the male Wilson's Warbler, amazingly back wintering for its second winter here.

Nov. 7 ~ Some drizzle and about 67dF for a low, a front is inbound. Thought I heard the White-throated Sparrow out there early at first seed toss. Heard an Audubon's Oriole whistling out there early morning. Front got here before noon with a little bit of rain and wind. There went the high temp for the day. The first blast of wind rained yellow leaves off the pecans. By the afternoon the rain seemed to have mostly passed, we got a half-inch, which is great. About 3 p.m. temps were upper 40's, chills in lower 40's, and dropping. The two adult Rufous Hummers were around, male and female. The rest was the same gang. Saw one Queen early before the front hit. The Mulberry is really yellow and dropping leaves now, and so are many of the pecans, and some of the hackberries. Some of the Cypress along river are going rusty, others still greenish but yellowing.

Nov. 6 ~ Low was 69dF, was cooler at 11 p.m. last night. A moist tropical airmass is over us, again. Sure could use some rain. Front due in tomorrow morning. Saw a N. Harrier go over low again about 9 a.m. A Kinglet (Ruby) was trying to go to the bath but the crowd of Cards made it too nervous. Just after 11:30 Kathy spotted a Black-throated Green Warbler coming into the bath! This is the FIFTH one I have seen locally this fall, surely the best showing in 16 falls. It was the start of a bathing frenzy which lasted 10 minutes. Amazing was two Indigo Buntings coming in, females methinks an adult and an immature which were interacting, well sorta fighting. Kathy asked if that suggested they were related. I reminded her we must not be anthropomorphic in our animal behavior interpatations. Those were the first two Indigos in a week, and running on the tardy side for them here. Got pix of the buntings and the warbler. Otherwise slow until just before 5 p.m. when I was outside and heard first, then looked up to see a Sprague's Pipit right overhead, which continued calling a couple more times as it flew off. Probably came up off the grass airstrip. Always a great bird from the yard. I have worked hard for them many a time before. So I would say the day ahead of the front was very good. I bet there was more good stuff out there, like at the park. Stuck at the desk on Wednesdays and Thursdays here.

Nov. 5 ~ It was about 60dF at midnight, and 65 by dawn. Mostly cloudy, got up to about 76dF. There was nothing goin' on around the yard most of the day. A pile of plucked White-winged Dove feathers over under the big Mulberry tree indicated why. One of the accipters was here. It should be gone a couple days now anyway. It was the deadest day here for birds in months. Saw a couple Queens on the Blue Mist Eupatorium. Counted at least 45 Chipping Sparrow, only saw one imm. White-crowned Sparrow, no adults, no White-throated, one Lark Sparrow, a few Field. Heard Screech-Owls and Barred Owl after dark.

Nov. 4 ~ About 47dF for a low is fine. Mostly sunny is nice too. When tossing seed first thing I heard a FOS Rufous-sided Towhee upslope behind us from the Agarita under the live-oaks. Saw one imm. White-crowned Sparrow and neither adult White-crowned or White-throated. About 10:30 or so at least a couple FOS American (was called Water) Pipit flew over. I missed a hawk heading south fast. Heard a Kestrel out there. Noonish there was one of the Aellopos Sphinx moths (Hummingbird Hawkmoth) on the Blue Mist Eup but when I got back with camera it was gone and never came back. Other things on the Blue Mist were a Monarch, a Gray Hairstreak, an American Lady, a Sachem and a Clouded Skipper. One Cloudless Sulphur was bouncing around yard again, a Little Yellow went by. Heard a Kinglet (Ruby), an Orange-crowned Warbler and a Myrtle Warbler. Since warm out I caught the Anole inside the cottage the last week since it got cold, and put it outside. Both adult Rufous Hummer still here, male and female. Saw 3 Lincoln's Sparrow at once out the office window, within 8' of each other.

Nov. 3 ~ Another 35dF low, clear and sunny. Heard the Robin early morn, it must have roosted in the corral Hackberries. I did not see the White-throated or the adult White-crowned Sparrow. I did see TWO imm. White-crowned Sparrow. Turnover. I'll have the passerine turnover please. The Chipping Sparrow flock is 40+ birds now, and there are at least 3 Lincoln's Sparrow around the yard. Saw a Field Sparrow with the Chippies, no Clay-colored, one Lark Sparrow, a couple each Ground-Dove, and Inca Dove. One Myrtle Warbler was at the bath briefly, heard another later. Still the two adult Rufous Hummers here, male and female. Butterflies on the Blue Mist Eup were a Clouded Skipper, a Queen, an American Lady, and a Gray Hairstreak. One Cloudless Sulphur blasted past. One Swift Setwing dragonfly still out there. Got up to low 70's dF briefly at peak heat around 4 p.m. Worked on things around here that need doing before it gets too cold out.

Nov. 2 ~ A 35dF low is chilly but warm compared to yesterday. Around 9:30 my FOS Meadowlarks flew low over the patio and house, a couple dozen at least. The only flight notes I heard were Eastern Meadowlark. The biggest ID problem is back. In muted fresh plumage they can be tough when silent. Mid-morn a lone Robin called from the front yard, my FOS. Four Pine Siskin were on the seed out back, first in yard this fall, though our FOS were two at Garner last Sunday, Oct. 27th. There were TWO White-crowned Sparrow out back. I presume the first adult from a couple days ago stuck and another showed up. The second bird is an immature, both are the default type here, eastern nominate leucophrys.

Then shortly before noon there was an adult White-throated Sparrow, FOS, which was the much sharper looking IMHO white-striped morph with a big yellow lore, such a striking head. Audubon's Oriole went through the yard a couple times. We walked out on the road for an hour noonish. Lots of Chipping Sparrow, some Field, several Lincoln's, one Vesper, lots of Cardinals, a few Mockingbird, some Lesser Goldfinch, Carolina Wren and Chickadee, Black-crested Titmouse, the usual gang. Thought I heard a Long-billed Thrasher. After we got back I heard the Pyrrhuloxia across the road.

I ran to town late in the afternoon, today was the annual craft fair so it was packed, and surely way worse earlier. Got some of granny's jellies: Agarita, Mesquite Bean, Dewberry, and Wild (Escarpment) Cherry. Just drive down the road and spot granny, it's like utopia. I felt like I robbed the jelly bank. Checked the park, it was dead at 4 p.m. but for a few residents and six stinkin' Egyptian Goose. One Monarch though. Went to the library butterfly garden and a few butterflies were there. A Queen, a Buckeye, a few Pipevine Swallowtail, a Sachem and a Whirlabout, a Dusky-blue Groundstreak, one Painted and 6 American Lady, a Sleepy Orange, man it is a bad butterfly fall.

Saving the day was a Cerambycid (Longhorn) Beetle, apparently a Mesquite Borer (Placosternus erythropus). Got pix, was on Thoroughwort Eupatorium. Have not seen one in a number of years locally, probably a decade or so. My only photos were at Big Springs Ranch above Leakey, and low res, so this was great to have one drunk on Eupatorium and not care about my lens 2" away. It appeared to be raking the flowers with its front legs and then wiping them off on mouth. There were also a few Ailanthus webworm moths on the Eup.

mesquiteborer
This is a Mesquite Borer (Placosternus erythropus), one of the
Longhorn (Cerambycid) beetles. Methinks we are safe calling this
a bee mimic. I have seen them with bright red-orange legs.
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Nov. 1 ~ We were welcomed to November with ice on the birdbath. It was about 26.5dF at 8 a.m.! One local in town said they had 26 as well. KRVL showed a 25 briefly! Cold all morn. At least it did warm into lowest 60's later afternoon. Did not see anything unusual around the yard, but two FOS Northern Harrier flew over low at treetop level, both immatures. Town run day. At the post office when I got out of car there was an Audubon's Oriole singing and calling up top in the sun on the big live-oak at NE corner of parking lot. Man it is like utopia here. Checked the park and it was slow but for a couple low-end FOS's. The FOS Coot there may well be the bird that wintered the last two years, and as such significant. If so it is a Maverick Coot, a loner choosing to winter hanging out with a Pied-billed Grebe. What if the other Coots knew? They all probably wonder what happens to Fred in the winter. He is hanging out with a grebe! Their lobed toes match anyway. The other FOS was Wood Duck calling as it flushed out of the swampy slough as I walked back into the woods. I heard the Wilson's Warbler over on the island. There was a small winter flock of E. Bluebird, Chipping Sparrow, and Myrtle Warbler up at the live-oaks by the entrance, one Audubon's Warbler with them. Some Cypress and Pecan trees are still green, others turning yellow or brown, a few fairly leafless already. Maxmillian Sunflower is the yellow flower blooming along riversedge, showing quite well now.

~ ~ ~ October summary ~ ~ ~

The drought continues, we are way behind on water since the tap turned off in June. Was 1.8" of precip for us here in October. The river is very low flow, the fall flower bloom is very restricted, weak blooms from a few species, mostly those in riverside or flood zone habitats. Pecan and Hackberry crops are weak, though some trees have fruit or nuts. Persimmon crop was fair but mostly gone now. First freeze of the fall was late in month, briefly the 27th, and a good 6 hours on the morning of the 31st.

Butterflies were about 46 species, a very poor showing, only twice in last 16 falls was it less diversity. There is no fall flight and invasion from the south this year. In years of good fall invasions I have had 46 species in one stop in 45 minutes. Not the whole month. And many this month were OOI: 'only one individual' seen. Numbers are way down with the rain and flowers. A few Laviana White-Skipper were around, which are LTA - less than annual here, so the highlight of the month. Otherwise it was just the most expected usual normal common stuff. Had to scrape for a Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, a Metalmark, any blue, it was amazing really how few butterflies were around. There was no big Monarch flight for us here this year, they missed us too. The FOS Monarch was Oct. 2, there were no early ones this year. I missed one shiny satiny white thing that was likely a Florida (Tropical) White.

Odes were a weak showing this month as well. I count 22 species, and it was the statistically most likely. The first Autumn Meadowhawk of the fall showed up late in the month. No raries, nothing even scarce, and the numbers crashed fast early in the month. The ode season is all but over for the year.

At least the birds were good in October! I am coming up with about 97 species for the month locally, so not as much diversity as September, but it was good. The best two birds were a WOOD THRUSH at the park on the 25th (ph.), and a LONG-EARED OWL calling for over an hour here the evening of the 21st. A couple Long-billed Thrasher were around our place, and we had a couple at Garner S.P. A Broad-tailed Hummingbird from the last few days of Sept. made it to Oct. 1 before departing. A few Rufous Hummingbird are seeming to stick and may well winter. A couple Black-throated Green Warbler were nice.

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October started with a couple left-overs from September, four Rufous (1 may be Allen's), and one Broad-tailed Hummingbird were at our feeders Oct. 1. The big hummer blowout finally happened, Oct. 3. Ruby-throats are still around, but not the ridiculous numbers we had early in the week. My first Monarch was Oct. 2, a Bell's Vireo was here on the 3rd. The 4th there was a Black-throated Green Warbler, and first of fall of both Blue-headed Vireo and Common Yellowthroat in the yard. October 5th had four FOS (first of season) sps., virtually all what are 'winter' species here: Kestrel, House Wren, Lincoln's Sparrow, and Orange-crowned Warbler. Finally the first front of fall arrived Oct. 7. My FOS Sharp-shinned Hawk was the 8th. A White-tailed Kite was reported at Vanderpool on the 8th (Laura Levy). Two Long-billed Thrasher have been around our place the last week, one has been present since late August. The 2nd fall front, a stronger one, hit early a.m. on the 11th, with a high of about 50dF, 45dF or so colder than the 10th! On the 12th I saw my FOS Pied-billed Grebe, Vesper Sparrow, and Myrtle Warbler. Also on the 12th was a great late date for Common Nighthawk. The 13th we had our FOS Ruby-crowned Kinglet after probably hearing them a couple days. The evening of the 15th and pre-dawn on the 16th we got 1.2" of rain! Saw my FOS Swainson's Hawks (2) liftoff the 16th. The 18th was the first 'winter flocks' of Myrtle Warbler, Chipping Sparrow and Eastern Bluebird. The 19th we had FOS Hermit Thrush, Clay-colored Sparrow, and Pyrrhuloxia. Late evening the 21st there was a LONG-EARED OWL calling near our place, among 5 species of owls that evening. My FOS Cedar Waxwing was a single, on morning of the 22nd. Major cold front and blow Oct. 24-5, about .6 of rain, 39dF and sub-freezing chill factors morning of 25th. A WOOD THRUSH at Utopia Park the 25th is the best passerine vagrant of the fall so far. My FOS Sandhill Crane was the 26th. Our FOS freeze was an un-forecasted surprise on Oct. 27! We had two FOS Pine Siskin at Garner S.P., also on Oct. 27. An adult White-crowned Sparrow was my FOS on Oct. 30. We had a 5-6 hour freeze (got down to 29dF!) on Oct. 31!

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~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~

Oct. 31 ~ Saw 29dF on the front porch about 8 a.m., KRVL had the same. Wind chill at KRVL at 9 when 31dF was 22dF. So a cold end to October with a 5-6 hour freeze. Chilly willy. Hit 40dF about noon, but with a cold breeze on it. it is like winter out there. High and low were about 25dF below average. Heard two Rufous Hummers, two Inca Dove, thought sure I heard the White-crowned Sparrow too. Should be some raptor, crane, and goose movement today or tomorrow behind the front. It did climb into lowest 50's dF later in the afternoon. I saw the Clay-colored Sparrow in with the Chippies on the patio, the Lincoln's is hanging around the stick piles. The imm. fem. Sharp-shinned is still here. At least two adult Rufous Hummingbird (ma. and fem.) remain present. The LRGV has a Green-breasted Mango!

Oct. 30 ~ It was low 50's dF at midnight, by dawn the low 40's, with drizzle and mist. Intermittent winds at 10-20mph had the chill factors just over freezing. Not sure it will warm up much, a stronger front is set to arrive this afternoon or evening with real rain. As of 5 p.m. or so it was just over a half-inch of precip (14mm) so far, and that includes the .14 or so from yesterday. At least the ground and plants are getting a little water. We sure went from too hot to too cold quickly. Never got above 43dF, flatlined all day. By 4 or so the winds got here to seriously advect cold air, but will keep it from getting too cold. A first of season for most (barely) freeze is predicted, though we kissed 32 for two hours last Sunday morning.

Always a great FOS to see was an adult White-crowned Sparrow on the seed out back! Like seeing an old friend. There was also a Clay-colored Sparrow in with the Chippies, an imm., which is at the tardy end of the fall window for them here. They pass through in fall, I have never seen one winter locally. Lincoln's, Lark, and Field Sparrows too makes six species of sparrows. Now where are that Vesper and Rufous-crowned? Adult male and female Rufous Hummingbird are here. May have seen that imm. male as well.

Oct. 29 ~ A shallow cold front moved in dropping temps from just below 60dF pre-dawn to low-50's shortly after. Might have gotten to 56dF for a high. No wind, just a thousand foot thick layer of cold air ahead of a real front tomorrow. So drizzling a little, a light shower here and there, fairly fallish for here. Might have been .14 of an inch of precip over the day. Good weather for being indoors. I will let you know if anything shows up out the office window behind the monitor. At the noon seed toss (so exciting here in Utopia) in the drizzle there was a Mocker singing in the rain. They will always be there for you, brightening up even a wet gray day.

Late afternoon in a spent patch of weedy Mexican Hat I was supposed to cut, there were a Lincoln's Sparrow and two Orange-crowned Warbler foraging. Weedy patches are great for birds. Unfortunately people treat them like any dead branch, get rid of it asap, and remove lots of great bird habitat in the process. Weedy patches are full of bugs and seeds, like hedgerows. Heard the Hutton's Vireo out back in the live-oaks. Counted 17 Turkey over in the corral, early morning I heard one gobble. They maybe ought to put the kabosh on that the next few weeks?

Oct. 28 ~ It was in the low 50's around midnight, warmed into 60's by dawn, and got up to mid-upper 70's dF for a high. Was too busy working, no migration motion noted. The adult male and ad. female Rufous Hummingbird were both here. The rest was the regular gang. Still 2 Lark Sparrow here with a dozen Chipping and some Field. One Kinglet (Ruby) and a heard Orange-crowned Warbler. The Inca Dove were out there, a few Ground-Dove, White-wings might number 35 or so, Cardinals the same. I heard a Rufous-crowned Sparrow just upslope behind us again later in afternoon.

Oct. 27 ~ Astonishing was an un-forecasted brief freeze this morn! NOAA had KRVL for a 41dF low. It was just below 40dF around 6 a.m., but as sun warmed uppermost atmosphere and all that cold air sunk, we plummeted to 32dF before 8 a.m.! Holy cow! I saw KRVL had 33dF. It was amazing, I saw dew on surfaces as light broke, and a while later I noticed it had gotten colder and had gone to frost! By time I got back to thermometer it was 32dF and actually freezing! Funny, we planned to go to Garner S.P. this morning instead of yesterday because it was going to be a bit warmer low today. Guess again. Saw an adult male Rufous Hummer at the office feeder early! Wonder if our bird was gone a few days at a neighbors and came back? It looked purely Rufous of back like the one that was here. I don't get why it would be gone a few days and reappear. It did not sit where the other one sat on the Hackberry.

We were up earlyish to have a look at Garner S.P. as we avoid it most of the spring and summer due to crowds. It is still pretty busy with lots of people, a real circus compared to Lost Maples usually. But Maples is entering its busiest month due to the leaf lookyloo season, despite there not being much to see in that regard. Maples is hard to bird with herds of hominids going by all the time. Be there at opening and you might get an hour or two, maybe, especially during week.

I can't believe how low Bear Creek Pond is just east of the 1050 pass (ca. 4 miles west of Utopia). We are wayyyy behind on rain. One Great Blue Heron and some pigs was it. No ducks. Fair numbers of Chipping Sparrow flushing up from verges on way, just like winter. No color to speak of on the hills yet.

At Garner we had one good Chipping Sparrow flock of about a hundred birds. A few Field Sparrow with them, did not see a Clay-colored though. Some Bluebirds with them too, one Myrtle Warbler. Only a couple scattered single Myrtle were heard. There are more at Utopia Park. We had a few Rufous-crowned Sparrow calling at various areas around the park. One Canyon Towhee was at the visitors center (not HQ), did not see a hummer at the feeders there. Most of the stuff is working pecans now, and lots crushed on roads. Pro tip: drive the edges to crush more for them. Good numbers of White-winged Dove, Cardinal, Chickadees and Titmice, a few Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Carolina and Bewick's Wren, dozen+ Eastern Bluebird scattered around, some Lesser Goldfinch, one Red-shouldered Hawk. Below the spillway at the south end of park we saw a Green and heard a Ringed Kingfisher. I glimpsed a Black Rock Squirrel as it dove into, er, the rocks. One Spotted Sandpiper was on the rocks below the spillway. Sure be a good place for a vagrant Dipper. Saw a couple Common Raven. Wild Horse Creek and Madrone Walkway trails were quiet. Persimmon Hill seemed mostly cleaned out of fruit, missed it by a week or two I'd guess, but some random others elsewhere still had fruit.

We slowly cruise around listening for flocks, hoping to find a close place to park, repeat. Parking is quite controlled so lots of it is hard to cover actually. By noon the campground loops are more than half cleared out. We did one (Rio Frio) loop where there is a drawlet that drains into the Frio River (off southeast corner of that loop). Amazingly perhaps the most common, the dominant shrub, in the draw is Flame Acanthus! We did not see any Crimson Patch, or cats, but surely this is ground zero for the Garner population. It is the biggest wild patch I have found locally. Many dozens of big old bushes, but only a few flowers left on each this late in season. In that area Kathy spotted the only Elada Checkerspot of the month, and so was an Orange Sulphur. There were also two Long-billed Thrasher calling back and forth (were Persimmons with fruit there). Great was 2 FOS Pine Siskin! In odes lots of Green Darner around, a few Variegated and one Autumnal Meadowhawk was it for dragons and damsels. Acquired a few obligitory Frio River photos. P.S. later at house a Swift Setwing was in front yard.

Garner is actually closer to us than Maples, maybe by about 8 minutes on the road. It is a harder windier drive up and over all the hills of the divide, you really have to watch it on 1050. Whereas 187 can be driven with eyes closed. Just kiddin' sherrif. Hwy. 1050 itself is great when the Buckley Oaks go red later November into December. Garner differs from Lost Maples primarily in being a citified very manmade altered park. But there are little jewels scattered about if you can find them, like Sycamore-leaf Snowbells and the above mentioned Flame Acanthus. This morning its population was likely twice that of Utopia, and all of them were out, something you never see here. LOL. There are a lot of people there. Most of the trails away from park roads are toward and in earshot of Hwy. 83, which has big truck traffic. So it is not the feeling of a wild place or natural wilderness that you get at Maples. Regardless, there are breeding Golden-cheeked Warbler on the trails, though long gone this time of year of course. I am sure Garner gets lots of good birds going through it. Lots. It is kind of hard to bird though. These river habitat corridors are major migrant corridors.

Oct. 26 ~ At least the wind quit blowing sometime overnight. Was about 41dF for a low, nice and brisk, KRVL had 38 for a bit. Weewow! No migrant motion in yard, the fall party is about over. I hear the big girl warming up. Yesterday's Wood Thrush at the park might be the last big hurrah. The juvenile female Sharp-shinned is still terrorizing everything here. I saw only the adult fem. Rufous-Allen's Hummer in the morning. Late afternoon Kathy spotted a new imm. or female Ruby-throated at a feeder. It looked thrilled to find it the way it just sat on it forever. I think the Cardinal flock is 35 or so. Lots of green leaves down. Pecans and acorns are falling. Cypress are sure turning now, first going yellow, pecans too, lots of yellow, and lots of leaves down.

I went to the park hoping to get better pix of the Wood Thrush, but could not refind it. It seemingly was like most out-of-range (vagrant) Wood Thrush, a one-day wonder. But we don't know if it was there the day before. They and Great Crested Flycatcher are two birds famous for not being there on day 2 when they occur as vagrants west of their normal ranges. Park woods were dead, heard a Green King. The first live-oak patch near entrance had a flock of E. Bluebird, chippies, and Myrtle Warbler.

Checked the library butterfly garden, since so few flowers around. It is ratty looking but there were a few flowers. I can't believe they killed some Lantanas. Thought they were indestructible. Saw a couple Fatal Metalmark, several Gray Hairstreak and one Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, a couple Whirlabout, a couple C.Checkered-Skipper, a Clouded and a Dun Skipper, a few Sleepy Orange, 2 Gulf and a Variegated Fritillary, two Queen, several American and one Painted Lady, one Monarch, a Fiery Skipper, pretty pitiful actually for October. Later in yard saw Clouded and Dun Skipper, a Large Orange Sulphur, So. Dogface, a Red Admiral and a few of the more common things. In the late afternoon here at the house I heard Sandhill Crane going over heading south, my FOS. Heard a Barn Owl heading south after dark. Coyotes got something, they went off bonkers, it is incredible, I love it.

claycoloredsparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow, 2 adults, 1 imm. (front center facing right), one
adult explaining finer points of birdbath etiquette to the youngster.
Now you don't just jump in and splash all over the place...
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Oct. 25 ~ No more rain after the quick blast yesterday evening, the wind blew hard all night, supposed to go all day until the evening. This is a real blower. I know of nowhere that goes from too hot to too cold so fast so often so regularly as Texas. I saw 39dF at 7 a.m.! Methinks March was the last temps in the 30's, seven months ago. The chill factors were sub-freezing with the 20-30+ mph northerlies, some may have been in the highest 20's! Gadzooks! Where's me longjohns!?! It made it up to 60dF or so but the winds were still at 15-25 mph at sundown.

I did hear a Ruby-throated Hummingbird early, and then later saw a Rufous of some sort. If they are smart they will ride this wind wave to a warmer clime. Town run. Lots of green leaves down is how hard it blew. Cypress and Pecans lost lots of greenery. Water barely going over spillway at park. Saw one male Green Kingfisher in the slough by the island, and a Ringed King flew by while I was standing around looking stupid. There was a winter passerine flock with a dozen Eastern Bluebird, 18 or so Chipping Sparrow, 15+ Myrtle and 2 Audubon's Warbler.

The bird of the day, week, and month, actually the rarest passerine of the whole fall passage so far, was a WOOD THRUSH by the screen enclosures up at north end of parking area. It flushed off the ground before I saw it. A while later I found it on top of the screen shelter (!), got a half-arsed grabshot and 10 OOFs - out-of-focus (throwaways). Hattie Barham pulled up while I was looking at it so handed her my binocs for a view. The only other fall Wood Thrush record I know in the area is one I briefly saw Sept. 14, 2016, here at Utopia Park. I did not get a pic of that one though (was on the island), so any kind of docushot moves it to the next level. There are a few spring records nearby, one at Park Chalk Bluff, another at Big Springs.

Interesting was ebird revealing yesterday the 24th TWO Wood Thrush were reported nearish in cental Texas, one in Bexar Co., and one at Ft. Clark Springs! Another was near Lake Corpus Christi yesterday as well, nearer the coast where it is scarce but regular in fall. It is an accidental species in fall in the west half of Texas, the Ft. Clark bird the only reported in ebird this fall that I could see for the west half of the state.

I went back to the park at 5 p.m. hoping to get a better pic. Refound it by the blind eating those American Beautyberry in the fenced-in area. But was mostly very shady in the woods so had to use high ISO which means grainy, but got better shots of it anyway, and got to watch it for 10 minutes before it dematerialized again. Back here at the hovelita at sundown there were over 30 Cardinal on the seed.

Oct. 24 ~ Low about 68dF and some drizzle, a cold front is due in this afternoon to early evening. No migrant motion. Maybe some things will come through in the wake of the front. Heard a Kinglet (Ruby), saw an Orange-crowned Warbler, Kathy heard the Long-billed Thrasher, saw the Inca Dove pair, Field and Lincoln's Sparrow, a couple Caracara crackled overhead. Waiting for the rain. Supposed to get real windy with this one so it will be a great de-leafer of a post-frontal blow. It will look a different world out there tomorrow. Lot more Raven around lately, say the last few weeks. There were few to none around most of the summer, the nesting Red-tails do not tolerate them. Go be smart and funny somewhere else seems to be their attitude towards them.

At least two Ruby-throat, and one ad.fem. Rufous-Allen's type remain in the way of Hummingbirds. I suspect the Rubies will ride the post-frontal blow out of town tomorrow. The front hit shortly before dark with 30+ mph northerlies, seemingly precluding the usual hummingbird last tank up for the night. The band of precip with it was quick and narrow here, building up and slowing down after it passed us. In the hour or so there was rain we got about five-eighths of an inch. Something anyway, we need it badly. Some lucky folks elsewhere got more. It dropped to 50dF or so in a little over an hour.

Oct 23 ~ We ran about 64-82dF for a temp spread, sunny, and still dryish, but pretty breezy out of the south now. No migrant movement that I saw. The adult female Rufous Hummer remains, and I saw 3 imm. ma. Ruby-throated at once. Saw the 3 Inca Dove again, nice to have them around. Heard the Long-billed Thrasher. Otherwise it was just the regular gang. Maybe 2 Lark Sparrow left here now. Turkey flock still hitting the oat line. The Titmice and Chickadees are barely hitting the sunflower feeder since there is lots of pecan available now. The coons go up in the trees and so the branches have bits of nuts in the bark and this seems to be what they are getting.

Oct. 22 ~ We had a 44dF low, coolest in 6 months, and all kinds of awesome. I saw KRVL showed a 40dF low! In the afternoon KRVL humidity was 10%! It was bone dry. Saw at least two imm. male Ruby-throated, and the Rufous Hummingbird here is not either of the two males that were here, so 3 hummers, at least, are still here. The Rufous today is another (!) new different one. Some Chipping Sparrow hit the patio for millet and one imm. Clay-colored was with them. Great for the FOS was one lone Cedar Waxwing that flew over calling, on the early side of arrival dates. Otherwise no migrant motion.

Afternoon had a Nashville Warbler and maybe it was the Hutton's Vireo that came in for a quick splash. Not hearing any White-eyed Vireo around, methinks they have flown the coup. After dark made the usual hourly sound checks outside. Heard the three resident owls, Screech-, Barred, and Great Horned, and on one step outside I heard one call from the Long-eared Owl, further down the habitat corridor. It is great to have seen enough of them that I don't feel the need to have to chase it down.   ;)

Oct. 21 ~ Front came through about 3 a.m. or so with some gusty winds, and about .2 of precipitation. Dry northerlies not too strong, a chamber of commerce weather day. Seems like everything rode the front out of Dodge, there was nothing going on this morning. A few hummers around but seems a few likely left yesterday. There were maybe 3 or 4 Ruby-throated tops. The big news is that we did not see the adult male Rufous Hummingbird that has been out the office window on that feeder since Aug. 8, 10 weeks and 3 days but who is counting. I presume it left late yesterday or first thing this morning on the front. So it was just fattening up for that long of a stay as a migratory stopover? Weird. Glimpsed a non-adult male Rufous today.

Saw the Laviana White-Skipper again. Three Inca Dove were on the patio in the afternoon. After 6 p.m. single Nashville and Orange-crowned Warbler hit the bath. Maybe tomorrow there will be migrant motion? Hoped the eternal optimist. Heard the Pyrrhuloxia out there again, saw it fly from out back to across road so maybe it is hitting the sunflower seed I toss at the back fence.

After dark the usual Screech-, and Great Horned got going quickly. A bit latter I heard a Barn Owl flying south down-valley, then the Barred Owl started. At 11 p.m. I heard a LONG-EARED OWL calling over in the river habitat corridor! It was giving the one long single note hoot that is a bit drawn out as if it has some wind blowing through it. At midnight it was still calling occasionally. So a whopping FIVE species of owls from the porch tonight. I have traipsed all over the mountains all night for that.

Oct. 20 ~ About 64dF for a low, winds were light and northerly much of the night, was hoping for migrant motion, but they turned southerly and gulf clouds got here, does not seem to be much motion. Front due in overnight, the hot day before today, some more record hot at some area stations for the second day in a row. Heard a Long-billed Thrasher early first thing before sunup. Over the morning a couple each Myrtle and Nashville, and one Orange-crowned Warbler were around briefly. Kathy spotted a Hutton's Vireo splash-bathing at the bath. I heard the Pyrrhuloxia across the road. A pair of Inca Dove were at the bath in the afternoon. Had both Rufous Hummers and maybe 6 or so Ruby-throated left, but fewer at dusk.

A few butterflies were around the Blue Mist (greggii) Eupatorium and a Lantana next to it. A few Monarch, a couple Clouded Skipper, Dun and Julia's Skipper, Celia's roadside-Skipper, a pale morph female Large Orange Sulphur (ph.), Gulf Frit, Queen, Gray Hairstreak, and later afternoon my first of month Orange Skipperling. A Buckeye flew by among other things. An introduced type (Asian) Praying Mantis caught a Monarch at a Lantana flower. I rescued the Monarch and dispatched the Mantis. The Monarch flew off seemingly OK. An Anole is still making diving leaps at the butterflies, and I chased a Leopard Frog off. Stuff just sits and waits at the few flowers, and wipes out the few butterflies. Not on my porch watch. Probably a half-dozen Monarch over the day.

Oct. 19 ~ Only about 67dF for a low, and got up to 87 in the cool shady, KRVL showed 92dF. But drier than the summer sopping. Today and tomorrow are the hot days before the next front Sunday overnight. Austin and Del Rio hit record high temps today. There was migrant movement last night. Early before sunup I heard the two Long-billed Thrasher calling back and forth out front. A few Scissor-tails around early again. Just before 9 a.m. I heard at least one, probably two Audubon's Oriole.

Then there was a flurry of activity at the birdbath. First Kathy called the FOS Hermit Thrush. By time I got there with camera there were two! So they arrived overnight. There were a bunch of Cardinal, a Nashville or two, an Orange-cronwed Warbler, Field Sparrow, some Chipping Sparrows, and then THREE Clay-colored Sparrow dropped down to the bath at once! FOS. Got a weak shot of them anyway (1 juv., 2 ad.) and a Hermit Thrush. While all this was going on I saw something high in the pecan over the bath, but at an angle I could not get camera on, a male Pyrrhuloxia! FOS. They show up in October here after being absent all spring and summer. Man I wish it would hit the bath for a photo session! A Ground-Dove flushed from near the bath I had not seen.

Went to town to check the park without a stack of errands overhead. On the way the 360 crossing had nothing but a Cicindellid (Tiger Beetle), always nice to see (ph.). The park had two little winter type passerine flocks consisting of Eastern Bluebird, Chipping Sparrow, and Yellow-rumped Warbler, which were not there yesterday. Each group had a half-dozen bluebird, a half-dozen to 10 Chipping Sparrow, and 18 or so Yellow-rumped Warbler between the two groups. Two were Audubon's Warbler. These are surely migrant bluebirds and chippies, not the locals. This was the first big Myrtle Warbler arrival day, I had only seen a few singles here and there so far.

Saw Kiowa Dancer at the 360 xing, a Roseate Skimmer at the park, fair numbers of Black Saddlebags, Green Darner, and Familiar bluet. A few Red Saddlebags. Nice was my first Autumnal Meadowhawk of the fall, three or four males. These things emerge locally in July, and then are not seen again until October. Those clearly depart and go somewhere else. Then we get a small wave in fall. Then where are these from?

Little Creek Larry said after the first front a week and change ago there were some Shoveler on the pond at the park, and currently there are some Blue-winged Teal on Little Creek. He mentioned he saw all three of the regular Kingfisher species lined up on the spillway the other day close enough together to have gotten them in one frame. He also saw a White-tailed Kite out 355 toward Little Creek in the big pasture off south side of road.

Saw about 10 Monarch over the day, a couple hit the Blue Mist Eupatorium. Early morn one went to Tube-tongue, hardly ever see that. Saw the Laviana White-Skipper cross yard again late in afternoon. The two male (ad. and imm.) Rufous Hummingbird continue, the Ruby-throated seem down to a half-dozen or so. In afternoon there were a couple Inca Dove on the patio.

woodthrush
Here is a docugrabshot of the Wood Thrush at Utopia Park
on Oct. 25. You take what you can get when a rarity.
Actually got some sharper, but shady without much rufous.
They are stunningly bright rusty above in the sun.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Oct. 18 ~ Weewow a 48dF low! KRVL had a 45! Methinks the lowest temp since April, six months. Where are my socks, long pants and longsleeve shirts? Sunny and dry to go with the cool brisk, feels pretty autumnal. Nice. Saw a couple Nashville Warbler shoot through yard early, heard a Myrtle Warbler. Thought there might be movement behind the front today, second clear day after. Three Scissor-tailed Flycatcher were sallying from the big pecan in front yard for a while mid-morn. Saw a couple Monarchs go by.

Town supply run. No migrants at the park, maybe a hawk had been in woods? Only a male Wilson's Warbler which is surely the returning winterer, and likely present a month already. One Green Kingfisher in the slough by island. Not even a White-eyed Vireo. They are all but gone now. The Maxmillian Sunflower at riveredge is blooming great. Here in yard the Blue Mist Eup has some flowers. Saw Clouded and Dun Skipper, plus the Celia's Roadside-Skipper on it. The Cypress trees are really getting yellow, some brownish, the Pecans are yellowish too. A Laviana White-Skipper flew across yard about 4:30 p.m. Heard an Audubon's Oriole or two at dusk, but not the Long-billed Thrasher. Maybe the cold scared it away?

Oct. 17 ~ About 54dF for a low felt great. Just a few clouds, getting sunny and blue skies, the first clear day after the front. No passerine migrant motion early. About 9:30 saw two Monarchs, one lifting off, one up thermalling already, and two hawks went by. The close low hawk only a hundred feet up was a textbook adult Swainson's, which circled twice right over the yard, my FOS. What a beauty. If only we could know where the migrants we see are from, and where they are going. Mid-morn saw single Nashville, Orange-crowned, and a getting tardy Yellow Warbler, plus one Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Couple more Monarchs but not seeing any more hawks. Sparrows in yard are Vesper, Lincoln's, Chipping, Field, Lark, and Rufous-crowned, so six species. Couple more Monarch in the afternoon. Same three owl species calling again tonight, Screech-, Barred, and Great Horned.

Oct. 16 ~ Rained a little overnight, mostly early pre-dawn. About a half-inch. Which means an event total of about 1.2" here, I heard in town 1.2" was one reading, so I am stickin' with it. Low was a nice 62dF or so, and the ground got water! It was a nice slow-soaker, just what we needed. Was in town early, Green and Ringed Kings at the park but that was it. Save some Axis Deer in the woods. One big buck jumped straight into that 7-8' deer or hog fence at north end of the woods a few times. I'd say he might have cleared 5-6', which was pretty impressive for its size. Then it jumped into river and swam across to the other side.

Back here in the yard about 9 a.m. or so a couple Nashville and at least one Orange-crowned went through, heard a bunting which is surely the imm. male Indigo. The two Rufous Hummingbird continue, and about 8-10 Ruby-throated appear to be all imm. males. About 3:30 p.m. a small group of birds in the yard was a Kinglet (Ruby), a Hutton's Vireo, Nashville and Myrtle Warbler. Saw a Rufous-crowned Sparrow in the stick pile out in front yard, Kathy said she saw it at bath earlier in day. At 11 p.m. there were 2 pairs of Great Horned Owl counter-calling right across the road, a pair of Screech-Owl calling in back of house and a Barred Owl calling nearer the river. Seven individual owls of three species at once.

Oct. 15 ~ The hot day before the front tonight. Low was about 73dF, and humid of course. They are saying this is the last hurrah for the summer sub-tropical high that locks over us for 4 months or so now. It was closer to 5 months this year, and used to be 3 months. It was a sticky 88dF in the shade, 90somethin' in the sun. The perciptible water was in 90th percentile for the date. Which means instead of licking a stamp, you just wipe it across your forehead.

I thought there might be some movement ahead of it, but it seems not. At the bath there were single Nashville and Orange-crowned Warbler, and the imm. male Indigo Bunting. The latter we know is here a while, the warblers probably are holdovers as well. So no mig motion. Heard the Long-billed Thrasher, saw the Turkey flock in corral. Tragedy was seeing a flock of 7 House Sparrow circle high overhead, quite unlike city sparrows. They fly around like crossbills or other finches, way up high, calling. It looked like they kept going this morning. Then in the afternoon Kathy said she saw a group under our big truck out back. I can assure you they will not be hanging out here.

At least 4 Monarch through the yard over the day, one stopped on the Blue Mist Eup for a bit. Clouded Skipper and Celia's Roadside-Skipper on it as well. A Queen, a Gulf Fritillary, a Little Yellow, but not much action. Very nice was a two foot plus Western Ribbon Snake in the flower bed at front porch. Beautiful snake. Ahead of the front we got a couple rain cells between 7 and 9 p.m. and a whopping .75" of precip and took it down to low 70's finally!

Oct. 14 ~ Cloudy, low of 64dF. Great to get up and not be hot and sticky. The first half of morn around the yard was a little birdy. Heard Long-billed Thrasher and Audubon's Oriole. Saw the Chat again, in the Red Turks Cap at corner of house! It appears an imm. male and I wonder if it is the one hatched here, still present. At the bath I saw a male Wilson's, a Nashville, Kathy said she thought she had an Orange-crowned, and best was up in the pecans, a Black-throated Green Warbler! My fourth of the fall, which is a great showing, it appeared an imm. female to me. One Ruby-crowned Kinglet was the first seen in yard this fall, though probably heard a few times in last 5 days. A nice male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher flew over, bet they are glad to have their tails back.

There was at least one different, maybe two, other Nashville warbler over the day. I got pix of a pale Orange-crowned Warbler at the bath. There was a Blue Grosbeak out front in the afternoon. Saw the imm. male Rufous Hummer out front, the ad.ma. continues out back. Great was a flock of Eastern Bluebird decending on the bath, there must have been a dozen or more, eight at once at the bath in one single frame! They were in and out pretty quickly though. Lincoln's and Vesper Sparrow in yard, saw the Vesper on patio, wonder if it is the one that wintered around yard last year eating the millet. White-winged Dove count is 30 at least here now. Late afternoon an Audubon's Warbler went through yard. Made 5 species of warbler in the yard today. Plus the Chat. Couple Caracara went over. Have not been seeing the Zone-tailed Hawks lately. A Large Orange Sulphur stopped on the Lantana briefly.

Oct. 13 ~ Got up and first thing heard a Long-billed Thrasher well before sunup. Whadda great wakeup bird. We went to Lost Maples since it finally is not 90dF, and trying to beat the leaf peepers that crowd the place out most of November. HQ said it was like peak Nov. yesterday, totally packed, cars parked on grass. There is very little fall leaf color, a little yellow, a lot of brown, and my sense after seeing it today is there will not be a good color show this fall. Many maples are just turning brown and falling already. Sure there will be a good tree here and there, but it is not going to be a great color show year. It has been wayyy too dry, even Lacey Oaks are going brown.

On the way upvalley from Utopia to Lost Maples we had about 6 Caracara, a couple Kestrel, a Shrike, various sparrows including Lark, Vesper, Chipping, Field, and a FOS Savannah. A male Scissor-tail was south of Vanderpool a couple miles on the way up, a female was on 360 on the way back. A FOS Say's Phoebe was early on Jones Cmty Rd., one Red-tailed and one Cooper's Hawk were along 187.

The park was a bit busy, but apparently not like yesterday. Still there were times you best sit out groups going by if you want a chance of seeing birds along the trail. At HQ we heard the customary Inca Dove. Best to walk to the first crossing from there as nowhere else to park and check it. There is a great weedy seedy area below the road. We had a late Blue Grosbeak, Linclon's Sparrow, House Wren, and 20 Lesser Goldfinch in it. Heard a bunting. Sometimes there is a winter passerine or warbler flock around it but not when we were there. Kind of a lot of traffic by 9 a.m. too.

We parked in trailhead lot where feeding station, but which apparently continues to be not in use. On the slope between the lot and the road to it, back toward stream crossing near main road, was a pair of Rufous-crowned Sparrow. Heard others up the trail, but saw these close. We squiggled back and forth up the trail and did Can Creek to the second pond. About 3 miles or so for that part. Always amazing when all the breeding stuff is gone, it seems soooo quiet. And what is not there is to me of great interest. No Olive Sparrow or White-tipped Dove for instance. It is almost as if they are just here for the breeding season, like migratory species, which they are not considered. Did not hear or see a Canyon Wren but which I think do not leave, they just shut up real good. Heard about 3 Scrub-Jay, and one Audubon's Oriole.

A FOS Ruby-crowned Kinglet was among a small group of warblers. I thought I heard one twice in the last 4 days but each time it just called once and I never saw it so I let 'em go. This one was fairly unvocal too, but showed. There were a few stray single Nashville Warbler and a single Orange-crowned Warbler, but mostly it was just one little group of warblers we encountered. It had about 4 Orange-crowned, maybe 6+ Nashville, and one Black-throated Green. We saw one Ruby-throated Hummer up near the pond gnatcatching over the stream.

There was very little in bloom, normally the Frostweed should be going great, it is wilted due to lack of rain. It is drying up, done blooming for the most part. We saw 5 Monarchs, looking for good Frostweed. Saw a couple more Monarchs on way home. There was a fair bit of Goldenrod showing well where in water, saw the last few Snapdragon Vine flowers, some Brickel-bush was open, Poverty Weed was going well, the best color along the trail though was Broomweed. There were some pastures with hundreds of acres of it off W. Sabinal Rd. west of 187 that look solid yellow.

The one good fruiting Escarpment Cherry just below the big pouroff below the main pond is still covered in Cherries. I do not get why there are not birds on it. Some cherries are being eaten, but this is twice in a month we were at it and saw nothing. So we ate some. OK, some more. They are bitter as they are cherry. Talk about cleaning your pallete. They are about half pit but still worth it if you like bitter cherry.

Saw 30 Black Saddlebags, 10 Red Saddlebags, 20 Green Darner, 10 FOS Variegated Meadowhawk, 1 Wandering Glider, 1 male Roseate Skimmer, 1 Checkered Setwing, 25 Familiar Bluet. Odes are fading fast. One male Black Swallowtail on Goldenrod looked good but would not sit for a pic. A few Sleepy Orange, a couple Queen, a Red Admiral, a Gulf Frit, a Clouded Skipper, it was weak for insects. They are flaming out fast. Drought. No reptiles were seen or heard, save turtles in the pond. Lots of Green Sunfish, single Bantam and Red-breasted Sunfish, but didn't look much really. Those are what are in the pondlet below the crossing a quarter or third mile or so below the main pond. The ones with the dark spot in posterior soft part of dorsal fin are the Green. It was great to walk the canyon without dripping.

Oct. 12 ~ A chilly 52dF for a low was great. The wind finally stopped last night around dark, but clouds stuck. Not much for migrant motion in the morning around yard though. One Nashville and the same imm. male Indigo Bunting with blue wings and tail was at the bath. That bird is about 5-6 days here now. Thankfully autofocus screwed my shots of it. Same less than a dozen Ruby-throated Hummers, and same two Rufous continue.

Went to the park and checked some fencelines and pastures about 11-1 or so. Might have had some migrant Chipping Sparrow on 360. In flycatchers saw one Vermilion and no Scissor-tails. The park had Ringed, Belted, and Green Kingfisher again, as yesterday. Heard a Wilson's Warbler, saw a Nashville. Four House Wren in the woods constitute a wave of them here. My FOS Pied-billed Grebe was in the lillies by the island, and was still stripey on the face, a very young juvenile. Some migrant Turkey Vulture were heading south.

Saw one Monarch at the park, another going down Main St., and later afternoon a third here at the house (makes 5 so far this fall). A couple Sachem were on Maxmillian Sunflower which is blooming well now at riveredge. The Goldenrod is going great too. The Frostweed, Fireweed, Boneset Eupatorium, and Snow-on-the-Mountain are all past peak and fading fast. The Cypress trees are getting some yellow tint to them, starting to go. The Sycamore leavess are half brown and falling. Lottsa Hackberry are turning, and lots of the Pecans are in yellow and shed mode too. Still some Persimmon fruit on some of those. Nut crop looks weak. That big last spring frontal blow right when they are blooming gets them every time.

Back here at the casita there was a brief flurry activity at the bath in early afternoon. Two Nashville joined the melee, and a FOS Vesper Sparrow came in! Then Kathy spotted a Chat, which is tardy and I wonder if it is one of the local breeding birds young? About 4 p.m. a Gnatcatcher went through yard. After 5 p.m. three warblers flew into the Hackberry-Mesquite combo tree by the gate. An Orange-crowned, a Nashville, and my FOS Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler. Saw Audubon's on Sept. 27 so not my first Yellow-rump of the fall, just the first Myrtle type. Right on time 2-3 weeks behind the first Audubon's. After 7 p.m. I was out on driveway and heard then saw a Common Nighthawk working south over the river habitat corridor. That is a great late date here. After dark the Barred Owl was calling just down the road a couple hundred yards. Later the Great Horned was calling from in the yard trees. After 9 p.m. I saw something I have not seen since April, when I came out of the shower, steam on the mirror!

blackthroatedgreenwarbler
Black-throated Green Warbler at Lost Maples Oct. 13, 2019.
Missed the ID on the green something going down the hatch.

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Oct. 11 ~ Fall has arrived, pre-dawn the cold front got here with a tenth of an inch of rain and chilly northerlies. It was 56dF before 7 a.m. and by 9 it was 49 or so and dropping. There went the high for the day, before it was light out. Winds are 15-20 gusting 25 to 30 and over. Gonna be a different world out there when this passes. We spent the day in the upper 40's, maybe a few spots hit 50, but with lots of wind on it.

Town run so park check. A Ringed Kingfisher on the spillway is always a nice touch as you enter. There were two Belted Kingfisher around the pond, male and female, and a male Green Kingfisher was in the slough by island. On my way out there were TWO Ring King on the spillway, one chased the other off. A Common Yellowthroat was in some Maxmillian Sunflower at riveredge. In the woods there was a new female Wilson's Warbler, an Orange-crowned Warbler, and a female Yellow Warbler. Four species of warbler with the Common Yellowthroat. There were some Common Grackle in the willows at south end of island.

Saw a flock of a dozen Common Raven over town. A few low flying Turkey Vulture still around. Here at the hovelita about 3 p.m. Kathy saw Orange-crowned and Nashville Warbler at the bath. The Nash makes five sps. of warbler around today, and surely there are more out there. No Yellow-rumps though, and the Yellow-throated are gone. Less than a dozen Ruby-throated Hummer left, maybe 8 or so. Plus the ad. male Rufous out back still here of course, who seems in for the long haul, present about a couple months now already.

Oct. 10 ~ A low of 74dF is more than 10 over normal for the date here, as is the high in low-mid 90's. It is like summer has not ended here yet. It was record hot at Austin, and within a dF at SAT and Del Rio. Today is the big warmup in front of the front, tomorrow will be in the 50's all day! But southerlies blowing hard ahead of it so no migration movement apparent in morning. In the morn it was about a dozen Ruby-throated Hummingbird left. The ad.ma. Rufous continues guarding its feeder in back. The new imm. male Rufous-Allen's continues visiting one of the front porch feeders. Saw what was likely the same Lincoln's Sparrow of late last evening around the yard today. Late afternoon I saw my second Monarch of the fall. A Goatweed Leafwing hit the sprayed about water. Julia's and Clouded Skipper on the Blue Mist Eupatorium, plus one Celia's Roadside-Skipper. A Large Orange Sulphur hit a Lantana briefly. It is mighty thin for butterflies out there. Thought I mighta heard a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Oct. 9 ~ the low was about 71dF, a category, 10dF over predicted. Actually it did get down to lower 60's about 2-3 a.m., but warmed 10dF by dawn due to strong southeast Gulf flow. Mostly cloudy then until afternoon. Not much for movement. Some Bluebirds going over high as has been the case for a couple weeks now. Hearing groups way up going south. Before noon heard a Gnatcatcher. About 1 p.m. a single Nashville Warbler came in to the bath. There was a different imm. male Rufous-Allen's type Selasphorus hummer out front. The ad. male continues out back. The tail-less and other Rufous-Allen's that were here prior to the front have not been around. Saw something different appearing at the back-office feeder that Rufous guards, but it got away, twice. It looked biggish to me. Nearing last sun the last drink scene at the bath besides herds of Cardinal and White-winged Dove, I was surprised to see an ad. female Blue Grosbeak, and a Lincoln's Sparrow. Then at last light again there were two Long-billed Thrasher calling out front.

Oct. 8 ~ A low of 58dF was fantastic, the first 50's since April methinks. Kerrville had a 56dF low. No wind, dryish, weewow. No migrant motion early in the morning. Noonish an Orchard Oriole and a Gnatcatcher went through. Heard the Long-billed Thrasher, the Turkeys were over in the corral. The big FOS for the day was a big imm. female Sharp-shinned Hawk that was in yard briefly.

The main IOI - item of interest - for the day, was watching a Ruby-throated Hummingbird at a Red Turks Cap flower when a Rio Grande Leopard Frog made an attempt on it. It is not even a second from ground to the flower when the frog launches, but the hummer saw it and was already gone when the frog hit the flower. Gadzooks. It was a big Leopard Frog, but really??? A hummer?!?!? It just barely got out of the way in time. About 5 p.m. I saw 83dF on the cool shady front porch, but dry out so very bearable. Finally. If we hit 60 or lower we can trap enough cold air in the stone house to keep it comfortable all day without a-c. After dark heard Great Horned, Barred, and E. Screech-, Owls. Laura Levy sent an email reporting a White-tailed Kite up at Vanderpool this date. Always a good bird here.

Oct. 7 ~ A fall front has arrived! It sprinkled a little pre-dawn as the winds came out of the north, but we got just a trace. A small cell upvalley gave some lucky folks a half to an inch near Vanderpool. It was 68 before 7 a.m. and by 9 a.m. 65dF as the cold air arrived. All kinds of awesome. Did not see any migrants though. I suspect all rode the wave out of town. Seemed about 18 Ruby-throated Hummingbird this morning at the two shared feeders on the front porch. I suspect some will jump on these northerlies over the day. Should be some hawk movement too. Kathy heard a Gnatcatcher out there, I heard a bunting of some sort. But there was no movement otherwise. The north winds were 10-15 mph, with periods of 15-20 gusting higher until later afternoon. Seemed about a dozen hummers around 3 p.m., and a high of 79dF. Finally feels like fall here. Saw some Turkey Vulture moving south, but that was it. They have been moving a few weeks.

Oct. 6 ~ Was roughly near about 64.3861058dF for a low. Today is the big warmup before the long-awaited first-of-fall front which is progged to hit between midnight to dawn. One last day of torture. Kathy spotted the Long-billed Thrasher in the brush pile next to the bath and I got a docushot. Was early and shady so high ISO and grainy. At least we know it is coming in. A couple or few Nashville, one Wilson's and one Yellow Warbler came in. A very very yellow below greenie Painted Bunting came in but auto focus foiled a good shot. A blue tailed first year male Indigo Bunting also came in. These two buntings definitely are new. One Orchard Oriole came in to the bath as well, looked an ad. female. I counted four Field Sparrow at the bath at once. The Hutton's Vireo was trying splash bathe a bit too. Did not see the Bell's Vireo.

Still 19 Turkey over in the corral working the oat line. The Indigo came back in late afternoon and again flushed before I could get a pic. The amazing thing was at dusk while the Long-billed Thrasher was calling over by the draw, a SECOND one called back. The sharp note, single and doubled. The draw bird responded and moved toward the other getting about to the gate, but on other side of the road and the second bird quit calling back. It was just about dark.

There were maybe three or four dozen hummers (all Rubies) much of the day, but, seemingly only a couple dozen or less at dark. One or two ad. male Ruby-throat is all of them that are left. One non-ad.ma. Rufous-Allen's was out front, and the ad. male continues at the office feeder. It was hot today, 89 on the shady front porch, probably about 94dF in the sun. Right about record heat for the date. The Screech-Owl was calling from right over the bath as soon as it got dark, as so often on hot days. Gotta figure out how to get a pic of it there.

Oct. 5 ~ About 67dF for a low is better than the 70's. First thing early I saw a FOS Kestrel flying south over river habitat corridor. Probably much of the same group as yesterday, at least 7 Nashville, a male Wilson's and a Yellow Warbler were around yard early, most visiting bath. New was a FOS Orange-crowned Warbler. Great was what seems the same Bell's Vireo for about 4 days now came into bath and at least I got a fuzzy shot. Neat bird at the bath. Had one juv. Orchard Oriole. Heard the Long-billed Thrasher right over north fence again. Heard a Gnatcat mid-day in yard.

Went to park after breakfast for a look. One Yellow and one Nashville Warbler were it for migrants. The male Wilson's is likely the returnee winterer. Then there were two FOS of what are 'winter' birds here, a House Wren and a Lincoln's Sparrow. Saw Roseate Skimmer (dragonfly). Out front at the Red Turks Cap by the sign there was an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (butterfly). Back here there was a Fatal Metalmark (lep) around the few Blue Mist Eupatorium flowers that made it. There was a Julia's Skipper at the 360 crossing, Celia's Roadside-Skipper at the park and here at the porch. A Laviana White-Skipper was here at the house briefly as well.

longbilledthrasher
Long-billed Thrasher at the brush pile by the birdbath.
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Oct. 4 ~ Finally a low below 70, we were 67dF! I saw KRVL had 63! Weewow! Bring it on, the people are ready. No strong southerly wind, a bit of migrant motion. Single Yellow, Nashville, heard Wilson's, and a Black-throated Green Warbler were great. A Blue-headed Vireo was my FOS. It splash bathed a few times at the bath. Later morn I had the three Nashville together again, methinks continuing birds. Appears to be migrant Turkey Vultures moving south. Some have looked like migrants for a couple weeks actually. The local population is largely departed.

Town run fer errands and stuff. Park had a Nashville and a Yellow Warbler, plus a male Wilson's which I think is the returnee winterer of last year. A big willow on the island fell and took out a big Mulberry! Gadzooks. A great loss, one of the big xxl female Mulberries. Big hole in the canopy, the willow now laying in slough. It could well live like that, but the broken off Mulberry won't.

When I got back Kathy said after 1 p.m. there was a male Common Yellowthroat bathing in the bath! Only the second ever in the nearly undergrowth-free yard. Also the first of fall, wish I'd have been here to get pix. Whaddabird. The only other prior here also came into the bath, no doubt due to the sound of the drip. Then about 2 p.m. a flock of 8 Nashville and 2 Yellow Warbler worked around the yard pecans, a few Nash went to the bath. Big single flock of Nashville for here in the fall. The only excitement in the afternoon was a F-7 Tigercat and a P-51 Mustang making a couple passes. My ISO was set to high for the bright white sky and blew out the images though.

Oct. 3 ~ Still 74dF for a low, with a hot, humid, and sticky afternoon. Today was the major hummingbird blowout day. We were swarmed first thing and a hundred must have left after tanking up, more left in the afternoon. Less than 50 present by dusk, was 175+- in the morning. There were no winds, the very strong southerlies stopped, they bolted. Second day without seeing the Broad-tailed Hummer, the 1st was its last day apparently. The ad. ma. Rufous is still at the office feeder, but some (at least two) of the 3 others that were out front seem to have departed.

In the a.m. there were three Nashville warbler together, which seem likely the same three seen a few days ago. One Wilson's and one Yellow Warbler, one Orchard Oriole, a Hutton's, a White-eyed, and one of those beautiful bright juvenile Bell's Vireo. The Bell's splash-bathed a few times. The Long-billed Thrasher called again just over north fence. Hope it is sneaking in to the bath, because I will catch him sooner or later. Heard a Dickcissel go over. Scissor-tails going over a dozen or two a day, generally a few calling as they do.

Oct. 2 ~ Still balmy at 73dF for a low, and still getting up to low 90's, so 10dF over normal average. Which I think we can say goodbye to. When you get a cold front in July and none in September, things are not normal. There was less wind last night and this morning, and a bit of migrant motion, as well as seemingly some of the hummers starting to leave.

One Yellow and 2 male Wilson's Warbler were around early. I am fairly certain these are the same two Wilson's males around for a week now. Mainly because one has a slightly different than the usual normal dry 'chit' for a chip note. It is a fuller, flatter and rounder note, almost Myrtle Warbler-ish . When I first heard it a week ago or so I thought sure it was not going to be a Wilson's. Same bird this morning.

I heard a Long-billed Thrasher right over the north fence which I wish would come in to the birdbath. Mid-morning a couple new migrants showed up at the bath, 2 Blue Grosbeak, which appeared an immature and an adult female, they were in and out quickly, followed by two Mockingbird. Which have not been around the yard lately. Often we get a good obvious wave of migrant Mockers, I presume the lack of a cold front is why nonesuch yet. A Black-and-white Warbler then came in, and a Gnatcatcher went through, and one juv. Orchard Oriole came to the bath.

There are migrant or winterer type Eastern Phoebe around a couple weeks now, though our resident pair seems to still be nesting (!) and is chasing them all out of the yard as they show up. Likely the same one as a week or two ago, a Downy Woodpecker went through the yard. Also probably the same individual the last two weeks was a Two-tailed Swallowtail (butterfly) floating around a bit. Great was my FOS MONARCH of the fall. Was odd not having any early ones in September as has been the usual case recently. No Broad-tailed Hummer today, and a third Rufous-Allen's type at the two neutral front porch feeders might be an Allen's.

October 1 ~ Gadzooks it is October!?!? How can it be with a 74dF low? This is a July or August heatwave low. The summer sub-tropical high remains locked over us. At 4 p.m. I saw 89dF on the cool shady front porch, so over 90 in the sun. Lots of Gulf moisture, low clouds, a showerlet or two and another tenth of an inch of precip, so .2 for the two days. Still strong southerlies and very little migrant motion. One Yellow Warbler and one Gnatcatcher was it all morn. The Scissor-tail flock flew over in the afternoon again.

The Broad-tailed Hummingbird came in a couple times in the rain and I got a couple poor (high ISO, high mag) docushots of it. I pulled the feeder in to refill it and when I got back out within less than two minutes, there was a hummer perched on the vertical wire holder. This is invariably done by an imm. male Ruby trying to guard a feeder. I gently reached up and pushed it off the hanger, it begrudingly moved as I gently pushed it with my fingers, calling in protest, it was the Broad-tailed Hummer! My official report: Distance from bird: none.

~ ~ ~ September summary ~ ~ ~

In a couple words, hot and dry would define the month. It averaged 6-12dF OVER normal, almost the entire month. There was an inch to two of precip locally, way below normal. It is parched out there, drought is showing its ugly head again. At the end of the month it should be running 63-83dF for a temp spread, it was 75-95dF, just like the worst of August still, it never let up. There was no 'first-of-fall' cold front as usual mid-month, or any at all even the second half of the month. It stayed August all September and into early October.

Butterflies were weak as were the flowers. At the end of the month there are a few flowers out there, with nothing on them. There seems to be little to no southern invaion going on this year probably due to drought conditions returning. Late month saw one Laviana White-Skipper, but otherwise none of the usual southern invaders were seen. One White-striped Longtail early in month was likely the one around in August. Further, numbers of the usual local stuff were way way down. Drought shows quickly in flowers and butterflies. I count 49 species seen locally for the month. The best three butterflies were moths! The dying Vine Sphinx on the porch, and the Black Witch late in the month were both great. The mating Luna Moth on the 4th were the best leps though by far.

In overall total numbers, dragonflies really crashed over the month compared to the summer activity levels. There was the normal migration of the usual 5 transient species (Green Darner, Red, and Black, Saddlebags, and Wandering and Spot-winged Glider) but numbers were lower than good years. A couple hundred on the best days. No real rarities were seen. Some Thornbush Dasher were at the golf course pond by Waresville. Orange-striped Threadtail were still flying at the park mid-month. Lots of things (like Widow Skimmer) you may see at the start of the month, but by the middle they are mostly gone and over for the year here. Two Twelve-Spotted Skimmer flew through our yard over the month. One Band-winged Dragonlet did the same. Sept. total was 12 sps. of damselflies, 19 sps. of dragons, so 31 odes.

Birds were good, as September is a heavy movement month so lots of stuff is passing through all the time. Nearly daily you can see new birds migrating by, just by standing around and watching. I count 108 sps. seen locally this month, and Little Creek Larry saw a few I did not. Pretty good diversity. The highlights were many. Perhaps best was the Common Pauraque from August 15 staying until Sept. 15. We got to hear it lots, and it was awesome. A dozen Mourning Warbler is a good month, 7 in a day the 22nd was most excellent. A couple Couch's Kingbird were seen (together), and single American Redstart, Black-headed Grosbeak, Mississippi Kite, and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron were all good. Saw a couple Catbird (miss half of falls), and heard a Lesser Yellowlegs (very rare in fall here). There were about 6 Rufous Hummingbird over the month, four daily at the end of the month, one might be an Allen's. A Broad-tailed Hummingbird showed up late in the month too. The Upland Sandpiper passage was weak, barely over a handful.

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September is one of the biggest bird movement months here. Weather though is what knocks migrants down so wish for fronts and such. First five days of the month had lows in the 60's which is a good sign. A Black-headed Grosbeak on the 3rd is a good fall bird here. A pair of mating LUNA MOTH Sept. 4th will be a highlight for the month no matter what happens. Sept. 15 is seeming the last date we heard the Common Pauraque at our place, was present since Aug. 15. Two Rufous Hummers continue, becoming three at once Sept. 24. There is an adult male since Aug. 8, and ad. female since Aug. 23, and now another ad. female. Upland Sandpipers were calling at dusk some evenings as they head south. A LESSER Yellowlegs was heard southbound at dusk on Sept. 5. Sept. 6 had a Northern Waterthrush at Utopia Pk., plus 2 Spotted Sandpiper on the spillway, and about 7 p.m. a Mississippi Kite flew by the yard. The 8th was my first Mourning Warbler of the fall, an immature, along UvCo360.

Another imm. was in our Red Turks Caps the 10th and 11th, when we also had about 1.4" of much needed rain. Astounding were (seperately) an adult male Mourning and an adult female MacGillivray's Warbler in our Red Turks Cap patch Sept. 12! My first of fall Nashville Warbler was at the park Sept. 13. A Catbird was at our place Sept. 14, a second was south of town Sept. 22. A couple Couch's Kingbird were here Sept. 15. A nice later date for Black-capped Vireo was one at Lost Maples on the 15th as well. A Yellow-crowned Night-Heron flew over our place southbound at dusk, on the 18th. Seven Mourning Warbler were seen locally on Sept. 22, a good single day tally. A Warbling Vireo was seen the 24th, scarce in fall here. On the 25th there was an immature American Redstart at our bird bath. The 27th I heard my third Catbird of the fall. Audubon's Orioles have been around the yard, one is a hatch-year immature. My first Yellow-rumped Warbler of the year was in the yard briefly the 27th, an Audubon's type, as always. An imm. Broad-winged Hawk also the 27th was my first migrant hawk this fall (besides a July Peregrine). A Broad-tailed Hummingbird showed up Sept. 29.

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~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~

Sept. 30 ~ Another 75dF low to finish the month. Incredible, at least 10dF over formerly normal average. Was clear last night at least until midnight, but strong southerlies still. By dawn was gulf low stratus and maybe a tenth of an inch of a light shower. Early one Yellow Warbler and 2 Orchard Oriole went through yard quickly. Nothing else though. Too much south wind. At least if we would get some rain out of it, would be nice. These strong southerlies have all but shut migrant progress down.

Later afternoon a flock of over a dozen Scissor-tailed Flycatcher flew over low going north, some screaming all the way. Two seemed to nearly flip as they were doing the flip call. But the flip was more lateral like a barrel roll as they were in high speed level commuting flight. Oh for high speed video to see what is going on during this maneuver. This is the yearly fall staging that occurs locally, of what I suspect is birds from elsewhere, but who knows. Maybe it is all the local breeders. But it seems they were largely absent for weeks or a month, then a flock appears.

As of 6 p.m. have not seen the Broad-tailed Hummer. Still at least three Rufous, and apparently a fourth (!) actually. Probably over 200 Ruby-throated, less than 10% are adult males now. Amazing to have so many still here so late. Last year I see on Sept. 27 the low was 60dF and there were 20 Ruby-throats left present. They like to ride a fall front with the extra 10-15 mph free push from the northerlies out of here, and there hasn't been one yet. Usually the big departure is the first front in mid-September.

Sept. 29 ~ A 75dF low ought to be illegal at this date. Cloudy and humid, rain possible, good and sticky. One Yellow Warbler in the yard in the a.m. but no migrant movement otherwise. Southerlies are too strong and likely blew most of the night shutting it down. One Yellow Warbler and a couple Chimney Swift were all I saw go by yard early. We did a couple hour spin around late morning to early afternoon. No migrants at the park save two male Wilson's Warbler, likely the two I saw on Friday, and wouldn't be surprised if one is the winterer. We heard a Ringed Kingfisher close but could not find it in the thick stuff. Green Heron (ad.) was on the island. Best bird was a Rufous Hummingbird guarding some Flame Acanthus (no Crimson Patch cats that I could find) out at the entrance sign garden. A scarce find away from feeders here. One Yellow Warbler was there.

Scanned all the blooming Evergreen Sumac for the metallic green and orange Stenapsis Cerambycids (this is key week to see them) and did not spot any. Have had them there before. Didn't feel like driving out to the magic bush out back on Seco Ridge to see one. In leps at the garden was one Cloudless Sulphur and a Southern Broken-Dash but mostly the flowers are bare save a couple Gulf Frits, the odd Queen, and Pipevine Swallowtail. No blues, hairstreaks, crescents, and so on. Dead. A few Ailanthus Webworm moths on some Frostweed at the Preston Place but no birds were in it, lots of bees though, which is good.

After we got back about 1 p.m. I had the Broad-tailed Hummingbird at the front porch, same feeder. No camera on me of course. Spent a bunch more time hanging out there with camera and it was a no-show. But, at least I know it is still around. The sick ad. male Black-chinned Hummingbird is still here. About 4 p.m. I heard a hummer squealing and looked in their staging area in low pecan branches and there was a fluttering hummer in the clutches of a big female Praying Mantis. Normally I am generally non-interventionist when it comes to these things. But Kathy grabbed her grabber stick and I was tall enough to reach it so got the hummer free from the Mantis. Of course grabbed a couple docu-shots before the rescue equipment arrived. The hummer seemed OK when it flew off. I realize the mantis will probably just grab another, and has been doing so. I have heard of this and seen vids of mantis with a hummer. I have flushed mantis off feeders before (not here), but had never seen one with a squealing hummingbird. I think this also explains why there are over a half dozen hummers here with wholly or half missing tails. Mantis near-misses. The mantis appears the non-native Asian type introduced for garden pest control.

Sept. 28 ~ A 74dF low is a drag, 10dF warmer than the average for the date. This is ridiculous! A whole category! Average low at SAT is 65dF for this date, we should be a couple-few less than that by now. One of the best items of the day happened when I was still half asleep, before 7 a.m. as I came out of cottage with birdseed to toss, a Black Witch (moth) fluttered around my head! Must have been under the porch eaves. I lost track of it and could not find it under any of the other eaves later in the day.

In the a.m. just a few migrants through yard, mostly at the bath. Two juv. Orchard Oriole, a first winter male Wilson's Warbler and a female Yellow Warbler. The two warblers looked like yesterday's birds. Heard a Baltimore Oriole chatter but didn't see it. A Catbird shot across the yard, surely the one I heard a few days ago, and now beginning to wonder if that was the one I saw a couple weeks ago at the gate. As in all one bird that has stuck, since rarish here in the fall, probably more likely.

Went to the park for a peek. On the way saw a Robberfly with prey which was a dragonfly! Swift Setwing methinks. Got one shot mostly showing the Robberfly. No migrants in the park woods and the residents were dead silent. I suspect a hawk had recently been there. The Common Grackle flock was unseen in the willows at south end of the island, a Green Kingfisher clicked unseen as well. At the Red Turks Cap patch under the entrance sign I got out to watch the hummers a few minutes. A Long-billed Thrasher popped out of the patch! Good bird in the park. Dragonflies are fading fast at the pond.

When I came home there was a dying sphinx moth on the porch. Photos of course, it was a Vine Sphinx (Eumorpha vitis). Probably done mating or laying eggs and fading. After lunch I insisted Kathy take a look at the sphinx. Was about 1:30, I was off the porch nearer the big pecan, and I heard soft chips coming in to the hummer feeder not 6' from her. It was a BROAD-TAILED Hummingbird! Female or imm. type. First one of the fall, and lately I have not been getting them annually as we did up on Seco Ridge. It fed for a couple minutes, often moving around showing well its peachy sides and rufous in base of outer tail feathers, calling the whole time. Awesome. I did not have camera with me of course. As of 7:30 I have spent way over an hour out there watching for it, with camera, and have not seen it again.

About 4 p.m. Kathy spotted 3 Nashville Warbler coming in to the bird bath. I had just refreshed it and refilled the drip jug. I jumped into action and got absolutely no great photos. Have I told you lately how I hate auto focus? Three out-of-focus Nashville in one frame, awesome. The way the manual focus works on the Canon Powershot is so clunky to operate and take a photo with, as to be ridiculous. Let me know if you want to know how I really feel about it.     ;)

special hummingbird edition...

broadtailedhummingbird
This is the Broad-tailed Hummingbird on Oct. 1, its last
day here (day 4). Note pale pastel peachy sides, bright
grassy green above, it has rufous in bases of outer tail
feathers you can't see here. Bigger than Ruby-throats,
with a neat soft chip call note. It was having a bad hair day,
we'd received a tenth of an inch, on its head apparently.
mantishummingbird
Here is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird being attacked by a
Praying Mantis (which appears the introduced non-native type).
I separated them (after grabbing photo - yeah I know, but...
must... get... docushot...), and the hummer flew off seemingly ok.

rubythroatedhummingbird
Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Sept. 12.
A little over-exposed and burnt on the reflective part of gorget.


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Sept. 27 ~ A 71dF low, a few low clouds got here around sunup for a couple hours of intermittent cover. Peak heat day of this late Sept. burn, per forcasts. Great was about 6:50 a Long-billed Thrasher called from inside the biggest Hackberry. Gave several calls and sharp notes. I did not see or hear it last night, nor did I see it later in the morning, contra my hopes. Still a horde of hummers, probably near 200 Ruby-throated and the three Rufous continue today. The Rubies normally would have peaked already and be down to a couple dozen by late September, but since there was no typical mid-Sept. first-of-fall cold front, they have not blown out yet. In related news, sugar prices remain high.

The birdbath had a little action, about 8:30-10:a.m. seems best. Besides the ususal parade of residents, there were a couple Yellow and another Wilson's Warbler, my FOS Audubon&apos's Warbler was nice, a greenie imm. Painted Bunting, a White-eyed Vireo, and the Yellow-throated warbler came in. In an hour I see I took over 80 photos. Might get three good ones if lucky. Half get deleted on first pass on average.

Heard a Baltimore Oriole. The Chat might be gone, did not hear it this morning. The male Vermilion Flycatcher is still over in the corral. I think the first year male left though, the females (ad. and imm., left a few weeks ago). Turkey flock was over scavenging the oat line after the horses get through, clucking like big chickens. In the afternoon I was watching a Queen (butterfly) on the one Blue Mist Eupatorium flower open when a Rio Grande Leopard Frog took the Queen. Wonder if it will get indegestion? I don't have time to follow the frog today unfortunately. A Two-tailed Swallowtail floated through yard late afternoon.

Town errand run. At the park there were at least two Wilson's Warbler, and one imm. Mourning Warbler, all up in the woods. I think it is about the twelveth Mourning of the fall so far. I was watching the Turks Cap at the entrance sign and an imm. Broad-winged Hawk flew over real low going south. My first hawk migrant of the fall (besides that late July Peregrine). Little Creek Larry said he had a flock (dozen+) of black and yellow orioles. Which of course any flock of that size here, much less at this time of year, has to be Audubon's Oriole. He also said he had a few Blue-winged Teal over at Little Creek. There was a Laviana White-Skipper (lep) at the Sabinal Canyon Museum yellow Lantana patch out front. Phaon Crescent was below spillway at park dam. Some Goldenrod is starting to show well along river, and some Maximillian Sunflower opening up as well. Broomweed is going well now. No Plateau Agalinis this year, was too dry in August.

Sept. 26 ~ At least it got down to 70dF this morning. Few morning clouds, we are still burnin' up here like it is August. No fronts, no relief, just a longer hotter summer. Now there are four months of brutal heat and humidty here whence it was just three. Of course winters are milder and shorter too. Radical changes. Not much for migrant motion this morn, one Yellow and one Nashville Warbler was all I saw. Second Nash of the fall, been weak for them so far. Hear the Hutton's Vireo out there, and the cluckin' Turkeys. Just after noon I heard a Catbird calling repeatedly. Third one of the fall, which is great. In leps saw a Giant Swallowtail, and a pale morph female Large Orange Sulphur which was nectaring on Tube-tongue. One Celia's Roadside-Skipper, the female Goatweed Leafwing.

Edit:
I didn't mention at the time of the update, but it was 16 years ago today I came to Utopia and leased the 'hay house' on N. Thunder Creek Road.

Sept. 25 ~ Low of 73dF, a bit of low clouds in morning off and on. A few migrants trickled through yard. Best was an immature American Redstart at the bath, which I got poor pics of. I see one about half of falls here, it's LTA - less than annual, so good. Especially when ya missed seeing one in spring. There were also 2 Yellow Warbler and a female Wilson's Warbler, and a Gnatcatcher. In orioles, single Baltimore and Orchard Oriole, I heard an Audubon's Oriole whistle through the yard, but was too busy to go look, and later an imm. Bullock's Oriole hit the bath. Four species of oriole, three of warbler. Not a bad trickle. Love that Redstart. Was 91dF at 4 p.m. in the cool shade. Saw a Clouded Skipper today.

Most awesome behavior today goes to a male Cardinal. They are pretty, and pretty testy too. Certainly they are bossy around the bath, using beak to intimidate other birds, not just other Cards. Alpha male had grown impatient waiting and waiting and waiting for a (big buck) Cottontail rabbit to finish drinking. It flew at the rabbit and slammed it in the rear with its claws! Just like a kingbird or crow does to a hawk. It nailed it. Enough already! We are waiting you furry armadillo! Said the Cardinal to the Cottontail. I was taking pictures but it was so fast I missed it. Luckily Kathy was watching at the time too and saw it.

Sept. 24 ~ Same old stuff, low of 74dF, low stratus cloud deck. Heard a Dickcissel in yard early. A surprise was two male Wilson's Warbler together with a female Yellow again hitting the bath first thing, gotta be the same three bird group as yesterday. About 9:30 a Warbling Vireo splashed in the bath once at least. They are rare here in fall, most falls I do not see one (about a third of them I encounter one). It was a greener above eastern type, and yellower below so probably an immature. Heard a Hutton's Vireo in the live-oaks behind us, and a couple White-eyed are still around the yard.

A third Rufous Hummingbird is here now, it is another ad. female, but is fully tailed. So we have it, the now un-tailed ad. female, and the adult male continues guarding the office feeder. Pretty good showing this fall, I think this makes six so far here for the season. A female Baltimore Oriole hit the bath after noon, and a Gnatcatcher went through the yard later afternoon. The flock of Turkey has been daily over in the corral lately, still 19, year-olds.

Sept. 23 ~ Low of 74dF, just a few low clouds, sunny early, not a good sign. Two male Wilson's Warbler and one female Yellow were around, the Willies went to the bath together (ph.). A Scrub-Jay (texana) passed through mid-morn. Sounded like an immature based on call. September is when most of my few park (Utopia Park) records are, which are always wandering young-of-the-year out on valley floor. Great Horned and Barred Owl calling after dark. The Screech-Owls were going pre-sunup, so 3 sps. of owls today.

The imm. fem. Cooper's Hawk was diving on the seed eaters all day. Once it went after a Mourning Dove. The dove was in straight line acceleration climbing slightly, escape flight. Between about 20' and 200' of the escape flight the Coop closed on the dove, barely, but I thought it was going to grab it. At the last moment the dove gave its best evasive twist and turn and the Coop was out of steam and broke off. When a Coop does the same to a White-winged Dove, by 150' the Coop breaks off as the dove is pulling away from it. The (bigger) White-wing has lots more power in that initial acceleration and escape climb and beats the Coop on that alone. If the Coop doesn't surprise a White-wing, it can't catch them. The Mourning uses evasive maneuvers because the Coop can actually gain on it in that escape flight.

Sept. 22 ~ Some light streamer type showers early morn were nice, something to keep the dust down, about .2 of precip, anything is great at this point. Low was 74dF and it dropped a degree from the rain. Temps have been 5-10dF OVER normal all month and forecast to stay that way another week at least. We are supposed to get some nice between the too hot and too cold.

We checked the park noonish. The male Wilson's Warbler continues, which could well be a returnee, the one that wintered last winter. There were three Mourning Warbler in the understory in the woods. One was an ad. fem., one an imm., the third I didn't get to age or sex. A fourth something got away that may have been an Ovenbird. Heard Summer Tanager and a couple White-eyed Vireo.

A couple Green Kingfisher were along island. One flew into a low thicket. A huge Largemouth Bass came completely out of the water striking at it. We could not see if it got it or not but sure did not see anything fly away, or hear any alarm notes. We saw one of the brown hindwinged (cf. obscurus) Catacola underwing moths. A few Blue Jay were up near park entrance live-oaks where green acorns falling. A bunch of Ruby-throats are at the Red Turks Cap patch at the entrance sign.

Since no one there, we stopped at the old Preston Place and checked the Frostweed patch around edges of yard. One Vermilion and one Least Flycatcher, one Catbird, one male Wilson's and three more Mourning Warbler. A good Frostweed patch is hard to beat in fall. Lots of bees on it too. I saw SIX Mourning Warbler at two small patches of understory. How many then are around today? Puts me over 10 for the fall so far, nothing to be mourning. I bet if you trudged the Frostweed a bit you could get 10 for the day today.

Late afternoon I thought about going over to the draw to check it for Mourning warbler, but blew it off in the 90dF heat. Nearing dusk I was out on driveway leaning up against trucklet when a bird flew up out of the draw into the big Hackberry x Mesquite combo tree by the gate, a Mourning Warbler! Number 7 for the day. It flew into the shorter thick pecans in front yard. Obviously working up to tops of trees and getting ready to go for the night. Awesome. Then at 11 p.m. I heard my first of fall Barn Owl, going north over the house.

Sept. 21 ~ Starting yesterday before dark the wind out of the south (and off the Gulf) was blowing at 20 mph, gusting higher, which was still going past midnight. Calm by morning, but a humid low of 75dF and no migration movement. What could fly into that? I told Kathy last night, no migrants tomorrow. Don't worry, you will never get a fallout on a Saturday. They only happen work days. Still two Rufous Hummingbird here, Ruby-throated numbers have to be 150+, maybe 200. Two feeders are being defended, one by the ad. ma. Rufous, and two feeders are neutral, which are swarmed. The ad. fem. Rufous lost her tail, so not likely to leave now in such condition.

Actually down at the 360 crossing I saw two Yellow Warbler, male and female together going down to bathe. The Yellow-throated Warbler below the crossing seems the breeder, and is still territorial, chasing things, and singing from his usual posts. Not much odetivity (dragonfly activity). A couple each Green Darner and Wandering Glider, one Black Saddlebags, saw no Rubyspots. Water is low, we need rain. One Red Saddlebags was here at the house late afternoon. Wind picked up again in the afternoon, if it gets like last night it shuts down movement pretty well. Somewhere north of us at leading edge of the southerly windfield is where the action is now.

americanredstart
This is the immature American Redstart that visited the bath.
Did not get a good pic, but you get the idea. They flash the
wings and tail incessantly making themselves really quite showy.
a bonus piclet...
rubythroatedhummingbird
Here is a headshot crop... there are lots of Ruby-throated Hummingbird
passing through right now, most are pale throated immatures or females,
but fair numbers of adult males are present.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Sept. 20 ~ Low stratus cloud layer is back from the Gulf, low temp was about 74dF. One Gnatcatcher out there early. Saw a warbler briefly that looked a Nashville. Heard a Yellow Warbler, and single Baltimore and Orchard Oriole. Clouds stuck until after noon, at 4 pm. we were 90dF so 5dF less than the last couple days. A least a little easing of the heat. Those poor folks in far southeast Texas though are swimming. I have not heard the Yellow-throated Vireo in the yard the last few days and suspect it has departed. The two Rufous Hummingbird continue, with 100+ Ruby-throated. The ad. fem. leaves for extended periods though, probably cheatin' on me at another's feeders.

Town run, a couple Scissor-tails on the way. Little Creek Larry said he had a good flock of them the other day, just for a day at his place. At the park I saw four migrants, all warblers. One Wilson's, one Black-and-white, one Northern Waterthrush, and one ad. fem. Mourning Warbler. The Mourning was one with the broken eye-ring that looks like MacGillivray's eye arcs, but much thinner. The s short tail and long undertail coverts are very useful on these types. It called a few times anyway. Heard a Green Kingfisher. A flock of a couple dozen Common Grackle were in the willows at south end of the island, all the local post-breeding population methinks.

Sept. 19 ~ About 70dF for a low. The poor upper Texas coast and southeast Texas has been innundated with rain from Imelda, over two FEET in places. We'd gladly take several inches for them. We are in the subsidence ring around the low, at 4 p.m. it was 95dF on the cool shady front porch, so had to be a hun in the sun. Which is brutal at this point, we are at 4 months with highs in the 90's now. Currently there is still no 'first fall' front forecast through the end of the month, which is very unusual. We usually have a couple if not a few fronts hit in September. Sometimes we get the first fall cold front in late August. This year we had one in July, and none then through September.

Not much for migrant motion in the morning. Saw 1-2 each of Baltimore and Orchard Oriole, and Yellow Warbler. That was it. They could have been holdovers from yesterday. Saw the ad. ma. Rufous Hummer out back. Three Scissor-tails flew over going upriver. A Zone-tailed Hawk soared over. Heard the Audubon's Orioles go through yard, but busy so did not run out to look for them. In leps saw Clouded Skipper and Celia's Roadside-Skipper, a Mestra, some Queens, the Goatweed Leafwing still in charge of its opening in the pecans. Saw a (second of fall) male Twelve-spotted Skimmer dragonfly late afternoon. No Pauraque again (as yesterday) at dark.

Sept. 18 ~ Low of 69dF. Heard the Pauraque at 6:50 a.m. A Gnatcatcher about 7 must have roosted here. A couple Yellow Warbler were around. There were about 4 Baltimore, 2-3 Orchard, and at least a couple Audubon's Oriole in the yard first couple hours after sunup. I presume these are the Audubon's I have been hearing lately going back and forth through yard. I finally got a look, and a pic of one, it is a mostly green headed immature. Born locally no doubt. Wish I could have seen the second bird. I hear them working up and down river habitat corridor weekly or so for a month but hadn't laid eyes on one. Of course I am at the point where when I hear them I just note it, having quit chasing looks of them years ago.

On the bummer side of the coin, I found a DOR (dead on road) just run-over baby snake, methinks Black-headed Snake, right outside the gate. I would love to see a live one. It was only 8" long and thin as a pencil, a hatchling from this year. Only a few cars go down the road in the morning. Photo for the record, nice to know they are here, but darnit.

Saw a Canyon Towhee in the afternoon out front but it did not seem to stick around. Bird of the day was at dusk. Kathy was out watering so saw it go over, I was at desk working so only heard it call two or three times. Which I wondered if it was a pig over in the corral until Kathy came in and said she thought a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron just flew over. Dialed up some calls at xeno-canto, and sure enough we found a couple perfect matches. Great yard bird. I saw one flying upriver June 15, 2018 from yard so not a yard first, but darn rare.

Sept. 17 ~ Another 66dF low is dreamy. It is the little things. Only thing singing early was Carolina Wren. In the a.m. saw a couple each Yellow Warbler, Orchard Oriole, and Baltimore Oriole. We seem to be in the ring of hot subsidence from Tropical Storm Imelda over on the upper Texas coast. Lots of Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and the two Rufous are still here. Nothing else. Only one feeder of four is neutral, three have guards. The greenie imm. Painted Bunting of yesterday is still here. Did not hear anything at dusk or dark save the Owls.

Sept. 16 ~ A low of 66dF felt great. The only migrant motion I saw early was a group of four Baltimore Oriole in the top of the big pecan at first sun. Then later morn they were hitting the Persimmons by gate and along fence toward the draw. Saw a Chat and a Yellow-throated Warbler, both looked like the young from nearest nests. The two Rufous Hummingbird continue, Ruby-throated must number a hundred or more. One greenie imm. Painted Bunting. Caracara and Red-shouldered Hawk.

A Two-tailed Swallowtail (butterfly) floated around the yard several times over a few hours. The male Goatweed Leafwing remains patrolling one area of the yard, seemingly a month now. A Texas Powdered-Skipper came in to water when I sprayed it once, took 5 seconds or 5 drops and it was there. At dusk a Common Nighthawk called, sounded an immature. The pack of Coyotes went off close, musta got something. Hopefully it was a little pig. I suspect if one could see they could learn and be able to tell whether or not it was pig or rabbit they got, by their vocalizations.

Sept. 15 ~ We got up a bit early and went to Lost Maples. The low was 64dF! KRVL hit 63! That sure hits the spot. I did not hear the Pauraque this morning, or last night. I did hear a Chuck-wills-widow giving just the wills-widow part of the call for a bit at 6:40 a.m. This is likely the latest date I have for calling locally, so very neat. Left here just before 8, these later sunrises are nice. At the 360 crossing on the way out there was a year-old male Green Kingfisher with half a brown breastband. A male Mourning Warbler flushed and flew along and then right in front of car there too. On way at one point four Baltimore Oriole flew across road right in front of us. There were lots of sparrows on a fenceline upvalley but I did not stop to check them. Bad birder. Many were Lark and Chipping, some were Field.

At Lost Maples HQ there was a Baltimore Oriole and an Inca Dove, at the first crossing just past HQ a first fall male Wilson's Warbler and an immature Painted Bunting. Nothing at the feeding station at the trailhead parking area. A few Cave Swallow were overhead. We did the Can Creek trail to the ponds. We heard two White-tipped Dove along it, and a couple Audubon's Oriole. White-eyed Vireo numbered about 18 or so, to one Hutton's. The highlight was a Black-capped Vireo at the corner of the big pond calling quite a lot. It is my latest date for one locally. One Yellow-throated Warbler was still by the pond, a few Summer Tanager were along the canyon. At the second pond I had a poor look of a Mourning Warbler flying away, which I later heard chip a few times. we heard one Canyon Wren and saw one Scrub-Jay. Coming back down we had a group of at least 3 Baltimore Oriole, a few Common Raven. Only one imm. Turkey Vulture for large soaring objects.

Noteworthy is all that is gone. Breeding season is over and besides the White-eyed Vireo and a few Summer Tanager, the migratory nesters are over and out. No Gnatcatcher, Black-and-white Warbler, Yellow-throated or Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Grosbeak or Indigo Bunting, Eastern Wood-Pewee or Acadian Flyactcher, no Louisiana Waterthrush, so the huge population of nesters has vacated for the season. Interesting was one big Escarpment Cherry tree that had a bumper crop of fruit of decent size (which is still small). Even purple they are still fairly bitter, but very cherry. Why no birds in the tree?

We saw 2-3 Spicebush and about a half-dozen Two-tailed Swallowtail, but no Eastern Tiger. Saw several Northern Cloudywing, one Duskywing sps., a couple Celia's Roadside-Skipper, some Gulf Frits, a Queen, one worn Questionmark, but butterflies were slow and the flower bloom was not great. Did see one Clammyweed with blooms, lots of Broomweed is doing well, the Frostweed was the main bloomer now, but mostly just covered in bees. The Lindheimer's Senna is blooming well, nothing on it. The dragonflies were also weak. A couple Pale-faced Clubskimmer, a few Green Darner, a couple Wandering Glider, a couple Eastern Pondhawk, some Kiowa Dancer damselflies, plus a few un-ID'd damsels. Odes are fading fast up there already. In herps I saw young-of-the-year Greater Earless Lizard and Six-lined Racerunner.

On the way back we had a few Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and on a snag one Olive-sided Flycatcher. Thought I saw one on the way up in the morning too. Best was as we pulled up to our place two Kingbirds flushed off the powerline out front, Couch's! Since we hadn't done enough, after a rest, we went for an afternoon swim. Nothing goin' on at the river, but a nice cool-off. Only got up to about 88dF on the cool shady front porch. At the start of dusk Kathy heard a Common Nighthawk flying downriver. Good date, a migrant, the locals are long gone. Then at the dark end of dusk I heard the Pauraque call a bit. So with the Chuck this morning, we got 3 species of nightjars here today.

Sept 14 ~ A 66dF low was fantastic, I saw KRVL hit 64! Weewow! Feels so good. At least 2 male and a female Yellow Warbler and an Orchard Oriole was it for migrants early morn. About 9:30 I saw a Catbird on the ground out at the gate! It may have been getting Red Harvester Ants. Hard bird to get here in fall, most, I do not see one. Late morn took a quick look at the park in town. Green and Ringed Kingfisher at the island where a Barred Owl as well. A little scolding scene developed around it and besides the local common stuff there was a Wilson's Warbler, an Eastern Wood-Pewee a Great Crested Flycatcher, and an imm. Painted Bunting, all four transient migrants. Great was a butterfly, a very worn Red-spotted Purple, hard to get at the park.

I guess they weren't done butchering the butterfly garden, it looks worse than last time I saw it. Not worth stopping. Pitiful. Why do you cut a fifteen year old Evergreen Sumac back to its base like it is a Lantana? One of the best fall Monarch shrubs. Why do they cut everything like it is Lantana? Because they do not know what they are doing. Worst managed native plant garden I have ever encountered in my life.

The cemetery and golf course pond at Waresville had two Loggerhead Shrike, my first of the fall. A few molting male Red-winged Blackbird continue. There were three Scissor-tails and 2 first-year male Vermilion Flycatcher around the golf course, the only of either of those I saw as I rolled around. Heard a Blue Grosbeak somewhere around the golf course. Later afternoon a couple more Orchard Oriole went through yard, heard a Scissor-tail go over, heard more at dusk. A couple Chimney Swift circled a bit at dusk. Had a single moment count of 18 Lesser Goldfinch on the patio.

yellowcrownednightheron
This is a juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, July 16 at
the fish hatchery at Uvalde. Not the one that flew over calling
in the dark a few nights ago. Most that occur here are juvenile
or immatures, adults are rarer here.


~ ~ ~ update header archive copy ~ ~ ~

August is peak heat month here, and lots of birds really get to moving this month. An adult male Rufous Hummingbird was at our place July 31-Aug. 3. A second different ad. male has been here Aug. 8-23 so far. A third imm. or female showed up Aug. 23. A cormorant was reported at the park Aug. 9, surely a Neotropic, said to have a straight neck in flight. You may yet catch a passage or transient male Painted Bunting but the local breeders have departed for the season. Lots of Orchard Oriole going through now and Yellow Warbler have been about daily for a couple weeks.

We had a 1-2" rain event on the 15th related to outflow boundries from a front that washed out northward. A few hours in front of the rain my first fall migrant Ruby-throated Hummingbird arrived, an adult male. Quickly followed by my FOS Yellow Warbler, a female, hit the birdbath for a long one. Then at dusk on the 15th after the rain, a COMMON PAURAQUE called a few times from just up the road over the draw. Awesomeness. It has continued into Sept., Aug. 21st it put on a full monty show flopping around on the driveway in response to my imitating its call. Have seen a couple Audubon's Oriole pass through the yard a couple times the last couple weeks.

Finally an Empidonax flycatcher showed up Aug. 20, looked like a Least. A definite Least Flycatcher was in the yard Aug. 23. A Black Witch moth was at the park up in the woods on Aug. 23. A rare migrant juvenile Acadian Flycatcher was in the yard Aug. 25. My fourth different Rufous Hummingbird showed up Aug. 26-29, my fifth on Aug. 30 was the third adult male. Kathy spotted a LUNA MOTH on Aug. 27 at dusk! Black-throated Green and Wilson's Warbler were FOS on Aug. 28, when I also saw the VERDIN I had heard for a few days. The FOS Baltimore Oriole was a male at the birdbath on Aug. 29 and after dark that day, I heard my FOS Upland Sandpiper going over.

~ ~ ~ end update header archive copy ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Sept. 13 ~ A big happy Harvest Moon Friday the 13th. Low of 72dF, some scattered off and on low clouds over morning. Heard a Mourning Warbler out there early but no views to age or sex it. One Yellow Warbler, one greenie imm. Painted Bunting. Have not seen or heard the yard Yellow-throated Warbler in a few days, it may have departed. The Y-t Vireo still here singing. Later-morn there were a couple Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a Least Flycatcher and a Yellow Warbler in the Pecans. Best, at least two BUSHTIT moved through yard calling, mostly in the Junipers along north fence but flew into the Hackberries and Mesquite by gate. Have not seen any in a few months so nice. Town run, so a park check. On the way just down road a half mile I heard a Yellow-throated Warbler in the Cypresses. At the park was my first Nashville Warbler of the fall, on the island. That was it for migrants there. I saw 88dF on the shady front porch around 5 p.m., hotter in the sunny, but at least it is running a few dF cooler than it was in August. The Pauraque called a bit at dusk.

Sept. 12 ~ About 72dF for a low, and a nice wet ground from that inch last night. Stayed in 70's until almost noon. At 3 p.m. it was 86dF, KRVL was reading 92. Just barely a trickle of birds in the morning. Pauraque called before 7 a.m. again. One or two Yellow Warbler, a Least Flycatcher was all. Mid-morn a Hutton's Vireo was calling, joining the White-eyed and Yellow-throated still singing. Chat made some noise this morning, maybe only one left here now. Both Rufous Hummingbird continue, lots of Rubies here now. Verdin. A number of swallows were feeding in the area loosely assembled at best. Mostly Barn, but I saw one Cave, a couple Chimney Swift, and at least two TREE Swallow. Which are rare and hard to get here. Pretty sure one small one was a Bank but let it go.

About 10:30 I heard a chip over by the bath and saw an adult male Mourning Warbler right over the bath. It was probably just there. Went inside house and tried to get a shot but it moved. So ran back outside and hid by front door as it seemed to have been heading for the Turks Cap at corner of house. BINGO there it came around corner in it. It worked the low thick green mess around the porch (Red Turks Cap, Am. Germander, Tropical Sage, Eupatorium greggii, etc.) for over a minute whilst I blasted away. Auto-focus actually found it a couple times so I ended up with a shot before it flew across the porch (4' from me as it did!) up into lowest branches of the big Pecan, and then into the patio Mulberry tree. Down in the short thick it was not 10' away, not knowing I was there up against door. I love 'em. Whaddabird. See pic below.

Saw Northern Cloudywing and Clouded Skipper in afternoon. Then about 5 p.m. I saw an un-ID'd Mourning-MacGill type but not an ad. male. Later after dinner about 7 I was out front and heard what was clearly a MACGILLIVRAY'S Warbler! I spotted it in the Red Turks Cap! It called a lot, the typical hard dry keck or tcheck note, sharp, mechanical, quite unlike the flat ball sound of a Mourning. I grew up with Macs as a default warbler chip. Never walked by one yet. It had very thick white arcs above and below eye, well broken fore and aft. Tail appears long compared to Mourning partly due to shorter undertail coverts. Bill was shorter and more compact than Mourning. Had a decent look. About my 4th here in fall, all of which are in the last half-dozen years or so, the first 10 falls here I saw or heard zero fall Macs. It is more regular (nearly annual) in spring.

Sept. 11 ~ Heard the Pauraque just before 7 a.m. Was in town early, at park heard a Ringed King, saw Green Heron, heard a probably Mourning Warbler on the island. About 35 Barn Swallow were at the church at the 1050 x 187 intersection, mostly imms., and probably lots of this years production in town. Little Creek Larry said he had 1.5" of rain from the event yesterday and that Sabinal got 2" when we only got .4 or so. We were about 73dF for a low this a.m., and got up to about 87dF before some outflow air cooled us into low 80's about 5:30 p.m. A light shower of not even a tenth of an inch about 6:15 cooled it a bit. After dark we got a long slow soaker as they call them here, a cell camped in the area and made up for missing so much so close yesterday. We ended up with an INCH for the day!

Not much around yard early, one Yellow Warbler and a Least Flycatcher. At 10 a.m. a DOWNY Woodpecker called from the big dying Hackberry, then moved to the big Pecan and called again, then moved north up the river habitat corridor. Always a good bird here. About 11 a.m. I walked out on the front porch, heard a warbler seet flight note, a bit roughish, with a hoarse grating quality, looked low to my left and a warbler jumped out of the Turks Cap onto a Persimmon stem 8' from me, an imm. Mourning Warbler! It flew out into pecans out front. Same time and place as yesterday. I got a good look and it was an immature with yellow throat and thin thin eyering narrowly broken fore and aft. With sprinkles likely it couldn't move last night, I think it is the same bird and it stuck. I have been checking the bath lots since I figured I missed it there yesterday. Probably missed it there again today. If you have to flush something when you open your door, it could be worse. Once I flushed away a Green (now Mexican) Violetear that never came back. Just watched it fly off. Ohhh the pain, it is still a little tender there.

In the afternoon saw the Verdin, the 18 or so Turkey working the oat line for scraps, a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher flew over. One Red Admiral and a Whirlabout for different butterflies.

At dusk it was sprinkling and the Pauraque went off louder than it has so far. It must be happy for the rain. I worked out driveway trying to see where it was calling from, quite near where it called from just before 7 a.m. this morning along north fence. Have been considering a daytime ground search for photo op. Anyway I spot it sitting and shaking, ON the birdbox on the fenceline. It was surely bathing on the nice flat surface out in the open. It soon flushed after it saw me though and flew over toward the draw. Great to hear a near full volume burst of ka-wheeerrr notes. It must have been thrilled.

Sept. 10 ~ Another 74dF low, lots of low stratus, some showers scattered around. No bird movement in yard in morning, one Yellow Warbler was my only migrant detection first couple hours. The two Rufous Hummers continue and lots of Ruby-throats. Mid-morn a Mourning Warbler flushed out of the thick low stuff around the front porch and shot out back. I bet it was just at the bath 30' away. One Least Flycatcher was out front in pecans.

A rain cell got close enough before 5 p.m. for outflow to cool us down to 82dF! Looked at KRVL and it was 96 there! Just before 7 p.m. it was 92 at KRVL and we were in a shower and 70dF! Holy rain-cooled air weatherman. We totally beat the heat this afternoon, and busted the dust to boot. We got about a third to .4 of an inch all told. But the east side of the valley got an inch and more.

Sept. 9 ~ A 72dF low, still muggy, still summer. A couple Yellow Warbler in the yard early, a Least Flycatcher, heard one Chat and a Gnatcatcher, the two Rufous Hummer continue as do White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo, Field Sparrow, and the usuals. Caracara made a few passes. Saw the Verdin, and a herd of about 18 Turkey in the corral. Most everything else I saw besides the hummers was between the Verdin and Turkey, sizewise. Best was a Twelve-spotted Skimmer dragonfly, a male, the first I have seen this year. It is an irregular fall vagrant here not seen every year, and totally awesome looking in flight so always a treat. Heard just a few notes from the Pauraque at dusk. Hister Beetle about 11 p.m. on porch.

Sept. 8 ~ A muggy 74dF for a low is tiresome at this time of the year. The Pauraque called at about 6:38 and 6:55 a.m., Great Horned Owls going the whole time. A couple Yellow Warbler around yard early. That was it until after 10 when I heard Audubon's Oriole across road. We took an hour walk to crossing 11-12. Had a singing Bell's Vireo, saw an Orchard Oriole, heard a couple more, heard a couple bunting sps., heard the Verdin, a Chat, heard a few and saw a male Summer Tanager, heard Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Least Flycatcher, saw a couple and heard a couple Yellow Warbler, saw a Yellow-throated warbler, and best was a FOS Mourning Warbler, an immature with a yellow throat. I called ID at first chip but it took a couple minutes to find and see it, we ended up with great close views, and another great "the end" photo. But that was all I got. The end. You can tell it was not a Mac.

Sept. 7 ~ Back up to 72dF for a low, some clouds, good and sticky. Let go already summer. Over the morning in the yard I saw a very few migrants. Single juvenile Indigo and Painted Bunting that both looked new and different, a couple Yellow Warbler, a couple imm. Orchard Oriole, one imm. Baltimore Oriole and a Least Flycatcher. The rest were locals. Saw the Yellow-throated Warbler and the Yellow-throated Vireo was still singing. A few Summer Tanager. Afternoon was hot (91dF in shade) and sticky with no action. Weird was an immature Ruby-throated Hummingbird incessantly giving begging notes. I do not recall ever hearing one still begging here in the fall. It can't be too old. At dusk the Pauraque called bit, as did the Screech-Owls, which sound like one begging (yapping and high pitched weird trill) young and the ad. pair.

mourningwarbler
Mourning Warbler, male, September 12. I was trying to hide my
bloated carcass against front door, it was in adjacent flower bed.
another bonus pic...
lunamoth
This is the mating pair of Luna Moth on Sept. 4. Was on the
big Pecan, they were there all day.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Sept. 6 ~ Low of 70dF, and a bit sticky. In a.m. saw a couple Yellow Warbler, heard an Orchard Oriole, one Least Flycatcher out front, but not much for migrant motion. Yellow-throated Vireo still singing, as is White-eyed Vireo, and Summer Tanager. Saw one greenie imm. Painted Bunting. Was a town errand run day. One Scissor-tail going there and back. At the park there was a Northern Waterthrush on the island, my FOS, a yellow tinted type. Also FOS were 2 Spotted Sandpiper on the spillway. Barred Owl was on island too, kinda surprised no Mourning Warbler yet. I think I keep forgetting to mention the Ludwigia is blooming a couple weeks plus now. Looking for but not seeing any Banded Sphinx larvae on it. About 7 p.m. I got a look at a Mississippi Kite as it flew by behind the house. Don't get it every fall, so nice. Heard the Verdin at last sun. The Pauraque first called at 8:07 p.m. Interesting was it giving the introductory notes in flight as it covered quite a bit of ground, 200' or so. Then it landed in the draw and then gave 10 minutes of just the climax ka-wheeerrr note. To cool.

Sept. 5 ~ A low of 68dF makes 5 days with lows below 70. Woohoo! There were more debris cumulus clouds and even a few rain cells nearish-by, one barely missed us and sent a few sprinkles. Remnants of T.S. Fernand, it kept the temps moderated. I saw 82 about 3 p.m., remarkable. A couple Yellow Warbler were about yard, Kathy saw an Orchard oriole at the bath, and later she spotted the big imm. fem. Cooper's Hawk in it! The two Rufous Hummers continue, no Black-chinned, a couple or few dozen Ruby-throated. Yellow-throated Warbler is around, but no singing, it's done. Saw a Rose-bellied Lizard on a pecan trunk.

Dusk was fun. The Pauraque was calling early whilst still light in the sky. It again landed on the powerline, and I got a silhouette photo anyway. It was working all around yard calling. Then it comes popping over the roof and me on the patio straight up I can see the white bands on rounded wings, and there is a Chuck-wills-widow not 8' behind it! They disappeared in front yard pecans somewhere. I wonder if it was an ad. or juv. Chuck? The Pauraque continued calling all around off and on for over an hour.

The other thing that happened at dusk was first hearing four Upland Sandpipers calling as they gain altitude to fly for the night. Outstanding was hearing a Lesser Yellowlegs! It is a new yard bird! I have thought I heard them a couple times, and have seen a few Greater, but this one kept calling, giving nearly a half-dozen repititions of the call so as to make sure I was getting it. They are generally rare here only occurring when it rains and there are flood ponds, most often in spring. It borders on accidental in fall.

Sept. 4 ~ Hit 68dF for a low, keeping our September streak of all 60's lows alive so far, I can't believe it. Only hit about 90dF peak heat due to lots of debris clouds from Tropical Storm Fernand making landfall south of us in northern Mexico. It formed and made landfall in 24 hours. They got lots of rain mostly. A couple Yellow Warbler, an imm. Blue Grosbeak, and a Gnatcatcher in yard in morning. Both Rufous Hummers still here, did not see any Black-chinned, it looked all Ruby-throats to me today. Later afternoon there was a spritz or two of rain, and a couple dozen Chimney Swifts were low over the trees calling as they bolted south. These are surely migrants from elsewhere on their way.

About 9 a.m. I sat down in the chair on the front porch to smoke my pipe and watch the bark grow on the big pecan right off the porch. And there 8' off the ground on it was a hooked up in copulation pair of LUNA MOTH! OMG! Got some photos of course. Amazing. I can't believe it. Mind-blowing for me here. They are using this big native pecan. I see a clear difference in their antennae, one much broader than the other. After 16 years here and not seeing one, this is the jackpot Luna week of my life. Much of my youth was spent dreaming of seeing one. I had seen several but 3 decades ago. They stayed hooked up until after dark. Sometime about 9 p.m. one of them left, the other stayed hanging right where it was. Which did which? The one with the smaller antennae stayed. I bet the female. It was still there at midnight.

At dark the Common Pauraque called again. I did a couple short calls and it landed on the powerline! Kathy came out and saw it too. Later it worked all around the front yard pecans calling just the final climax wheeeerr note. More awesomeness. Had to be over a dozen Firefly out there too, the fall flight is underway. Whaddaday.

Sept. 3 ~ an incredible low of 64dF was a suprise, NOAA called for 70! No one complained, it was awesome. Kathy heard the Barred Owl over at the river at dawn. Outstanding was a Black-headed Grosbeak briefly in the yard about 9 a.m., calling lots, got a couple flight views as it moved tree to tree. Was imm. or female type. Otherwise only a couple Yellow Warbler for morning migrant movement. Peak heat I saw 90dF on the front porch whilst KRVL was showing 97 again. All that blacktop and concrete.

Only 2 greenies (imm. Painted Bunnies) left. Saw one only imm. Black-chinned Hummingbird, and seems to have been some departure of Ruby-throateds. Still the two Rufous Hummer. Heard the Hutton's Vireo in Mesquites across road, and a Scissor-tail calling. One imm. male Cooper's Hawk got a House Finch that I saw, by keeping it up in open airspace until it tuckered out, and later I heard a Cardinal get taken, probably that big female Coop that has been here. Saw Northern Cloudywing, couple Goatweed Leafwing, Mestra, Giant Swallowtail, and lots of the more common butterflies. At dusk two Common Nighthawk flew low and fast downriver just over treetops, probably migrants from elsewhere. Then a Chuck-wills-widow flew right over me out on the driveway. Heard Great Horned, Barred, and Eastern Screech-, Owls.

Sept. 2 ~ The pool of rain-cooled air gave us a 69dF low again, sure feels great. But no migrants moving in yard in morning save one Yellow Warbler. What was here bugged out on the lightest of northerly flow. Still singing (so likely still nesting) are Summer Tanager, White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo, and Carolina Wren. There was a Least Flycatcher out in yard which may have been yesterday's bird. Both Rufous Hummers where still here in the morning.

Mostly it was hiding from the heat though the ground moisture humidity from the rain yesterday kept it a bit cooler. The shady front porch was 90dF through heat of day, whence KRVL was showing 97. We went for an afternoon swim to cool off. I found a feather that was just molted floating up against a cypress root. Looks like maybe adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron wing covert or scapular. Will have to photo and send away to expert methinks.

After we got back just before 5:30 p.m. I sat down on porch to smoke my pipe and spotted a LUNA MOTH drying out on the trunk of the big pecan. It was pumping up its wings from pupae emergence! In the sun! So finally got some real pix of a Luna! What an awesome beast. They must be using the pecan! It must have pupated at the base of the tree, it was about 28" up the trunk where it sat. It was there until about 8:34 or so when I walked past it to stand out in the driveway and look for nightjars for a couple minutes. When I walked back it was gone. Dang I wanted to see it fly off. Turned my back for a few moments and missed it.

September 1 ~ OMG September! Some rain cooled outflow air arrived overnight from activity far north of us, providing a wonderful low of 69dF! Of course 12-gauge shotgun blasts are the standard alarm this day in Texas. Dove and duck season is now open if you wonder why the doves went high.

Around the yard in the morning were 3-4 Yellow Warbler and 1 Least Flycatcher for migrants. The two Rufous Hummingbird continue. A couple greenies (imm. Painted Bunting) still here. I took a spin and checked the 360 crossing where nothing. The pond at the golf course by Waresville, had a Common Grackle and 10 Red-winged Blackbird, all males, and a few Thornbush Dasher dragonfly besides the common stuff. The park in town had zip for migrants. Did not see even one Yellow Warbler whilst driving around. The yard was better. Did see a few more Fireweed in bloom at riveredge. Some Boneset Eupatorium is going well in places along the water, but not much on it. Some Broomweed starting to bloom.

Lots of clouds kept us a bit below the usual searing temps of late, until they turned into rain cells and we got really cooled off. We got one about 2-3 p.m., it was awesome, a whole INCH of rain! Dropped it to the upper 70's dF by 3 and 72dF at 4 p.m.! Weewow! And there won't be any dust for a couple days. After it rains there is always a termite hatch so birds were feasting on those. Saw Eastern Phoebe, a Gnatcatcher, Summer Tanager, and Yellow Warblers hitting them right away.

Then a swallow swarm showed up with 3-4 dozen Barn, a few Cave, and one Cliff Swallow just feet off the ground right in the road by the gate. You could hear incessant snapping of their beaks, a dozen dragonflies joined the melee too. It was an incredible show, we were just 30-40' from the TET - termite emergence tornado - and swallows were all around, often at eye level and below. The Least Flycatcher showed back up, stuffed itself and gave photos. I saw it multiple times forage on the ground as they may do. Most other Empis are wont to land on the ground. Later both Hutton's and Red-eyed Vireo showed up! At dusk I saw a Chuck-wills-widow flopping around toward the draw a couple times. Heard no Pauraque, but did heard four Upland Sandpiper call as they headed south. So some were in pastures here up-valley today, just not in any I checked.

~ ~ ~ August summary ~ ~ ~

It was hot and sticky, but fairly dry for precipitation. About 2" for the month is below normal. Getting fairly parched out there. High temps averaged 5-8dF above average, and lows ran 3-5dF above average. Decent Persimmon crop ripening, some Hackberries and Pecans on way, but not a bumper crop year for either. Unfortunately we did not make it up to Lost Maples this month. Too dang hot, and too busy. So missed a few things for the month in birds and dragons in particular, but probably a couple butterflies too.

Butterflies were 54 species, down a handful from last couple months. Best as a Laviana White-Skipper, they are less than annual here. Next best were a Crimson Patch, a White-striped Longtail that was around 10 days or so, and a Dotted Roadside-Skipper. The rest was the expected. No Zebra so far this year. Three good moths were seen. Best was a LUNA MOTH Kathy spotted on Aug. 27. The stuff dreams are made of for westerners. A Black Witch in the woods at the park on the 23rd was great. So was a Hummingbird Hawkmoth Sphinx moth (Aellopos sps.), likely clavipes or titan.

Odes were fair, but not as active as earlier in summer. Or was it me? I saw 27 species, and nothing rare or unusual. Orange-striped Threadtail, Comanche Skimmer, Black-shouldered Spinyleg, a few Thornbush Dasher maybe were the better amongst them. Surely working at it one could have rustled up another half-dozen or more species without much effort save being brutalized in the heat.

Birds were good with some migrant action picking up by the end of the month. Best bird was the Common Pauraque that was around our yard into early Sept. so far. What a treat getting to hear it call repeatedly. A Verdin showed up late Aug., which may well be a 3rd year returnee (!). A total of four Rufous Hummingbird in yard for the month is great, two of which have stuck into early September. An Olive-sided Flycatcher was my early date on Aug. 24. Good numbers of Orchard Oriole and Yellow Warbler passing through, both hitting double digits on best day, and probably a hundred or so of each, as well as Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went through yard in August. A juvenile Acadian Flycatcher in our yard on the 25th is a very rare find as a transient in fall here. Looks like about 90 species of birds locally. A handful were missed by missing Maples. I saw a few ebird reports in early August of Golden-cheeked Warbler still there the first week or so of the month.

~ ~ ~ end August summary ~ ~ ~



July through August 2019 is now at Bird News Archives 32.
Bird News Archive XXXII
July 1 - August so far, 2019

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


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



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


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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

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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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

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


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

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

Bird News Archive XXX
July 1 - December 31, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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